The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has commenced collaboration with service providers in the information, communication and technology (ICT) sub-sector to create cloud Wi-Fi hotspot services to facilitate seamless electronic payment (e-payment) services in the country.
The initiative, which would be driven by banks, according to the CBN’s Head of Shared Services, Mr Chidi Umeano, would enable customers access e-payment services in areas where the over 60,000 activated Point of Sale (PoS) terminals are clustered.
‘’Bringing more cash into the formal financial system of the economy, through electronic payment platforms such as PoS terminals, would be useful in the overall economic planning and development of the nation,’’ Umeano said.
Specifically, by creating a Wi-Fi hotspot in areas of concentration of PoS terminals, he said customers within range of the hotspot get automatic connectivity to the Internet for e-payment transactions.
“This means e-payments costs for customers are slashed by at least 30 per cent,” he said.
“This is ideal and less expensive because wireless Internet access is more practical and flexible than each user getting separate connectivity in areas such as markets where there are clusters of PoS terminals.
“Reduction of payment charges and seamless integration of the un-banked into mainstream financial services through easy accessibility, affordability and reliability of transactions would drive financial inclusion in the country.
“Additionally, as all transactions would pass through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) for settlement, transparency would be ensured,” he added.
While the telecommunications companies are investing in adequate infrastructure to boost connectivity services and have pledged to make the cash-less policy successful, Umeano disclosed that CBN was preparing a Proof of Concept to demonstrate the soundness of the Wi-Fi cloud idea.
He noted that the newly-created CBN consumer protection department will ensure issues relating to transaction failure and customer complaints are promptly resolved.
The cash-less policy was introduced, among other things, to meet the Vision 20:2020 requirements, modernise the nation’s payment system, reduce cost of banking services and drive financial inclusion of the un-banked.
The objective is to reduce the amount of physical cash in the economy and encourage more electronic-based transactions.
Umeano said after extensive implementation of the policy in the country, CBN would review the policy every six months to iron out thorny issues.
Amid calls for increased awareness of the policy especially among the uneducated, Umeano noted that CBN, as initiator of the cash-less policy, had been at the forefront of campaigns and sensitisation programmes through activities such as road shows, grass roots mobilisation and multimedia campaigns.
He restated the commitment of the apex bank to creating more awareness on the policy through increased collaboration, in order to make it successful.