CASHLESS LAGOS: BANKS YET TO ROLL OUT 40,000 POS
One month after the nation's banks were expected to have rolled out 40,000 Points of Sale (PoS) devices for the successful implementation of Cashless Lagos, the pilot of Cashless Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), investigation has shown that the electronic payment channel is yet to fully register its presence in the nation's commercial hub.
It would be recalled that Mr Tunde Lemo, the CBN deputy governor in charge of Operations, while speaking mid-December, last year, at the Annual Seminar of Committee of e-Banking Industry Heads (CeBIH), had said that the banking system would roll out 40,000 PoS terminals before the end of the year in preparation for the January 1, 2012 take-off of Cashless Lagos.
According to him, this was expected to cater for settlement of transactions along other electronic payment options.
His words: 'The policy on cash transactions would take effect from June 2012. However, a pilot implementation of the retail payments transformation initiative is to commence in Lagos, code-named Cash-less Lagos. The pilot will take off on January 1, 2012. For the cash-less Lagos project, it is expected that by end-December 2011, a target of 40,000 PoS devices would have been deployed within Lagos State to cater for settlement of transactions alongside other electronic payment options.
'We have a target of deploying 150,000 PoS by end December 2012, which will be scaled up to 375,000 PoS by end 2015 when we hope to have attained our benchmark PoS penetration of 2,247 PoS per 100,000 adult population as obtainable currently in Brazil,' he said.
But one month after, none of the banks has been able to deploy the required PoS terminals anywhere in Lagos State. The Pos terminals are expected to be deployed to all locations where cash is used as means of payment. These include schools/educational institutions, filling stations, worship places/religious organizations, retail/wholesale outlets, travel agencies ,hotels, telecoms companies etc.
Explaining why the PoS devices are nowhere to be found in Lagos, a source said that the PoS devices are already in the country but that the importers are facing clearing hurdles at the port.
'The 40,000 PoS are already in Nigeria. What is holding them is just deployment, which has to do with clearing and Customs issues. We got waivers, almost orally, on the importation of these PoS which was not communicated in writing to the (Nigeria) Customs (Service).
'So when the PoS arrived the Port, there was an unexpected clearing problem which would not have arisen if there was no communication breakdown. The banks even ordered hundreds of thousands of ATMs themselves to ensure seamless implementation of the scheme. But in the next two weeks or so, you will see and hear a lot of things,' said the source.
The POS terminal is an electronic device that is used for the verification and processing of card transaction for payment of goods and services. And to ensure the effectiveness of the CBN Policy on cash collection and lodgment, the POS terminal has been identified as an effective channel to promote cashless society.
On how the device works, Mr Paul Lawal, the immediate past CEO of Nigeria InterBank Settlement System (NIBSS),in an interview with New Fortunes magazine, explains: 'The hardware in the PoS devices is where you insert your card. It asks you to put your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and you do that. It means that the amount will be communicated to your bank, your bank will then confirm through your PIN that you are the owner of the account. It also has to confirm that the card can pay the amount requested. After the transaction is approved, then the customer is paid.'