Tunde Kuponiyi, Head, Consumer Distribution, Ecobank Nigeria discusses the challenges confronting adoption of electronic payments in Nigeria, expressing optimism that Nigerians will adopt mobile payments faster than other products. NIBSS reported that Nigerians withdrew N4.7 trillion through ATMs in 2016. Why are we will still depending so much on cash despite cashless policy initiatives?
The statistics though still high shows a reduction in ATM withdrawals from 2015, the truth is that this initiative will not change consumer behaviour overnight. It is a process. 15 years ago, ATMs or debit cards were not even in use but today they have become a way of life. We project a steady growth in the migration to alternative channels as they become more stable and reliable with new technology. Despite increased roll-out of PoS and mobile app, lots of merchants (petrol stations, traders, etc) do not have or offer e-payment channels to customers. Why is this so? The issues on POS have been well documented, i.e. no uniformity in transaction charge, high transaction cost against a slim margin, connectivity etc. this is being reviewed by stakeholders to find a lasting solution that will engender inclusion.
Some banks, including Ecobank, in recent times have launched various mobile payment applications. What is the prospect that Nigerians will embrace the culture of using the phones for payment? As with every new product, sensitization is key to speedy uptake and with every financial institution focusing on it, uptake will grow consistently in the coming years. Mobile is the future and we believe this will be embraced faster than even the traditional electronic products i.e. ATM and Cards that we have today. The world has witnessed upsurge in the rise and use of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, in your view, what should be the appropriate response from the banking industry and the government? Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are part of the digital disruptions challenging the norm. Government and financial institutions should embrace them. However there must be adequate regulation that will guide its appropriate use. As a matter of fact CBN has set up a committee in this regard.