PoS transaction is cheaper, CBN not asking for much – Globus Bank MD, Elias Igbinakenzua

Amidst the debates surrounding the effect of the new PoS charges by businesses across Nigeria on the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Globus Bank Limited, Elias Igbinakenzua, said the charges on PoS transactions are cheaper and it’s a way to motivate Nigerians to embrace the cashless policy.

Igbinakenzua said the inconvenience experienced while carrying cash makes the charges worth the cost. He made this known during an interview, stating that the CBN policy on PoS transactions is not demanding too much from Nigerians by requesting a fee for cash deposit of a certain amount.

According to Igbinakenzua, “I don’t think the CBN is asking for too much when they say you should pay a certain fee for cash deposit of a certain amount. We have been abroad. Do you carry cash to do business abroad? Why will I be doing business for instance and I will say I want to be paying in N1m cash every day. So, if you have N1m every day from your business, have a PoS. We want to have a paradigm shift. If you don’t force a shift, it will never happen.  

“Why is there armed robbery – people breaking into houses? It is because they have cash. If they know when they go inside that house, they won’t find cash, they won’t go there. CBN’s policy is to motivate action. We all need to change. The old ways have not been very productive. And it takes only a fool to think he can do the same thing over and over and expect a different kind of result. We have to do something that is different to expect a new result.

“The cash has not helped our economy over the years, and that is why you find a lot of corruption with people carrying cash to do what they are not supposed to do. I think the CBN is right to say, ‘Look, if you are doing cash today, try and look for a cashless means.’ And we are saying as banks, we can provide that means for you. The cost you are going to pay will be less; so let the banks do it for you.

“What they charge you compared to the cash inconveniences is little because the cost of that commodity does not come cheap. The bank is paying the provider. But ask yourself, “Am I better carrying cash and risking my life or moving light with the card and doing my business?’ That fee you are paying is nothing compared to the benefits you are getting.

PSBs and Fintechs are not a threat: Igbinakenzua said Payment Service Banks and financial technology companies are not a threat to banks despite getting a nod from the CBN to start operating as payment channels in order to reduce financial exclusion and serve the underbanked in Nigeria.

The PSBs are expected to drive financial inclusion in Nigeria as it was done in Kenya where mobile banking has been greatly successful due to the effect of the telecommunication firms in the East African country. In Nigeria, MTN and Airtel have shown interest, and MTN Nigeria has already started its mobile banking operation.

Considering the customer-base of the telecommunications industry in Nigeria and its revenue-size, the odds have been against banks, when both industries are compared. However, Igbinakenzua said the network providers are not a threat to the future of the banks, as telcos will only be enablers of the CBN’s goal to reduce financial exclusion.

Igbinakenzua said the PSBs and Fintechs are more of collaborators to the banks because they only focus on payment which eventually ends in the bank.

“My answer is simple and I will say no. Not as a threat but as collaborators – to offer to the customer a better value. They are Payment Service Banks. Payment is just one part of banking. 

“What the PSBs are doing will still end up in the bank. So, banking remains banking. They are all collaborators; they have come to help the banking space to move from what it used to be to what modern banking should be. I don’t see the PSBs as a threat at all or competing with banks. The PSBs won’t give the loans to individuals but they can facilitate payment and make it seamless.

“That is all; you can have an e-wallet, but if you have N1 billion, will it be in a PSB? The answer is no. If you need to borrow today, will it be in a PSB? No. The banks are there to offer real support. The PSBs and the fintechs are collaborators in the process; so I think it is a wrong thing to say they are threats,” Igbinakenzua said.

Loophole in Igbinakenzua’s comment: While the core business of PSBs like MTN’s MoMO (mobile banking operation) is sending and receiving payment, some fintechs are offering loans just like the banks. Fintech’s loan package has forced the banking industry to review its loan interest in order to stay competitive in the loan segment.

Also, the rise of Fintechs and PSBs threaten the expansion of banks in Nigeria. That’s why some banks have been closing shops to focus on their mobile banking operation. The rate bank customers visit their banks for financial transaction is expected to drop as well. In Kenya, the number of ATM and functions of banks were also hit by telecoms mobile money operation and Fintechs.

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