Nigeria moves to improve banking, digital finance services

Digital Banking

If there’s anything Nigeria’s cash crisis revealed, it’s that there’s no best or worst Nigerian online banking service: they’re all equally unreliable.

And the Nigerian parliament wants the country’s slew of failed online transactions and buggy bank apps fixed as soon as possible.

Last week, the Nigerian House of Representatives directed the Central Bank (CBN) to request that all banks overhaul their online banking systems.

According to the lawmakers, the directive is meant to increase the efficiency and ease of conducting electronic banking operations. The House further instructed its Committee on Banking and Currency to ensure adherence to the resolutions and submit a report within four weeks for additional legislative action.

Nigerians have had to rely on digital channels of transactions in recent months as the amount of currency in circulation has dropped from ₦3.2 trillion ($6.9 billion) in September 2022 to about ₦1 trillion ($2.1 billion) now. As cash became scarce, the use of electronic channels soared, with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) reporting that the volume of online transactions grew by 70%, while the value of transactions grew by 7.8% in February, compared to January. Use of Nigeria’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) also grew by 63%, according to CBN governor Godwin Emefiele.

The increase in use of online channels has also led to an increase in downtime which has affected the inflow and outflow of transfers. At this stage, it looks like every tech software the Nigerian government implements is never built to be used on a nationwide scale.

Experts that spoke to TechCabal explain that a change in core banking applications will take at least six months which could lead to even more devastating downtimes. Meanwhile, the CBN—in another move that questions its sanity—last week ordered banks to open during the weekend to alleviate the country’s cash scarcity, a scarcity the CBN created itself.

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