Can we talk about the Abysmal Nigerian Banking Sytem?
This is a long story of a failed Banking system on its own high.
When I was much younger, I loved going with my parents to the banks. The atmosphere was neat and the staff were always friendly. My dad managed comms for one. I didn’t know everything was a demo.
As I got older, my parents would send me on errands to the bank. Cash a cheque, deposit some cash, the most basic stuff. I never enjoyed it. Even when the lines weren’t long, the staff at GTBank Alagomeji made my life hell. I hated that place. This story is a story of 3 different Nigerian banks across the spectrum.
In the early 2000s, this was the cool bank. All the ogas at all the other bank had GTBank accounts. The service was friendly, they were nice, they would always call you. They even assigned everyone an account officer. Then they went to shit.
My first oversabi experience with GTBank was when I opend a Smart Kids Save account. It took one entire month to open this account because for some odd reason, account opening had been shipped off to Chevron Branch in Lekki. Not like I cared. They took my savings and gave me an account number eventually. Note that I didn’t get all that SKS cool stuff and that nice branded package. I was obviously disappointed but whatever at least I have a bank card. Yay me.
One of the attractive features of this account was a MasterCard that would work anywhere in the world. WOW. Imagine small me. Then I tried to withdraw money from said MasterCard and got a decline error. Okay. Let’s walk into the Alagomeji branch and solve this problem innit. The staff then informed my father and I that the MasterCard was tied to a separate account that wasn’t linked to the original account. So the original account was for deposits and the MasterCard account was to accept transfers from that original account or any other account. I’M SORRY. WHUTT? DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE TO ANYBODY? GTBank still maintains this pracice till today. They also can’t fix a simple upgrade by moving you up to a savings account when you turn 18. What they do is create a third account(yup. This happened to my little sister just last month) and tell you they’ve upgraded it. Of course you’ll ask them if it’ll be upgraded properly. They’ll say yes. Until the day you go to another branch and you find out you have 3 accounts. Worst is it takes forever to go through customer service because 4 people per branch in an entire area of Yaba is a perfect idea.
When I turned 18, I immediately refused to touch this GTBank account. It just took forever to do the most simple things. I vowed to never go back to that Alagomeji branch. If you live in the Yaba axis, those guys are rumoured to be the worst GTBank you can go to. The absolute worst branch.
Complain to GTBank ogas on Twitter? This is what you get
Do you see that this is a problem from the top now?
I had to go to University in Ghana. When I asked around, I was told Ecobank was the bank everyone was using because the ATM card worked well in Ghana. Oh Jolly.
Ecobank made me fill many many forms. I didn’t mind again. Filled account opening form, filled electronic banking form(including a card request), filled SMS alert form, filled email alert form. I was told by Osas that I was going to get an SMS in 24 hours with my account details. I never got that SMS. I never got that email. After a month of collecting my money, Ecobank refused to just open the account.
So as a mad person, I went there to yell at Osas. Because you can’t possibly be that forgetful and forget to do your work for an entire month. That’s not a good thing Osas. He immediately went through his desk and brought out my file. Nothing had been done. Absolutely nothing. I said well me I’ve come to withdraw money so figure out how you’re going to do it. Do you know by some great CBN magic my account was created in under 5 minutes? Osas just refused to do his work. I took my money and said Oya what about electronic banking and card. Come on Osas I filled all these forms. Osas gave me new forms to fill. Remember that he brought out my file with all these documents? No sir you have to fill a new one.
So I filled a new form, applied for a Verve card, Internet banking and SMS alerts. I even had to get someone to sign for me as some sort of guarantor. After a week my card wasn’t ready. LMAO. Someone just came to yell at you and you still didn’t get the simple job done. Internet banking was up anyways so I was mellow. SMS alert wasn’t working. Guess what guys? I was to fill another form and write a letter stating I now also want email alerts. Osas was supposed to set this up the first time I created the account. I’ve had this account since Summer of 2013. Till today. I have never received any SMS or Email alert from Ecobank. At least Internet banking and the second card I got work. Thank you CBN Jesus.
These guys are honestly the most impressive bank I’ve been to and they have very polite staff. They’re account opening process is also shit shit shit though. I had to work somewhere last year and we were required to open Salary accounts for ease of transfer. Stanbic didn’t open the account until 3 months after I filled form, provided BVN, paid for a card and deposited money into the account. HOW HARD IS THIS THING?
So I went to pick up my card from Toyin Street(Halla!) and I noticed a slip for MasterCard Secure Code. I asked this lady at customer care. “This looks like something I should fill”. She said “No. Just sign this ledger and you can go”. Orai. Then my dad threw plenty money in my account for UK Student Visa and I couldn’t pay with this card because when I tried to pay the MasterCard Secure Code portal will popup and I was told I hadn’t registered for Secure Code by MasterCard.
Can you see that these people are either foolish or don’t know their work or are by some spiritual thing, cursed? Then I went bank to the branch, mad as hell, filled the form and went home to try this payment thing the next day. Tried it the first time. Wrong details. Second time. Wrong details. Third time. Card locked. Then I had to call customer care and answered all my life’s details before I was told the birthdate(SecureCode uses your birthdate and a security question to approve transactions) I entered was wrong. Sorry. My own birthday? It turns out this lady that doesn’t know her work had entered the wrong birth date for me. WHY YOU DO DIS LADY? WHY? To fix this, I would have to return to a branch and fill another form so I said leave it yeah? Let me be entering wrong date. Transaction eventually went through. Praise be to CBN Regulatory Jesus. The next section is Yankee Bank.
I have never been to the United States of America in my entire life. Never even been near the continent. Last year when the CBN decided to limit card transactions to a couple thousand dollars, it looked like business was going to go to yama yama for us because how we gon pay Google for massive campaigns. Exchange rate was also going to duzzbin so I thought to my intelligent self. What if I earned money in dollars and somehow converted it? BOOM. TRUTH BOMB.
I created an Upwork account and started applying to jobs. Upwork said to get paid you could wire the money to your local account, a Payoneer card or something called Skrill. So I went to setup a Payoneer account(click this link to get one). Payoneer is a payment company that basically creates a US bank account for you and issues you a MasterCard linked to the account. You can receive money like a normal US Citizen somebody and do what you want. There are a few charges but they are minimal. I filled this thing in a few hours and sent the card to my aunt’s house. Lo and behold I forgot about this thing. Totally forgot. Also, my aunt didn’t call me so I reached out to Payoneer support. The nice lady told me I might have to apply for a new one and all I had to do was apply. That weekend, my dad passed by my aunt’s house and she said ah you have a package o. This card got to Nigeria in 7 days guys. 7 days. That’s faster than I’ve ever gotten a card in Nigeria from a Nigerian bank.
How Payoneer or the banks it works with handle fraud is none of my business. I just want something that works.
While using this card, I have never had to contact anybody to say oh it didn’t work oh OTP didn’t come in. Oh why is WebPay down today. Never had one problem. I can now accept money in the US like a US resident and spend in Dollars. I’m a big boy now. Don’t mess with me.
This thing is a good idea on the surface. It reduces fraud, mitigates it, prevents it, whatever. All transactions coming through your card on the local switch will require you to insert a code(sent via SMS to your phone) before they’re approved. This is a great idea. But does it work all the time? Let’s see what fellow Nigerians have to say.
If 42% of people cannot access a service that’s a daily service, you have a problem. It means it doesn’t work. If 42% of people tried to use Facebook and it didn’t work, there’ll be a problem. If 42% of us tried to breathe oxygen and we didn’t get Oxygen to breathe, we’re going to have problems. Hence, OTP doesn’t work.
We’re in a country where after more than a decade of mobile telephony, I still say “I can’t hear you” on more than half of my calls. Almost 80% of my SMSes deliver 24 hours after I send them but you think locking a password and authentication delivery into this system is a brilliant idea. I don’t understand it.
Also, Nigerian bankers, OTP is something that is somewhat exclusive to your switching system. Asos isn’t going to send me an OTP because Asos’ payment gateway isn’t under CBN’s jurisdiction. But Nigerian bankers will come and argue with you over the phone and on Twitter. Olodo behaviour.
This is a great idea. I actually mean it this time. One number to identify account holders across all their bank accounts? You can use this thing to track fraud, collect taxes and create credit profiles. But that’s not going to happen because Stupid.
When opening a new bank account, you’re going to be asked for your BVN. This is now CBN policy. But CBN didn’t think whollup what if we just shared your information across banks so once you authenticate with your fingerprint(which they didn’t need to collect anyways but they did), your bank can just create an account on the fly. No. This is Nigeria. It must be hard to do. You must bring your BVN number, fill all your information all over again and wait one month to create an account. We just did this thing to create contract for hardware contractors. Sorry Nigerians.
When you read statistics on Bank account holders in Nigeria, you will see that a majority of people in Nigeria don’t have any bank account. This is because the system is unfriendly, stupid and mostly doesn’t work. If I didn’t have to make any electronic transactions, I would rather keep cash under my bed and wait for Scorpion to come rob me.
Face Your Work
I’m tired of watching cool shows on YouTube, reading lifestyle blogs and using the new cool app from Nigerian banks. These things are great for customer engagement. I love GidiUp and Skinny Girl in Transit but I will never use a GTBank account. Let banks focus on their work and make account opening and electronic transactions as easy as possible. There’s no reason anything should take 7 days. It’s 2016. Speed it up.
My sister’s bank in the UK gives her advice on how to manage her money between her accounts. Someone actually calls her to say oh you should do this when you turn 18 and we have this personal finance app to manage your budget if you want. Can Nigerian bank send you personal finance tips? No. Send me image for Dubai travel with the 5K in my account. Like an Ode.
End of rant.