In Abuja, PoS services is the new normal
The introduction of electronic services into the banking system in Nigeria was made to ease business transactions in the country while promoting the cashless policy of government.
Expectedly, electronic banking platforms like the automated teller machine, ATM, and the Point of Sale or purchase terminal, otherwise refer to as POP machine have since become popular among Nigerians.
However, the distance of ATM machines from most business and residential areas seem to be frustrating this objective of actualising a cashless society across most communities in Nigeria.
The Central Bank of Nigeria recommends that the machines be situated in such a manner that permits access at reasonable times. It suggests that access to ATM should be controlled and secured so that customers can safely use them.
CBN’s guideline for deployment of ATM states that “Banks shall only deploy ATMs within their premises while the deployment of ATMs outside bank premises should be left to CBN approved consortia provided that no card scheme or any company that a card scheme has shareholding or ownership of more than 20percent will be licensed as ATM owner or acquirer.”
Most banks therefore concentrate their ATM machines in their premises where they are safe and customers’ safety can be guaranteed. Only a few ATMs are available to service customers around non-financial institutions like markets and shopping malls.
In Abuja for instance, it is observed that banks locate their ATM machines at strategic shopping malls, hotels and government offices. These banks leave out residential quarters, suburbs and communities to cope with the few machines allocated to these areas.
The scarcity of ATM machine is fast popularising the Point of Sale machine amongst Abuja residents. Though the PoS is designed to service business at all levels where payments are paid directly to the bank account of the service providers, the platform is gradually taking the place of ATM machines.
This unusual use of the PoS has been unprecedented in suburbs of Abuja where a number of business owners now include the depositing and withdrawals of cash via the PoS to the services they provide.
The PoS machine, today, has redefined financial transactions in communities surrounding the Federal Capital territories where the existences of licensed commercial banks are near absence as well as the ATM machine.
The problems created by the use of the ATM machine provided another business opportunity for smart thinkers.
Critically looking at this wonder financial machine, it has become a life saver for rural folks, small scale business and alternative cash withdrawal as well as deposit for individuals. It has reshaped banking operations and reduced the number of persons using the banking hall daily.
The PoS machine is primarily designed to service the needs of retail businesses. However, today, the use of the PoS machine goes beyond that, it carries out major banking operations of cash transfer, cash withdrawal and deposits to accounts of individuals. Primarily, a bank is a place where people carry out these functions. But the PoS machine is making it a lot easier for individuals to access their monies.
While it is safe to say that a bank is where individuals make cash transactions that are regulated by government agencies, the PoS machine is a mini bank where individuals basically withdraw cash as well as make deposit from an operator who are in most cases unlicensed nor registered. They operate without a registered company and sometimes by proxy.
METRO spoke with a PoS operator in Apo resettlement who noted that, it is a big business both young and old people can engage in.
The operator, Mercy, said despite the token charges by operators for deposits and withdrawals, the business is booming as people appreciate the proximity and convenience provided by the PoS points.
Mercy explained that though she does not have a registered company, she took the PoS machine in her sister’s name a new generation bank.
“Yes, I don’t have any registered company but if you want to make something out of life, you must think to find way to solve it. Rather than sit at home doing nothing, I decided to venture into the business after working for somebody who was also in to the business.
“I actually accepted to work for the person just to learn how the business operates. After three months of learning how to carry out transactions for customers both for withdrawal and deposit as well as how to use the PoS machine, I left the business and started mine,” she said.
She noted that the business has been profitable as she makes an average of N3,000 daily, from the N100 charges she gets from every transaction.
“What you need is a registered company to secure a PoS machine, a savings account, then you need a store and a well secured safe to keep people’s deposit before you take them to the bank.
“I started the business with just N60,000.00 that is to cater for the initial withdrawals at the business. I kept N30,000 in my account while I held N30,000 on my first day. Since I am using my sister’s account, when somebody wants to do withdrawal, I use the PoS machine, the payment is made into my sister’s account and I give the person the cash and collect a fee depending on the amount.
“Again, somebody will come to deposit or pay into somebody account, he or she comes with the money, I do the transfer from my own savings account to the person’s account and collect my fee. But if I am having limited cash to make payment, I will tell my sister to transfer an amount to my account, I will withdraw it with my ATM to service my customers.
“The fee we charge is cover for bank charges, because for every transfer we make, the bank collects a fee, so we cover our expenses that make a little profit, there is profit in the business.”
“Like in this area, the nearest ATM machine is at the Shoprite, if you take a bike, you have spent N100, but when you have the POS, it saves you the stress of going and going to queue in front of an ATM which may pay you or not. The business is safe, the turn-over is fast and I am making profit daily.”, she explained.
Mallam Isa operates a PoS machine stand in Kpaduma community, a suburb of Asokoro district in Abuja. He is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Isa told METRO, it is a legal business and not just an alternative but does every other thing a regular bank does.
Isa said, he is a graduate of Business administration from one of the premier university in Northern Nigeria and has been in the business for three years. He is thinking of expanding the business by providing credit for individuals and business.
“I started this business immediately after my NYSC. I served in Abuja and while in school, thinking of what to do, I discovered the area I was posted never had any facilities like this so I decided to start the business.
“We can make deposit for you, carry out transfer to both savings and current accounts of any person. You can even make deposit in your own account without going to the bank. We carry out what your regular banks do but not giving out loans.
“Presently, I am thinking of going into giving out loans, when I am finally established as a microfinance bank. We will do what microfinance banks are supposed to be doing, they meant for the rural areas but they are in the cities competing with commercial banks thereby killing the local communities,” he lamented.
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