Samuel Bello, Abuja
Setting up of financial service shops is now a fad in Abuja. Young men and women are embracing the new business.
Residents of Lugbe, Mararaba, Nyanya, Kuje and others, who have little or no access to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) rely on the system. You do not have to be a graduate of accounting or a financial expert to get into the business. Bank customers are made to have transactions such as deposits, withdrawals and transfers without having to visit the bank they operate with. All one needs is a Point of Sale (POS) machine.
Some that have taken up this business opportunity have been perching in various places such as barber salons, bookshops, hair dressing salon, grocery stores and stationary shops. The profit per transaction is within the range of N300 to N400 per transaction, depending on the amount of transactions and number of customers.
A bank agent, Prosper Okafor, Daily Sun: “The major problem we have is declined transactions especially when the customer is being debited. You know it is a problem for you who is into the business and the customer trying to patronise you. If your customer is not happy, you won’t be happy. Sometimes, the bank would debit customers without crediting us and we can’t give them money that way.
“The service charge is N300, N350 if the customer decides to withdraw above N10,000. It is collected either as cash or directly from your account during the transaction. The service charge is not the same everywhere, here in Mararaba, it is nothing less than N250 in some places. With the population and few ATMs around, people find it difficult to do their monetary transactions. The queue at ATM stand is now a big problem.
“Weekends, especially on Saturdays, ATMs around this area are always unable to dispense cash. That is because many people have taken their time to withdraw or transfer the amount of money they needed on Friday. Robbery has been a normal thing in this business.
“Security is a major problem. Some people come pretending to be looking for what does not exist. One time a young boy tried it and almost went away with cash, but because my shop is in a busy area, he drew attention to himself and was dealt with.
“We make close to N3000 everyday because the competition isn’t much around here. Workers also steal money, especially when they think they are smart and start mixing up figures for their benefit. I have sent a lot of people away; close to 10 since the beginning of this year.”
George Harrison, another operator: “When you go to the bank you’re operating, you tell them you want to start the business, then they will give you some advice on how to go about it. It only takes opening an account with them to start.
“Even if you don’t have money to buy the POS, they will assist you and give you a target that when you get to a stage or make some amounts, you’ll have to remit. From a period of six months, they will be checking their transactions to see whether you are qualified to run the business or not.
“The competition is getting tougher. Many people are into it now, so it is easy for the bank to choose who they can work with better. When you start the business, obviously they would have checked your account details to see the kind of person you are. Whether you are a businessman or you are just saving.”
Ruth Omijie, a customer, said despite several errors from financial service shops, she prefers to patronize them because it costs less: “Apart from Fidelity Bank that permits withdrawal of N40,000 at once, which costs N65, other banks don’t permit that. This shop make it easy for me to withdraw N100,000 at a go, unlike other ATMs that only permits you to withdraw N10,000 at a time. It saves me money. I also make payments for my cable television subscription without