By Omodele Adigun and Adewale Sanyaolu
The Nigerian InterBank Settlement System (NIBSS) Plc has unveiled plans to capture about one million merchants over the next one year on its newly launched Micro Cash (mCash) platform, just as the banking public were urged to embrace electronic payment in preparation for the social intervention programmes of the Federal Government.
Disclosing this Thursday in Lagos while unveiling the new initiative , the NIBSS’ Managing Director, Mr Ade Shonubi, lamented that despite the sustained campaign by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the need to embrace the cashless policy, some people still find convenience in using cash as a means of payment.
He, however, admitted that majority of the people who have reaped from the gains of the cashless policy are the 26 million bank customers, adding that there is a need for paradigm shift as government begins the implementation of the social intervention programmes, which he said would be cash based but through electronics platforms.
‘‘And to achieve that, we need to start creating opportunities for them to have commerce that is not just tied around cash. To achieve that the banking and telecommunication industry have come together to partner NIBBS and find a way to deliver the service at a reasonable value point in terms of efficiency and price,’’ he said.
In her comments, the Executive Director in charge of Technology and Operations at NIBSS Mrs. Christabel Onyejekwe, said the task before NIBSS is to ensure that the over 17 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country are unbundled and brought on board the mCash platform with a view to promoting financial inclusion.
Mrs. Onyejekwe explained that mCash is an innovative solution designed to facilitate low-value retail payments, grow e-payments by providing accessible electronic channels to a wider range of users and to further enhance financial inclusion in Nigeria, by extending e-payment benefits to payers and merchants at the bottom of the pyramid where usage of cash has been predominant.
According to her the solution proposes to aid payments to merchants (sellers) for commodities and services, adding that it leverages the NIBSS Instant Payments Infrastructure (NIP) for immediate fund delivery to merchants accounts and the mobile telephone’s Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology which, in recent times, has become the most accessible channel for financial and non-financial transactions.
On how mCash works, the Head, Product Management, NIBBS, Sarah Chidebelu-Eze, in her presentation , explained that the seller receives instant credit for all transactions and not T+1 as in the case of Point of Sale(PoS),adding that payment is made with bank account number as one do not need a card for mCash payment.
She noted that merchants(sellers) will not bear any cost for transactions below N10,000,disclosing that the maximum transaction is N50,000.
She added that financial institutions have a choice of allowing their respective customers to access the new service with the mCash general short code of 402 or with their own short codes, assuring that either way, there are no USSD charges to pay.