Stranded, Cardless and Cashless


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Posted by on Monday April 27, 2015 at 14:37:13:

It's the first time this has happened to me as I was totally stranded at the shopping mall on Saturday and it was one of the worst days of my life financially as the only place where I could get money was from my home but I was not at home but at the shopping mall.

I recently visited a shopping mall during the weekend but one big mistake I made was leaving my home without any cash or my debit card. Infact, I didn't even carry any id card or cash but had only brought them out while I was preparing to go out.

On that particular day, I was stranded as I had just parked my car inside the car park before I realized that I didn't have any money on me. I didn't even have any ATM debit or credit card and I needed to at least pay N100 as the parking ticket per hour just to take my car back from from the park. But I was totally cashless and cardless and hence stranded.

The only thing I had with me was my mobile phone and the first thing that came to my mind as a possible solution was to try withdrawing money from an ATM without using a card. They call it cardless ATM withdrawals and they say it's now possible in Nigeria but it is not as convenient as they advertise it to be.

What does a bank customer in Nigeria do if he/she suddenly finds that he has not cash or card with him? What if the only thing he has wiht his is a mobile phone with internet service? Well, my first option for trying to make a cardless withdrawal was my Stanbic mobile money account. Since the shopping mall I was in had a Stanbic ATM, I immediately rushed to try to make a cardless withdrawal from my ATM but as I tried to use the service, I was asked to provide a code or token which I did not have. I also tried to intiate the cardless withdrawal from my mobile phone using their USSD code and mobile website but thsoe were offline and seemed to have been so for quite a long time.

The next option I tried was to try Googling for how to make a cardless ATM withdrawal on my mobile phone and found out that it was now possible with some Nigerian banks. I tried about 3 ATMs for banks I had an account with but their cardless ATM withdrawal service was also requesting I provide a key or code before I could make a withdrawal. Why not make it easy for someone to just make a withdrawal if he just provides an OTP sent to his phone or something? Well, I was disappointed. I also learnt that Interswitch was also trying to make ATMs card free but I tried that option on a Frist bank ATM and it still was not available or not ready yet.

My last bet was to visit a GTbank Express outlet where they have a lot of ATMs both for depositing and withdrawals but I soon came to notice that nonoe of those ATMs were online or paying cash. The buttons were not working and some other people around there complained that it had swallowed their cards. Well, I didn't have a card and I just needed cash but all the attempts to try to make a cashless withdrawal was either too complex or not possible.

I was so cashless, cardless and stranded but none of the available ATMs provided by Nigerian banks at the several public places I visited were able to help me and I wondered if they really wanted to encourage people to make cashless withdrawals from ATMs or not.

Why not make it possible for people to make cashless withdrawals with their mobile phones by just dialing a USSD code in the same way they now offer instant airtime topup. They could perhaps limit the withdrawal to maybe N3,000 to N5000 a day as long as the person is using a registeerd mobile phone. I wishe htey would make it easy for cardlress and stranded customers like me to be able to make a withdrawal from an ATM without having to enter several secret numbers or passcode.

Nowadays, it's not even wise for a bank customer in Nigeria to rely solely on his debit/credit cards without carrying some physical cash because ATMs and POS networks can at times go offline and the person may then be forced to get cash before completing a transaction. I remember even a bad experience at the shopping mall when that happened and the buyer was made to first go to an ATM to withdraw cash before checking out with his goods.

My problem was that I had money at home but at that point in time I was away from home and didn't have any card or cash. Even if I had my card, there is still the likelihood that ATMs and POS machines may not work. Since I was not able to get the cash I needed, I just had to plead with the car park operators to let me pass free with the promise that I'll pay back later on.

I also noticed that Nigerians are less likely to help you if they feel you don't drive car than if you drove one. So, it was only when I drove my car to the gate that I got a free pass on credit but when I tried begging one of two people for a N100 loan to pay the parking ticket, they didn't help and probably thought I was a serial beggar. Yes! It can be humiliating when you resort to begging just because you were cashless for a few minutes.

Nigerian banks should try to make cardless ATM withdrawals a bit less complex and also ensure that their ATMs are always working well without going offline.

Re: Stranded, Cardless and Cashless Reply by yvy1 on Saturday August 22, 2015 at 11:38:52:

So how did you bail yourself out?

Re: Stranded, Cardless and Cashless Reply by Felix Okoli on Saturday August 22, 2015 at 11:38:52:

As I said, I just begged the car park people to let me driver out for free. I had to go back home since I didn't have money and Nigerians were not helpful.

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