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FALSE claim circulates online discouraging Nigerians from using rival ATMs

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A WHATSAPP message forwarded and shared numerous times in August 2020 claim that banks have advised their customers to avoid the use of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) of rival banks.

The post which was shared across multiple groups and as direct messages in Nigeria states that “Bankers advised that people should not use ATM of other banks, other than their bank for any transaction for now”.

An additional paragraph claimed that Interswitch, a digital payment platform in the country had already stopped operations, as such “issues that comes while using another bank ATM will not be resolved till they resume after COVID-19”.

Members of the public were advised to withdraw money only from the ATMs of their respective financial institutions.

The post which is titled “Important Information” also asked people to tell their neighbours, family and friends.

 

THE CLAIMS: 

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Claim 1: Banks (bankers) have advised  people against use of rival banks ATMs

Claim 2:  Interswitch has stopped operations.

The viral message

THE FINDINGS: 

Claim 1

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guidelines on operations of electronic payment channels guiding activities of commercial banks in Nigeria prohibits such restrictions where customers are solely limited to patronise particular ATM machines.

The public has the liberty to patronise any ATM positioned in any bank or a public space – in as much as  the ATM card is valid and the issuer recognised by the CBN.

More so, the guideline warned commercial banks of any form of discrimination on the use of ATM cards or issuers.

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“All ATMs to accept cards issued in Nigeria under the CBN regulations for any card-based value-added service made available on the machine,” the CBN guideline released in June 2020 stated.

In addition the 44-page document states that “no card scheme shall discriminate against any ATM owner or acquirer” while adding that all ATMs should dispense all Naira denominations.

But, beyond the documented guidelines, Isaac Okorafor, Director, Corporate Communications of the CBN, in a phone interview with The FactCheckHub dismissed the claim.

“This is not true,” Okorafor stated.

“No bank has said so and I know Interswitch and other switches are working. So this must be fake news” the CBN official explained.

 

Claim 2

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Although the Interswitch group did not respond to numerous communication from The FactCheckHub,  a tweet made by its support handle @iswsupport on August 4, noted that the organisation is still operating.

“Interswitch’s operations continue to function in spite of the pandemic. You can make transfers, withdrawals, pay on the Quickteller and use your verve card,” the payment system tweeted. “

It added that all our services are working and issues will be resolved promptly.

Earlier in April, the Twitter handle of Quickteller, a payment product of Interswitch had debunked a similar variation of the claim in question. The tweet which was accompanied by several screenshots of the claim termed it as “fake news”.

THE VERDICT:

From the information presented above both claims are FALSE.

Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Email address: [email protected] Twitter handle: @OluAdanikin

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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