NIGERIANS have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take urgent steps toward curbing worsening cases of fraud affecting Point of Sale (PoS) businesses across the nation.
The call was made during an anti-corruption radio programme, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE, produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) in Abuja on Wednesday.
A recent report by the International Center for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR) exposed the threat faced by the thriving multi-billion-naira business due to the activities of fraudsters and the unguaranteed safety of operators and customers.
Speaking during the programme, The ICIR reporter Harrison Edeh, who spearheaded the investigation, called on the CBN to immediately review its policy regarding the PoS system, stressing that the apex bank must be proactive and intelligent to ensure fraudsters and criminals are prevented from undermining the innovation.
Edeh said several PoS operators he interacted with during the investigation are groaning over increasing attacks by fraudsters who manipulate gaps in the system to their detriment.
He added that a policy audit would help CBN monitor the loopholes in the PoS innovation to be a step ahead of the exploiters.
“Government needs to be more proactive. They need to think ahead; these guys (PoS fraudsters) are smarter in the sense that they are tech-savvy. This is an era of technology. Most of them research how to manipulate the system.
“So the government needs to be ahead, not playing from behind. They need to be ahead of such that each policy should be able to address from time to time some of these problems unravelled in our report.
“There must be a strategy to audit that policy and how it has affected the lives of the people because the policy is for the people, and when you don’t audit in this technology era, the fraudsters are tech-savvy and would exploit any loophole that they see in the system,” Edeh said.
On his part, Abuja-based PoS operator Prince Adewale said stringent measures by CBN were long overdue while pleading for the assistance of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government in tackling the problem.
Adewale revealed that criminals undermine the PoS business mainly by sending “fake bank alerts” to unsuspecting operators, who will give out cash for money not received.
Recounting some of his ordeals, Adewale said, “In the first year of my operation, I had a lot of issues with fraudsters. They came with fake alerts, which made me lose a lot of money that I can’t even mention.
“Some of my colleagues have been attacked by armed robbers at gunpoint many times at POS points, and they would lose all their money, and many of them would have to close their shops and go back to square one.”
Adewale emphasised that Nigerian youths stand to lose more employment opportunities if the CBN does not intervene swiftly,
Several other PoS operators in Abuja and its environs called into the programme to vent their frustrations following the rising fraud cases.
The booming PoS business began in Nigeria after CBN introduced the agent banking system in 2013.
The innovation opened up a new portal for financial services to reach bank customers in remote, unbanked and underbanked societies.
The radio program is supported by the MacArthur Foundation.