• Mon. May 29th, 2023

Should Nigerians Worry about Faceless Money Apps?

ByYinka Okeowo

Sep 13, 2022

“After doing some research on the best platforms to trade forex, I decided to opt-in for Pocket Options,” says Samuel Utobo, a 23-year-old forex trader.

Samuel deposited $150 on Pocket Option through a bank transfer ($50) and through Binance, the largest crypto exchange platform ($100) to start trading.

It took less than 15 minutes to deposit the sum from the two platforms, but it has taken 2 weeks and counting to completely withdraw his funds.

He has been sending emails and constantly using the communication channels provided by Pocket Option to get the withdrawal issue resolved, to no avail.

Many have similar frustrating experiences as Samuel when dealing with these platforms where you can deposit funds.

It takes a few minutes to make deposits, but it takes almost forever to withdraw funds. It is a similar problem with many fintech solutions.

Fintechs

Statista in 2021 reported that 144 fintech startups existed in Nigeria. Nigeria has the highest number of fintech startups in Africa.

No doubt, these startups have disrupted traditional banking methods—anyone can open up a financial wallet or bank account without necessarily visiting any physical shop or leaving their houses.

Many years ago, traditional banks required you to come to the bank and carry out a KYC (Know Your Customer). Today, there is little or no paperwork, courtesy of the fintechs.

Despite some of these disruptions, resolving issues of failed transactions, withdrawals, and prompt customer service remains a dilemma. An excruciating experience that no customer whose funds are trapped shouldn’t experience.

Nigerians will need to start pondering if it is worth dealing with faceless apps that could collect public funds with nothing to hold on to in the case of fraud or other issues.

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Potential Fraud

Nigerians may need to start pondering how risky it is to deal with faceless money apps that could collect public funds with nothing to hold on to in the case of fraud or issues. Traditional banks, in this regard, are better to deal with.

Who do you report to when there is an urgent issue to deal with? How often do customers get a response? Many of Nigeria’s fintechs seem to have everything automated, which makes them questionable. On the other hand, in a worst-case scenario, you can visit the bank and get your issue resolved.

“I deposited some funds recently on Geegpay. It’s been over 3 weeks now, funds have not been reflected.

“Sent several messages, no reply. No number to call to get a resolution,” an online user said.

Geegpay is a digital financial platform for the gig economy. It enables users to create USD, GBP, and EUR accounts for payments for their gigs.

Cards/Failed Transactions

TechEconomy gathered that some money apps like Chipper, Carbon, and even Flutterwave are all found wanting when it comes to having an immediate reversal of funds on a failed transaction.

A customer narrating his experience with Chipper said that with Chipper, it is hard to find a solution due to a lack of response from the money app when contacted on urgent issues.

“Honestly, I used to complain about Flutterwave support, but they seem even much better. In the absence of any support, users storm their Instagram and Twitter pages asking for help. In the end, scammers disguise themselves as support and rip them off completely.

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“I will advise you to get a traditional bank dollar card. All these virtuals are not worth it. Remember, some issues may arise where you will need to get a refund.

Most transitional bank cards will remit your funds in less than 2 weeks without issues, and chargebacks here are way easier than with virtual cards. They are all dead ends.”

Another user said it took Carbon, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, almost a week to resolve the issue of a failed transaction.

“I cried. I was so frustrated. No phone number, no physical office.

“It’s sad how fintechs call themselves “neo” and “challenger” and tout their solutions as disruptive, yet they struggle to measure up to the standard of the competition they want to displace.”

Solutions

The fintech industry needs to be sanitized with customer-centric regulations. The Central Bank of Nigeria and other industry authorities must focus on developing a regulatory framework that is aimed at serving customers better. It shouldn’t just be about the issuance of an operational license.

There should be a law stating that fintechs and other money apps operators should have effective communication channels, not chatbots that respond and attend to customers’ plight.

When there is a failed transaction, it shouldn’t take more than 3 hours to get a refund, at worst 24 hours.

The negative emotions that come with depositing cash and it doesn’t reflect on the dashboard or wallet must be taken seriously. 

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