Business Hilights
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Expert hits banks, reveals causes of network failures, service disruptions

Leading cyber security expert and systems engineer, Mr. Kunle Sadiq has given the reasons behind watery excuses always given by bank officials at the banking halls in times of service hiccups.

This is as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned money deposit banks against poor services, asking them to shape up or close shop.

Sadiq told Business Hilights in an exclusive interview that “Whereas few banks have built their digital systems with the latest technologies that are downtime free, there are still some banks that hardly upgrade the technology they use”.

“Lack of regular upgrade of operating systems can cause serious issues and challenges of either malfunctioning of core banking software, inadequacy of the software.

“As you can see in many banks, customers are increasingly turned down from updating their accounts except they go to the branch of domicile, on the grounds that it cannot be done through the unified core banking system. In other instances, funds transfers from one account to another, even within the same bank, are not completed, and may take up to one month or more, depending on the level of efficiency of the banks to return the funds to the owner’s account.

The expert revealed further that many of the banks do not employ certified systems engineers and those that employ at all hardly send them on further training due to costs.

Sadiq said the immediate result of this is seen in the form of lack of trained personnel to operate the systems.

“The situation has also raised questions over the functionality of the deployed banking software, as well as the validity of several claims by the operators of acquisition of sophisticated software aimed at ensuring the efficiency of the unified banking system The developments, observed in major banks’ branches, have raised concerns over the availability of skilled personnel to carry out the operations, given the recent downsizing in the industry.

“Specifically, these banks were not able to update customers’ accounts that were previously opened in another branch as they failed to access the details. Officials of these banks claim it can only be done at the branch of domicile, a situation that appears strange given the level of the country’s payments system.

 “Let me tell you, there are some banks that will like to go back to analogue banking if they are giving the chance due to the fact that their top management staff and some directors up till now, failed to be in line with the technology demands of banking business.

“However, I must say, there are some banks I can tell you that they are most rugged in maintaining their servers. I think Zenith, GTB and just few others. What I cannot tell you are the names of banks that that do not upgrade their applications as and when due.

“A fellow engineer told me last two months that a bank has given him a contract to work on their system, but up till now they have not mobilized him; meaning that the problem is still there and they are still giving services to their customers amidst the up and down syndrome of their system.

It would be recalled that the Director of Banking and Payment System Department of the CBN, Dipo Fatokun, had threatened to sanction any bank found wanting and empowered the banking public not to withhold any form of complaints suggesting technology hitches, but speak out against inefficiencies.

The caution followed series of complaints by customers of frustrations in completing their transactions at various branches or at Automotive Teller Machines (ATMs), most associated with system failures or poor network connectivity.

With regard to money transfers, Fatokun said it was one of the simplest banking transactions. “After six minutes, the receiving account should be credited, if not, the bank should give a reason. Also the refund in the event of uncompleted transaction for one reason or another, should also take minutes not weeks or months.”