The COVID-19 measures adopted by Nigerian banks are enriching the Bureau de Change operators in Lagos at the detriment of POS operators. Since the banking industry opened fully to the public after two months of skeletal operation caused by the nationwide lockdown, bank premises have been crowded within the state.
The banks had closed some branches as they gradually opened to the public since May 4, 2020. This decision had led to overcrowding in the branches opened and coupled with the directive that customers should be at a minimum in the banking hall, many customers were denied services by the banks.
Daily, the queue in GTBank branches, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, UBA, and many other first-tier banks stretched beyond the compound of these banks, and many customers have to come to the banks for two or three days before they get attended to, while some customers have still not visited their banks due to the queue and difficulty in getting attended to.
While the stress and difficulty in getting bank services are due to safety measures, the new process in banks is affecting the business of POS operators, as they can't withdraw cash for their businesses. Some POS operators go and leave the banks empty-handed due to the queue.
Except for POS operators who arrive as early as 6 am before the queue becomes long. Yet, the process has been affecting their business financially and consuming their time, as POS operators now spend less time at their kiosk than they use to post-COVID-19.
In order to avoid leaving the banks empty-handed or standing on the queue for long hours, POS operators now have to depend on BDC operators in getting cash. The BDC operators now hang around banks to offer their cash to POS operators at a cost.
The Bureau de Change operators also want to deposit their money, but because of the difficulty getting into banks, they are offloading the cash to POS operators willing to part with some percentage. BDC operators charge around N700 to N800 per N100,000 cash transfer - there are over 2500 Bureau de Change in Nigeria.
While speaking to a POS operator - located around Abule-Egba - who spoke on condition of anonymity, she said they now rely on BDC operators in order to get money since the new process of banks has become unbearable for customers looking to withdraw a large amount of money.
"The queue at banks is now long. You have to wake up early just to withdraw and wait for long before you are attended to. But some Bureau de Change operators usually stay around the banks to provide money as long as you are willing to pay, and it's affecting our business." She told AllNews.
Another POS operator in Ogba, Deborah Ajishafe, told AllNews that "the BDC operators started by offering the money without any charges because they wanted to also deposit but can't due to the queue, but since the number of POS operators in need of cash increased and they saw our desperation, they have been charging."
Aside from having to pay BDC operators, security is also a major concern for POS operators, as they carry out the transfer-for-cash outside their comfort zone. Some of the POS operators no longer go to the bank again, as they just call the BDC operators to come to give them money.