Financial experts call for deployment of more ATMs in Nigeria

By Funmilola Gboteku
Lagos, Aug.14, 2020 The Executive Director of Inlaks, Tope Dare, has called for deployment of more ATM Machines to boost Nigeria’s financial inclusion target.

Dare made the appeal during a virtual conference organised by Fintech 1000 Webinar Series, with the theme: “What Future for ATMs in Nigeria-Death or Resurgence”.

He said that low deployment of ATMs was hindering the country’s financial inclusion target.

According to him, factors discouraging its growth in Nigeria ranging from increasing cost of power at offsite locations to merger and acquisition among banks.

“Other challenges causing low deployment can be attributed to high offsite rental, regulations requiring banks to seek specific Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s approval.

“This is prior to offsite ATM deployment or relocation, and CBN regulation on end-user fee has also made investments in ATMs less profitable.

“Also, FX cost increases impacts on costs of ATM acquisition” Dare said.

According to him, ATMs play a key role in the successful migration of customers out of the branches to other payment options.

Dare noted that Nigeria still has lower ATM numbers than India, even after it updated its cashless policy.

The executive director said that to improve the growth of ATMs in Nigeria, the Federal Government must give forex concession to ATM importers to allow them access forex at the CBN rate.

He said there must be a reward and intervention fund for banks that deploy ATM to remote locations, noting that most banks would not deploy ATMs to remote areas, because they would have to spend more on power generation.

Dare said that financial support programme must also be extended to the ATM channel, given its key role in financial inclusion success.

Also, Mr Bob Nwojo, the Group Head, Acceptance Business at First Bank, said that ATMs had remained relevant and still offered essential services to the nation.

Nwojo, however, said that ATMS must evolve amid rapid changes in the cash economy and the rise in digital payment to meet the demands of a new generation of customers.

He noted that Nigeria still had a long way to go in the area of ATM deployment.

“If we compare the number of ATMs so far deployed in Nigeria against that of South Africa and Brazil, Nigeria with a population of 200 million has deployed 18,731 ATMs in 2019.

“Brazil with almost the same size of our population, 211 million, has deployed 172, 600 ATMs.

“With similar population figures, Brazil has nearly 10 times the number of ATMs than Nigeria and over four times the number of branches per 100,000 customers.

“South Africa with 58 million population was said to have deployed 30,000 ATMs as of last year,” the group head said.

On the threat facing its growth in Nigeria, he said decrease in profit, quality and availability of cash, cost effective alternative solutions, unfriendly and inadequate infrastructure were some of the factors hindering the deployment of ATMs.

On what the future holds for ATMs, Nwojo, said there was a need to re-invent or rethink the role of ATMs to become more competitive in the market through ground breaking innovations

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