Network hitches linger as slow Internet impacts banking, businesses

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It appears there is no respite yet for consumers, especially those who make use of the Internet facility, as the service has remained at its lowest ebb in the last five days, churning out very low speed.

The slow Internet service has made banking transactions difficult, especially across all electronic banking platforms, including online, ATM, Instant Transfers, among others.

The challenge, which was caused by damage to the submarine cable system, the West African Cable System (WACS) on the high seas in Europe, belonging to MTN, has made life a bit difficult for a large number of subscribers, who use the telecommunications network in Nigeria, and some West African countries.

MTN is the largest operator in Nigeria with a 38 percent market share and about 67 million customers. Though Nigeria has about 123 million Internet users, the South African telecommunications firm has connected about 53 million people in the country to the Internet.

Subscribers have been having hitches downloading and uploading content online, while bank customers to are faced with incomplete transaction processes.

Investigations by The Guardian showed that various banking transactions, which rely on the Internet facilities have remained poorly-served in the last few days, and subsequently impacted financial transactions.

Many bank customers, who tried doing instant transfers, using some USSD platforms belonging to some of the financial institutions found it very difficult, recording huge failure rates.

The banking halls too have not been finding it easy, as crowd besieged some of the halls, which forced some banks to extend service hours beyond the normal time.

For instance, GTB, in a text message to its customers on Monday, said it will extend its service hours.

The message reads: “Dear Customer, we know you have experienced some inconvenience today using our banking channels. We sincerely apologise for the disruption in our service delivery to you, and we are extending banking hours at our branches till 6 pm today. Thank you for banking with us.”

GTB however, sent a text yesterday informing the customers that its banking services have been restored.

The text read: “All services on our banking channels have been restored. This means that normal service levels have been restored and you can now access all our banking services – online, via *737#, and in all our branches nationwide.

“We sincerely apologise for every inconvenience you may have experienced as a result of the service disruption on our banking channels today.”

But The Guardian checks as yesterday showed that transactions, across many banks, are still not as seamless as it used to be before the Internet slowdown. It could take about five hours, after repeated exercise before a transaction can go through.

Speaking with The Guardian, Senior Manager, External Relations in MTN, Funso Aina, said if it is about the WACS cable system, “I can tell you that the matter has been resolved. That some banks are having issues may not necessarily have a link with the system. Some of the banks have been having issues long before the submarine cable challenge came up. But, from MTN end, we have resolved the matter. You also need to know that the cable in question is an international one. So, those challenges may not be from MTN.”

A telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, however, said that it may take a week or two for services to come back fully. “Let’s believe MTN has fixed the challenge, but just like a wound, it will not heal the same day; it will take some process. The WACS cable was damaged, they have fixed it, but it will take some time for things to be restored back to normal.”

Aluko also urged banks to upgrade their network facilities to be able to cater to the need of the banking customers. “We can’t go digital or cash-less in this form. The banks and telcos must invest heavily on their networks if transactions, browsing must be seamless,” he stressed.

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