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Across the counter: Customers groan as service disruptions hit banks



Across the counter: Customers groan as service disruptions hit banks


The past weeks have been challenging for the banking sector and telecommunications industry in Nigeria due to the internet outage caused by the damage to the international gateway undersea cable.

A statement by Netblocks, an internet watchdog for cybersecurity and digital governance, revealed that the internet disruption across West and Central African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Togo, and Cameroon, among others, was caused by an external incident that shut off MainOne, ACE sea cables, West African Cable System and SAT3 cables in the Atlantic Ocean offshore Cote D’Ivoire, and along the West African coast.

Customers of financial institutions in Nigeria couldn’t perform financial transactions on their phones due to the internet glitch, however, some commercial banks sent emails to their customers notifying them of the issue while providing an alternative way to perform financial transactions.

Sola Odujebe, a 37-year-old businessman told our correspondent he experienced difficulties while trying to log into FCMB’s mobile app on Thursday 14th March 2024, and Friday, 15th March. However, he stated that he received an email from the bank notifying him of the temporary service unavailability on its digital platforms and urging him to use their alternative banking platforms in the meantime.

“I was trying to log into my FCMB mobile app on Friday, but I couldn’t, because the service was unavailable. I tried countless times but all to no avail. It was frustrating, because it disrupted my plan for the day. On Thursday, I received an email from them stating that the service failure was a technical issue from one of their network partners,” he said.

Below is the email FCMB sent to its customers informing them of the bank’s service unavailability on all its digital platforms. The bank advised its customers to use alternative channels for their transactions.

“We are aware that you may be experiencing service unavailability on *329#, FCMB Mobile, Internet Banking (Personal & Business), and our Agent Banking platform (Interbank Transfers).

This is a result of a technical issue we are currently experiencing with one of our network partners, which the partner is working hard to resolve.

Our alternative services (FCMB ATMs and POS) are available for you to carry out your transactions. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and will update you as soon as the channels become available for your use,” the email stated.

Likewise, Polaris bank customers experienced similar issues, which prompted the bank to send an email to its customers assuring them of service restoration.

“We are aware that you may be experiencing difficulties accessing VULTe and Polaris Xperience. Please be assured that all hands are on deck to restore normalcy. We apologize for any inconvenience and will notify you once services are restored. Thank you for making Polaris Bank your preferred Bank,” the bank said.

Chinonso Nwolisa, a Polaris bank customer lamented over his inability to initiate transfers from his Polaris VULTe App on Friday.

“On Friday, I was unable to transfer on my Polaris VULTe app. The network was terrible such that I couldn’t do anything. I stopped trying when I realized it was a general issue. The money someone sent to me didn’t enter my account until after two days,” he said.

Mariam Lawal, a Zenith bank customer who spoke with our correspondent said she experienced difficulties while trying to initiate transactions on the bank’s digital platforms at a Supermarket on Thursday.

“On Thursday, March 14th, 2024, I was at the supermarket to shop for groceries. When I got to the counter, I tried paying with my card through POS but the transaction was declined. I tried to transfer to the supermarket’s account but I couldn’t transfer at all on my mobile app, and when I tried using USSD, it failed too. I had to drop everything I bought. It was so embarrassing,” she fumed.


However, the bank sent an email to its customers notifying them of the cause of the downtime, while revealing that it was working with its internet service providers to reroute traffic through alternative routes.

”Please be informed that we are experiencing service disruptions due to internet outage as a result of the submarine communication cable cut, that is affecting countries along the West African coast. You may, therefore, experience some challenges performing transactions with our Internet Banking Platform and Mobile Banking App. We are currently working with our internet service providers to reroute traffic through alternative routes and resolve the situation as soon as possible,” the bank stated.

An Access Bank customer, who spoke with our correspondent shared his experience over the non-reversal of failed transactions since Friday, March 15th.

“On Friday, March 15th, I bought airtime and data worth ₦5000. I noticed the airtime didn’t reflect on my MTN account balance, and the data didn’t reflect either. Also, the money I transferred to someone since that day has been hanging, and the recipient hasn’t received the money till now. My bank account was debited for these transactions, and I haven’t received reversals until now,” he said.

Annabel Iwu, a Wema bank customer expressed her displeasure over the bank’s service disruption on Thursday, adding that she couldn’t log in to the ALAT app until Friday.

“On Thursday, I tried to log in to my ALAT app but I was unable to login despite several attempts. I tried to use my other bank but the service was down as well. I was annoyed until I learnt that it was due to the undersea cable cut,” she said.

Sterling Bank customers weren’t exempted from the downtime issue as its customers experienced difficulties trying to log in to Sterling’s One bank mobile app, thereby interrupting financial transactions.

“Friday, March 15 was an unproductive day for me because I had many tasks to do but I couldn’t do anything. Sterling Bank’s One bank app was down and I was unable to log in. MTN network was also terrible throughout the day,” Abisola lamented.


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