POS/ATM Transactions: Is Your Bank Stealing Your Money?

How to Avoid Losing Your Hard Earned Money to Banks



Reagan Supermarket & Wines-Uyo



Its Friday, 20th July 2018. 11a.m precisely. The July rains are slowly drizzling outside the premises of the branch of a highly capitalized Nigerian commercial bank, Mrs Onome Arikpo (not real names) walks into the banking hall and heads straight to the customer services personnel, “Please am here again for my POS matter, you asked me to come back today for it” she said. The customer services officer, obviously angry from early morning pressure from other customers and Mrs Onome’s frequent visit to the bank to resolve the same issue, replies “madam, there is nothing we can do, we have told you that before; go back to your bank”. At this point, Mrs Onome’s brings out an aluminum plate and begins to hit it profusely and shouting in the banking hall “ give me my money o oooo, give me my money. I have been coming to this bank since November, 2017 on this same issue with no solution, give me my money, you must give me my money today”.

Security personnel move in, begin to drag Mrs Onome, Mrs Onome, dives to the floor of the banking hall, sits down on the floor still shouting, give me my money; security agents drag Mrs Onome, part of her clothe is torn, exposing parts of her body. Senior bank officials move in to arrest the situation, security personnel are asked to leave her, Mrs Onome is eventually calmed by the bank seniors.

As a POS user(customer) or a Merchant(Retail Business Owner), you must have experienced POS failure at some point during business transactions; the long and frustrating process of recovering your trapped funds from the banks and/or merchant adds salt to injury. As a POS user, charging you without giving you commensurate value is bad enough, but putting you through more pains is even worse; it makes you wonder at times, “is the bank trying to “steal” my money or is it the merchant I bought from who is trying to be funny”?

Truth is, anytime you experience a POS failure and you are being charged, your money is NOT lost or STOLEN, rather it is stock in the POS transactions pipeline and only needs painstaking follow up for your money to be returned to you. The problem is, the customer services persons in your bank:

  • may not be patient enough to help you file the chargeback claim
  • may not have been sufficiently trained to handle this kinds of transaction(the best some of them will do will be to check your account for the particular debit in dispute and inform you the money has left your account and so, you need to go ask the merchant to refund your money to you!!)
  • maybe loaded with too much job such that he/she considers the charge claim a “disturbance”
  • may just have work attitude problems or is out rightly lazy

Parties to A POS Transaction

The POS transaction value chain has many parties to it; it’s not just your bank and the merchant you bought goods from; there are many others. As a matter of fact, you the buyer or customer, are a key member of the chain. Parties involved in the POS Transactions Chain include but not limited to:

  • You(The Cardholder or Customer)
  • The Merchant(e.g. mall, hospital, hotel, shop, school or other)
  • Payment Terminal Service Aggregator e.g.Nigeria Interbank Settlement System(NIBSS)
  • Card Issuer e.g.Banks
  • Merchant Acquirer: This is the merchant’s bank
  • Switching Companies
  • Payment Services Terminal Providers(PTSPs)
  • POS Terminal Owner

As a cardholder doing business with an organization, you may not directly “see” these other parties involved in the process; you will probably only see “you (cardholder)”, the merchant (selling stuff to you), your ATM card (issued to you by your bank) and the POS device or machine.

How to Recover Your Money when it is Trapped During a POS/ATM Transaction

If you use your card to make payment via POS/ATM machine and you are charged but not given value, don’t panic, just follow these steps to recover your money:

  • Obtain a POS Declined printout/ticket from the merchant. Where there is no printout like it would normally happen in a “Wave Loss or Signal Loss” situation, ask the merchant(seller or service provider) to give you a form to fill and make sure you do not delete the sms alert evidencing the transaction from your phone. You will need it in the process.
  • Visit your bank to “log” your complaint (Your bank will give you a form to fill and submit). Do not visit the merchant’s bank or the bank whose ATM machine you used when the failed transaction occurred. For example, if you used Zenith Bank’s ATM Machine to transact and you are a First Bank of Nigeria customer, do not go to Zenith Bank to log your complaint simply because your transaction go trapped in Zenith Bank’s ATM/POS machine. Instead, go to Zenith Bank where you have an account and log the complaint. These kinds of misdirected complaints “log” happen a lot among cardholders leading to unnecessary, avoidable delays in the e-payments dispute resolution process.
  • Follow up with your bank. This is to ensure your complaint is adequately logged in the POS/ATM Dispute Resolution System. This is important is because the bank official whom you give your complaints form to may forget to log it and as far as the system does not “see” your complaint, you have not started the resolution process.
  • Your money is returned. Once your complaint is adequately “logged”. Your money will be refunded to you in days.

What happened to Mrs Onome in our opening story was a combination of the challenges faced by card holders during failed e-transactions. First, she directed her complaint to the wrong bank(her money was trapped in bank A meanwhile she was a customer of bank B). Second, the customer services person never took pains to listen to Mrs Onome before attempting a resolution, in the end the customer was made to go through eight months of completely unnecessary delay. Do not let this happen to you!


Having Issues with reconciling your POS transactions with your bank Or managing or strengthening key aspects of your existing business? Come talk to us! Send us an email here info@steepelglobal.com.ng or call us on +234 80 561 78895 or +234 81 8170 1100. Also follow us on Facebook @SteepleGlobalServices or our Twitter handle @steepleglobal or Instagram@Steepleglobalservices and let’s discuss ideas and help you begin your journey towards financial freedom!

Steeple Global Services(www.steepleglobal.com.ng ) is a business consulting firm based in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. We help to bring your business idea into reality, set up your new