COVID-19 Pandemic Negatively Affecting Financial inclusion As Customers Avoid Banks

It has become usual to see crowds and cars in their numbers at bank premise in Nigeria, particularly in Oyo State, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many bank customers have continued to speak about their harsh experiences due to long hours and suffering they go through in trying to transact businesses in banks since the outbreak of coronavirus in Nigeria.

Following their experiences, many avoid going to the banks.

In most of the banks visited in Ibadan metropolis, customers queued endlessly and were made to sit under canopies while ensuring social distance and other safety protocols waiting to enter banking halls.

And while they wait, many are agitated and quarrel and sometimes indulge in name calling and fights as a way of venting their frustration.

It is not unusual to hear noises and see people abusing one another in their quest to gain access to the banking hall like in the video below.

Meanwhile, in many banking halls, many jettison social distancing and other COVID-19 safety protocols.

Mr Rotimi Omoniyi, a resident of Ibadan, said he would rather not talk about the stress he encountered when he visited his bank.

“You get to the bank very early in the morning, you meet more than a hundred people queuing up to enter the bank.

“So if you have other means you wouldn’t want to face it.

“I have seen a number of people with no bank accounts; such people depend on those who have an account to help them make transactions.

“Especially with the use of BVN (Bank Verification Number) some people have yet to update their accounts and so most of the time they depend on other people,” Omoniyi said.

Another customer, Mrs Elizabeth Akinade, said going to the bank at this time was a terrible experience as occasioned by COVID-19.

“There was a day that I wanted to pay a cheque in, I got to the banking premises by 8a.m. without having my breakfast to save time but I left the bank by 11:30a.m.

“I suffered hunger that day, in fact it was terrible.

“Most times I make use of an ATM Automated Teller Machine) to withdraw money,” she said.

Akinade urged those who intending to open bank accounts to do so after the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid going through stress.

Mrs Mutiat Bashiru said, “I spent one hour on Monday transacting in the bank.

“Those who can’t make it to banks should use community banking outlets in their areas like PAGA, I think that one will be better for them.”

A man who did not want to be identified but did not have a bank account because of his faith, told HumAngle, “I don’t have a bank account because of religious reasons.

“I am with a group called ‘the Capuchins’. They are a religious order within the Catholic Church that believes in the community.

“So as a community we have an account that we operate but as an individual I don’t own an account.

“We depend on the community for our needs. The community caters for all my needs so I don’t have the experience of banking per se.

“But within the community we have those who are in-charge of the finances, so they are the ones that directly deal with the banks,” he said.

But for others who, unlike the religious man might wish to open accounts, this is not the time to do so.

A bank official who pleaded anonymity, said due to difficulty in gaining access to banks, such persons were not encouraged to come.

“Nowadays there are queues at banks but not to open an account. People come to lodge one complaint or the other such as excessive charges on ATM or ATM cards not functioning and other hitches,” the official said.

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