Last week, my sister and I decided to travel on the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system in Lagos. We joined the queue expecting to buy a ticket with cash, but a ticketing officer used a POS terminal to generate tickets for each of us. We had not realised that this had been the norm for a while.
A lot of small business owners find the use of POS terminals as a payment option preferable to cash. This option eliminates the problem of not having the exact change for customers during transactions, and it also minimises employee theft. The fact that the businesses do not pay for the deployment and maintenance of the terminals either is also a big plus. Not that long ago, a photo was posted on the internet of a small shop in with 6 or 7 POS terminals hanging on the wall.
If you run a small business in Nigeria, you probably understand his/her logic. From the lack of reliability from service providers to the lack of trustworthy staff, this method seems to be the ideal solution. My sister – also a small business owner who runs a catering and event management company, sometimes has customers who want to pay immediately, by card. A POS terminal provides her with the option of accepting the exact agreed amount there an then without having to hunt for change, as well as providing her customers with an instant payment notification. As she wanted to deploy a POS terminal at her business for the reasons highlighted above, we did some research on our options in Nigeria and I will share my findings on where to get POS terminals in Nigeria, costs involved, and associated charges. But first, what is a POS terminal and is it safe for customers and businesses to use?
WHAT ON EARTH IS A POS TERMINAL?
If I have already lost you, and you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, apologies. A POS (Point Of Sale) terminal is a portable device that allows businesses accept bank card payments for transactions.
Initially, this payment solution was introduced to the Nigerian business space by the Central Bank as a way of reducing the volume of cash transactions, as well as managing the risks associated with handling cash. In addition, it also encouraged the spread of electronic payment systems across the board. The Central Bank of Nigeria appointed the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBTSS) Plc as the body to regulate the value chain in the following ways:
- Protecting customers paying with their bank cards.
- Protecting business owners from fraudulent “technical experts” who might install malware to steal customers details. All terminals are maintained by the banks/issuing bodies.
So the NIBTSS is the Payment Terminal Service Aggregator (PTSA), and is the only approved entity by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) dealing with POS terminals. As such, they approve the Payment Terminal Service Providers (PTSP) who then have the task of identifying prospective merchants and winning them over. Please don’t be all surprised when they come begging you to get one. The list of approved PTSPs can be obtained here.
HOW TO GET A POS TERMINAL FROM AN APPROVED PTSP
During our research, we found that most POS terminals are issued by banks. If you are requesting a POS terminal from your bank, you will be directed to your account officer to obtain a form. However, some of these forms can equally be printed online. Here are the banks we contacted below:
My sister had any account with there, so it was easy to obtain detailed information. At Zenith bank, you will need to have held your current account for at least 6 months prior to your application.
The application form requests the full business name, the business owner account number, the business email address, phone numbers and other minor details, and processing takes 72 hours. You could email the form to email@example.com and also copy Zenithdirect@zenithbank.com. Zenithdirect@zenithbank.com is also the contact e-mail address to note if you have any problems.
The business owner will then be required to sign a POS agreement document with the bank. Upon approval, the POS terminal is delivered in less than two weeks to the business address indicated on the form.
In Guaranty Trust Bank, only current account owners qualify to receive POS terminals. Account owners must have held their accounts also for at least six months, just like Zenith Bank. The form is then emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or submitted to the account officer. The business owner is also required to sign the agreement form. See a detailed post here.
When we were tired of the research, we decided to put calls through. The customer care representative informed us that we could get the POS terminal even with a savings account as far as the relationship officer approved the request. Business owners also only need to fill the application form and the agreement, and then wait 14 days for a response.
- Merchants do not purchase the POS terminal. However, there has to be a certain minimum activity to continue enjoying the service which includes routine free maintenance.
- The terminals are serviced only through the banks.
- There is a charge of 1.25% on successful transactions which is deducted from completed transactions before being credited to your account.
Also, it appears that most banks have limited POS terminals stock available, so they tend to heavily market other options.
For instance, at the bank whose logo is an orange square and a smaller white square, they delayed my sister and I as they were trying to market the ‘737’ alternative. 737 is a means where customers can pay by transferring money to the account of the business owner via their phone using the code and their debit card details.
In all, it was a wonderful learning experience. Most other banks we contacted had similar procedures in obtaining the POS terminal.
Caveat: This is not a sponsored post. The banks we contacted were random.