The Deposit Money Banks in the country, in collaboration with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, have launched a new automated cheque clearing application called i-Teller.
The i-Teller, which is the new National Automated Clearing System, allows banks to clear cheques within hours.
The DMBs, in collaboration with NIBSSS and Precise Financial System, began the test-running of the new application (infrastructure) 11 weeks ago.
A total of N5tn worth of cheques from 10 million transactions has been processed through the new platform in the past 11 weeks.
The Managing Director, NIBSS, Mr. Ade Sonubi, who spoke at the ‘’Post Go-Live Session” held with the representatives of the DMBs on Tuesday, said NIBSS had been on the project for the past 18 months but it went live in the banks about 11 weeks ago.
He said the new application could allow banks to do a number of payment and non-payment transactions.
Sonubi said, “The platform we have now can allow cheques to be cleared within hours. This is what we called Special Clearing. This can happen such that as soon as a cheque is presented, it is treated in an isolated manner and value can be made. That is possible on this new system. It is not the norm but it is possible now. What you need to do is to inform the bank so that they take special care in quickly processing the cheque. The system also allows for multiple clearing sessions as well.
”Today, we have about four clearing sessions. The advantage of having multiple clearing sessions is that the net amount against each bank is smaller, so you are able to manage settlement risks. So, we can have as many as you want and that is the flexibility that we built into it. We can issue a cheque and it can be cleared within six hours, four hours or at whatever duration we agree.”
The Head, Domestic Payments and Collections, Union Bank Plc, Mr. Kolawole Aminu, described the platform as being user-friendly.
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Asked why banks are adopting a new application when countries are planning to phase out cheques, Aminu said, “Phasing out cheques is a development across the globe. You will agree with me that the United Kingdom that tried to hurry up that process has had to even slow it down because of the obvious implications they experienced. In our system here in Nigeria, we are aware that the system will come to a time in the future where cheques will not be used as a mode of payment.
“But as at today, we are talking of transactions that are worth over N5tn that has been processed on this platform just within 11 weeks. We are talking of over 10 million in terms of the volume of cheques. That tells you how much we do with this mode of payment.”
The Managing Director, Precise Financial System, the ICT firm that collaborated with NIBSS on the project, Yele Okeremi, said the firm was proud to work with NIBSS on the project.
Okeremi said, “Like the MD of NIBSS said, what we have given is an infrastructure. It is a switch. It can switch anything. I look forward to when that infrastructure can be used for other transactions. When a country talks about independent, sovereignty, these are some of the things that matter. How much of your services are internal to you? Are you breathing through the nose of other countries and you claim you are independent? These are some of the things that make one happy and we can say that Nigeria’s problems are being gradually solved. There is a big road ahead.”
A representative of the Banking and Payment System unit of the CBN at the event, Mr. Ojerinde Ademola, said the CBN was happy with the move and would continue to support the industry to grow.