Banking transactions, like mobile transfers, appear simple, flexible, and straightforward on the surface. However, there is a structure behind the scenes that enables seamless money transfer between different banks. For instance, if Mr. A, a customer of ABC Bank transfers money to Mr. B, a customer of XYZ Bank, there is a structure that exists in the middle to enable money to be removed from the sender’s Bank to the receiver’s account. This structure is the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) which exists with a vision of becoming the leading provider of innovative financial services in Nigeria.
NIBSS was incorporated in 1993 as a Public Limited Liability Company (PLC) and is owned by all licensed banks and discount houses in Nigeria including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It commenced operations in June 1994. The establishment of NIBSS heralded the setting up of modern infrastructure for handling inter-bank payments to remove the bottlenecks and settlement delays associated with high value and retail transactions in the money market, as well as inter-bank foreign exchange deals. NIBSS also operates an automated clearing technology that facilitates the clearing of cheques, General Interbank Recurring Order (GIRO), Automated Direct Credits and Automated Direct Debits.
The NIBSS is also responsible for the infrastructure that enhances funds transfer. Their specialty is in Automated Processing, fund transfer instructions, and settlement of payments. They are also in charge of the Nigeria Automated Clearing Systems (NACS). They process the electronic clearing of all paper-based instruments like cheques, electronic fund transfer, automated direct debits, and automated direct credits.
As stipulated in the Company’s Memorandum and Article of Association, NIBSS exists to fulfill the following objects:
- To carry on business as a service-oriented institution that provides the mechanism for same-day clearing and settlement of inter-bank transfers and payments
- To provide infrastructure for the automated processing and settlement of transactions between banks acting on their account as regards deposit placements, Treasury Bills Transaction, Naira settlement on inter-bank foreign exchange transactions
- To initiate and develop an integrated nationwide network for the electronic or paperless payments, funds transfer, and settlement of transactions.
- To provide a framework for elevating the level of efficiency in funds transfer services generally.
Services provided by the NIBSS include the following:
- Payment services
Their payment services include:
- NIBSS Pay: This allows account number validation prior to payment, and also provides the transaction status notification.
- Electronic Pension Contribution Collection System (EPCCOS): An electronic information repository that tracks monthly employee’s pension remittance schedules produced by Employers.
- Nigeria Automated Clearing Systems (NACS): This is the automated clearing system of the entire banking and financial industry.
- NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP): It enables financial institutions to provide online real-time funds transfer services to their customers through all available electronic channels.
Services provided under this include:
- Central Pay: This is a reliable and secure card and account based web payment gateway for online payments.
- E-Bills Payment: This is an efficient payment service, which provides multiple billers and institutions, online monetary collections and payments.
- Central Mandate Management System (CMMS): A data repository for financial and non-financial mandate instructions relating to services issued by a subscriber to a biller.
- Payment Terminal Service Aggregator (PTSA): An aggregation and interconnection of all Point of Sale (PoS) device terminals deployed by banks and other licensed card schemes in Nigeria.
- New Quick Response (NQR) Payment: This is a service QR-code based payment and collections platform designed for merchants and customers to receive and make payments for goods and services.
- Data and identity services which include Name, Enquiry, USSD Validation services, Bank Verification Number (BVN). The aim is to identify and validate customers’ database.
- Payment innovation: This creates a platform that is open to customers’ innovative ideas and creativity for possibilities in payment modernization to drive the payment system.
- Nigeria Central Switch: This facilitates the entry of new players into the financial industry; to seamlessly plug into the financial services sector for easy operations.
- Payment Terminal and Application Certification: This system ensures that payment terminals deployed in Nigeria meet all required certification and the minimum POS specifications as defined in the CBN approved guidelines.
BOARD OF NIBSS
The NIBSS board comprises the Chairman who is the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and Representatives of the stipulated Banks. The representatives of the stipulated banks serve as Directors, Executive Directors, and see to the Executive Management group of the organization.
SOME SPECIAL PROJECTS OF THE NIBSS SO FAR
Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) as an enabler in the banking sector, is also engaged in some special projects designed to enhance various aspects of the financial sector. These projects are targeted towards Capacity Building, enhancing technical knowledge, improving the integrity of the financial system, and laying requisite foundations to support the improvement of financial services. Some of these projects are highlighted in the paragraphs that follow:
- Global Standing Order (GSI): Together with CBN and other Banks, NIBSS introduced the GSI to promote a sound financial system in Nigeria, by enhancing loan recovery process across the Nigeria Banking Sector. The GSI serves as the last resort by a Creditor Bank, without recourse to the Borrower, to recover past-due obligations (Principal and Accrued Interest only, excluding any Penal Charges) from a defaulting Borrower through a direct set-off from deposits/investments held in the Borrower’s qualifying bank accounts domiciled with participating financial institutions within the Nigeria Financial System. This means that where Mr. B is indebted to Bank XYZ and has failed to settle that obligation, monies can be deducted from Mr. B’s accounts in Bank ABC to settle that obligation.
- Biometrics: In the financial sector, biometric technologies have been used to analyze human characteristics as an enhanced form of authentication for real-time security processes. This could be through fingerprint, signature, etc. NIBSS is the driver of the Nigerian Financial System project which is aimed at providing a means of first identifying and verifying all individuals that have account(s) in any Nigerian bank and consequently, as a means of authenticating customer’s identity at the point of transactions.
- Business Activity Monitoring: NIBSS provides valuable data and business analytics to assess Banks’ contribution to overall performance in the industry. This equips banks and other players with the statistical muscle needed to navigate today’s complex financial terrain. Such business analytics include transactional volumes and values, product performance trending (by minute, hours, days, or months), industry performance comparisons, and many others.
- NIBSS Automated Payment Services (NAPS): This is an integrated multi-bank e-Payment, e-Collection, and Payroll & Bulk payment Platform. It is designed for the instant processing of payroll, pension, personnel records, and execution of funds transfer, direct debit, collections, schedule delivery and payment instructions. NIBSS desires to strengthen and enhance bulk payment processing, to deliver improved operational efficiencies and increased functionality to its customers through the adoption and deployment of the NAPS Platform for inter-bank transactions.
- Payment System Consulting: NIBSS guides financial system automation in Nigeria’s banking sector and in other African countries whose financial systems are not robustly developed. This followed their pioneering role in the development of automated processes for cheque processing and settlement of financial transactions. Their consultancy includes offering assistance for hardware sourcing and software development and procurement to African nations.
- Pay Africa (Cross Boarder Payment): The Cross Border Payment initiative is intended to deliver the capability of account-based cross-border payments, which will allow customers of banks in Nigeria to send and receive money to and from banks in other African countries.
- Payment Terminal & Application Certification: In August 2011, the Central Bank of Nigeria approved the Guidelines on Point of Sale (PoS) Card Acceptance Services. NIBSS was mandated to act as the Payments Terminal Service Aggregator for the financial system to ensure comprehensive oversight, reporting/performance monitoring, and also conforming to the objectives of shared industry infrastructure and best practices. Consequently, NIBSS is responsible for the certification and re-certification of all payment terminals and applications on behalf of the Industry. This will ensure that payment terminals deployed in Nigeria meet all required certifications and the minimum POS specifications as defined in the CBN-approved guidelines.
- NIBSS Training: NIBSS runs a corporate Training Center, which provides specialized Electronic Payments courses for Banks Personnel, Corporate entities, Government agencies, and interested stakeholders in the Nigerian Financial Space.
Given the vast mandate that NIBSS has in the financial sector, it is only right that they partner with other recognized institutions and industry players to achieve greater impact. Their partners over the years include:
- Financial institutions, which include all the Banks in Nigeria.
- Regulators like Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria.
- Payment Terminal Service Providers like Arca, PayU, CoralPay, Cellulant, CashEnvoy, and Computer Warehouse Group (CWG).Payment Terminal Application Developers like Interswitch, CWG, Arca, Citi-Serve, Chams Access, Globasure, Global Accelerex
- Private Switching Companies like Arca, Interswitch, Etranzact, Bema Switch, 3 Line
- Primary Mortgage Institutions in Nigeria.
- Capital Market Registrars
- Payment Solution Service Providers like Flutterwave, Paystack, Arca.
- Government and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)
- Telecommunication Companies like MTN, Airtel, Glo, and 9mobile.
- Insurance Companies.
The existence of NIBSS has proven to be of great relief to commercial banks in Nigeria and contributes a great deal towards the success of financial services in the country. Commencement of operation by NIBSS facilitated the setting up of modern infrastructures for handling interbank payments to enhance ease in funds transfer. This gives financial institutions some focus on providing their services without having to worry about infrastructural technicalities.