1 August 2012

Tanzania: National ATM Switch in Pipeline

Dodoma — IN a bid to check hitches associated with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the country, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) plans to introduce a national switch that would enable customers of all banks to use any machine at any time, the National Assembly was told.

Deputy Minister for Finance, Ms Saada Mkuya Salum, made the revelations here while responding to a basic question by Ms Bahati Ali Abeid (Special Seats-CCM).

She also hinted that a survey on national payments systems including ATMs conducted by BoT in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar has established that a majority of the machines meet international standards.

The Deputy Minister explained that the BoT through the National Payments Directorate conducted a survey on ATMs of 14 commercial banks in Dar es Salaam between January and May, this year.

The inspected institutions included the National Microfinance Bank (NMB), CRDB Bank, FBME Bank, National Bank of Commerce (NBC), Stanbic Bank and KCB Bank as well as Azania Bank, Exim Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.

Others are Tanzania Postal Bank (TIB), Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB), Bank of Baroda in addition to United Bank of Africa (UBA) and Barclays Bank. Ms Salum was reacting to a basic question by Ms Bahati Ali Abeid (Special Seats-CCM) who had sought to know whether the Central Bank conducts inspections on ATMs.

The Deputy Minister said the survey is conducted annually where experts at BoT conduct inspections on national payment systems including ATMs and Tanzania Inter-Bank Settlement System (TISS).

The Deputy Minister explained further that the bank also conducts inspections in zones, noting that between March and April, this year, the BoT had conducted inspections of all ATMs in Zanzibar.

She, however, admitted that the survey established some faulty machines in some commercial banks which was linked to 'configuration snags' after the BoT issued new bank notes, poor internet network while some of the machines failed to issue receipts.

Ms Mkuya said further that since the inspection exercise requires a lot of money, the central bank would allocate adequate funds to conduct assessments of ATMs countrywide. "However, at present the BoT receives on monthly basis a report on performance of ATMs from all financial institutions including the faulty ones which require repair," she said.

She noted that if a bank is found with faulty machines that do not meet the international standards, the central bank has powers to order the respective financial institution to replace them with ATMs that meet required standards.

"Even so, the banks have placed telephone numbers on the ATMs booths so that if the machines are short of cash or experiencing network problems, a customer would be able to call the respective bank for redress," Ms Salum said.

In a supplementary question, Ms Bahati questioned what she described as 'theft' in the ATMs where the machines fail to discharge money when a customer withdraws cash and yet it would indicate that the money has been withdrawn. In response, the Deputy Minister said the failure by the ATMs to dispense cash is mainly due to technical faults and not theft.

She, however, urged customers to report any hitches to their respective banks since not all the technical faults could be detected by the banks immediately.

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