Complaints from customers of five major Nigerian banks have surged by an alarming 117 percent year-on-year, reaching 6,865,217 by June 2023, according to reports by The PUNCH.
This substantial increase is in stark contrast to the 3,156,704 complaints registered during the same period in 2022.
Furthermore, financial claims linked to these complaints have escalated to a staggering N326.11 billion, marking a substantial 289 percent rise from the N83.78 billion recorded in claims during June 2022.
The banks under scrutiny in the report include United Bank for Africa, Fidelity Bank, Access Holdings, Zenith Bank Plc, and Guaranty Trust Holding Company.
Among these institutions, UBA witnessed the most significant surge in customer complaints, with the number of grievances rising to 1,930,518 as of June 2023, compared to 475,121 in the corresponding period in 2022.
This represents a remarkable 306.32 percent increase. The total value of these complaints amounted to N125.26 billion, a substantial upswing from N4.39 billion reported in June 2022.
Access Holdings also experienced a notable uptick in complaints, with a 132.25 percent increase between June 2022 and June 2023.
The number of complaints escalated from 1,387,702 to 3,222,907, with the disputed amount surging to N136.75 billion from N57.87 billion.
Fidelity Bank recorded a 77.69 percent increase in received complaints, rising to 1,010,586 from 568,738. The amount claimed reached N55.20 billion, a substantial 268 percent rise.
Zenith Bank Plc registered a more modest increase, with received complaints growing by 12.55 percent, from 220,067 in June 2022 to 247,685.
The total amount involved in these complaints was N8.38 billion, marking a 66 percent increase from the H1 2022 figure of N5.04 billion.
Guaranty Trust Holding Company was the only bank among those reviewed that experienced a decline in customer complaints, with the number decreasing from 505,076 in H1 2022 to 453,575 in H1 2023, a roughly 10 percent improvement.
The disputed amount also dropped to N517.67 million from N1.51 billion.
This significant increase in customer complaints coincided with the implementation of the Naira Redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria, which contributed to a surge in electronic transactions amid a cash shortage.
The Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System reported a 298 percent year-on-year rise in the value of electronic payment transactions to N135.52 trillion in the first quarter of 2023, up from N34.04 trillion in Q1 2022.
Experts have attributed the decline in banking services quality to a phenomenon known as ‘Japa,’ in which skilled workers, including those in the financial sector, have migrated to other countries in search of better opportunities.
This talent migration, combined with knowledge gaps in the sector, is believed to have fueled the rise in customer complaints, according to Chizor Malize, the Managing Director of Financial Institutions Training Centre.
The president of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Uju Ogubunka, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the need to address the knowledge gap to alleviate the surge in grievances from bank customers.
He said,“One of the reasons is the inexperience of the people who deal with customers at the banks in terms of skills and knowledge. In order words, the banks are hiring people without the knowledge of banking and experience.
“Unfortunately, they are not providing enough training. If the staff don’t know what to do, the only thing that will result is putting customers in situations where they have to complain.”