On December 1, 2022, Chioma, 32, was distraught when she couldn’t pay for a 19km Uber ride she had taken to visit a friend in Park View Estate, a well known residential community in the highbrow area of Ikoyi, Lagos.
Her bank app had not launched as she tried severally to make a transfer from her current account to the empty savings account linked to the debit card on her Uber app.
Thinking her MTN data service was the problem, she tried punching his bank’s USDD short code to make her transfer but she got an unresponsive code message.
Frustrated, she made a last attempt to access her account through her bank mobile website, but it took forever to load. To make matters worse, Chioma’s buddy was away from home, at a dragging management meeting and wouldn’t pick up her frantic calls.
“Ten minutes had passed by now. The Uber driver was looking at me funny. It was embarrassing. I had to plead with him to have some patience,” a laughing Chioma shared with Tech Cabal.
Out of Service
Chioma is one of many Bank customers who suffered embarrassment, inconvenience or loss of opportunity, as downtimes on the bank’s USSD or mobile banking services became frequent since the beginning of Covid till now , sometimes stretching days on end.
Nigerian banks are suffering attrition because talent in the tech sector is leaving the country as the banks cannot compete to keep them.
It is no longer a new knowledge that COVID changed the lives of young people who are into tech.
Tech bro now has an option, unlike before.
Tech Bro earns in dollars while living in Nigeria, and the best part is that he can earn it from the comfort of his bedroom without thinking of spending unnecessary hours in traffic because of commuting to work from Monday to Friday.
Nigerian banks are still stuck in their old ways.
They want tech bro to report to work every day, but they failed to understand that tech bro does not work like that.
He wants freedom, he wants to be in control of his time and he wants to earn more.
Sadly, the banks are still rigid and not flexible and cannot meet the new orders.
For instance, Herbert Wigew, the MD of Access, is at a loss as to why a developer is asking him to pay him a 5 million naira monthly salary and still allow him to work from home.
It sounds strange to him because he did not start his banking career that way.
Meanwhile, Flutter Wave, founded by Wigwe’s former staff member at Access bank , is offering to pay the same developer 8 million a month, and the developer can work from anywhere in the world without reporting to the office.
The result of this disagreement is a clash of interests—the clash of the old guards and the new guards—and this has led to banks losing their best talents to homegrown fintechs like Flutter Wave and Paystack.
The rest are working for tech companies abroad from their bedrooms in Lekki, and they are earning dollars.
The result of this exodus of tech talent from the banks is showing in real numbers and it is hitting the banks in real time.
Using the bank app to transfer money by bank customers is now a real war, a battle of Armageddon.
The reason is that the bank’s tech staff who used to develop and manage those apps are no longer with them.
Abubakar Suleiman, the CEO/MD of Sterling Bank, succinctly stated the challenge banks in Nigeria are facing with keeping talent when he was quoted to have said:
“So many of our very experienced talents, especially in the area of software engineering, are either leaving the industry or leaving the country.”
Then there’s Japa, which is stealing a lot of talent from the Nigerian market. In 2021, there was an over 300% increase in the number of Nigerians who were granted U.K study visas. While many of those would have been for bachelor’s degrees, middle-level managers in Nigeria are also resigning to pursue postgraduate degrees. Some HR people tell me that some senior roles are “notoriously difficult” to fill because some of the best candidates are either abroad or have their bags packed.
Tech Cabal once did a report on the attrition suffered by our banks and the exodus of talent from those banks, using GTB as a case study
Let’s hear from the Tech Cabal as they take over from here:
The shortage of talent began to compound into an increased workload and mounting pressure for remaining IT employees.
At least ten team members resigned this year from the application development team, a unit that often consists of 20 members, according to a former software developer with the bank .
“I was handling one application then it doubled as a result,” Stanley* said.
“There’s a particular team where three members have left in the space of one month.” Now, four people’s responsibilities are being juggled by one person,” another employee, at the time of the interview in May, shared.
“The pressure is crazy. One person is doing three people’s jobs all in the name of efficiency. That’s why our cost-to-income ratio will always be the lowest in the industry, “Michael*, an ex-employee, exclaimed.
The frequent loss of experienced talent without a commensurate hiring rate resulted in gaps in technical capabilities, a source explained.
He said: “The application I am managing was handled by two people, but my partner has gone to join another team. If I’m leaving now, a new person can’t cram and get a good grip on everything in my handover note within 3 weeks. We simply need more people on the team! “
This gap is often reflected when there is a service downtime towards the end of the month caused by server overload. During this period, transaction volume increases due to salary payments and other month-end payments, leading to more pressure on existing resources.
According to sources, towards the end of the month, experienced hands would usually be proactive in tracking certain metrics and moving different applications across servers to ensure there’s space for the surge. But in the absence of such hands, performance management and quality control suffer. “End.
Olowogboyega, a tech writer while writing on banks’ attrition and their infamous bank down time, shared this:
The sources say that UBA and Zenith are dealing with the same staffing problems as the rest of the Nigerian banking industry. “One unit in Zenith bank had to be collapsed because three developers left.” Last year, I even talked about a company that lost an entire department to a Canadian company. Besides the problem of retaining developers, the absence of site reliability engineers—specialists in monitoring and stabilizing services in production—is another challenge.
UBA’s downtime was partly mitigated by the fact that the bank has two mobile banking apps managed by different teams. The old app is reportedly managed by the bank’s internal team while the new app is handled by a foreign firm. Because UBA has two mobile banking apps, some UBA customers are still able to complete their transactions despite their infrastructural challenges. He concluded.
Zenith Bank has been in the news of late for this reason.
The bank app has been a mess because of the exodus of tech talent from the bank.
In this fight between the bank and their tech talents, their customers are the losers as they can’t make seamless transfers like before.
I wonder how long it will be before the bank finds a way out of the mess which Covid created for them.