22 April 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

Fidelity *770# Cardless withdrawal powered by Quickteller Paycode to my rescue at MM Intl. Airport Lagos

Two Fridays ago, I got to truly appreciate the fact that Nigeria (Lagos to be specific) is at a stage where there's is a proliferation of fintech solutions. In the past, I've been of the bias that why does one need so many methods/alternatives to perform the same basic banking transactions like funds transfers, bill payments, buying airtime, cash withdrawals and depositing cash. And more so why every other day, a new service or start-up pops up on my radar, claiming to offer these same services in a better way. At this point, I humbly dump all of that bias in the trash, thanks to my experience that fateful morning.

I was in the MM Lagos international airport departures lobby. My flight to Freetown Sierra Leone was going to take off in a little over two hours. After I had checked in and received my boarding pass, I needed to pay for my instant yellow fever vaccination card. Apart from that, I also needed to buy some dollars to be recovered as Leones at my final destination, since I didn't have any internationally viable (MasterCard/Visa) ATM card on me.

At this point, I remembered that all the cash I had on me was exactly 250 Naira only. No worries, I thought, before proceeding to the only ATM on the departures floor of the airport (First Bank). I swear, this thing was slow as fuck. It took like 5 minutes for one to get a single bundle of cash out of the machine. "I still have time anyway", I thought to myself, not in the least bit flustered by the situation at hand.

After what might have been 30 minutes, it was finally my turn to use the machine. At long last, I thought to myself, ignorant of what goodies mama fate had in stock for me. I put my card into the machine and after 30 seconds of absolute stillness, I thought I heard that very familiar sound that the machine is having issues reading your card. I quickly shrugged off the thought. After all, I had used the Verve card at a supermarket POS terminal successfully just last night.

Alas, it so turned out that two minutes after card insertion, my fears were proved valid. The ATM spat out my cardless with a very user-friendly message of "No Card App found" (if my memory serves me correctly). Ugh! Much to the chagrin of the queue of 6 persons which had now formed behind me, I remained in front of the laggardly machine for another consecutive turn. "No, machine. I'm not gonna give up on you that easily, not today", I thought to myself to justify my borderline selfish decision to take two turns at once. One more time, the machine rejected my card, probably with the same message (of which I can't be sure now since, at this point, I had started to worry).

Free stock photo from https://www.pexels.com/photo/adventure-beach-lost-man-6804/
To avoid getting mobbed, I decided to step aside for the guy behind me to use the machine, deciding to have another go when he was done. As soon I was aside from the ATM, I remembered the Cardless Withdrawal feature on Fidelity Bank *770# which has rescued me several times (click through to see the meaning of this oft misappropriated word. You might be shocked like I was a few months ago).

On the same spot, I swiftly logged on to my Fidelity Bank mobile app to do a self-transfer from my savings to my current account which is my default USSD account with the bank. Once done, I proceed to generate a cash withdrawal code of 20000 Naira by dialling the Fidelity USSD short-code for that feature: *770*8*20000#

Within a minute, and of course, before the guy behind me had even completed his transaction, I had received my Paycode, both on the Fidelity USSD display and also as an SMS message. Man, was I excited? For some reason, knowing intimately how these systems can be sometimes, I was afraid that I might not be able to generate a code due to a temporary glitch. Of which that one would probably have been what we colloquially call "ONE CHANCE" or "O-Y-O" around here.

Once the guy was done with the ATM, I proceeded to try and redeem my Paycode from the same First Bank ATM. Alas, this time, the problem was that the Quickteller Paycode button on the machine was not working. mschew. Thankfully, I'd overheard someone saying there were a lot more ATMs in the arrivals lobby, just one floor below the departures hall. Before going there, I confirmed this from one of the cleaners working in the hall.

Arriving at the arrivals terminal, I was borderline angry with myself for having wasted over half an hour on the sluggish First Bank ATM queue. At the very least, there were ATMs from UBA, EcoBank, Zenith Bank, GTBank in this hall. And none of them seemed to be particularly busy. Hurray!

I walked straight to the GTBank machine (because GTBank; actually no because it was totally vacant; actually yes, as it was neither the only free machine nor even the closest to my entry point. But honestly, you have to give it to GTBank's ATM application design and features).

And yes friend, in a fleeting minute, this here young man's hour-long challenge with withdrawing cash at the airport lobby was completely out of the way. I spent about 10 seconds after my card-free ATM cash hit my hand, waiting for the machine to produce my card. Until I realized my silliness, much to the acknowledgement of a bystander who told me politely when our eyes met that he had wondered, "is this one mad"?

So yes fintech and banks, let the proliferation of systems doing more or less the same thing continue in earnest. Everyone else might mess up and just right then, your system might save a life. Thank you!

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