On May 28, 2019, Gtbank customers were unable to make transfers on the popular 737 Service, only to learn that the limit had been reduced to N20,000 without any formal or informal notice. This has since caused immense dissatisfaction for Gtbank customers.
The Gtbank 737 service was launched in May 2015 as a simple, smart, and safe way to bank anytime, anywhere and on any mobile device. The mobile platform allows GTBank customers conveniently perform third party transfers to both GTBank and other bank account holders in Nigeria, via their mobile phones, by simply dialing the USSD short code *737*, the amount and NUBAN account number of the beneficiary. A daily cumulative limit of N200,000 was allowed for transfers on the platform.
It is widely believed by many customers that the service is incapable of being hacked, unlike the regular internet banking which has emailing and transaction trails that make it more vulnerable. This may explain why many consumers prefer and use the 737 service instead of the traditional internet banking platform which equally offers similar services.
Within a year of the introduction of the service, the bank recorded an uptake of over three million customers, with over N1 trillion in transactions on the platform. It has also attracted many customers to the bank. Many individuals, employees, business owners, market women, traders have come to acknowledge the use of the 737 Gtbank service for various business transactions and this has reduced the incidence of physical cash exchange bringing a lot more people and businesses into the formal banking net.
However Gtbank has suddenly taken the thousands of customers who use this service on a daily basis for granted. The bank has suddenly become the proverbial Children of Israel referenced in Deuteronomy 32:15 who “waxed fat, and kicked… then he forsook God which made him.” Gtbank has become a god unto itself, believing it can take its numerous customers for granted, kicking them in the butt, and daring them to do their worst.
The bank has suddenly reduced the maximum withdrawal possible on the 737 service to N20,000 without any formal or informal notice or communication to its teeming customers who rely on the transfer platform daily.
A business owner personally known to me tried endlessly that afternoon to transfer N120,000 to a vendor but it all ended in futility. I even advised him to follow the instructions and create a new pin, but still he couldn’t effect the transfer. Read his query:
“Today my gtb transfer service suddenly started asking for information I don’t usually have. After being frustrated all day I called my account officer who explained that the system has been changed. They NEVER mentioned it to customers!!! Even the account officer seemed to get to know after the fact.
“This is how gtb is kicking the customer in the ass. It’s take it or leave it, says the banking big boys about their service!”
In essence, this new development means customers will pay additional commission because they would have to repeat the same transaction several times to meet up their intended transfer amount.
In pursuit of answers, I walked into a Gtbank branch at Ikeja, Lagos and approached one of the bank’s staff wearing their usual grey customised uniform with a tag which read: Ask me more about Gtbank 737 Service, and laid out my complaint. The smiling lady beamed and informed me that I couldn’t make the transfer of N120,000 because the 737 transfer limit had been reduced to N20,000; except if the transfer is done with a token. When I challenged the bank for taking such a decision without informing its customers, she apologised on behalf of the bank and explained that it was due to numerous cases of scams and frauds witnessed on the platform.
I don’t have a problem with this new arrangement if the bank sincerely believes it will halt or substantially reduce the scam rate on the platform. I however have a big problem with the bank executing it without properly and formally informing its customers. This is one gaffe too many on the part of the bank. And it must offer an apology and explanation to customers accordingly.
The real problem with the 737 service is not the amount of monies involved in the transfers, but a system compromise. Reducing the amount per transfer will only benefit the bank as it will now extract more charges because of the repeated transactions. However what is needed is to effectively secure the platform without tampering with its simplicity and easy processing.
Gtbank must quickly call a press conference and make a statement explaining why the bank executed this move. The wide publicity it has given the 737 platform deserves that any fundamental review of its services should equally receive similar leveraging, otherwise such action will suggest that its customers and Nigerians as a whole do not matter.
It should be noted that up till now, a check on the GTB 737 FAQ section on their website still claims that only a unique pin is required to effect all transactions. No update has been made, as to the requirement of a token when making transactions above N20,000.
Gtbank needs to be more customer friendly and always abide by the saying: “Customers are king”. If we are truly kings, and are seen as stakeholders and partners, our feelings and needs should always be considered.
The 737 service also should be overhauled, and made more effective and efficient. Sometimes you do a transfer and it gives an apparent error message signifying ‘unsuccessful’, yet the transfer has been made. Many customers have lost monies in this process and it is advisable for users to be wary of repeating any “unsuccessful transaction” until they have ascertained it didn’t execute in the first place.