sometimes, I make a lot of sense.

Tag Archives for: Nigeria

Remita, TSA and Four Questions Arising

17 November 2015 by Oo Nwoye

With the full implementation of the TSA policy by the Buhari Administration, SystemSpecs a Nigerian technology company has been accused of swindling the country of billions of Naira using Remita, a product of the company.

The aim of this blog post is to explain Remita’s role in the implementation of the TSA and try to highlight where the issues have come from and ask some pertinent questions.

First, some background information.

TSA, which stands for Treasury Single Account is a policy that intends to consolidate all government revenues in a single account. The idea is, whether you are paying N100 for injection in UBTH (University of Benin Teaching Hospital) or buying crude oil with hundreds of millions of dollars from NNPC, or paying NTA for adverts, all the monies would be domiciled directly into a single account at CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria)

Why is this necessary? This is to avoid situations whereby, administrators of various agencies (UBTH, NNPC and NTA in our examples) from having direct control over the money collected by their agencies. If they need money, they will have to apply to get it from the CBN account. No more dipping hand into the government purse to do “thanks for coming”

Remita, The Chosen One.

Before the TSA implementation, each of the government agencies decided where to open accounts to keep these government revenues and HOW to collect the monies. So the CMD (Chief Medical Director) of UBTH could decide to open 10 bank accounts for UBTH in 5 different banks after a lot of lobbying had been done by branch managers etc, NNPC could have another 20, NTA another 15. This is also where allegations of “fixing money” for interest used to come from.

The implementation of the TSA policy (enshrined in the constitution) was piloted by the Jonathan government. Only a few MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) like the FIRS were chosen to pilot this system.

For the pilot, SystemsSpecs built a product called Remita that could be used to collect and collate money through multiple channels and was chosen to be the software to be used for this collection.

That is the first issue

Sunk Costs and Competition.

There are 2 ways people usually pay for things in Nigeria either with cash deposits at the bank or cashier points, or using a credit/debit card at a POS or online.

BEFORE the TSA implementation, each MDA set up individual systems for collections. Companies like Interswitch, ETranzact, SocketWorks, etc (which primarily do online/digital collection) already spent LOADS of money trying to get the contract to give them the right to collect money on behalf of these agencies. In some cases, they had to build infrastructure in these MDAs (computers, Internet, Generator etc) to make their work easier.

SocketWorks for instance collects money on behalf of Immigration, Interswitch on behalf of many Hospitals and Schools etc, Same with ETranzact. And we are not including “other costs” of doing business in Nigeria. SystemSpecs also had a few customers.

The Buhari then put a deadline for the TSA implementation.

The CBN rationally decided to use the provider and product that had run the pilot system and that was SystemsSpecs’ Remita.

All of a sudden from sharing the spoils of various MDAs, all the other providers lost all those customers and commissions to “one Remita of a somebody”

All their hustle, down the drain.

That is the second issue.

Commissions and Payments

When a person or an entity collects money for you, it is the norm for the person to be paid part of the proceeds to collect and reconcile that money. For online payments, there are many players who share the ~2% fee that is charged the merchant. For cash payments, it is less standardized but it can be up to say 5% of each transaction.

So of the 1000 naira you pay to UBTH via Interswitch’s WebPay or PayDirect, they take ₦20. By the same calculation, if you pay ₦1 Million, they are entitled to ₦20 000. However, there is usually a cap on the amount of commission on each transaction.

Thought Remita transaction charges are capped even on their website, it seems the deal with the federal government is 1% uncapped.

That is the third issue

Double Charging

BEFORE the full implementation of TSA, monies had already been collected. So let us assume UBTH had ₦1 Billion in a Unity Bank account somewhere, they were given a deadline to transfer that money to the TSA domiciled with CBN.

Note that money in Unity Bank was ALREADY less the commissions paid to collectors like Interswitch.

In transferring that money to CBN, it is alleged that the Banks rather than using NIBSS (Nigerian Interbank Settlement System, a company owned by CBN and the Banks) and paying next to nothing, decided to do it through Remita who would take an uncapped 1% (25 million in this example) for doing absolutely nothing.

That is the fourth issue

In summary, here are the questions arising that are causing problems.

  1. How was SystemsSpecs/Remita chosen to be the sole collector for the Federal Government? Was the Procurement Act followed?
  2. What happened to the existing systems that were put in place especially the ones that had long term arrangements and high setup cost?
  3. How monies are ALREADY in the system (bank accounts) be transferred to the CBN account?
  4. As for the collection, what is the commission taken my SystemsSpecs? Is it (un)capped?

Those are the main issues from what I understand from all parties. Of course aw with politics, there people are mixing up issues to sell their agenda.

That Remita stands for Remi Tinubu Ahmed as much as Jega stands for Jonathan Ebele Goodluck Azikiwe.

My Comments.

  1. For once, it is a good thing that an indigenous company is being used for such a project.
  2. It is understandable if the Federal Government decides to use a single provider/system for the collection of taxes and revenue. However, it could be a big risk to have one single entity doing everything from Customs to Schools to FIRS.
  3. There should be a transparent procurement process for the service provision and more than one provider chosen.

Fun facts

People are usually crying that Interswitch is the bully. It is interesting to see Interswitch crying foul.

Remita actually uses Interswitch’s WebPay for the online collections part of the as a middleman for the online payments aspect. As at yesterday when I checked, it was no longer working.



Thanks Boro for reducing the typos. 

4 comments | Categories: Nigeria, Technology | Tags: , , , , , ,

Nigeria’s BVN Policy and ONE Matter Arising

30 June 2015 by Oo Nwoye

Nigeria’s Central Bank instituted a policy that requires a SINGLE identifier (BVN – Bank Verification Number) for every banking customer in the Nigerian banking system. Today is the deadline for participation and after which, you will not be able to access your money without it.

On the surface, this is a GREAT idea and not different from the SSN (Social Security Number) system used in the US banking system. If you ask anyone the reason for this, they will list out the upsides to having a biometrically verified identity especially in the banking system.
They may also tell you that it helps in:

  • Prevention of fraud (using different identities to open accounts) which will help with
  • Ensuring a valid credit monitoring system (if you are banned from a bank for defaulting, another bank should have that information)
  • Ensuring tax compliance.

However I am VERY uncomfortable with it and that has to do with data protection in Nigeria or should I say a lack of it?

The strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link.

The system that makes it easy for FIRS to monitor all the accounts you have access to, also makes it easy for unscrupulous people to have the same access. My issue is, what systems are in place that prevents the unscrupulous access.

Let me try to illustrate

Before and After BVN

Before and After BVN

In the example above we have our Magnate, Tolu with 6 accounts in the Nigerian banking system. We all know him as Tolu Ogunlesi and as the Founder of AyeDee Limited. Maybe some have seen his passport and know his other name to be Chukwuma (it is)

Here are the ‘right’ use cases of the BVN as being sold to us

If Tolu Ogunlesi is found to be a member of any type of cabal and all his assets are to be seized, presently his ₦ 2 Million in GTB, ₦19k in Access and his $700 in Union Bank would be at risk. However, as we can see from his accounts opened with aliases, the man will still be balling.


When Tolu an Instagram Celebrity and Private jet hopper declares Personal Income Tax on the amounts in the previous paragraph, “nothing can happen” since the FIRS would not be aware of any other source of income. They have no idea who Chuks Ogunlesi is after all.

With the BVN system, all the accounts he is a signatory to are tied to a SINGLE identifier 234666419 . With a single query, the list of all his bank accounts would be pulled up. So there is no way to hide if the good guys come for the bad guy Tolu.

However, risk is not about when things go right. HOW about when they go wrong?

If some guys decide that “this Tolu sef too dey do sef” or wonder “what is this Tolu feeling like sef because he has over 100k Twitter followers” (Any thing can trigger anger over here) and decide to kpake him then wonder what his ransom should be, there will be no need for an ATM card to know how much he has. All they need to so is collect his BVN find out his worth and ask for the 50% of all his monies as their share.

Ransoms can be more scientific/formularized. “Make we collect only 50% of what that guy owns”

In theory, this should not happen but we all are aware that there is ZERO security on biometric data collected in Nigeria. Do I need to remind you how easy it is to access the SIM registration database? or how available our voter registration database is?

Think for a minute, did you see any form of security when you went to register for your BVN? Now when the database is synced, the adhoc 50k/month staff at GTBank Oshogbo has access to it. Likewise the chap in the Aguleri , Nguru, Otoueke or gasp BENIN!! branch.

I really do not have power to fight this BVN system however, if there is anyone out there who can, I’d like you to find out the following.

  1. Is there ANY system/person that can determine all your bank accounts with the BVN?
  2. Who has access to that system and what is the procedure to having that access?
  3. Has there been an external audit (preferably international) of the system as a whole to assess the security risks of the BVN system?

Right now, I no too hold so I am not really worried or affected. But one needs to prepare for one’s future :D.

BTW, I looked around and could not see any Data Protection Law for Nigeria although I came across a bill trying to establish the Data protection Office.

Thanks Boro for helping reduce the typos in this post.

10 comments | Categories: Commentary, Nigeria | Tags: , , ,

Tomato Jos’ Mira is Showing True Hustle.

16 May 2015 by Oo Nwoye

Tomato Farmers (except the wannabe fresh boy Uzoma holding the hoe). Mira is bottom right.

While million of Nigerians claim “no work” American HBS Alumni, Mira Mehta left the US to hustle tomatoes in Nassarawa.

She is founder of Tomato Jos

When she cleans out in the forthcoming agrarian revolution you’ll begin to hear them lament “because she is oyibo” and rally for “patriotic protectionism”.

Presently, I am in so much awe with here bravery in a country where we, the pseudo elites refuse to live anywhere outside our semi town cites.

NYSC has given Nigerians the opportunity to discover opportunities outside where fate and education placed them but they will cry until they have been reposted to Abuja or Lagos.

Mira is the role model young Nigerians need.

Still on the topic of the farming hustle, this is a great nairaland thread you should peruse.

2 comments | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Polite Rant: How to Use Only An Hour to Make Online Payments in Nigeria.

21 April 2015 by Oo Nwoye

I decided I needed to get business cards for an event tomorrow and decided to use my favorite online print shop Printivo. I uploaded my design, hit check out and my life took a left turn

If Printivo were using Stripe, Balanced or any payment system from the 21st century, I would have had to click a single button since as a returning customer, my card details would have been stored. Instead here is what happened.

  1. I decided to pay with my Diamond Bank company card and after several redirections, was told I needed to go to the ATM to activate my VISA card for online payments.
  2. I took out my personal GTBank Card, after several redirections, it decided to give me an unintelligible error.
  3. I tried GTBank Mastercard again, same error.
  4. I emailed the merchant. Waited to find out if the payment went through and was told it didn’t. Was advised to use online transfer.
  5. I has not used online banking in 3+ years so I had to pull out my form, search for my token and log in to GTBank online (I got these recently).
  6. Ater entering PINS upon PINs, I got to where I was to add a new beneficiary. Filled in all the details and was told to “Answer your Secret Question?”. Of course since there there are a million secret questions, I had no idea what the question was so I typed ’42’. It seems that is not the answer to the meaning of life.
  7. I emailed the merchant who I’m lucky to know personally, and pleaded to be given credit.
  8. Decided to give up, tweeted my frustrations and it got favorited by Tayo, Paga oga.
  9. Aha! I remembered I always used Paga for my bank transfers until our dear Interswitch decided to make online payments so safe that card owners could not use their cards.
  10. I logged into Paga and deposited money into my Paga account. I had to do it thrice becuse I was on the lowest tier of KYC. Yup I had to do the redirect to Interswitch and OTP three times.
  11. Transfers the money to Printivo.
  12. Done.

I deserve a meal.

PS: I skipped the steps where I took out time to insult a few people’s fathers and censored like 10 “fucking shits”.  But you get the gist.

3 comments | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

← Older posts