Business

BJAN consumer rights day: Experts agitate friendly services

Every business entity exists to satisfy consumers, irrespective of the industry they play. Once this fact is taken into strict consideration, the level of by consumers to service providers will be minimal at least to a great extent.

This is because a lot of the anxieties exhibited by the consumers spans from the terms and conditions of the offerings by service providers which are usually shrouded to favour the providers instead of the consumers.

The submission was made by experts at the 2022 World Consumer Rights Day symposium organized by Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN).

The symposium, which held last Tuesday, at the Regent Hotel, Ikeja, GRA, Lagos, attracted stakeholders from the Integrated Marketing Communications and the financial Technology industry.

They spoke on the theme: ‘Digital Finance: Risks, Opportunities and Challenges for Consumers”.

Though, the experts acknowledged that the rights of consumers and responsibilities of the consumers are two key elements that must not be taken lightly, however, if service providers understand they only exist because of the consumers, then the parlance: ‘Consumer is the king’ will make much sense to them.

“We hear consumer is the king, have we really been treated like kings, as consumers?” Dr. Ken Onyeali Ikpe asked.

Speaking during the event, Dr. Ikpe said every organization is into service/ consumer service and the moment every business owner realizes that once the consumers are taken out of the equation they are no longer relevant then everyone will sit up and the issue of blame game between customers and providers when issues arise will be no more.

On his part, Dr Oluseyi Akindeinde, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Digital Encode said a lot of the problems arising from the consumption of digital financial services showed that perhaps somebody somewhere is not doing his job, to validate technical applications especially in the area of glitch.

“The genesis of fraud and cybersecurity issues arise from the delegation of control over our bank account because what control do we have when there is a third party who have access to the same account, it means that, that person can do what he or she is not supposed to do,” Akindeinde added.

On the issue of providers ability to restrict service to certain geographical location depending on what their catchment area is, Dr Akindeinde noted: “I know that, when banks want to launch a product they do a vulnerability test to see all the loopholes before the product is launched. All that is needed is to limit service to particular geographical location and using the BVN, we can use technology to stop all that. Just like we did when Nigerian government placed a ban on Twitter.”

While calling for consumers to be responsible in their consumption, Dr Monday Michaels Ashibogwu, Executive Member, Association of Communications Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) said the consumer is the end user of any services provided and any service or product that do not have consideration for the consumer is fraudulent in the first place.

According to him, most service providers set out to be fraudulent abinitio by creating terms and conditions that are not favorable to consumers.

He attributed this among other problems to the failure of the system which most times allow some anomalies to go on for a while before some problems raised by consumers are eventually looked into.

“I have seen loopholes in the financial sector considering my experience in the various units I have worked in the financial sector. Most providers do not have adequate statistics of who their actual consumers are, and that is why when you give out loans, all manner of issues are thrown up when customers default,” Ashobogwu said.

Also speaking, Bisi Oni, Executive Director/COO FundQuest Financial Services, argued that digital finance is finance aided by digital which has brought improvement in our financial services.

Oni, who was represented by Olukayode Akintumile, Director Finance & Research, FundQuest Financial Services said there are always risks in digital services, however, it is important to ensure that all the risks are properly checked so that the risks are not exposed to consumers from third party programmes.

“Financial institutions these days come with third party installation programs by other companies, installed to enable them carry out their transactions, so terms and conditions should be clearly spelt out for the consumers and consumers themselves should always take the pain to read through every agreement before opting for any service,” he posited.

World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is celebrated globally every March 15 to draw attention to the plight of consumers.

For the past 10 years, Brand Journalists’ Association of Nigeria has ensured that the global event is celebrated in Nigeria in commemoration with the set aside date.

This year’s event also witnessed the formal inauguration of the newly elected executives of the association.

In her acceptance speech, Clara Chinwe Okoro said the mandate bestowed on the executives is a mandate which brings about a burden to serve not only members of the association but also the entire marketing communications industry “through our roles as journalists, it is our collective duty to ensure that its sanctity is not denigrated or assaulted.”

“As the new Chairman of this great Association, I will work assiduously with my colleagues in the Executive Committee to build on the achievements recorded by my predecessors.

“I will work for the protection and promotion of the rights of members and one of our major ambitions is to drive the process of making the BJAN ESTATE a reality where our members would become house owners even if it’s a bungalow, a scheme that would make them more focused and efficient in discharging their duties as journalists.”

The event, which was moderated by Mr Sola Fanawopo CEO of eMaginations recorded quite numerous turnout from the marketing communications industry practitioners.

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