Nearly a week after the CBN revoked Eyowo’s Microfinance bank license, its users are still unable to access the funds in the digital bank. As a result, some users have resorted to buying airtime and cable subscriptions on the platform with the intention of reselling them in order to retrieve their money.
A day after Nigeria’s Central Bank revoked the microfinance bank licence of the digital bank Eyowo, customers realised they could no longer receive or send money on the app. Despite assurances from Eyowo that it is working on the issue, customers have found another way to withdraw their money— buying airtime or cable subscriptions with the money in their Eyowo accounts and reselling them.
A statement from Eyowo assured customers that it was working to resolve the situation and gave a timeline of 72 hours. But three days after that timeline, several customers told TechCabal that the situation persists. Eyowo told customers on Friday that it had “made significant progress in resolving some of the challenges you have faced due to the CBN directive. We are working to ensure you have complete access to your money. You will be able to send money to any bank through your Eyowo, however this will not take effect today, due to the administrative requirement that requires a couple of working days.”
Nevertheless, the patience of numerous customers is wearing thin as their personal and business needs are being delayed due to the unavailability of their funds in Eyowo. In response to this frustrating situation, customers are exploring alternative methods to withdraw funds from their inaccessible Eyowo accounts. Even though withdrawal have been paused, options like airtime purchase and cable subscription are still active on the Eyowo app, so some users are purchasing airtime with the app and reselling them to obtain cash. While some are advertising the airtime and subscription for sale online, others are simply selling it on Palmpay using its Recharge2Cash option. “I sent out all my funds using airtime, [but I had to do it in batches because] the maximum amount of airline you can buy on Eyowo is N8000,” a user said. TechCabal has confirmed that the airtime option is still available but there is no limit to how much you can recharge.
It appears that this strategy is not novel as a Twitter user also affirmed that he did the exact same thing when fintech platform Carbon experienced a similar downtime in the past. He tweeted, “Similar 5 days of downtime happened with Carbon, and I had to buy airtime to empty my account… The lesson here is never to keep bulk money with Fintechs.”
Customers who use Eyowo as business accounts have tweeted about being under enormous pressure from customers. A young lady who sells indigenous clothing material Aso oke told TechCabal that she has customers who are awaiting orders she can’t fulfill due to the circumstances. “Eyowo is the only platform where I take payments for Aso oke production. All the money I’ve taken for production (about N350,000) is stuck in the account and I’m unable to meet clients’ orders,” she said. Another small business owner told TechCabal, “After saving and searching for a suitable shop in Lagos for my business, I am unable to pay because of the issues Eyowo is experiencing.”
Under posts on the company’s social media accounts, some customers have expressed similar resolutions to stop using the digital bank. Speaking to TechCabal, Sandra, a social media manager, said, “I am done with Eyowo. It has been one issue after another. My money is still there but I have moved on.”
Several users, including business owners, appear to be more understanding and patient with Eyowo, expressing their gratitude for its efforts to keep them informed. Lilian, an online vendor, shared with TechCabal, “While it hasn’t been a smooth experience, Eyowo has been diligent in providing updates.”
Another Eyowo user told TechCabal, “I have not been able to access my money but yesterday I got a call from their customer care promising they were going to settle it.”
It still remains unclear why the CBN revoked the MFB license of the digital bank. According to the apex bank, the licenses of the 47 microfinance banks were revoked because they had either remained inactive, insolvent, failed to render returns, closed shop, or ceased to carry on the type of banking business for which they were licensed for more than six (6) months. When asked which of the aforementioned Eyowo is culpable of, the CBN refused to comment. Eyowo has not responded to questions about it either.