CURRENT challenges facing commercial banks in executing the newly-introduced cheque truncation system have potential to erode public trust in the banking system, says Copperbelt University business lecturer Dr Lubinda Haabazoka.
The cheque truncation system (CTS), which enables cheques were cleared within 24 hours, was rolled out on February 1, 2013 by the Bank of Zambia but has not been operating as expected.
There have been complaints from the public that the system was not working as some cheques were taking more than three days to be cleared.
Dr Haabazoka said while the CTS is a good initiative, its implementation was rushed without proper tests done hence the number of problems commercial banks and account holders are facing.
"You can find that on an account, money is credited twice or a cheque that was supposed to be credited is actually being debited many times within different time frames," he said in response to a press query.
"What is even more worrying is that the regulator hasn't come in the open to explain and assure the masses that such mistakes should be expected and will be rectified soon."
The Bankers Association of Zambia, a body that represents commercial banks in the country, has also admitted that their members were facing challenges in executing the cheque truncation system.
"In the new world of new information technologies, the regulator was supposed to ensure that we run two parallel systems - the old one and new one - so as to hedge against such e-banking risks," Dr Habaazoka said. "Banking is built on trust and once customers lose trust, then many of them will prefer to store their cash under their pillows, a move that can severely affect our thriving economy due to reduced liquidity."
Dr Haabazoka said many customers, himself included, had to wait for close to a month for the bank to rectify the problem of money "illegally" drawn from the account.
"What surprises us is that no apologies are sent from our banks to assure us that such problems will never occur," he said.
Dr Habaazoka urged commercial banks to come out and assure their affected clients that measures are being put in place to mitigate these problems and also ensure that problems are resolved quickly so as to strengthen public confidence in commercial banks.
"Bank customers should also ensure that they are vigilant and keep proper records of their transactions so as to safeguard their savings," added Dr Haabazoka.