Card payments

Why do card payments fail in Nigeria?


Kingsley Okure


Card payments have increasingly become a popular form of payments in Nigeria. However, it still faces some challenges related to adoption (according to Statista credit card adoption is still low) and card payment failure. You probably know how it feels when you want to get an item in a store with a card and the cashier informs you that your card has declined. This can be very embarrassing especially when you have no alternatives at the moment. In this article, you will learn about some of the common causes of card payment failure in Nigeria and ways to prevent it.

Card payments

Card payments are a method of payment where cardholders pay for items with a debit card. Cardholders can either pay through a POS terminal or pay online. This method of payment is fast and seamless however, there can be challenges when it comes to using card payments as a preferred form of payments.

Common causes of card payment failure

Nigeria’s booming economy has invariably led to a boom of the financial industry. However, there are still challenges in its financial sector, one of which is failure of card payment and transactions:

  • Incorrectly Configured Payment Gateways:

A common issue arises when the payment gateway is not configured correctly or when the user enters inaccurate credentials.

  • Account Selection Errors at POS Terminals:

In Nigeria, the selection of the wrong account type (current or savings) at POS terminals is a frequent cause of card declines.

  • Suspicion of Fraudulent Activity:

Large or unusual purchases may trigger suspicions of fraudulent activity by the bank, leading to card declines.

  • Insufficient Funds or Expired/Deactivated Cards:

Lack of sufficient funds, card expiration, or deactivation can contribute to payment gateway declines.

  • Network Issues:

Network glitches in Nigeria may also lead to payment decline, particularly during periods of unstable network connectivity.

Ways to prevent card payment failure

The following are some strategies to prevent your card from being declined when making a payment:

  • Ensure Accurate Entry of Credentials:

Entering the correct credentials is important to facilitate smooth processing through the payment gateway.

  • Inform Salespersons at POS Terminals:

Communicate your account type to salespersons to minimize errors in account selection at POS terminals.

  • Preemptively Inform Debit Card Issuer:

To avert suspicions of fraudulent activity, notify your debit card issuing bank in advance to increase spending or account limits.

  • Card Maintenance:

Regularly check and ensure your card is not expired or deactivated. Contact your bank promptly for a replacement if needed.


Throughout this article, you have learnt of the various reasons for card payment failure/decline especially in Nigeria. Various ways to prevent card decline which can cause delay and even financial loss have been highlighted. There are now card issuing platforms such as Allawee that work with cardholders to regulate their spending.

Bank accounts are provided by Providus Bank PLC - licensed and regulated by the CBN & money is duly insured by NDIC.
Debit cards are issued by Providus Bank PLC pursuant to license from Verve & Mastercard International.
Credit lines are provided under state Money Lenders License.
Allawee is not a bank but provides a spend management technology platform.