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The 4255 Wave

Oct 25, 2018

5 mins

Augustine Ogwo

Augustine Ogwo

It was yet another beautiful weekend in the treasure base of the nation. New G.R.A Port Harcourt comes alive from Friday evenings till Sunday mornings

It was yet another beautiful weekend in the treasure base of the nation. New G.R.A Port Harcourt comes alive from Friday evenings till Sunday mornings.

Of course, I needed to go grocery-shopping this Saturday before my little salary is exhausted on frivolities. Well, going to pick up a few things from the nearby store always seems like the easiest of tasks until you realize the tiny details involved.

I was cash-strapped and that meant I needed to take a walk all the way to the ATM, join the queue and hope that cash gets dispensed when it gets to my turn.

I could easily have gone to the market and purchase a number of items using the P.O.S but stores in Port-Harcourt would usually frown whenever you bring up that option. If they eventually agree to a P.O.S transaction, you get to pay extra.

This simply meant I needed to withdraw enough cash as it was a long weekend which crashes into a week that has Monday and Tuesday as Public Holidays. It was only while I was driving home on Friday evening that I heard the announcement on my car stereo.

“The federal government has declared Monday and Tuesday, June 26 and 27, as public holiday. The Minister of information said the holiday is to enable Nigerians mark the Eid-El Fitr celebration,” the newscaster on Rhythm 93.7 FM Port Harcourt announced carefreely.

On-air personalities are known to never be particularly excited about public holidays as they almost never observe those. This is due to the nature of their jobs.

What this meant is that my mother would not be able to get any money till Wednesday when the banks in Awka re-open. How will she able to take care of my siblings all through this long weekend?

Since she retired, I have had to send her stipends on a monthly basis and she always reciprocated with nothing but immense gratitude. She sometimes teases that if I must marry a good man so I don’t get to stop taking care of her.

Right now, I was bothered as I couldn’t fathom how she would be able to access cash immediately. Even though I no longer called her as often as I would love to, herself and my siblings remain the reason I put in so much work.

It was some minutes past noon and I was just done withdrawing the amount I felt would be enough to see me through the boring days ahead. Heading to my favourite grocery store meant that I needed to drive for some minutes, refuel my car and then fill up the jerry cans in my boot with petrol before picking up a few things from the store.

“My customer, you are welcome ma. It’s really been a while ooo Nkechi,” that was the first thing the store owner said to me as I walked in.

“Work has been hectic dear. I barely have time for myself these days. Let me just pick up a few things for this long holiday”.

“Yes o, it is very important my dear. We just restocked recently”.

“I am just coming from the ATM at the junction, I had to go get enough cash. I also bought fuel for my generator and car,” I explained.

“Who still carries so much cash around? There are now better ways to make payments na”.

Even though I agreed with Ihuoma that I could make certain payments using a P.O.S, I also reminded her of how stores in Port Harcourt would usually prefer cash payments.

I had once gone to a store where the attendant asked me to pay extra 100 Naira if I insisted on using P.O.S to make payments.

“The reason why most store owners are not so keen on P.O.S is because it sometimes takes up to 24 hours before your funds reflect in your account. See ehn, it is generally expensive to maintain these things. Business people just prefer cash and carry so that they can see their money koro-koro”.

After I picked up the groceries I needed, Ihuoma went on to gist me how one of her customers who didn’t have cash wanted to pay with the P.O.S but then got the “Cannot Receive State Value” error message.

“Immediately this happened, he hissed and then pulled out his phone. He just asked for my phone number, punched on his keypad for a few seconds and I immediately received a credit alert”.

This sparked my curiosity and I asked if she meant that the customer asked for her account number.

“My dear, that was the exact question I asked him too. He meant my phone number. He paid me on my phone number. I was so confused. He dialled one code on my phone, I think *4255#. He set my PIN for me and showed me how I can move the money from my phone to my bank account and vice-versa”.

“Well, I’m not ready for this abracadabra abi na American wonder. I will just pay you in raw cash,” I responded.

“I hear it is called Eyowo. A few other customers have also paid me using their service. You can Google it up and get more info later,” Ihuoma stated as she counted the cash I just handed her.

Even though I felt she might be disappointed that I didn’t try out the new service she recommended, she saw me off to my car regardless wearing her trademark smile. That smile which always brought me back to her store. As I reversed my car, she kept waving as her smile broadened even further.

On to the next! This time around I was driving towards the local market. My mission was a simple one; buy some fresh vegetables, fruits and a few condiments from Iya Basira. Iya Basira is one of the very popular traders in the local market. Her fruits and vegetables are by far the freshest you can find.

A few minutes later after I was done arguing with the touts and parking, I then walked to Iya Basira’s store where I picked up soup ingredients, fresh tomatoes and tatase, apples and carrots. As I began to count some money so I could pay her, I noticed a smirk on her face.

“Madam, abeg Eyowo the money give me. I don tire to carry cash waka”

I was perplexed at this point. What is Eyowo? Who gave her the guts to choose how I pay her? Was this not the same stuff Ihuoma spoke to me about just a moment ago? What’s really special about this Eyowo thing? I had so many questions but no answers. Should I give in because this seems to be the new craze or is it really relevant to me?

What if I’m able to send money to my Mom in Awka at anytime since her phone number will always be available anyway?

“So, how I go take put money inside this Eyowo sef? How I go fit pay your phone number?,” I asked.

“Madam, no worry. I go show you. Dial *4255# make we first set your PIN. To put money inside your Eyowo no be wahala, I fit help you as I be Eyowo agent. If you download the Eyowo app, I fit even show you how to do am by yourself. Na small thing,” she said as her smirk turned into a bright smile exposing her gap tooth.

I grabbed a stool as I realized a quick tutorial which could become a life-changing experience was about to commence.

“Na 4255 I talk o,” she emphasized while pointing at my phone’s screen.