Commercial banks in Nigeria are seeking an extension to the planned halt of Windows XP support by Microsoft, to give them more time to upgrade their systems.

Microsoft has in recent months made public its decision to relinquish support for its Windows XP operating system (OS), noting plans to rather switch to its most recently developed Windows 8 OS, which simply means it might become substantially susceptible to virus attacks.

Nigerian banks, which run most of their automated teller machines (ATMs) on the outdated XP, are pressing for an extension to the April 8 deadline to allow for a window to smoothly transition its systems to Windows 8.

The financial institutions have already initiated engagements with the global software provider, aiming to reach an agreement for an extension. Industry experts are however of the opinion that the country’s banks do not hold the needed size to sway Microsoft to review an extended period.

The current situation has sparked fears that Nigeria’s over 13,000 ATMs will become vulnerable to technical threats from hackers and virus developers, creating a perceived unsafe banking environment.

Chairman of E-banking Industry Heads Committee, Chuks Iku has however moved to dispel such assertion, noting that most banks are already backing up their systems to assure safety of ATMs for customers.

“The ATMs are still working, they are not going to go down,” Iku stated. “Some banks are doing it (the upgrade) on their own, but as an institution that works together, instead of telling each bank to negotiate its extension, we are doing it as a body to see how we can buy time to continue to guarantee safe transaction.”

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