Central Bank of Nigeria shifts take-off date of its cashless policy to enable it correct some anomalies experienced in the pilot scheme in Lagos
| By Pita Ochai | Jan. 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
NIGERIANS in other states, apart from Lagos, have to wait till July this year for the commencement of the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. According to the initial timetable drawn up for the roll-out of the policy, the pilot scheme, which began in Lagos State last year, was expected to spread to other states of the federation as from January this year.
Ugo Okoroafor, CBN spokesperson, explained that the decision to suspend the plan was to afford apex bank the opportunity to correct all the anomalies in the pilot scheme of the policy in the Lagos area in the past one year. “For now, the CBN has suspended the plan to introduce the policy to other states next year. The test run we did in Lagos showed some problems in the implementation. For instance, people complained there were not enough point of sales, POS, and ATM machines, which we also noticed. The problem of awareness was also there as some people said they were not well informed about the policy,” he said.
According to the CBN spokesperson, the extension of the implementation date, will afford the banks enough time to upgrade their systems for effective operation of the policy. “So when we are convinced those things have been put in place, it will be extended to other states,” Okoroafor said.
To most Nigerians, the decision of the CBN to extend the implementation of the policy in the other states was a wise one. Adebayo Rilwan, a Lagos-based trader, said the policy would be better implemented if errors noticed in the first phase of implementation in Lagos is properly corrected by the apex bank. “I am happy that the CBN swallowed its pride and admitted there are errors in the implementation of the policy in Lagos, it shows that it wants to get the policy right,” he said.
Tunde Lemo, the CBN deputy governor in-charge of operations, was confident that “there are no negative implications in the extension of the implementation date of the cashless policy in other states.” In what could be described as a vote of confidence on the cashless policy, Lemo said, “We now record over 15,000 transactions daily on POS valued at over N300 million now surpassing cheque volumes.”
The new policy on cash-based transactions stipulates a ‘cash handling charge’ on daily cash withdrawals or cash deposits that exceed N500,000 for individuals and N3,000,000 for corporate bodies. The new policy on cash-based transactions (withdrawals & deposits) in banks, aims at reducing (not eliminating) the amount of physical cash (coins and notes) circulating in the economy, and encouraging more electronic-based transactions (payments for goods, services, transfers, etc.)
According to the apex bank, the new cash policy was introduced for a number of reasons, including the need to drive development and modernisation of our payment system in line with Nigeria’s vision 2020 goal of being amongst the top 20 economies by the year 2020. An efficient and modern payment system is positively correlated with economic development, and is a key enabler for economic growth. The policy is also aimed at reducing the cost of banking services (including cost of credit) and drive financial inclusion by providing more efficient transaction options and greater reach.