yle=”text-align: justify;”>The Central Bank of Nigeria has imposed new cash withdrawal limits on individuals and organizations, which will come into effect on January 9, 2023.
According to a memo issued by the CBN to banks on Tuesday, individuals will only be able to withdraw N100,000 per week (from teller windows, POS machines or ATMs), while organizations can access N500. ,000 per week.
The memorandum signed by CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, ordered banks to charge only N200 and lower denominations at their ATMs. This means Nigerians will only be able to withdraw N20,000 per day from ATMs when the directive comes into effect.
The memo stated: “The maximum over-the-counter cash withdrawal by individuals and corporate organizations per week will henceforth be N100,000 and N500,000 respectively. Withdrawals above these limits will attract processing fees of 5 per and 10 per, respectively.
“Third party checks above N50,000 will not be eligible for cash pickup, while the existing limits of N10,000,000 on check clearing still remain.
“The maximum cash withdrawal per week via an ATM will be N100,000 subject to a maximum cash withdrawal of N20,000 per day. Only denominations N200 and below will be charged at ATMs. The maximum cash withdrawal through the point of sale terminal will be N20,000 per day.”
However, there is an exemption that allows up to N5m for individuals and N10m for corporate organizations once a month with certain requirements.
The CBN warned banks that any bank that aids and abets circumventing this policy will attract severe penalties.
PoS operators kick
Following the new directive, Nigerian Bank Agents and Mobile Money Association national president Victor Olojo has said that POS operators would plan to protest as the policy was aimed at ending their livelihood.
While speaking in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, Olojo revealed that the newly announced policy would have a negative impact on his business, as it would result in the closure of POS terminals.
He said: “This news has just arrived and many PoS agents are already complaining bitterly. Some are calling for protests as this policy, which limits PoS transactions to N20,000, sends them out of business. Therefore, they have to return to their villages.”
Speaking about the impact of the new policy on people and the economy, the president said that it would be really difficult as Nigeria was still a cash-dominated society.
He said: “Nigerians should be prepared as this is a challenge that CBN is setting for Nigerians to adopt the technology. However, the difficulty would be felt as we still have a lot of cash transactions, especially those that are below the pyramid, like the women in the market and the men who are small traders, because this in essence means that once a bag of rice or flour is going to be bought, which is above N20,000, it has to be through electronic banking. Looking at it, how many of these people are tech savvy?
“The CBN wants to achieve an agenda that is not exactly bad. However, longer notice should have been given to those at the bottom of the pyramid. I think eventually adoption would escalate and people would have to get familiar regardless of the difficulty, accepting it for the long haul.
“However, it is still very difficult because the technological infrastructure is not there yet and there are those who have also had bad experiences with technology. The implication of this policy would slow down a lot and affect a lot of things, particularly those who earn more than N20,000 a day.”
Olojo noted that his fears and concerns were that the policy came at a difficult period when the Nigerian economy was not ready for it. He added that there must be a suitable alternative before any process is ruled out.
Furthermore, a PoS operator, simply identified as Christian Onyema, said: “The new CBN policy will affect our business because setting the daily transaction limit at N20,000 is not useful for us. For example, a client who wanted to do business came to withdraw N500,000 today, I got my profit and he was able to do his own business. This will no longer be possible in January, when the policy goes into effect. The economy will suffer and insecurity will also increase because some operators will definitely be out of a job.”
Another operator who gave his name only as ‘Small’ said: “This will really affect the PoS business, a situation where customers can’t withdraw more than N20,000 per day means those who withdraw more than that will normally be limited “.
However, ABC Transport Deputy Managing Director Jude Nneji praised the project.
He said: “At least, it will limit some of these crimes. If someone knows they can’t get cash from you, they won’t bother attacking you. If you also consider the cost of printing this money, you’ll want to use electronic media.”
Asked if this would not affect his transport business, he said: “It will certainly encourage people to accumulate funds, but for people like us, whose customers pay electronically, we don’t have a problem. However, we hope that the government also has good intentions.
Rivers Link chief executive Mr Obinna said: “This will affect our business, some of us are businessmen and there may be things you want to buy for more than N20,000, and some of us will prefer cash.” , so it will surely affect business.”
“If other channels are well organized, then it’s good. However, everything else will affect us because, after December 15, 2022, most people will be skeptical about accepting old notes.
“Most people won’t like to throw away the old naira notes with them because there’s no point in taking the one I have to the bank and finding out that the new naira notes aren’t available yet.
“How can you say that I can’t access more than N100,000 in a week? What do I do with N100,000? So it’s going to have a serious effect on the local market. These people sell daily in the Ketu, Igboyi and Oyigbo markets, most of them do not have a point of sale or ATM. Therefore, it will affect the speed of transactions and the movement of goods.
“Now, it is people with cash who will be able to buy goods. Because if I say that I want to transfer and nobody is taking the transfer from me, they will tell you that they cannot accept that method of payment because they do not have a bank account.
“Now CBN is talking about N100,000 a week, but how will that work when a bag of rice costs N45,000? So if I buy a bag of rice, won’t I buy something to eat? It is a very bad policy and it will affect all small business owners because they will not have money to transact.”
Nigerian Bank Clients Association Chairman Dr Uju Ogunbunka said the intentions of the cashless policy were understandable, but the execution and timing were not right, stressing that these were areas where problems would arise. serious.
“From a cashless policy point of view, we need to appreciate that, as much as possible, the government is trying to limit the use of cash for transactions, especially now that they are redesigning the currency. And they may not have enough printed, so in order for it to work, they have to find a way to limit our use of cash.
“The second thing is that the government wants to boost the use of online banking, which is good for our economy. Unfortunately, there have been many complaints about failed transactions.
“At least, as far as I know, there is hardly a week without complaints in the banking room. You will see people yelling regarding transfer failures. Have we put enough structure in place to take care of some of these things? The answer is, we still have to, we’re making progress, yes, but we need to give enough space and time for some of these things to develop instead of short-circuiting the system.
“If all of us, including the market men and women, have to go online today, can the infrastructure help us all get ahead successfully? This question should be able to deal with some of these things.
“Some of us don’t need a lot of cash to trade. For example, if I go to the bank in a week and withdraw N100,000, what will I spend that money on? I mean it should be enough to use for a week. If I can do other transactions online, why not? But not everyone can do this, especially those who are trading. Most of them still rely on people coming in with cash and then taking the cash to the bank to pay. This means that people will still need to have cash; otherwise what we’re going to tell people is to wait until you have cash to make your transaction if you can’t bank online.
“And the above can paralyze business. For example, the woman in the market who is going to buy food needs physical money. Where will online banking do with that? And 20,000 naira can today solve that problem for a week for a family? That’s not possible, so you might need to rethink unless you’re targeting people in cities.
“Even in the towns, I don’t see the effectiveness of this policy, much less in rural areas. It’s good policy, but we need to rationalize it to see what’s possible in the kind of economy we’re operating in, especially with double-digit inflation. The practical situation on the ground does not support this policy.”
A former president of the Nigerian Association of National Accountants, Dr. Sam Nzekwe, said that the CBN, by limiting withdrawals, was trying to reduce cash in circulation and boost financial inclusion, which was not a bad thing.
He said: “They are trying to limit cash in circulation so that people are short on cash. I think they are trying to push financial inclusion with politics.”
Nzekwe also said that with more money in the banks, the institutions could provide financial interventions to those who needed it to boost the economy.
“With more money in the banks, the banks can use the money for their financial intervention role in the economy,” he said.
However, he urged banks to ensure Nigerians could trust their systems enough to keep their money there.
He noted that the problem of people losing money in their bank accounts due to cyber-attacks and scammers could discourage them from keeping money in banks.
Nzekwe urged banks to address this issue and build more trust with Nigerians to boost financial inclusion and security in the country.