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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Understanding CBN’s cashless policy

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It is impressive to observe the determination of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to follow through with the laudable cashless policy which it introduced into Nigeria’s banking system.

As the apex bank had explained, the cashless policy is aimed at scaling up financial inclusion and reducing cases of armed robbery, kidnapping, terrorism financing, advance fee fraud, graft, ransom payment, extortion and other crimes.

The cashless policy is facilitated by 900,000 POS terminals, 14,000 ATMs across the country and 1.4 million agents nationwide.

It is equally impressive to observe that Nigerians have embraced the CBN’s cashless policy, considering the way electronic transactions have grown in recent years.

From N48 billion in POS transactions in 2012, we have N6 trillion today. Similarly, electronic transfer has also grown from N3 trillion in 2012 to N300 trillion as at October 2022 – a 7,000 per cent increase.

The cashless policy is further complemented by mobile phone penetration in Nigeria which stands at 152 million, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission.

On the Naira redesign, the CBN has always maintained that the 90 days given to Nigerians is enough time for people to take their old cash to the bank.

We cannot agree less with the CBN on that.

Now, another 10 days has been added to the 90-day window, plus another 7-day grace period to enable Nigerians deposit their legitimately held old notes at the CBN after the February 10 deadline.

Those that need more time to haul their cash to the banks must be those who stashed the cash in warehouses and other hidden places in order to evade questions about how they earned such huge cash.

By opening their doors to customers on weekends, commercial banks have also made additional sacrifices to help those still in possession of large amounts of cash to bring them to the bank.

The CBN said it ordered 500 million pieces of currency from the Mint and estimates it will be enough for now for the cashless policy.

To release so much cash back into circulation after mopping up the previous excessive cash outside will be counterproductive to the good aims and objectives of the cashless policy.

Our lawmakers should encourage people to do more of cashless transactions instead of asking for the system to be over-flooded again with cash.

We are therefore fully in support of the cashless policy of the CBN and the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

We urge the lawmakers to similarly lend their support to the good policy.

Trying to arm-twist bankers by threatening to issue warrants of arrest against them for the implementation of the apex bank’s laudable cashless policy is suspect on the part of the lawmakers.

We wonder in whose interests the lawmakers are working.

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