The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has disclosed that the new naira notes have already been disbursed to the various commercial banks and expect that banks would begin distribution to the public.
Emefiele made the declaration on Thursday, November 8, 2022, after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in his country home in Daura, Katsina State.
Controversies have trailed the CBN’s latest policy which limits daily cash withdrawals to N20, 000 and weekly withdrawals of N100,000 for individuals.
But defending the CBN’s directive, Emefiele said, “I think it’s important for me to say that the cashless policy started in 2012. But on almost three to four occasions, we had to step down the policy because we felt that there is a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.
“Between 2012 and 2022, almost about 10 years, we believe that a lot of electronic channels have been put in place that will aid people in conducting banking and financial service transactions in Nigeria.
“And we think Nigeria as the biggest economy in Africa needs to leapfrog into the cashless economy. We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 percent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitisation have gone cashless.”
Responding to the National Assembly’s rebuttal of the policy, Emefiele said the withdrawal limits were not cast in stone but would be reviewed upwards with time.
He argued that the CBN did not wish to make life difficult for Nigerians but only sought to better the economy.
“We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid. But it is not to say that we will reverse, it is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tweaking some amount to be a little bit higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them.”
He added that the CBN would publish the names of all of its 1.4 million super agents to ease the return of old monies in unbanked communities.
On the amount of the old notes that had been returned to vaults, he said, “We have taken more than have a trillion and in the bank we also have close to half a trillion.
Meanwhile, cashless transactions in Nigeria rose by 41.75 per cent to N318.66tn in the first 11 months of 2022, according to data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System.
The N318.66tn was the total amount processed on the Nigeria Instant Payment System and Point of Sales terminals monitored on the NIBSS. In the corresponding period of 2021, the figure was N224.79tn.