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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Nigerians lament as CBN reduces withdrawal limits to N100k per week from banks

Some Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction over the new Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) withdrawal limit.

Recall, on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, the CBN in a memo to banks said individuals will only be able to withdraw N100,000 per week (from over-the-counter, point-of-sale machines or automated teller machines), while organisations can access N500,000 per week.

The memo signed by the CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, directed banks to load only N200 and lower denominations into their ATMs. This means Nigerians will only be able to withdraw N20,000 per day from ATMs when the directive becomes effective.

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The CBN stated that the directive will become effective on January 9, 2023.

The CBN warned banks that any bank that would aid and abet the circumvention of this policy will attract severe sanctions.

Following the new directive, the National President, Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria, Victor Olojo, has said that point-of-sale operators would plan to protest as the policy was targeted at killing their source of livelihood.

While speaking in an interview with The PUNCH, Olojo disclosed that the newly announced policy would have a negative impact on their business as it translated to the shutting down of PoS terminals.

He said, “This news is just breaking and a lot of 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. Hence they have to return to their villages.”

Speaking on the impact of the new policy on individuals and the economy, the president said it would be really tough as Nigeria was still a cash-dominant society.

He said, “Nigerians should brace up, as this is a challenge that CBN is putting out to Nigerians to embrace technology. However, the difficulty would be felt as we still have a lot of transactions done with cash, especially those that are below the pyramid such as the market women and men who are petty traders, because this in essence means that once a bag of rice or flour is to be bought, which is above N20,000, it has to be via e-banking. Looking at it, how many of these people are technology-savvy?

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“The CBN wants to achieve an agenda which is not exactly bad. However, a longer notice should have been given to those at the bottom of the pyramid. I believe that, eventually, the adoption would scale and people would have to get acquainted irrespective of the difficulty, embracing it in the long run.

“However, it is still very difficult because the technological infrastructure is still not there yet, and there are those who have had bad experiences with technology as well. The implication of this policy would slow down a lot and affect a lot of things, particularly those earning more than N20,000 daily.”

Olojo noted that his fears and concerns were that the policy was coming at a harsh period when the Nigerian economy was ill-prepared for it. He added that  there should be an adequate alternative before any process would be scrapped.

Also, a PoS operator, simply identified as Christian Onyema said, “The new CBN policy will affect our business because pegging daily transaction limit to N20,000 is not helpful for us. For instance, a customer who wanted to transact business came to withdraw N500,000 today, I made my gains and he was able to do his own business. This will no longer be possible by January when the policy takes effect. The economy will suffer and insecurity will rise too because some operators will definitely go out of jobs.”

Another operator who gave his name only as ‘Small’ said, “This will really affect PoS business, a situation where customers can’t withdraw more than N20,000 daily means those who withdraw more than that normally will be limited.”

The Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprise, Dr Adebayo Adams, said the policy would hit businesses, especially MSMEs.

“If other channels are well-organised, then it is good. However, every other thing is going to affect us because, as from December 15, 2022, most people will be skeptical about accepting old notes.

“Most people will not like to discard old naira notes with them because there is no point in taking away the one I have to the bank and find out the new naira notes are not yet available.

“How can you say I can’t access more than N100,000 in a week? What do I do with N100,000? So, it is going to have a serious effect on the local market. These people are selling on a daily basis at Ketu , Igboyi, Oyigbo market, most of them do not have PoS or ATM. So, it will affect the speed of transactions and movement of goods.

“Now, it is people with cash that will be able to buy goods. Because if I say I want to transfer and no one is taking the transfer from me, they will tell you they cannot accept that mode of payment because they have no bank account.

“Now, CBN is talking about N100, 000 a week, but how will that work when a bag of rice is N45,000? So, if I buy a bag of rice, won’t I buy something to eat? It is a very bad policy and will affect every small business owner because they won’t have money for transactional purposes.”

The Deputy Managing Director of ABC Transport, Jude Nneji, however, lauded the project.

He said, “At least, it will limit some of these crimes. If somebody knows he can’t get cash from you, he won’t bother to attack you. If you also consider the cost of printing this money, you’ll want to use electronic means.”

When asked if this would not affect his transport business, he said, “No doubt, it’s going to encourage people to hoard funds but for people like us whose customers pay through electronic means, we don’t have a problem. However, we hope that government has good intentions too.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Rivers Link, Mr Obinna, said, “This will affect our business, some of us are businessmen and there may be things you want to buy that will be more than N20,000, and some of us may prefer cash, so it will surely affect businesses.”

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