Cashless Economy: What must be done!

It is no longer news that in line with the current global trend, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has since taken a giant and determined step towards enforcing a cashless policy for the country. The cashless policy was first enforced in Lagos where it has run successfully now for about 18 months as a pilot scheme. Despite its success in Lagos State, however, the CBN’s plan, according to its initial time line, to extend the policy to other states of the federation by June 2012 encountered several postponements to January 1, 2013 and again to July 1, 2013.
Although the CBN had explained that the unavoidable postponements were due to some infrastructural challenges, these challenges seem to have been overcome, as the CBN’s policy has now been extended to Abuja and five states including Abia, Anambra, Kano, Ogun and Rivers. According to the policy, daily limits have been placed on amounts that can be deposited and withdrawn by customers over the counter; such that upon exceeding such limits, customers would be required to pay certain charges as penalty.
Consequently, individual customers have a daily withdrawal and deposit limit of N500, 000 and will be charged 2 percent of the excess amount withdrawn and 3 percent of excess deposits. Similarly, corporate bodies have N3 million as their daily limit for both deposit and withdrawal. They will be charged 3 percent of excess deposit and 5 percent of excess withdrawals.
Although it is remarkable that some banks had since started sensitizing their customers on the spread of the policy to other states prior to its real takeoff, it is imperative that the Nigerian banking population is informed about the fact that the stated limits apply whenever cash is involved irrespective of the channel of withdrawal, for instance. Therefore, the policy limit is on all such withdrawals (or deposits) over the counter, using the ATM, and those through third-party cheques cashed over the counter. It should be understood, for example, that where an individual withdraws N400, 000 over the counter and N250, 000 from the ATM on the same day, the total amount withdrawn by the customer now becomes N650,000 and the charge for exceeding the stipulated free daily limit of N500,000 will thus apply on only N150,000.
It is also pertinent to note that concessions have been granted on all lodgments into and withdrawals from accounts operated by embassies, diplomatic missions, multilateral agencies, aid donor agencies, ministries, departments, and government agencies, Microfinance Banks (MFBs) and Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs). These exceptions are for obvious reasons. Although the cashless policy, as explained by an official of the CBN, which implementation began in Lagos January last year, is aimed at reducing the dominance of cash in the system, caution must be applied in the enforcement, as for now the policy is entirely alien to Nigerians. Similarly, the issue of electricity, which is so epileptic in Nigeria, must also, be addressed forthwith, while the rate of computer literacy must appreciate well above what obtains presently.

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