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Bank customers deposit over N1trn old notes

By Babajide Komolafe, Economy Editor & Johnbosco   Agbakwuru

ABUJA-Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, said that the apex bank would consider tweaking the new weekly cash withdrawal limits of N100,000 and N500,000 for individuals and corporate bank customers.

Emefiele, who addressed State House correspondents after meeting behind closed-doors with President Muhammadu  Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, assured that the apex bank would not be rigid on the policy as it was not meant to hurt anybody but to strengthen the nation’s economy. 

 Emefiele also hinted that over N1 trillion worth of old notes had been deposited by bank customers, adding that  the CBN  has distributed the new  N200, N500, and N1,000 notes to banks for  disbursement to their customers, ahead of the December 15, earlier scheduled  for circulation of the new notes.

New Cash Withdrawal Limits 

Recall that CBN had on Tuesday unveiled a revised cash withdrawal limit with a maximum of N100,000 cash withdrawal per week for individuals and N500,000 cash per week for corporate bodies.

 Responding to the reactions to the new limits, Emefiele explained that more and more countries embracing digitization have gone cashless and that the policy was not targeted at anybody, 

 Emefiele, who said he visited Daura to greet Mr. President and brief him on what was happening in the CBN and the economy, revealed that President Buhari “Was happy and said, we should carry on with our work, no need to fear, no need to bother about anybody.”

 He said that the new policy of the apex bank was for the good and development of the Nigerian economy, adding, “We can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it.”

 On the pushback from the Senate, he said, “Well, the Senate is the National Assembly, they are the legislative arm of the government and from time to time, we brief them about what is happening and about our policies and I’m aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them. 

“But 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 was need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria. 

“Between 2012 and now 2022, that is 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. 

Agent Banks 

“We heard people talk about some of the people in the rural areas and the truth is that even online banking, as I was coming out to Daura, I saw a kiosk that had a super agent today. It’s because of the way we felt that there was a need for us to deepen the payment system infrastructure. We have 1.4 million super agents that are all over different parts of the country, all local governments, and all villages in this country. 

 “And I have told my colleagues, some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish all the names of all the super agents. And super agents are different from the banks and microfinance banks, which is different from other financial institutions. Having 1.4 million of them is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services. 

 “We think, Nigeria as a big country, the biggest economy in Africa that we need to leapfrog into the cashless economy. We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 per cent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitization have gone cashless. 

 “I said it at different fora, that this is not targeted at anybody, it is meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy and we can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it. 

“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, 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. 

“We will do so because we are humans, we want to make sure that we are making life good for our people. We do not want to make life difficult for them. So, there is no need for anybody to worry. The CBN is monitoring what is happening and I can assure everyone that we are up and alive to our responsibilities and we will do what is right for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

New Naira notes distribution

On distribution of the redesigned naira notes, Emefiele said:  “There are so many things happening, issues bordering on the new currency and the fact that only on Wednesday, the new currency has now reached the banks and we expect that the banks will now begin to distribute those currencies to their customers.

 “I can only assure you that it will go round, let us just be calm, luckily the old currency continued to be legal tender till January 31, 2023. So, I want to crack a joke, both the painted (new notes) and unpainted (old notes) will operate concurrently as a legal tender. But by January 31, the unpainted one will not be useful to you again, so please take it to your bank as quickly as possible,” he added.

N1trn old notes deposited

On the amount of the old notes, the CBN has been able to get back to the vaults, he said: “At the Central Bank, we have taken in over half a trillion and with the banks, we also have close to half a trillion. But what we have done in the Central Bank is to move more people from different departments into currency processing, so that they can process this cash as quickly as possible and from there, banks can now move what they have with them.”

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