February 8, 2023

MfBs left out in new Naira note implementation plan

No consideration for MfBs, a disaster – NPF MfB boss

MfBs stranded with active poor citizens – Infinity MfB boss

By Providence Ayanfeoluwa

As Nigerians grapple with the financial and economic crises erupting from the change of the banknotes, the Microfinance Bank, MfB, segment of the financial market may have been marginalized in both policy framework and implementation, a situation which may have worsened the crises.

Speaking to Vanguard the operators of the segment hinted that they could have provided better option especially for the less privileged and grassroot financial needs, if the segment was made part of the policy framework.

They also said that by the sidelining of its operations in the implementation of the new banknote policy, the sub-sector has been made to suffer like any other common Nigerian.

Managing Director of NPF Microfinance Bank Plc, Mr Akinwunmi Lawal, told Financial Vanguard that the MfBs were completely excluded from dispensing both old and new notes at their Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, and even on Over The Counter, OTC.

He explained that the reason for the exclusion is because the MfBs do not have direct access to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, unlike the mainstream commercial banks.

Lawal described the situation as a disaster while explaining that the commercial banks whom they rely on are also suffering from lack of naira.

He said: “I don’t know how best to describe the situation that we have found our self, but I will tell you that it is a disaster. We do not have the new Naira notes, not even one. We are completely excluded from dispensing naira both from the ATM and OTC.

“MfBs were not considered in the plan, and so they make our representation bad to our customers and the public. When we tell customers that we do not have cash either old or new naira note to give to them, they would say it is a lie, they hardly believe. We do not know how to explain to them again”.

Also speaking, Founder, Infinity Microfinance Bank Limited, Mrs. Clara Oloniniyi, said that the MfBs are the worst hit because they do not have access to the CBN which automatically exclude the sub sector from meeting expectations of the active poor who are their customers.

While lamenting the impact of the naira scarcity on their business, she said that the active poor have been badly treated due to the sidelining of the MfBs in the new banknote roll-out.

Oloniniyi said: “We do not have single cash in the bank to work with. We do not know how we got here; this is so embarrassing and disgraceful.

“We are feeling the heat just like our active poor customers. Some of them only do cash daily, they will tell you that they cannot use ATM card or do transfer.

“They are grass root people, sometimes we would be begging them and forcing them to collect card, they will refuse because when they get to the machine, they are confused, they cannot operate except they are being assisted”.