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June 15, 2024

Cash scarcity may persist

Cash scarcity

CBN hints at investigating banks

  • We no longer depend on banks for cash – PoS operators
    Banks say they are also having cash shortages

By Elizabeth Adegbesan

There are indications that the lingering crisis in cash circulation in the country may continue for a long time even as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, plans to launch investigations.

Banks’ customers have been lamenting the acute scarcity of cash for their daily living as most banks now restrict cash withdrawals over the counter as well as the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) to between N10,000 and N20,000 per day.

They also complain that most ATMs are left unloaded with cash by banks for days.

However, they also noted that while the banks are unable to dispense cash to the customers, the Point of Sales, PoS, operators just beside or opposite the banks have enough cash to dispense to the same customers.

This situation has raised suspicion amongst banks’ customers that the banks are having some sizzling business deals with the PoS operators to short-change the customers who are now forced to pay some charges for withdrawing their money from their bank accounts through the PoS operators.

Some of the customers even alleged that the PoS services are owned by bank officials.

However, Vanguard findings from the both the banks and the PoS operators indicated that they are not in any sinister deal to foist cash scarcity on hapless banks’ customers.

Some PoS operators have also complained of their inability to access cash in banks and have now resorted to other sources of cash.

Speaking to Vanguard, Mrs Beauty Omobola, a PoS agent, said: “It is difficult to get cash from the banks now. I don’t really know what is happening.

“Before I could withdraw N100,000 to N200,000 over the counter from my bank. But that same bank has now told that I can only withdraw N50,000.

“The situation is terrible that some banks will tell you it is only N10,00 or N20,000 they can pay over the counter even if you are a PoS agent.

“I have to manage the little cash I have which is not up to N50,000 to do business.

“Even the traders who usually deposit money with us are not bringing it. I have been doing transfers with ATM card since morning today. No one has brought cash.”

Mr. Jerry Iduzogie, another agent said: “This cash scarcity in banks started recently. My bank that gives out up to N200,000 to PoS agents told me I could only withdraw N20,000 from across the counter or ATM. I was surprised and they are my friends

“I just had to collect it . It was my wife who assisted me in sourcing for cash from her friends who are traders. That’s why I am still in business this week. Our business of PoS will now be in danger if this situation continues.”

Miss Rebbeca Daniels, an agent said: “A friend of mine at the bank who confided in me said there is no cash as many Nigerians no longer take their cash to the bank.

“If you go to any shop today, they have a PoS terminal where they are doing transfers and withdrawals.
“So most of the cash people use in buying goods from them still goes back to the public and not the bank.

“When I got to the bank today, I was given N10,000 over the counter.

“It is those mallams trading here that supply me cash. That is how I am surviving in this business.”
However, some banks’ teller service officers over the counter told Vanguard that banks have no reason to withhold cash from customers adding that they always have cash supply problem from both the CBN and the general public.

One of them stated: These days we practically dispense all the cash we receive from both the CBN and the depositors every day, but we ration it according to availability.

‘‘Some days we dispense at a maximum of N20,000, sometimes it is more even up to N50,000 per customer. It just depends on availability of cash’’.

When asked why PoS operators near his branch always have cash for their customers he stated: ‘‘PoS operators have multiple sources of cash. They maintain multiple bank accounts. They go after businesses such as petrol stations, supermarkets and other traders for cash.’’

However, CBN sources hinted that the apex bank is worried that despite the full supply of cash to the banks from its vaults, the banks are still complaining of scarcity of cash.

This situation, he said, would inevitably be addressed by an investigation it would soon embark upon, adding that any bank found indulging in any cash malpractice would be sanctioned.

Meanwhile, the apex bank early this week, reported that Currency Outside Banks, CoB, fell month-on-month (MoM) by N27.5 billion or 0.55 per cent to N3.6 trillion in April from N3.62 trillion in March 2024.

The CBN Money and Credit data for April released on Tuesday also showed that this was the first decline in CoB this year as it has been on the rise after the January 2024 decline by 4.37 percent to N3.28 trillion from N3.43 trillion in December 2023.

The 0.55 percent decline in currency outside bank, according to analysts, may be a reflection of a decline in cash availability in the system.