The implementation of “Cashless Nigeria” begins today

    In 2012, the Sanusi Lamido-led Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced cashless policy with the aim of reducing the quantum of physical cash that is being used in the system in an attempt to cut down on cash handling expenses of banks.

    The policy was also targeted at getting more of the money in circulation into the system as well as track money laundering activities.

    The cashless policy, as at then, prescribed processing fees on daily cash withdrawals and cash deposits that exceed N500,000 for individuals and N3 million for Corporate bodies. The processing fees prescribed are three per cent and five per cent on withdrawals by individuals and corporates respectively while deposits/lodgments are charged two and three per cents also for individuals and corporates respectively.

    Although, the policy had taken effect in seven states, namely; Lagos, Abia, Anambra, Kano, Ogun, Rivers as well as Abuja, the CBN, in August 2015, suspended the policy to allow banks deploy the technology that would allow the policy to operate seamlessly.

    Since 2015, technological advancement in the Nigerian banking industry has grown exponentially to become one of the best in the world.

    In October 2022, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele stated that the apex bank is committed to making Nigeria 100 per cent cashless.

    According to him, all infrastructure that is needed to ensure a smooth working cashless system such as the CBDC, online banking, Payment System Banks (PSBs), point of sale terminals (POS) agent banking, mobile banking and ATMs have since been deployed.

    “The destination as far as I am concerned is to achieve 100 per cent cashless economy in Nigeria. I know that those who doubt us will say that 100 per cent cashless is unattainable. Yes it is true, but Nigeria must move from being a predominantly cash economy to a predominantly cashless economy,” he stressed.

    Following this, Emefiele had announced the full implementation of the cashless policy effective Monday, January 9, 2023 which places a stricter limit compared to the initial limits placed when the policy was introduced in 2012 and when the pilot stage was implemented nationwide in 2019.According to the new directive which takes effect today, Monday January 9, 2023, individual bank customers cannot withdraw more than N100,000 in cash over the counter, through ATMs or POS in a day. This amounts to N500,000 every week or N2 million in a month. For corporate customers, the withdrawal limit was placed at N5 million per week, translating to N20 million per month.

    The circular, which was signed by CBN director, Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, also placed a limit of N100,000 limit on over the counter third party cheques. “Third party cheques above N100,000 shall not be eligible for payment over the counter, while extant limits of N10,000,000 on clearing cheques still subsist.”

    In line with the plan of the CBN to ensure that the higher denominated notes will be used as only a store of value as only more of the lower notes will be in circulation, the apex bank had directed that, as against N1,000 and N500 notes that are dispensed by ATMs across the country, naira denominations of N200 and below only must be loaded into ATMs. This would mean that N500 and N1,000 notes can only be collected over the counter at the banking halls or at POS points.

    Whilst the amount of cash that can be withdrawn over the counter had been capped at N100,000 in a day, the amount that can be taken from ATMs and Point of sale was limited to N20,000 in a day.

    The apex bank, however, noted that, in compelling circumstances where cash withdrawal above the limits is required for legitimate purposes, such requests will be subject to a processing fee of three per cent and five per cent for individuals and corporate organizations, respectively.

    In other to be able to exceed the limit, the apex bank said financial institutions are to “obtain the following information from the customer, at the minimum, and upload same on the CBN portal created for the purpose: Valid means of identification of the payee (National ID, International Passport, or Driver’s License), Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the payee, Tax Identification Number (TIN) of both the payee and the payer and Approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the financial institution authorizing the withdrawal.

    The circular also noted that banks are to render monthly returns on cash withdrawal transactions above the specified limits to the Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision and Payments System Management Departments as applicable.

    Meanwhile, POS operators are seeking new ways to serve thier customers and circumvent the N20,000 limit placed on withdrawals through POS. A POS operator who Spoke with Leadership said he does not expect the service to affect his business. According to him, his service provider, has provided an alternative means to enable individuals withdraw more than N20,000 in a day.

    “The new application which the provider introduced in late December last year, allows someone to be able to withdraw more than N20,000.

    more security and the BVN and biometrics of the person is taken before the withdrawal is made” he explained.

    Another POS operators, said she will encourage her regular customers to make transfers rather than use thier cards to make withdrawals if they want more than N20,000. “I don’t think the policy will really affect my business” she stated.