FINANCE

CASHLITE NIGERIA HERE TO STAY… even as implementations in Abuja and 5 other states are postponed

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When the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) initiated the cashless policy, many had their doubts about the success of the policy. However, the success of the pilot stage which kicked off in Lagos has made it imperative that the good news be spread to other parts of the country.

Although the implementation of the policy in Abuja and five other states has been shifted from the original kick off date of July 1, 2013, to October 1, 2013, there is no doubt that the policy has come to stay.

With about 18 months into the implementation journey of the policy, indications have shown clearly that the project is on course, despite initial fears by pessimists that the project would be hampered by operational hiccups and the political whirlwind that had caused many similar policies to crash in the past.

Expectedly, the apex bank has over the past few months shown that it is determined to ensure that the policy succeeds by learning from the mistakes of the pilot project in Lagos, listening to constructive criticisms and adopting best global practices to gradually integrate the Nigerian financial system into the world financial operational portal.

The apex bank had projected that the operations of ‘Cashless Lagos’ project and the subsequent phased extension of the implementation of the policy in other parts of the country would substantially reduce the cost of banking services (including cost of credit), drive financial inclusion agenda by providing more efficient transaction options and improve the effectiveness of monetary policy in managing inflation and driving economic growth.

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The cash-less economy policy was designed to promote financial intermediation, financial inclusion, minimise revenue leakages and thus increase internally generated revenue, reduce incidences of robbery and also to reduce the amount of cash payment while encouraging electronic payments.

Going on with the policy became essential because according to the CBN, the cost of cash and associated risk of a cash-driven economy to Nigeria’s financial system is high and increasing.

Speaking on how the policy operates in Lagos recently, the deputy Governor of the CBN, operations, Mr Tunde Lemo, said the policy on lodgement allow individual customers to make cumulative lodgements of N500,000 daily. “Lodgements above this limit will attract a processing fee of two per cent above the limit.

“Corporate customers are allowed to make cumulative lodgment of N3,000,000 daily. Lodgement above the limit will attract a processing fee of three per cent above the limit. However, it is the account to which withdrawal and lodgement is made that bears the processing charges and not the individual that receives or deposits the cash.

“Complimentary to this, is the nationwide enforcement of the third party cheque payment into bank account when the amount exceeds N150,000. Just this month, we went live on cheque truncation nationwide, thereby making cheque payments to clear within a clearing cycle of T+1 ( Transaction day plus one working day).”

As an alternative to the convenience of bank customers, the bank said as at June banks in the country have deployed a total of 170,000 point of sale terminals (PoS) to merchant locations. Also, over 10,000 ATMs that have been deployed in and outside of the bank branches and these ATMs have the capability to enable Bills payment, Funds Transfer, Virtual top up.

While noting that mobile payment system is gaining more ground in the country especially in Lagos which served as the pilot state, Lemo said more merchants were being signed up to offer services on their portals and accept web payments.” Airlines, hotels, telecommunication companies, government bills, etc, are making concrete and concerted efforts in this direction. You will agree with me that the use of the electronic shopping malls is fast gaining traction in Nigeria.

This is highly commendable and must be strongly supported. As we roll out to more states, the banks shall be acquiring more merchants and deploying POS terminals to those locations.

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