No turning back on cashless policy, Emefiele says after meeting Buhari
The Governor of the nation’s apex financial institution, Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has assured that its new policy that significantly limits the amount of money individuals and organisations withdraw from banks will proceed amidst calls for the move to be reversed.
After a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, the bank’s governor, Godwin Emefiele, told journalists the bank was willing to adjust the amounts, but said the policy will go forward.
He spoke after the House of Representatives demanded a reversal of the policy and summoned Mr Emefiele.
The CBN on Tuesday set new limits on cash withdrawals at N100,000 and N500,000 for individuals and organisations respectively a week. Individuals are not to access more than N20,000 daily. The measure, coming after the bank announced the replacement of higher naira notes, will begin to take effect from January 9, 2023.
Speaking with journalists on Thursday on his visit to President Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, Mr Emefiele said the policy can be reviewed but will not be reversed.
“I am aware that they (federal lawmakers) 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,” he said when asked about the House’s decision.
“But on almost three to four occasions we had to step down the policy because we felt that there is a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.
“Between 2012 and now 2022, almost 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,” he said.
He said provisions are being made for people in rural communities to ensure they are not negatively impacted by the new policies.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He said some of the names of the agents are published on the CBN website already and he has directed that all the names be made available.
“And having a super agent which is different from the banks which is different from 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,” he said.
He said it is time for Nigeria to operate a 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,” he said.
“And I said it at different fora, that this is not targeted at anybody, it’s just 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 is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tricking 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 central bank 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.”