Emefiele: Govt’s Cashless Policy Subject to Periodic Review
*Gets Buhari’s nod to carry on
*Says N1trn old notes now in CBN, other banks’ vault
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has disclosed that government will not be rigid in the implementation of the cashless policy in the country.
Emefiele, who spoke with newsmen Thursday in Daura, Katsina state, after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari, said the policy would be reviewed from time to time to accommodate the concerns raised by the people.
He, however, revealed that the policy which is about ten years old will not be reversed.
His words: “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 make 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.”
Commenting on the concerns raised by the Senate on the cash withdrawal limits, the apex bank boss said:”Well, the senate of the Federal Republic is National Assembly, they are legislative arm of the government and from time to time we brief them about what is happening and about our policies and I’m aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them”
Commenting on the policy, Emefiele said it had been in place since 2012 but was stepped down several times to deepen the nation’s financial infrastructure.
According to him, the nation’s payment infrastructure had already been deepened with 1.4 million online banking platforms scattered across the country.
” I think it’s important for me to say that the cashless policy started in 2012. But 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 deepened our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.
“Between 2012 and now 2022, almost about 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.
“We heard about people talk about some of the people in the rural areas and the truth is that even online banking, as I was coming out to Daura, I saw a kiosk that has super agent today. It’s because of the way we felt that there was a need for us to deepen the payment system infrastructure. 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.
“And I have told my colleagues, some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish all the names of all the super agents. And having 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.
” We think, Nigeria as a big country, the biggest economy in Africa that we need to leapfrog into the 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 into cashless.
“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.
He said Nigeria, as the biggest economy in Africa, needed to leapfrog into the cashless economy adding that “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 into cashless. 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.”
Emefiele, who disclosed that the banks have gotten delivery of the new notes and would beging to dispense same to the customers soon, urged the people not to worry assuring that the currencies would go round.
The CBN governor disclosed that over one trillion Naira had already been raked into the banking system with the announcement of the cashless policy and redesign of the currency in November 26, adding that the President encouraged him to go ahead without habouring any fear.
“In the Central Bank, we have taken more than have a trillion and in the banks we also have close to have a trillion. But what we have done in the central bank is to move more people from different departments into currency processing so that they can process this cash as quickly as possible and from there, banks can now move what they have with them”.