The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered commercial banks to stop dispensing new naira notes over the counter and instead use their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to ensure wider circulation four days ago. However, compliance has been appallingly low, and customers are still receiving the old currency that will be abandoned on January 31.

Today, the 9th of January 2023, kicks off the commencement of the policy on daily cash withdrawal limit. The maximum weekly limit for cash withdrawals by individuals and business organizations across all channels is now N500,000 and N5 million, respectively, under this arrangement. Thus, a processing fee of 3 percent for individuals and 5 percent for corporate organizations will be charged to anyone or organization that has a compelling need to withdraw more money than the permitted limits in order to do legitimate business.

In addition, the financial institution must collect the following data from the client, at a minimum, and submit it to the CBN portal established for that purpose: a legitimate form of identity for the payee (such as a national ID, a passport from another country, or a driver’s license); the payee’s BVN; the payer’s and the payee’s TINs; approval of the withdrawal in writing from the financial institution’s MD or CEO.

Furthermore, while the current clearing cheque limit of N10 million is still in effect, third parties over N100,000 will not be accepted for payment in person. The weekly over-the-counter cash withdrawal cap for individuals before now, was N100,000 and for corporations it was N500,000.

Banks and other financial institutions were forewarned by the apex bank to conduct themselves legally because doing otherwise could result in harsh sanctions for anyone found guilty.

Anxious patrons who flocked to numerous ATMs in Abuja, Lagos, and other parts of the nation over the weekend were astonished to see old and even dirty naira notes streaming out of the machines. Customers on several ATM queues reported not receiving the new notes in Kubwa, Wuse, and other areas of Abuja over the weekend, and many left dejected.

A point of sale employee, John Akomas lamented: “On Sunday, I tried three ATMs in Abuja to see if I could acquire the fresh notes, but to no effect. All of the banks in Kubwa along Gado, Nasko Road were dispensing outdated currency. I am aware of this because a large number of PoS operators communicate with one another via WhatsApp groups.

“Customers in town are really demanding us to pay them with the new notes, so when a colleague tells us where he acquired his, we head there. Because the old notes are about to expire in three weeks, nobody wants to have them. We’re under too much pressure.”

An additional flea market vendor, Mirabel Moses, stated that she frequently runs out of time to travel to the bank to make deposits and that her customers frequently pay with outdated notes. “I hope the new notes issue can be resolved right away. Old notes shouldn’t be in my possession,” she declared.

The CBN made it clear that it did not prohibit banks from giving consumers the new notes over the counter, stating that the order to the banks to give out new notes via ATMs was intended to complement over-the-counter transactions and enhance the circulation of the redesigned notes.

Osita Nwanisobi, the CBN’s director of corporate communication, stated that sufficient measures have been made to increase the circulation of the new notes and refuted rumors that the banks lacked sufficient quantities of new notes for distribution.

Nwasinobi clarified that the policy was given to encourage dispensing via ATMs in order to improve circulation rather than to absolutely forbid over-the-counter transactions.

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