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Cashless Policy: Review Of Lodgment, Withdrawal Limits, Right Decision -Customers
The recent review of the key components of the cashless policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has continued to elicit responses from bank customers, especially from stakeholders who believe the apex bank is increasingly becoming realistic Save in its policy thrusts.
The pilot scheme of the policy, which kicked off in Lagos on January 1, this year, and initially scheduled to extend to other parts of the country by June this year, has now been extended to December 31, 2012, while the scheme is expected to commence in other parts of the country in January next year.
The apex bank had argued, in a circular it issued recently, that the decision to amend the policy was the outcome of the monitoring and feedback mechanism it carried out, to allow for full adoption and smooth implementation across Lagos State and the entire country.
Under the new arrangement, the apex bank stated, the daily cumulative limits which were hitherto N150,000 and N1million had been reviewed upwards to N500,000 and N3million on free cash withdrawal and lodgment by individual and corporate customer respectively.
Besides, the processing fee for withdrawals above the limits was also reviewed downwards by the apex bank. For instance, while that of individuals was reduced from 10 percent to three per cent, that of corporate bodies was reduced from 20 per cent to five per cent. The same processing charges of three per cent and five per cent were also stipulated for lodgment for individual and corporate organisations.
Though the apex bank added that the downward review of the fees was temporary and subject to review every six months, not a few believe that for the first time in recent past, the apex bank had demonstrated that it was ready to listen to voice of reason.
For instance, many, especially in the nation’s financial sector, had argued against the withdrawal and lodgment limits, describing it as unrealistic in a country where inflations seem to be aiming for the sky on a daily basis, when the policy was first pronounced.
For Madam Philips, a cement distributor with one of the big cement brands in the country, “the review is one of the best news from the apex bank in recent times.
“I had been looking forward to a date the initial policy would become fully operational with trepidations. As a cement distributor, I deal with a huge volume of funds, so pegging the limit to N150,000 as it was done initially would have had an adverse effect on the business.
“For instance, I would have been compelled to be keeping some of these funds at home, with all its attendant risks, to avoid being penalised, if the apex bank had not come up with this more realistic review,” noted the former school teacher-turned entrepreneur.
Ayoade Ismael, a motor spare part seller at Ladipo, noted that the apex bank had done the right thing by reviewing the policy; “since it would have shot itself in the leg if it had gone ahead with the policy without a review.
“Despite the fact that I deal with a huge volume of cash due to the type of business I do, I still operate an individual account because the rule to open a corporate account is too stringent in this part of the world. So, pegging it to N150,000 for individuals, would have been a major a disincentive to people like me,” he stated.
The CEO of Wealthgate Advisor, Mr.Biyi Adesuyi, also believes it is a reasonable way to go for the apex bank.
“The policy is good in the sense that it would go a long way in checking corruption. You know some of these public office holders siphon the nation’s wealth in cash, and when the policy is eventually in place, they would be wary of these corrupt practices since they know this can easily be traced because it is documented,” he stated.
He observed that, by raising the amount to N500,000 and N3million, a lot of people that are not computer-savvy and who would have been affected by the policy initially, would have been spared.
“For instance, pegging it at N150,000 would have brought a lot of challenges. A lot of people would have been affected. By these review, some, especially those who are not too literate enough to understand what the policy is all about, must have been spared. In as much as the apex bank is trying to encourage a cashless economy, N150,000 is no longer a bogus amount for an individual to handle, considering the inflationary trend in Nigeria,” he stated.
Adesuyi also argued that by reviewing the penalties downwards, the apex bank had also demonstrated that “the whole idea is not a punitive one but that which is meant to correct.”
But another banker, who would not want his name in print, however, believes the apex bank erred by reviewing the policy when it had not even fully started.
“It gives that impression that they did not do their homework well before rolling out the policy. By reviewing the whole thing, I believe it would still be business as usual. A lot of people would still not comply, and the matter is even made worse now by relaxing the penalties.
“In a society like ours, for a policy such as this to work, there is the need for the penalty to be stringent. People in this part of the globe always have their reservations when new policies are put in place, due to that tendency in us to resist change. But, with time, we always adjust. CBN should have just waited for the policy to sink in, instead of the hasty amendments,” he opined.
No doubt, the recent review would continue to elicit debates such as this. But, events in the banking halls, in the next few months would either vindicate the apex bank for reviewing the policy or convict it.Share