E Don Happen: PoS Operators Give CBN Ultimatum Over Cash Limits

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The Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria has expressed optimism that the Central Bank of Nigeria will reverse its cash withdrawal limits policy before the new year.

The AMMBAN National President, Victor Olojo, disclosed to The PUNCH on Sunday that the National Assembly has promised to prevail on the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to revise the policy.

The new policy by the CBN fixed weekly cash withdrawals for individuals at N100, 000 and corporate bodies at N500,000 weekly.

The directive further said withdrawals above the thresholds would attract processing fees of five per cent and 10 per cent respectively, for individuals and corporate entities effective January 9.

In addition, third-party cheques above N50,000 shall not be eligible for over-the-counter payment while extant limits of N10 million on clearing cheques still remain.

The PoS operators had in a petition dated December 16, 2022 called on the CBN to review its policy and save 1.4m bank agents from losing their means of livelihood.

But giving an update on the issue,  Olojo explained that the assurances given by the CBN and National assembly that POS operators would not be affected by the policy has made the group soft-pedal on its planned legal action.

He, however, warned that if the policy was not reversed before the end of the year, its members would take to the streets to demand its reversal and also drag the apex bank to court.

The PoS operators’ union president said, “We have not gone to court yet because we have gotten assurances and we are waiting for a formal response from the CBN. We have visited the National Assembly and we have also explored other tools at our disposal at this time.

“They have given words of assurance that mobile money and POS operators would not be affected. So, we are waiting for an official statement from the CBN. However, if anything doesn’t change by the end of the year, we will go to the streets to protest and go to court.

‘’Remember that the Director of Banking Supervision, Mustafa Haruna, was quoted on a television station to have categorically stated that mobile money and bank agents would not be affected, so we just want to take that as an assurance while waiting for a formal report. We have written to the CBN but we are yet to get a response.’’

Olojo further hinged his hopes on the assurances by the CBN governor that the policy would be flexible.

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“The CBN governor also said they will be flexible, so we are waiting for a revised policy that shows the flexibility. The national assembly also said they will prevail on the governor as they are opposed to the new CBN policy,’’ he noted.

Also commenting on the policy, the Chairman, Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, Lagos State chapter, Dr Adams Adebayo confirmed to our correspondent that the association met with the Senate  Committee on Banking, Insurance And Other Financial Institutions on the matter last week.

“The Senate committee has assured the Council of MSMEs that the CBN Governor will review it, especially for PoS and small business owners,’’ Adebayo explained.

The CBN spokesman, Osita Nwanisobi, could not be reached for comments Sunday on when the apex bank would announce the review of the policy as calls to his phone indicated he was unavailable.

Commenting on the policy, the President, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Abakpa Anthony said it was too harsh, adding that the  CBN should have run a pilot system and see the level of compliance before introducing it.

He also argued that as much as the cashless policy would help Nigerians, the nation has not developed to the extent of implementing a full-blown cash limits policy.

The NUBIFI boss said, “The people in the rural areas do not have phones that support online transactions, and in most cases there won’t be a network to consummate transactions.”

He further stated that the ATM and PoS withdrawal limits may  throw many Nigerians into poverty and render the POS operators jobless.

”Some cattle dealers who buy and sell in large numbers in the rural areas where there is no network; what will happen to them? When Nigeria is ripe for such policy, Nigerian workers will know.”

Meanwhile, the Special Adviser to Gombe State Governor on Strategy and Information Management, Ahmed Gombe, has said the state government was also opposed to the CBN policy on the grounds that the amount stipulated by the CBN was inadequate.

Gombe was reacting to a report that the NGF was opposed to the cash withdrawal policy and that the 36 state governors planned to meet with the Presidency on the matter.