Naira Re-Design: ‘POS’ Operators As The Best And Fastest SPVs To Circulate New Naira Notes In Nigeria

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By Abdulhameed M. Aliyu Esq.

 

On Wednesday, 26th October, 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria made a dramatic but very important announcement to re-design, produce, release and circulate new series of banknotes of N200, N500 and N1,000 into the Nigerian economy by 15th December, 2022. To this end, the old series of affected notes would cease to be a legal tender in Nigeria by 31st January, 2023.

 

As at today, that deadline is less than nine (9) days to elapse with very low circulation rate recorded among citizens across Nigeria. More so, the Apex Bank had continued to reiterate its unlikely position to extend the 31st January, 2023 deadline amidst dishing out several marching orders against Money Deposits Banks (MDBs) for failing to be proactive enough in ensuring a full-scale circulation of the new notes.

Just recently, the CBN through its Deputy Director Currency Operation, Dr. Rekiyat Yusuf was reported to have asked Nigerians to reject the old naira notes from Banks and to also report any Bank still dispensing old notes whether through the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or over-the-counter withdrawals.


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It is foolhardy to say that the CBN is unaware of the World Bank’s 2021 Global Findex Report, which rated Nigeria to be among the seven (7) nations of the World that constitute half of the unbanked population of the Globe with an unbanked population of about 64 Million out of the nation’s over 200 Million population, most of whom are women in the rural part of the Country. The implication of this report is the obviously huge gap between financially inclusive and exclusive population in Nigeria.

Little wonder the introduction, adoption and operation of Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) in the financial sub-sector of the economy had really breached this wide gap in no small measure through the deliberate licensing of bank and non-bank led MMOs.

Today, agents/merchants of Point of Sales (POS) are seen littered everywhere in Nigeria in both rural and urban regions, which improved the financial inclusions status of the citizens of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, it is instructive to note that towards the end of 2022, the volume of POS transactions in Nigeria sporadically rose above N13Trilion in volume, signifying the critical position POS agents/merchants occupied in the financial subsector of Nigeria. Surprisingly, POS agents/merchants seem not to be in the CBN scheme of affairs towards ensuring accelerated circulation of the new naira notes to Nigerians.

On 7th January, 2023, the CBN was reported to have banned Banks from honoring over-the-counter withdrawal of the new naira notes in order to avoid over concentration of the new notes in the hands of few privileged Nigerians. In as much as such marching order was well-intended, one tends to believe that such a blanket directive without exemption had worked hardship and hindered the quick and easy circulation of the new notes. Besides, it is no longer news that ATM transaction had drastically declined in Nigeria overtime, because of the availability and easy access to POS agents/merchants with full assurance of getting funds any day anytime.

On 13th January, 2023, I witnessed a situation in a First Generation Bank at the Central Business District, Abuja where a POS agent/merchant was denied over-the-counter withdrawal of the new notes because of the current CBN ban. The POS agent was asked to use the Automated Teller Machine (ATM), which he lamented bitterly about the enormous charges he will incur on every single withdrawal using the machine.

With the 31st January, 2023 deadline of the CBN about the use and acceptance of the old naira notes as legal tender in Nigeria fast approaching, it is the opinion of the writer that CBN must include operators of POS as the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) that will ensure quick and easy circulation of the new naira notes to a large chunk of Nigerian banked and unbanked population, be it rural or urban dweller.

In fact, the POS agents/merchants will be of great service in the mopping and routing of the old notes to the Bank and conversely to circulate the new naira notes to the public swiftly and with ease.

 

Abdulhameed M. Aliyu Esq.

An Abuja Based Legal Practitioner

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