When the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) introduced cashless policy in 2011, with the licensing of mobile money operators, and with the commencement of a pilot phase of the initiative, beginning with Lagos State in 2012, the apex bank must have targeted that by 2014, Nigerians would be dealing with less cash.
But the expectation is yet to be met as many Nigerians still queue up in banks and ATM points to load their wallets and pockets with physical cash, an indication that Nigerians are yet to welcome the cashless policy,three years after it was introduced.
THISDAY survey of some selected banks in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, showed that Nigerians are yet to adapt to the cashless initiative of CBN, which seeks to reduce the use of physical cash in daily transactions.
In the past few days of Christmas and New Year festivities, THISDAY survey revealed increased queues in banks and at ATMs. It was revealed that as many as 80 per cent of bank customers withdrew cash while 20 per cent were in the bank for cash deposit, even though 90 per cent of bank customers have ATM cards.
THISDAY checks also revealed that those on withdrawal queues wanted physical cash for Christmas and New Year celebrations, instead of carrying out cashless transactions with either their ATM cards on ATM machines, on Point of Sales (PoS) handheld machines operated by most merchants, or through internet banking from the comfort of their homes and offices.
The CBN introduced the cashless policy in 2011 and created the infrastructure that will enhance cashless society. The pilot phase commenced with Lagos in 2012, and the CBN later extended it to additional five states and the Federal Capital in 2013, before commencing nationwide cashless policy on January 1, 2014. Three years down the line, Nigerians still queue up to collect physical cash for their daily transactions.
CEO of E-Transact, one of the licensed mobile money operators that is supposed to drive the cashless policy in the country, Mr. Valentine Obi could not be reached for comments on the issue.
Also, the CEO of Interswitch, Mr. Mitchell Elegbe, whose platform provides interconnectivity to most of the financial institutions for online transactions, declined to comment on the matter.
Commenting on the issue, one of the customers, who gave her name as Olajumoke Afolabi admitted that she was aware of the cashless policy, which began nationwide in January 2014, but that she needed cash to spend at Christmas. Asked if she does not enjoy the comfort of transacting online without physical cash, Afolabi said why not if only there could be a steady network connectivity that is also free from hacking. She however stated she prefers having cash on her at all times, since most merchants complain of poor network connectivity for online transactions. She also expressed worry that hackers are everywhere searching for ATM cards to clone in order to defraud card owners.
Other customers who were on queue at some of the the banking halls in Lagos, expressed similar views.