Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, says he Sympathises with the banking public over the inconvenience the newly introduced cashless policy is causing bank customers.
Emefiele said this at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held in Abuja on Friday.
This was while he was reacting to the pushback from Nigerians over the return of charges on deposits and withdrawals beyond a certain threshold.
At the end of the meeting, the MPC retained interest rates at 13.5% as well as other parameters.
“I truly sympathise with the banking public and regret the inconvenience that this is causing bank customers,” he said.
“We expect that after five years: 2014-2019, all the cash that would have been kept in people’s houses, should have been brought back into the banking industry.
“That’s why we are saying at this time that we need to return back to that. What you are seeing today is not new.”
The CBN governor disclosed the strategic reasons the decision to reintroduce the charges was taken.
He said: “This is a strategic timing of these actions because, on Monday, September 23rd, the mutual evaluation by Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) on the country’s anti-money laundry and CFT regime will begin.
“Passing the mutual evaluation, positions Nigerian as a safe and credible destination for financial transaction across the world.
“GIABA will be in Nigeria to assess the rate at which Nigeria has embraced anti-money laundry and CFT regime.
“It is important that we display and show to them that Nigeria is indeed in conformity with their practices as enshrined in their anti-money laundry and CFA laws.”
He further disclosed that “If we do not do what we are doing today, if they pass us negatively, even your so-called cards that you carry abroad, you will not be able to use them.
“It is in our own best interest that we are seen to be working in line with best global practices so that we can have a comfortable and convenient life in future.”
Since the policy was first launched in 2012, Emefiele stated that “currency management cost has continued to increase year-on-year at an average annual growth rate of 33%. Notwithstanding, electronic transactions have increased within the economy. We have provided alternative channels and people have embraced it.”
He maintained that “Today, SMEs have various options and channels available to them for collecting legitimate payment for goods and services like bank transfers, using the POS or mobile cash, USSD codes and QR codes.
“Indeed, it is in the public interest to promote an efficient payment system via the cashless policy which helps to reduce the punitive cost of cash processing often passed on to bank customers by our Deposit Money Banks.
“Fees on excess cash withdrawal are not new. They have been there since 2012. We need to actually embrace best practices by actually saying that we should go cashless in Nigeria.”