Why implementing cashless policy is too early for Nigeria

I keep telling people that it is too early for us in Nigeria as a whole to adopt a cashless policy. It is just obviously too early. Yesterday, I read a post by Prof. Abdelghaffar Amoka of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna state, about his experience with a Point of Sale, PoS, agent. 

He had gone to refill his gas cylinders at the cost of 19k+ and he used a PoS machine to pay for it. Though he was debited, the money wasn’t credited to the PoS agent’s account. Rather than waste his time there, he transferred another money to someone’s account to pay for refilling. He would have become helpless if he was moneyless. 

Some weeks back, I experienced a similar thing in Abuja. I went to withdraw 5k using a PoS from a woman at the NYSC parade ground. I was debited but she didn’t receive the money. She then told me that she won’t give me the money until she receives an alert. Luckily, I had a paltry sum left in my account. I then withdrew the money using a different PoS. It took my bank nearly 10 days to refund me. 

Before then, and about three years ago, I had the same experience with UBA. I used my father’s card to withdraw N100,000. I tried six times, but all of the transactions didn’t dispense cash, and he was debited five times. My dad only knew it after a week. He complained to the bank but they denied it, without carefully checking whether the transactions were successful or not. 

They had to call me to come from school. I quickly got to the bank because it involved my father. I had to help them understand that the transactions failed. Only then they rechecked and discovered that I was right. That was indeed an issue bordering on unprofessionalism. 

If not because of my father I would have sued the bank, because they threatened me with a police arrest, saying it was a criminal case. My father asked me to accept their apology else I would have sought compensation for making me look like a criminal, while they were at fault. 

Before going ahead with its cashless policy, another factual and excusable factor the apex bank should consider is the fact that most of our businesses are done in cash, especially those trading in rural communities and towns and other remote areas where there are no banks, no network, no internet, no electricity, no education, and these people form a large portion of the Nigerian populace. 

The questions I keep asking myself regarding this policy are: Did the Central Bank of Nigeria build banks in those areas? Would the people be traveling from their various villages to cities to transfer, withdraw or deposit money? What did the government do in place of these challenges? Does CBN have enough manpower to do this job even if they have built banks? Did CBN mistake Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and a few cities for Nigeria? 

These, among other reasons, are the factors I want the CBN governor to consider. Before they present this policy, they need to put all these things in place and educate people about it so that people will evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, and decide to either oppose or support it. The CBN didn’t do that. It just woke up from its slumber and served it to the Nigerians a la carte. Time will however tell if Nigerians will embrace it, warts and all.

Lawan Bukar Maigana,


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