Ahead of December 15 Policy, Banks Receive Redesigned Notes
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has commenced the distribution of the newly redesigned naira to the banks in readiness for issuance to customers as the new policy kicks off December 15, 2022.
Godwin Emefiele, CBN’s governor disclosed this on Thursday during a visit to President Buhari in his Daura home, Katsina state.
Emefiele who said the new notes were sent to the banks on Wednesday, insisted that the timelines – in terms of December 15 for commencement and the January 31 deadline were sacrosanct, but signaled that the CBN may tinker with the new policy on cash withdrawal limits.
He also disclosed that since the announcement of the new policy, the apex bank has taken more than N500 billion from the banks and have also deposited close to that number there.
He said his visit was part of the normal presidential briefing which had been overdue and that discussions centered around developments in the Central bank, the economy, and more importantly on the cashless policy under which the notes were being redesigned.
“Only yesterday, the new currency has now reached the banks and we believe that the banks will begin to distribute them to the members of the public who are their customers,” the governor stated, adding that the visit was also to assure the president of no hitches so far in the implementation process.
Emefiele, while assuring that the central bank and the entire banking system were already prepared for the policy roll out, also announced that there were already 1.4 million super agents all over the country offering banking services where citizens can explore, particularly the rural dwellers.
When asked to react on the recent push-back especially from the National Assembly, Emefiele assured that the lawmakers would be briefed on developments but pleaded for an understanding and cooperation for the success of the currency redesign, which he said targets no one but was thought out to drive the cashless policy, the economy and for the good of the citizens.
His words: “We will brief them. But I think it’s important for me to say that the cashless policy started in 2012. But on almost three to four occasions we had to step it down because we felt that the need for us to prepare and deepen the payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.
“Between 2012 and now 2022, almost 10 years, we believe that a lot of electronic channels have been put in place that will aid people in conducting banking and financial service transactions in the country.
“We heard people talk about some of the people in the rural areas and the truth is that even as I was coming out today to Daura, I saw a kiosk that has a super agent.
“It’s because of the way we have deepened the payment system infrastructure.
“We have 1.4 million super agents that are all over different parts of the country, all local governments, and all villages in this country. Some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish the names of all these super agents.
“And having 1.4 million super agents which are different from the banks, microfinance banks, and other financial institutions is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services.”
He said as the largest country in Africa in terms of population and economy, it was now time for Nigeria to leapfrog into the cashless economy.
“We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 per cent of the cash in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitization have gone cashless,” he noted.
“I have said it at different fora, that this is not targeted at anybody, it’s just meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy and we can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it.
“We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid. But it is not to say that we will reverse or change the timing, but whether it is about tweaking some amount to be a little higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them, we will do so because we are humans.
“We want to make sure that we are making life good for our people. We do not want to make life difficult for them.
“So there is no need for anybody to worry, the central bank is monitoring what is happening and I can assure everyone that we are up and alive to our responsibilities and we will do what is right for Nigeria and Nigerians,” the governor reassured.
He however emphasized that by January 31, 2023, all the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes will cease to be legal tender in line with schedule, and urged citizens to utilize all the available channels and deposit these notes before the deadline.