I wrote a few hours ago that the Central Bank of Nigeria had given a gift to our fintechs through the cashless policy. This is an update – the Nigerian Parliament, specifically the House of Representatives, has asked the apex bank to suspend the initiative. Personally, I think the initiative is a good one, and I support it, because it will seed a new growth sector – the digital economy. Those clamoring that it would hurt the poor need to look at the data. According to government data, 2% of the Nigerian bank depositors control 90% of the total value. Also, Nigerians who have more than N500,000 ($1,400) in their bank accounts are just 2%. Technically, this policy as announced will affect only 2% of affluent Nigerians who have more than $1,400 in their bank accounts.
The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately suspend the implementation of the new aspect of the cashless policy on deposits which has taken effect today.
The lawmakers took the resolution after adopting a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by its spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu.
The CBN had announced that from Wednesday, September 18, certain cash deposits and withdrawals from individual bank accounts are to attract additional charges.
In a circular to all deposit money bank (DMBs), the Director, Payments System Management Department at the CBN, Sam Okojere, it said henceforth 3 per cent processing fees would be paid for withdrawals and 2 per cent for deposits of amounts above N500,000 for individual accounts.
The apex bank also said corporate accounts will attract 5 per cent processing fees for withdrawals and 3 per cent processing fee for lodgments of amounts above N3 million
Those who say the poor would be affected are not fair on this debate. If you can withdraw or deposit N500k in Nigeria, you are not poor, relatively! Yes, the “poor” (using that with decency) can still run their lives with cash unaffected.
Yet, this policy is also bad because it is wrong to decide for people how they would want to run their lives in this age of cyber-frauds and -attacks. The National Assembly may be smarter here.