Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, on Thursday, said there are about 1.4 million super agents (mobile banking operators including POS agents) in the country for Nigerians to patronise for business transactions.
Emefiele said this while reiterating the monetary policy of the apex bank would stand for the benefit of the nation’s economy and not cause harm for the citizens.
The CBN governor made this known while speaking with State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.
Emefiele said the CBN has received and noted criticisms from the Senate, business gurus, stakeholders and Nigerians since the announcement of the cash withdrawal limits.
Recall that the CBN had, on Tuesday, unveiled a revised cash withdrawal limit with a maximum of N100,000 cash withdrawal per week for individuals and N500,000 cash per week for corporate bodies.
But the Senate questioned the bank on the grounds of timing, arguing that it might worsen the tight economic environment.
Mobile banking operators
He said there are 1.4 million mobile banking shops apart from commercial banks and microfinance banks, thus Nigerians can do business transactions without dealing with cash all the time.
Emefiele said, “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.
“And I have told my colleagues, some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish all the names of all the super agents.
“And having super agent which is different from the banks which is different from microfinance banks, which is different from other financial institutions.
“Having 1.4 million of them is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services.
“We think, Nigeria as a big country, the biggest economy in Africa that we need to leapfrog into the cashless economy.
“We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 per cent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitisation have gone into cashless.
“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, it is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tricking some amount to be a little bit higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them.”
No going back on cashless policy
Emefiele said the apex bank will not go back on the cashless policy but will always offer help so that Nigerians are not adversely affected.
“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.
“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.”
“I can only just assure you that it will go around, let us just be calm, luckily the old currency continued to be legal tender till January 31, 2023.
“So, I want to crack a joke, both the painted (new notes) and unpainted (old notes) will operate concurrently as legal tender.
“But by January 31, the unpainted one will not be useful to you again, so please take it to your bank as quickly as possible,” he added.
Buhari’s backing, Senate’s criticism
CBN Governor said the President had backed him saying “We should carry on our work, no need to fear, no need to bother about anybody.”
Emefiele said, “We can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it.”
About the criticism from the Senate, he said, “Well, the Senate of the Federal Republic is the National Assembly.
“They are a legislative arm of the government and from time to time we brief them about what is happening and about our policies and I’m aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them.”
Talking about the genesis of the cashless ten years ago, Emefiele said, “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 down the policy because we felt that there is a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.
“Between 2012 and now 2022, almost about 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 Nigeria.
“We heard about people talk about some of the people in the rural areas and the truth is that even online banking; as I was coming out to Daura, I saw a kiosk that has super agent today.
“It’s because of the way we felt that there was a need for us to deepen the payment system infrastructure.”