Barring any unforeseen development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to roll out the cash-less policy nationwide by January, 2014.
The policy was, early in the month, extended to Abia, Anambra, Kano, Ogun and Rivers states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), after the Lagos pilot project, which was introduced in January 2012.
The deputy governor, Operations, CBN, Mr Tunde Lemo, who gave an indication while fielding questions from newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday, said with the level of attention given to the challenges facing the scheme by the stakeholders, it would be feasible to embark on nationwide roll-out in the next six months.
He said the apex bank and its partners would monitor the developments in the five states and FCT where the policy had just been introduced, stating that there was a strong tendency that the proximity of the other states would ensure smooth take-off.
He noted that there were constraints facing the policy, stressing that the identified ones were assisting the apex bank to know the area to deploy technology and give necessary attention.
“We acknowledge those constraints, we are dealing with them and, of course, within the next six months or so, it might be convenient for us also to roll out to the entire country, because we are quite aware that it is possible for people to arbitrage by moving cash around states that are very close to areas where we are implementing cashless.
“Although we are yet to confirm, but we hope that within six months post-implementation in the five states and the FCT, we should be able to go to other parts of Nigeria,” he said.
The cash-less policy, first introduced in Lagos on January 1, 2012, is migration from cash-based economy to electronic payment channels.
It principally includes e-payment, using cheques, Point of Sale (PoS) and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and mobile money, among others.
It is essentially to break down the traditional barriers hindering financial inclusion of millions of Nigerians and bring low-cost, secure and convenient financial services to urban, semi-urban and rural areas across the country.
In essence, the apex bank said the policy was introduced to drive development and modernisation of the payment system, in line with Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020; to reduce the cost of banking services (including cost of credit) and drive financial inclusion by providing more efficient transaction options.
In addition, the policy aims to curb some of the negative consequences associated with the high usage of physical cash in the economy, including high cost of cash management; high risk of using cash; high subsidy; checking high cash usage at the informal sector and inefficiency and corruption.
Under the policy, the CBN pegged the daily cumulative cash withdrawal or deposit limit for individual accounts at N500,000 per day and N3 million per day for corporate accounts.
The processing fee for withdrawals above the limit for individual customers and corporate bodies was also put at three per cent and five per cent respectively, while third party cheque was pegged at N150,000.