Following moves to ensure that the country becomes a cashless economy from June 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday outlined the measures it has adopted to implement the policy.
The apex bank said it intends to begin the implementation process in Lagos State from December this year, before it spreads to other parts of the country.
The implementation project, which is to be tagged ‘Operation Cashless Lagos’, would entail deployment of automated teller machines (ATM), ‘POS’ terminals in various bank locations both onside and offside locations of the banks, and procurement of POS terminals that customers will use anytime they visit point of sales either in shopping malls, airlines, airports or company factories.
While briefing newsmen on the issues deliberated upon at the end of the Bankers’ Committee meeting in Abuja, the director, banking supervision of the CBN, Mr. Sam Oni, said the apex bank was committed to ensuring that the cashless banking policy recently announced is effectively implemented in the country, as part of the drive to make the country become one of the top 20 economies in the world by the year 2020.
According to him, “this is working in different parts of the world - in fact in Africa like Kenya, Kampalla. Transactions are done there by primarily using cards and we think that Nigeria should not be an exception, we think Nigeria is a very good market with 150 million people. We should allow transactions to be carried out using cards. We should reduce the rate at which we carry cash around which is cumbersome; it is very costly for the banks, costly for the system”.
The managing director of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Godwin Amefrele, who gave a breakdown on the implementation plans, said come December 2011 about 40,000 ATMs would be deployed per 100,000 persons in different parts of Lagos State. By June 2012, it would be increased to 75,000 ATMs, and by December 2012, to 150,000 per 100,000 persons and finally by December 2015, it intends to meet the Brazillian experience and push it to about 275, 000 per 100,000 persons.
“The assurance we are giving Nigerian people is that we will do this with every sense of responsibility to ensure that, as we put all this in place, they carry out their banking transactions without any problem. It would be a very simple process and everybody will be happy with it because what we are doing is to replicate what is happening in different parts of the world. Banks will be called upon and various criteria would be set up where these ATMs can be procured at cheap prices because we believe that by going out to purchase large ATMs we should be able to enjoy the economies of scale by procuring a large number of ATMs and POS ”, he said.
On easy transactions through this system, Amefrele said that, under the industry initiative, the banks would come together and engage telecom operators to ensure that they provide adequate means through which data can pass and be easy for transactions to be verified just as it is done in different parts of the world.
The committee also deliberated on issues regarding the recapitalisation of the distressed banks, saying that it would assist in ensuring that the whole process is concluded smoothly.
It disclosed that the distressed banks needed a total of N1.5 trillion to fill the hole that has been created.
However, the committee discussed ways through which the capital market can be deepened such that banks can provide support to infrastructure development in the country, particularly through infrastructure bonds.
The managing director of Stanbic IBTC, Mrs. Shola David Borha, said “the committee looked at the support package for the power sector. The World Bank is willing to give a partial guarantee to get the banks fully comfortable with lending to the sector. There is some residual risk that needs to be addressed. If this is addressed, there would be greater financing that is released to develop the power sector”.