Commercial banks in the country have backtracked on daily cash withdrawal limits by limiting daily cash withdrawal for each customer to N150,000, LEADERSHIP learnt.
Before now, findings show that each customer was able to withdraw above N500,000, but with the approach of Yuletide, the banks are allegedly trying to conserve the funds in their kitty. Although, there is no specific policy on daily withdrawal limit, the CBN circular on cash-based transactions stipulates a cash handling charge on daily cash withdrawals that exceed N500,000 for Individuals and N3 million for corporate bodies.
This, according to market observers, could be translated to mean that individuals can withdraw N500,000 and above at the counter on a daily basis.
With Christmas just a couple of days away and festivities in full gear, bank customers are having a hard time having access to cash as most commercial banks are declining cash withdrawals above N150,000.
LEADERSHIP findings show that the trend, which is most common among the Tier 1 and Tier 2 banks, started last week as customers attempted to make last-minute purchases ahead of the holidays. While some banks put the withdrawal limit at N150,000, some others are much lower at N100,000.
Some bank staff who spoke with LEADERSHIP under the cover of anonymity explained that they received email notices that they were not to give out more than a specified amount to customers making cash withdrawals over the counter, but rather to encourage the customers to make use of the various electronic channels.
A Tier 1 bank staff told LEADERSHIP that her branch had received 50 per cent less cash than it used to get and the little they had in the branch was being fed into the Automated Teller Machines (ATM).
She noted that her branch, which is located in Ikeja area of Lagos, is not allowed to give out more than N100,000 at the counter, while another branch of the same bank in the computer village area of Ikeja is allowed to give out as much as N150,000.
A bank customer, who gave his name simply as Johnson and operates as a POS agent, told LEADERSHIP that he had run out of cash and had gone to the bank to make a withdrawal of N700,000 but was told that he could only have N100,000.
He told LEADERSHIP that he had visited up to three different banks and the story was the same with all of them saying they did not have enough cash and, therefore, could not give more than N100,000. According to him, he had been encouraged to make use of the digital channels of the banks.
LEADERSHIP also encountered an aged man who declined to give his name in one of the banking halls in Iyana-Ipaja area of Lagos. He wanted to make a withdrawal of N210,000 but was told that he could only get N100,000.
A banking sector analyst told LEADERSHIP that the cash withdrawal limit could be as a result of a reduced level of cash in circulation, or an attempt to promote the cash-less policy and reduce the usage of cash in the system.
On his part, the president, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr Uju Ogubunka, noted that with the festivities comes the risk of holding a lot of cash and banks may have reduced cash due to the festive rush.
“For some reasons during periods like this and because of insecurity, cash holding in banks is usually reduced and banks are always careful, and if you bust your insurance coverage, if anything happens, then you are in trouble.
“If the cash volume they have is low and, maybe, CBN is not supplying because they cannot give what they do not have, instead, they will want to take care of the lower rungs who are collecting N20,000, N30,000 through the ATM. They should bear with the banks; this is not about the best time to hold cash anyway. Those doing business and in need of cash should arrange with their bankers ahead of time.
When LEADERSHIP called the director of Corporate Communications at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Osita Nwanisobi, he said there is no policy from the CBN as regards this, adding that the apex bank was yet to get official complaints on the issue.
He urged customers who had been denied access to their funds via over the counter cash withdrawals to make use of the CBN complaints channels.
When reached, some of the banks’ spokespersons declined to comment on the issue or did not pick their calls.