Ibadan – The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to intensify the public sensitisation campaign on its cashless policy.
Speaking in Ibadan on Thursday, Mr Abiola Alli, the Oyo State chairman of CIBN, said the policy was not being adequately publicised.
Alli said that more needed to be done in the area of mass enlightenment as many Nigerians were yet to be adequately enlightened on the initiative.
“The Central Bank needs to create a lot of awareness; they need to place a lot of jingles on the radio and the television.
“People must be aware that this policy is coming up because majority of these people are not even aware that this thing is coming up.
“Even people in urban areas, some of them are not aware that this policy is coming up, so you need to do a lot of sensitisation programmes so that this people will become aware.
“You need to let them know the implications of their actions because some of them will still out of ignorance, come forward and make withdrawals of more than N150, 000.
“If you charge those people without having sensitised them, then you are going to be unfair to them.
“So CBN needs to do a lot of work in that area, what they have done so far is not enough,’’ he said.
Alli, however, urged Nigerians to embrace the policy, saying the long term benefits would positively impact on the economy in spite of the present challenges.
“With this policy in place, you don’t need to travel with cash; if robbers know that people are not going to carry cash, their activities will be limited.
“Majority of people will use cards to transact their businesses and that will also allow business transaction to be faster than before.
“It will also allow the banking system to do real banking because they will have the opportunity of dealing more with the customers than before.
“They will also have the opportunity of selling their services far more than before.
“If there are genuine activities in the banks, it will translate to growth for the economy.
“So we are going to benefit immensely from it if we allow the policy to work the way it has been envisaged bythe CBN,’’ he said.
Alli, who is also a Senior Business Executive with Finbank Plc, said banks were prepared in terms of infrastructure to commence implementation of the policy in line with CBN’s March 31 date.
He, however, stressed that for the policy to commence successfully, it was imperative for the CBN to eliminate the complications of information gap through comprehensive sensitisation campaign.
“The banks are well prepared for it. We have the infrastructure in place, we have the capability we also have the capacity.
“The challenge we envisage is that of knowledge gap because of the short time between when the policy was introduced and when the policy is supposed to take effect.
“That is why I said in the beginning that CBN will need to do a lot of work in making sure that people are enlightened about the policy,’’he said.
Meanwhile, mixed reactions had continued to greet the cashless policy, with residents of Ibadan expressing divergent opinions.
Sesan Akinwade, a resident, said: “Forcing such policy on people is another way of ripping people off their hard earned money. Do you think this policy will affect the rich men? Of course not!
“CBN might have good intentions, but I see no difference with this policy and the fuel subsidy removal.
“I think the most important thing to do is to educate the people on the advantage of using such banking tools instead of forcing them to use it,’’ he said.
Akinwade further stressed the importance of putting in place efficient and reliable electronic payment channels, saying this would determine the success of the policy.
“Before implementing such laws, you need to make sure that everything is working. Till date, many of our ATM machines are having problems. Wire transfers and online transactions will not be the problem.
“The main challenge will be business outlets that will refuse cash payments and yet will not be adequately and efficiently equipped to process card payments,’’ he said.
Another respondent, Seyi Ojelade, cited the issues of trust and an increase in the spate of cyber crime as a threat to the general acceptance of the policy.
“We still have to deal with the issue of trust which is the basic element needed for successful business transactions,’’ said Ojelade, a student.
“We live in a society where issued cheques still bounce and where cyber crime is rampant due to poverty and unemployment.
“We will have difficulties adopting this cashless policy unless banks can guarantee secure electronic transactions while curbing cyber crimes which I foresee would increase with the adoption of the policy,’’ he added.
Ojelade also stressed the need for adequate power supply to enhance the efficiency of e-payment machines.
In her own view, Mrs Folashade Adigun, a trader, said the policy may lead to a surge in robbery attacks on homes as traders begin to keep cash at home.
“Don’t be surprised if armed robbers start paying visits to traders’ homes like a couple of years back,
“ Some ignorant traders will start keeping huge amounts of money in their houses or farms rather than in banks for quick access to raw cash.
“This is the implication, unless more can be done in the area of sensitisation while tackling the bottlenecks associated with electronic transactions,’’ she said.
On how the policy would affect local operators of bureau de change, Tanko Danladi, said many operators were now embracing change.
“I have never met my current customer, as he got my number through a friend. He transfers dollars to my domiciliary account online while I transfer the equivalent Naira value into his current account.
“I can assure you that most of us are already going electronic and it is only a matter of time before you notice complete integration on our side.
“For us, it is welcome development as it eliminates the risks involved in dealing with bulk cash.
“ It also eliminates the dangers of counterfeiting common in this business,’’ Danladi, a currency dealer in Sabo area of the metropolis, added. (NAN)
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