Cash, including old and new naira notes were unavailable from banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and over the counter, on Monday, a day after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extended the deadline for the phasing out of the old naira bills to February 10, 2023.
The CBN on Sunday extended the deadline by 10 days from January 31, 2023 to February 10, 2023, to allow the collection of the old notes.
Bank customers who needed small cash to pay for transport fares, and other urgent needs could not find money to withdraw from the ATMs.
“I have gone to all the ATMs in my area at Okota; I could not get any cash. I have been to the ATMs in Apapa where I work; they are not dispensing cash, not even the old naira. Where am I going to get money to pay for transport when going home,” a low-income earner who gave his name as George, said on Monday.
A visit to some of the banks and their ATMs in Lagos on Monday showed that the paying machines were empty and the banks were not paying over the counter.
“We do not have new naira and we are not paying old notes,” a cashier in Zenith Bank said. Asked if they were collecting old notes, the bank cashier said yes.
However, a few ATM machines that were dispensing cash, like Access Bank ATMs were crowded by a large number of people who queued to withdraw money.
More worrisome is the fact the some bank ATMs are dispensing N1,000 per transaction with N35 charges for other bank’s ATM cards.
“I went to Zenith Bank at Apapa to withdraw N10,000. The ATM machine paid me N1,000 per transaction and charged me N35 because I used a GTBank ATM card,” a driver told BusinessDay.
Also, a video going viral showed some desperate Nigerians wrestling and exchanging blows at one of Zenith Bank’s ATM stands.
Deposit Money Banks have issued notice to their customers directing them to use their ATM machines for electronic transfers.
“Dear customer, no cash dispensed? Don’t fret! You can make a quick transfer on our ATMs. What’s more, you can make payments, pay bills and do much more via our digital channels. Thank you for your understanding. Warm regards, management,” Access Bank said in a notice to its customers.
The cashless ATMs and banks have created more opportunity for Point of Sales (PoS) operators to make excess money as they charge a premium on new naira.
Similarly, petrol attendants sell fuel at N500 per litre to those buying with old notes and N400 per litre to those with new naira.
Some Nigerians on social media platforms like nairaland – a popular online community ranked among the 10 most visited websites in Nigeria by Alexa.com, shared their experiences using POS for withdrawal of the new naira notes.
A user named tolexy007 said in his area, PoS operators are charging N250 on withdrawals between N1,000 and N5,000 for new notes and N100 for old notes for the same range.
MaDaRa01 said PoS operators have hiked charges in his area owing to the scarcity of the new notes.
He said he was charged N1,000 for N10,000 new notes by a PoS operator. While BBM said he was charged N600 for N10,000 by a PoS operator in his community.
Available data at the central bank show that in 2015, currency in circulation was only NI.4 trillion. As of October 2022, currency in circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion; out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry and N2.7 trillion held permanently in people’s homes.
Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor in a statement on Sunday, said the sensitisation exercise on the naira redesign by the apex bank has achieved a success rate of over 75 percent of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system. “So far and since the commencement of this programme, we have collected about N1.9 trillion; leaving us with about N900 billion (N500 billion plus NI.9 trillion),” he said.