Over 20 Deposit Money Banks on Monday began the implementation of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s new cash withdrawal limit policy across the country with bank customers expressing anger over the new rule.
The Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, had on December 21, 2022, bowed to pressure and revised the bank’s earlier cash withdrawal limits.
The CBN reviewed upwards the maximum weekly limit for cash withdrawal across all channels by individuals and corporate organisations to N500,000 and N5m respectively.
The CBN attributed the development to the feedback it got from stakeholders.
For transactions above the withdrawal limits, financial institutions are required to get details of the customers and upload the same on the CBN portal created for the purpose.
In the earlier circular it issued on December 6, 2022, the CBN had said that with effect from January 9, 2023, the maximum over-the-counter cash withdrawal limit by individuals and corporate organisations per week, would be N100,000 and N500,000 respectively, adding that withdrawals above these limits would attract processing fees of five per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
It further stated that the maximum cash withdrawal per week via Automated Teller Machines from January 9, would be N100,000 subject to a maximum of N20,000 cash withdrawal per day.
The apex bank also directed banks to load only N200 and lower denominations into their ATMs.
Following the previous directive, many stakeholders kicked against it. The Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria said that point-of-sale operators would protest as the policy was targeted at killing their source of livelihood.
However, the reviewed cash limits, which took effect on Monday faced severe opposition from bank customers who accused the central bank of not being sensitive to the plight of cash-based businesses.
Customers knock CBN
A bank customer, identified as Sola Adewale, who spoke to our correspondent in Mowe, Ogun State, said, “I personally think putting a limit on how people should spend money they worked for is crazy. N500,000 weekly withdrawal limit may be too much for some people while it is too small for others. This affects some businesses that need much cash.
He added, “Putting a limit on cash expenditures won’t reform Nigeria in any way because the people who spend lavishly will still have access to whatever amount of money they need. So at the end of the day, it’s the common man that will suffer the most.”
Another bank customer, Grace Chukwu, who spoke in Ogba, Lagos, said, “I am an entrepreneur with three companies. I use First Bank, FCMB, Zenith Bank and Sterling Bank. I will use this opportunity to applaud the service I receive from First Bank, Sterling Bank and other banks. I’m not really bothered because I hardly transact with cash, I do bank transfers most time.
“But I can understand how this new policy will affect other organisations and people who still don’t trust the available Internet banking options in our rural and urban communities and need to move funds above the amount permitted via Internet banking. I’ve been a victim myself a few times. So, I don’t blame them. And let’s face it, cash is still king. I feel they should review it.”
Also, another bank customer, identified as Maduabuchi Mercy, who spoke to The PUNCH in Garki, Abuja, said, “I don’t have much to say. This will surely limit individuals and businesses from their day-to-day activities. This really doesn’t show that we’re moving any forward. People make their money for themselves, and regulating how to spend our hard-earned money is a complete turnoff.
“Imagine me having a transaction above the stipulated limits, so I’ll have to spend up to a month to complete a particular transaction. How long will it take me to do five to 10 transactions as an individual let alone as a business owner?
Several other customers across the country challenged the CBN’s latest policy again.
A customer, Solomon Onyebuchi, in Abeokuta, said, “This is arrant nonsense and unacceptable. What’s the essence of this policy to the economy? They just want us to suffer while the rich ones don’t have any issues.”
Another customer, Dupe Adegbenga, an SME operator, while reacting, said, “How do the banks expect businesses to operate? SMEs will suffer. I’m in pain.”