Traders express reservations about CBN’s naira withdrawal policy

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Nigerians have continued to express their sentiments on the latest central bank limiting over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities to not exceed N100,000 and N500,000 respectively, per week.

While some have taken to social media to grieve, others are still pondering the potential impact of the policy on their livelihood.

The central bank says the policy is aimed at boosting financial inclusion in the country while reducing the cost of handling cash. It is also part of a broader strategy to harness technology to manage the country’s money supply.

However, the central bank’s decision has broad implications for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across the country. For some of the people we spoke to directly, the policy has little to no effect on their business, as their billing is too small to require a fingerprint.

Money peddlers don’t like: Nairametrics went further by interviewing some of the people who sell money at parties.

Shade Opeoluwa explained to Nairametrics that his business would suffer from the recent development. She did, however, point out that this may not really be a problem for people in her line of business because for many, it’s an alternative source of income.

  • “For someone like me or even most of those who are in this type of business, the business is an alternative source of income that we do more on the weekend. No matter what the CBN brings, we will adapt. We have always adapted in Nigeria. This time it shouldn’t be a problem.

However, she hoped that no matter what, the policy would still allow her to continue the business as it is an alternative source of income for her.

Aminat Raza, another street vendor from Naira, also shared her opinion, expressing a sense of helplessness over a policy she cannot control.

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  • “Whatever the policy, we have no choice but to accept. There is nothing we can do. But I really hope that whatever decision those at the top make, they will be considerate of us, the masses, because, in the end, the masses suffer the most. They should not add to the suffering that is already underway.”

Those who are against politics John Ndubuisi, a retail agent living in the Alaba market, Lagos, says he earns as much as N7,000 daily in charges to customers who are in the market to purchase items.

  • When the new policy starts to roll out, Ndubuisi believes this may ruin his business, as he may not be able to get as much as now.
  • He explained that the N100,000 limit is not feasible for someone like him. He said, “Asking someone like me to work N100,000 a day is almost impossible. I make up to millions of transactions in a single day, so how do you expect someone like me to survive?

Therefore, he believes that the policy would not work and that something will be done about it very soon, since those in the upper echelon who would likely be most affected would not allow it to work.

  • Last Friday, Central Bank Deputy Governor Aisha Ahmad defended the policy at a Senate committee hearing. Earlier in the week, lawmakers had spoken out against the policy.

Ndubisi also believes that implementing such a policy without special consideration for the POS agent would put more young Nigerians out of work. He also blamed CBN for coming up with such a critical policy without pleasing the people so far. Ndubuisi is not the only one who is hopeful that the policy will be reversed soon.

Opeyemi Peters, another POS operator he believes that the policy, coming at this time, may not be favorable to Nigerians in general.

However, in his opinion, he agrees that the policy may in turn favor POS operators, especially those that have gone through the relevant licensing process.

  • “Don’t forget the policy didn’t say it’s impossible to raise more than N100,000. The regulator only said that anything above that would attract additional fees of 5-10%. So for POS operators, I think they can even make more money from it. If I were to get a few million naira from the bank at an additional cost, I would definitely expect this to be passed on to customers.” He explained.

On the fence: However, Esther Omowumi is willing to accept whatever the CBN brings, even though she perceives that this may harm companies.

  • In addition to running the POS business, she also does fashion design to support the business, so to her, she would always survive whatever is thrown at her.

The effect of the policy is negligible: Rashidat Owoduni, a market woman who sells pepper at Boundary Market, Ajegunle, told Nairametrics that she doesn’t think she will be affected much by the new policy as there will always be alternatives.

Due to the need to always sell fresh produce, Rashidat is constantly parading around the market: she visits it every day during peak hours, and sometimes for two or three days, so she believes she doesn’t need a lot of cash at the time.

  • “If the minimum withdrawal is N100,000 at the counter daily and N20,000 from ATMs, I don’t see how that affects me because I don’t usually frequent the bank. The money I have in the bank is not intended for immediate expenses. I only keep them for rainy days. For me, I buy products almost every day, so the money from the day before can be used to do that. Even if I have to retire, I don’t think I will go beyond the limit.” she says

Similar to Owoduni’s comments, Lolade Owo, who sells shoes in the same market, also believes the policy would not really affect her.

  • She said, “Any politics that stresses me out I would rather avoid. If exceeding 100,000 naira in the bank means paying an extra sum, then I prefer to pool my money at home and go to the market to buy products when I have enough. I can’t imagine having to pay extra money just to collect my own money.”

Tochukwo Uzo, who sells rugs, thinks otherwise. For him, he considered that the policy was in the right direction to encourage a cashless policy; however, he stressed that the CBN should ensure that issues related to late alerts, fraud and others should be resolved to encourage everyone.

  • The level of cyber fraud in the country has increased in recent years, especially as banks continue to expand their electronic payment channels.

What the Central Bank says: Meanwhile, central bank governor Godwin Emefiele, while responding to the National Assembly’s rebuttal of the policy, recently said that the withdrawal limits were not set in stone, but would be revised upwards over time, as the regulator did not wish to make life difficult for Nigerians, but only sought to improve the economy.

  • “We will be checking from time to time how this is working because I can’t say we’re going to be rigid. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to reverse, it doesn’t mean we’re going to change the time, but it does mean adjusting some quantity to be a little higher or a little lower, and so on. ”

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