From Uche Usim, Abuja
A major step towards achieving financial inclusion and a cashless policy was taken on Thursday as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took the sensitisation crusade to the popular Wuse Market in Abuja.
The event had officials of the apex bank, staff of commercial banks and other stakeholders in the market in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Kareem Williams, Deputy Branch Controller, Abuja branch of the CBN said the new notes became necessary because currency management in Nigeria has faced several challenges that have continued to grow in scale and sophistication with unintended consequences for the integrity of both the CBN and the country.
He added that the significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public, with statistics showing that ₦2.72 trillion out of the ₦3.26 trillion currency in circulation as of June 2022 was outside the vaults of commercial banks, saying it was injurious to the nation’s economy.
“Second is the worsening shortage of clean and fit banknotes with an attendant negative perception of the CBN and increased risk to financial stability. Third, there is increasing ease by criminals and risk of counterfeiting evidenced by several security reports received at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The benefits of the currency redesign to the Nigerian economy are enormous given that: This policy will help to control inflation as the exercise will bring the hoarded currency into the banking system, thereby making monetary policy more effective;
“It will also help with better design and implementation of Monetary Policy as we would have much more accurate data on money supply and monetary aggregates;
“We believe that this exercise would help in increasing financial inclusion, moving towards a more cashless economy, and ensuring greater formalisation of the Nigerian economy. The currency redesign would assist in the fight against corruption as the exercise would rein in the higher denomination used for corruption, and the movement of such funds from the banking system could be tracked easily,” he explained.
Williams advised the public to ensure that they deposit cash their old cash in commercial banks as the January 31 deadline remains sacrosanct.
“We encourage the public to explore other payment channels, such as eNaira, POS, electronic transfer, USSD, internet banking, and mobile,” he added.