By Our Reporter
The Central Bank of Nigeria has introduced charges on bank deposits.
Making an announcement yesterday September Tuesday 17, 2019, the Central Bank indicated that as from September 18, 2019 that bank customers will pay fees for deposits above indicated thresholds.
For individual customers a charge of 2% of the amount deposited will be imposed for cash deposits above half a million Naira while it is 3% for Norporate entities on lodgments in excess of 3 million Naira.
Since then social media is aflame with questions raised asking why such charges should be made as it could have the unintended effect of discouraging economic agents from patronizing the banks thereby undermining the cashless policy of the Apex Bank and ultimately the drive for financial Inclusion.
As part of this announcement it was also indicated that these charges will commence on pilot basis from selected states which include; Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, Anambra, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT). The cashless policy targeted at encouraging the use of electronic Channels which was announced on April 2011 commenced with a pilot scheme in Lagos which took off from January 1, 2012. This policy which it will be recalled was introduced on pilot basis commencing from major commercial centres is now scheduled to commence country wide from March 31, 2020.
The policy was targeted to receive a boost as well as a shot in the arm from the clean notes policy which commenced on April, 2019. A high point of this policy it will be recalled was the imposition of prison sentence for six months or a fine of N 50,000 or both fine and imprisonment for those who disrespect the Naira by writing on it, mutilating, stapling, tearing and wait for it spraying, soiling and trampling upon. I don’t believe that this new dimension of the cashless policy would impact negatively the drive for financial inclusion as probably not up to 98% of economic agents in Country will ever have the need to deal in such amount of cash particularly considering the extent of penetration of technology based electronic payments systems. But even those who might have to handle large volumes of cash, to avoid this payment all that is required is that the amount lodged at any point in time does not hit the designated threshold. We don’t necessarily want to teach old dogs how to break bones
The negative consequences attached to large cash handling have been well advertised. Besides the fact that it is prone to theft, It also undermines the clean notes policy of the CBN and increases the cost of banking services considering man hours consumed while counting such large amounts even whilst using counting machines.
Some of the objectives attached to the cashless policy such as the attainment of the modernisation of the country’s payments system and the enhancement of the effectiveness and efficiency of monetary policy would also be undermined. Therefore the outcry particularly the fear about the negation of the gains of financial inclusion by this policy extension remains misplaced and unfounded