Bank customers grumble over scarcity of redesigned Naira notes, CBN reacts

Abuja --------------- Bank customers are grumbling over scarcity of the redesigned N1,000, N500 and N200 notes in Deposit Money Banks, DMBs, and Other Financial Institutions, OFIs, across the country.

This is coming barely nine days to the January 31, 2023, deadline to stop the use of the old notes of the redesigned denominations as legal tender.

The customers, who spoke to reporters weekend in Abuja, complained that banks kept supplying their customers with the old notes, which would soon cease to be legal tender.

A civil servant, Ibrahim Abbas, said the banks have no reason to load their Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, with the old notes after customers have deposited them in their accounts as advised by authorities.

According to him, “They say that they are redesigning some denominations of the Naira, and that Nigerians should take their old notes to the banks and start getting the redesigned ones.

“But what we still get from the ATMs, and even from the bank counters are the old notes. This is not right.” 

A Point of Sale, PoS, operator, who did not his name in print said that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, needed to do better in its supply of the new notes.

“CBN is telling us that there are enough of the redesigned notes in vaults of the DMBs, but the banks are saying that they do not have enough supply of the notes. Something is not adding up,” he said.

This was even as, another bank customer, Mr Suleman Aliu, said that the delay in flooding the banks with the new Naira notes close to the deadline meant that some people would lose some of their money.

“If the deadline is Jan. 31, which is nine days from today, and the banks are still supplying the old notes, it means they want some people to lose their money, ” he added.

The CBN announced plans to redesign denominations of the currency in October 2022, fixing January 31 as deadline for the circulation of the old notes.

It further said that it had mandated the DMBs to ensure issuance of the new notes strictly through their Automated Teller Machines, ATMs.

The assurance was contained in a statement on Friday, jointly signed by the CBN's Director, Banking Supervision Department, Haruna Mustapha, and the Director Payment System Management Department. Musa Jimoh.  

It said that the mandate was to ensure that distribution of the new currency notes was fair, transparent, and evenly spread across the country, even as it further allayed the fears of rural dwellers on the possibility of accessing the new notes before the Jan. 31 deadline.

It announced that it would inaugurate a cash-swap programme in rural and underserved areas of the country on Monday to boost collection of the redesigned Naira notes.

The apex bank said that the inauguration was informed by the need to maximise the channels through which underserved and rural communities could exchange their naira notes, pointing out that the inauguration would hold in partnership with DMBs and super agents.

“The old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes can be exchanged for the redesigned notes or existing lower denominations of N100, N50 and N20 which remain legal tender.

“The super agents can exchange a maximum of N10,000 per person, while amounts above M10,000 shall be treated as cash-in deposit into wallets or bank accounts in line with the cashless policy.

“Bank Verification Number, National Identification Number or Voter’s Card details of the customer should be captured as much as possible,’’ the CBN added. 

Also, the CBN had earlier disclosed that it ordered the printing of 500 million pieces of new Naira notes in the first contract, which rolled out in the last week of Dec. 2022.

The Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Aisha Ahmad, said this at a House of Representatives hearing on implementation of CBN cashless policy and the new withdrawal limits.

Ahmad said that there were 31 DMBs with 4,603 branches as at October 2022.

“In the OFIs sector, there are 878 Microfinance Banks with1,966 branches; 1.4 million agents; 899,642 PoS terminals, and more than 14,000 ATMs,” she said.

According to her, a review of the cost of currency management from 2017 to 2021 indicated an average increase of more than N10 billion per annum.

She also, noted that over 90 per cent of currency management costs were attributed to banknotes production.