Emefiele: CBN, banks now have N1.5trn old notes in vaults

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has mopped up over N500 billion old naira notes from the circulation.

Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, made the disclosure on Thursday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.

“The Central Bank has taken more than have a trillion and in the bank we also have close to have a trillion. But what we have done in the central bank is to move more people from different departments into currency processing so that they can process this cash as quickly as possible and from there, banks can now move what they have with them.”

Emefiele said the President was very happy with their action on the currency. “He was very very happy and said we should carry on our work, no need to fear, no need to bother about anybody,” he said.

Speaking on the opposition to the cash withdrawal limits, the CBN Governor said: “Well, the National Assembly is the legislative arm of the government and from time to time we brief them about what is happening and about our policies. And I’m aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them.

“But I think it’s important for me to say that the cashless policy started in 2012. But almost three to four occasions we had to step down the policy because we felt that there is a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepened our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.

“Between 2012 and now 2022, almost about 10 years, we believe that a lot of electronic channels have been put in place that will aid people in conducting banking and financial service transactions in Nigeria. We heard about people talk about some of the people in the rural areas and the truth is that even online banking, as I was coming out to Daura, I saw a kiosk that has super agent today. It’s because of the way we felt that there was a need for us to deepen the payment system infrastructure.

“We have 1.4 million super agents that are all over different parts of the country, all local governments, and all villages in this country. And I have told my colleagues, some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish all the names of all the super agents. And having super agent which is different from the banks which is different from microfinance banks, which is different from other financial institutions. Having 1.4 million of them is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services.

“And we think, Nigeria as a big country, the biggest economy in Africa that we need to leapfrog into the cashless economy. We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 per cent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank.

“More and more countries that are embracing digitization have gone into cashless. And I said it at different fora, that this is not targeted at anybody; it’s just meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy and we can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it.

“We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid. But it is not to say that we will reverse, it is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tricking some amount to be a little bit higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them.”

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