Disappointment and confusion yesterday greeted the commencement of the ‘Cashless Lagos Policy’ as it was heralded by the return of cheques which the banks regarded as ‘exceeding the limit’ for third parties.
The banks were however cautious, so as not to offend their customers, as some of the said customers who issued third partycheques were simply requested to spread the cheques to different beneficiaries.
Investigations showed yesterday that apart from the confusion, most customers claimed ignorance of the third party cheque limit of N150, 000, a development that has led many customers to opt for electronic money transfers, as an alternative to cheques.
The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) reviewed policy on cash-based transactions, aims at reducing (not eliminating) the amount of physical cash (coins and notes) circulating in the economy, and encouraging more electronic-based transactions (payments for goods, services, transfers, etc.)
A memo from Diamond Bank to its customers, pasted at its Amuwo-Odofin, Lagos branch, reads, “Please be informed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released further guidelines for the cashless policy in Lagos on March 16, 2012; the following will now apply: 3rd party cheques above N150, 000 cannot be cashed over the counter, but shall only be paid directly into an account and other banks’ cheques processed through the clearing house. You can make or receive electronic payments via any of our payment options example: Diamond pay, Diamond Online etc.”
According to a banker on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, “It is true that customers are not conversant with the third party limit, hence the confusion, but there is nothing we can do other than to comply.”
Another banker said, “Customers have perfected their plans to avoid payment of the penalty. For instance, since morning, customers have been coming for electronic money transfer, either through cheques without charges other than the normal cost on transactions (COT), national electronic financial transfer (NEFT), which we charge N200 per transaction; real time gross scheme (RTGS) at N1050 and Nigerian Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) with instant value for consortium members at N800 per transaction.”
Raphael Eruba, managing director/CEO, Odysyl Ventures, said the cashless policy of the CBN is affecting business people negatively, as they pay a lot of transaction costs. For instance, he said for every transaction done on Point of Sale (PoS), they are charged 1.25 percent.
“They charge us for using PoS. The PoS terminal contract is supposed to be free but the banks are charging money. It is not good for us business people”, he said.
He added that there were always delays in receiving the money transferred into an account. This, he said the banks have always attributed to network problems.
KunleAbiodun, a third party customer to GTBank, was among those disappointed in the banking hall on Monday, when he was told he could not cash a corporate account cheque which exceeded the maximum withdrawal limit. He was directed to get across to the issuer who could cash the cheque up to the acceptable limit, and pay him cash.
“I have told the company that gave me the cheque and they are coming to cash the money and give to me because I need the money to supply them materials for their production tomorrow morning”, Kunle said.
According to him, this policy will begin to work well when people get more educated and can carry out banking transactions through online processes.
“My problem at the moment is that I don’t have a current account, so I need to open one urgently so that I can collect cheques and pay into my account”, Kunle noted.
Another customer who would not give his name also disclosed that he was told to get the account code of the person he wanted to transfer money to, lamenting however that he did not have access to the person immediately, to carry out the transfer from one bank to another.
Another memo from Zenith Bank encouraging its customers to key into electronic transactions, reads, “Dear valued customer, with a view to providing you with the most efficient and secure solutions available from Zenith Bank, we introduced the Hardware Authentication Token for Internet Banking with the intention of eventually phasing out the e-mail and SMS software tokens.
“Consequently, from July 1st, 2012, we will discontinue the use of our e-mail and SMS software authentication tokens for internet banking transfers. Further to this, the daily transfer limit using the software token has been reduced with immediate effect from Three Hundred Thousand Naira (N300,000) to Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000) per day.
“The Hardware Authentication Token is a more secure and efficient solution and we urge you to request one via internet banking or from any Zenith Bank near you, as it enables you transfer up to Two Million Naira (N2,000,000) per day. There is no limit to the number of transfers you may make, so long as the daily maximum limit of Two Million Naira is not exceeded.”
Hope Moses-Ashike Via Businessdayonline.com