Several business transactions have been truncated due to insufficient funds caused mainly because of lack of new naira notes.
The Guardian investigations revealed that the new naira notes are still very limited in circulation, with many who besieged banks to cash new naira notes ahead of the January 31 deadline, unable to get them because a larger percentage of the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were not dispensing new notes. Also, over-the-counter transactions within the banking halls were still being completed with old notes.
Of the few ATMs dispensing new notes, only N20,000 per ATM card is allowed for a day, with some other ATMs programmed to pay just N5,000 each per trial, a strategy alleged to earn more charges from customers.
A visit to some banks in Ikeja, Mushin, Isolo and Sango-Ota revealed the same scenario, with banks’ customers stranded outside the financial institutions.
For instance, in Ota, Ogun State, only Sterling, Diamond, First banks dispensed few new naira notes and it was for just few hours. Other banks within the vicinity, the ATMs were not dispensing notes, whether old or new.
At the Matori branches of Fidelity Bank, FirstBank, Zenith Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Unity Bank, GTBank, Access Bank, Ecobank, Sterling Bank, Globus Bank, the ATMs were not dispensing cash. Some branches of GTB, Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC at Ikeja were, however, dispensing the new notes.
A businessman, Okechukwu Abiam told The Guardian that he has been demanding that customers pay with new naira notes or through electronic transfer in the past few days.
“I have not been collecting old notes in the past few days, because I cannot be the one to carry the burden to deposit them at the banks. The last one we did, my boy spent almost the whole day at the bank just to lodge cash,” he said.
He, however, noted that the digital payment platform often have the challenge of delayed confirmation of transaction.
He added that his demand for payment through new notes and electronic platforms has negatively affected his business, urging the Federal Government to immediately find solutions to the new notes scarcity.
A bank customer, who identified himself simply as Adigun, said that he had checked all the banks’ ATMs within his community but none dispensed cash.
“I have moved around all the ATMs to make cash withdrawal, but none of the ATMs was dispensing cash. At the banking halls, the banks were only paying withdrawals with old notes,” he said.
Some residents of Sango-Ota, who were unable to get new naira notes from the bank, bemoaned the unpalatable situation of not having access to new naira notes.
They alleged that over four hours were spent waiting to get access to new naira notes, yet could still not as the ATMs stopped dispensing after exhausting the new naira notes in them.
Another resident, Mrs. Shade Ajayi, sharing her experience, said: “We have been here, and only one ATM is working. I am yet to make a withdrawal since morning. I have not gone to shop today, because I need money to buy goods. I am afraid if I do a transfer, the transaction may not be completed, the money may hang and the process for retrieving my money may be tiring.”
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday, at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting said that the January 31 deadline to phase out the old N1,000, N500 and N200 remains sacrosanct.
Also, the CBN Deputy Director, Reserve Management Department, Mohammed Solaja, said that the apex bank is committed to making the new notes available.
He said that the notes have been supplied to the banks, and the CBN is working on ensuring that the notes are available.
Also, the CBN Deputy Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, Mrs. Monsurat Vincent, said that people would gain more by embracing cash-less banking.
She said the ultimate goal of the CBN is to ensure that people begin to carry out their transactions electronically to save cost and resources.