CEM REPORT, FINANCE| The Lagos chapter of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria, AMMBAN, an umbrella body of POS agents in Nigeria, has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to directly co-opt them into the new note circulation plan for a quick and smooth resolution of the current challenges the process faces.
POS agents’ participation in the financial services industry has made them important stakeholders in the financial industry and the entire economy. The level of their participation in the ongoing new notes circulation has made their supposed role in ensuring smooth execution of the project so vivid. This and their operational practices which is now seen in the perceived undue charges on their services has made it consequential to perceive them in wrong light.
It therefore became important to clear the air on some of these things regarding their conversation with CBN and the fallout experiences by Nigerians of the implementation of the currency redesign and circulation.
In an elaborate conversational engagement with Continental Economy Magazine on Monday, the Chairman of the Lagos Chapter, Pastor Abiodun David spoke on the cashless policy, its prior conversation with CBN’s Branch Controller, currency redesign and circulation by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the hardship currently being faces by Nigerians.
Pastor Abiodun said; “Since the introduction of the Cashless policy, the National Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria (AMBBAN) have been moving around, granting interviews and sensitizing the public on our position as far as the cashless policy is concerned.
“As you are aware, mobile money and bank Agents have grown in lips and bounds up to 1.4 million active agents as at today. To this effect, whatever financial policy put out by the government or government agency will naturally rob of on our operation either positively or otherwise.
“Following the recent issues regarding the cashless policy and now the currency redesign and circulation which has caused some serious issues in the financial sector and the economy, just like the national body, the Lagos Chapter deem it fit to further clarify our position and straighten some misconceptions.
“This has become very necessary because bank Agents are major stakeholders in financial services in Nigeria and following information reaching our secretariat regarding experiences of customers with some Agents.”
According to Abiodun, the conversation of AMBBAM with the Branch Controller of CBN showed them that the challenges that the apex bank’s policy on cashless economy and the currency redesign is facing today is caused by commercial banks. He elaborated on this notion with a claim that he had an experience in one of the commercial banks who he said ignored POS agents and other waiting customers and was disbursing cash in large volumes to some personalities.
“We have often observed commercial banks releasing cash to selected people in large volume while POS agents and other customers are ignored. We are aware of how N90 million was given to a bank branch and only N1.5 million was disbursed through the proper channel and how wrapped notes were loaded into the ATM machine”; he said.
In view of the above, POS agents don’t have cash to give out to cash seeking public. The association therefore implore that such acts should be checked to enable the situation improve.
“Such acts by commercial banks need to be addressed if the current suffering faced by the public in the financial sector is to be ameliorated”; He said.
Pastor Abiodun expressed total support for the CBN’s cashless and currency redesign policies which according to him is delivering economic benefits to the country.
“We want to categorically state that Lagos State chapter of AMMBAN is with the CBN on the cashless policy, it is a welcomed policy following its benefits to the economy. As far as CBN has said that individuals can withdraw as much as N20,000 from the ATM, that is all we need, we don’t need to carry large volume of cash about.
“The cashless policy is delivering benefits to the country. While it has reduced armed robbery attacks on individuals, kidnapping has practically seized since the policy came into effect. Inflation is responding fast as well as other economic benefits it is yielding for the country.
“Cashless policy and the currency redesign have been in the pipeline for the past 8yrs thereabout. Following the objectives of the redesign of the naira notes, the project is in the best interest of the country and thus, Lagos Chapter of AMMBAN is in full support.
“This is because, according to the government, redesigning the naira will bring into the vaults large volume of cash kept in private locations which is supposedly meant to purchase votes by political office seekers. Since the President said he want the forthcoming election to be free and fair, how else can he achieve it if the naira is not redesigned?” he said.
The AMMBAN Lagos chapter Chairman however expressed displeasure over the exclusion of POS agents from the original circulation plan of the new notes by CBN following the suiting contribution their large number would have made to ensure smooth circulation operation.
He said; “It was an omission on the part of CBN to have excluded AMMBAN from the circulation plan of the redesigned notes. Without mincing words, Mobile Money Agents outside of the association are more than the 1.4 million earlier mentioned. Involvement of mobile money agents would have made the processes seamless and we have taken steps to draw CBN attention to that.”
Reacting to the exorbitant charges being collected by POS agents, Pastor Abiodun condemned the act. He stated that majority of those that are engaged in such act are not registered members of AMMBAN and that they are closely monitoring their members asking them to stay within the approved range while the crisis is being resolved.
“AMMBAN condemn in totality the act of collecting higher charges above the approved rate which are N100 for N5,000 and below and N200 for above N5,000
“I must state categorically that majority of those agents that are collecting exorbitant charges are not members of AMMBAN. We have been able to caution our members regardless of the scarcity of the new notes and the entire situation.
“The challenge is that there are many bank agents that does not recognize AMMBAN. But we are taking steps to ensure that its either they join AMMBAN or you don’t practice in the mobile money market. I encourage the public to ensure they patronize only AMMBAN registered members”; Pastor Abiodun Said.
Secretary of Lagos chapter of AMMBAN, Mr Ogungbayi Ganiyu made an appeal for CBN to give more recognition to the association with an assurance that its members are up to date with the fintech industry they are regularly engaged in training.
We appeal to CBN to give more recognition to mobile money agents than what they give to us the at the moment following the benefits we portend for the actualization of the apex viable policies and for the entire economy.
We consistently conduct training for our members to keep them abreast with trends in the fintech space. We pally with the fintech, MMOs, commercial banks and the CBN itself. We are available even at this moment to assist in implementation of the cashless policy and the circulation of the redesigned naira notes.