Deposit Money Banks has been ordered by the Central Bank of Nigeria to stop paying customers making over-the-counter withdrawals with new naira notes.
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The CBN directed the banks to have their Automated Teller Machines (ATM) loaded with only new naira notes to ensure that the currency circulates across the nation ahead of the January 31, 2023 deadline when the old notes will no longer be legal tender.
Punch reported that the directive was given to the banks on Wednesday, and ordered that this directive be implemented immediately.
As at Friday however, Banks across the country were yet to comply with the directive, complaining that they have an inadequate supply of the new notes, hence the reason they continued loading their respective ATMs with old notes.
The memo from the CBN titled “urgent update on currency redesign” signed by the Group Head, Retail Operation reads;
“The CBN has mandated that we immediately stop the Over-the-Counter payment of the new N200, N500 & N,1000 currency. Instead, all new notes should be loaded into the ATMs for customer withdrawals.
“This is effective immediately please.”
Punch reported that a Source, who is a manager in a bank branch in Ikeja, Lagos complained that not only the new notes were short supply, they also had a technical difficulty with the new notes on their ATMs.
“The directive has, however, thrown us into a dilemma as we are in short supply of the new notes and we can’t afford not to load the ATMs as there has been a surge in the number of customers coming to withdraw after the Yuletide holidays.
“Loading of ATMs is the responsibility of the banks. When our bank tested the ATMs, only one denomination of the new notes passed the test of dispensing seamlessly through our machines. The bank is working on reconfiguring the ATMs to be able to dispense the new notes. What we have done in my branch is to mix the few new N1,000 and N500 notes available with old ones so that desperate customers can make withdrawals and meet their immediate needs.
“If you observed, a lot of ATMs were inactive during the Christmas and New Year holidays. The idea was not to give out old notes, but unfortunately, the new ones are not in circulation. The banks have a mandate to evacuate N1bn old notes each to the CBN on a daily basis and our head office has set a strict vault limit or cash holding limit for each branch, which on no condition we must exceed,” the source said.
A senior official of the CBN who spoke on condition of anonymity to Saturday Punch confirmed that the directive was indeed given to Deposit Money Banks.
He explained, “From this weekend, new notes will be available for disbursement to bank customers. We are pushing the N1,000 and N500 notes through the ATMs for now. The N200 will be available later.
“The aim is to check inflation and currency abuse. A research was conducted and it showed that the demand for the N1,000 and N500 is higher, hence the decision to start with them.”
In its report, Saturday PUNCH stated that when it conducted surveys across many bank branches and ATM galleries on Friday to find out if the CBN directive had been complied with, it discovered that the majority of them were still dispensing to their customers old notes that would go out of circulation by month end.
A clock countdown on the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria shows that the old N200, N500 and N1000 bank note will remain legal tender until the deadline of 31st January, 2023.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur
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