You are here: HomeBusiness2023 02 28Article 633467

Business News of Tuesday, 28 February 2023


Cash crunch: Weak infrastructure takes toll on digital transactions

New Naira notes New Naira notes

Weak digital infrastructure have continued to blight electronic transactions in the country as bank customers, compelled to embrace the digital platform as a result of the cash crunch caused by the naira redesign and withdrawal limit policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continue to experience nightmares.

Customers who wanted to buy essential goods such as foodstuffs, groceries and others and small business (SMB) owners that wanted to restock their shops were frustrated.

An SMB owner, Esther Ade, who sells plastic buckets, plates, gift items and others in Ayobo, a Lagos suburb, said she went through hell when she went to Oju Ore area of Ogun State to restock her shop.

“After filling the forms and the goods brought out from the warehouse, my total bill was N545,000. After several efforts to use my Wema Bank app to transfer the cash to the account of the dealer, I left the goods and my bus at the front of her shop and started looking for an ATM to do the transfer. The only available ATM at GB Plaza nearly swallowed my card. I was directed to the busy roundabout where I was again directed to an expressway to Joju. After walking several kilometres, tired and thirsty, I remembered I still had N1,000 in my bag. I quickly went back and picked the cash which I used to transport myself to Joju where there were so many banks. I was relieved that after several trials, I succeeded in transferring the cash to my customer,” she said.

If Esther was lucky, Balkis Amusat was not. After several trials, she was frustrated out of the market. The dealer popularly called Fagboye, said she could not trust Balkis to go away with the goods valued at N350,000 because she didn’t receive any transaction alert from her. “I have sold goods valued at over N1million this morning based on personal self-recognition. My customers transfer cash but after waiting for two hours to receive an alert which hardly comes, I let them go because I know them.

"But Balkis is not my regular customer. I don’t see her as often as I see the others, so I will not let her go with my goods,” she said.

An electrical and electronics engineer and Chief Executive Officer, SO4 Engineering Services, Olusoji Olwasuyi, recalled his ugly experience at a shopping mall. Faced with imminent threat of starvation as a result of lack of cash to buy food stuffs and other necessities, he had to trek to Command from Abesan Estate, in the outskirts of the state, to a popular mall called Grocery Bazaar at Unity Bus Stop. After picking items such as packs of semovita, wheat, rice, vegetable oil and toiletries, he was lucky that the network of the PoS enabled his transaction.

Since he had to trek to the mall in the first place because he had no cash, he appealed to the cashier to give him only N1000 so he could use that as transport fare. The cashier said there was none.

“I had to trek back home with my load on my head. Climbing the hill on my way back was hell. I have money in my account which this government has confiscated under the pretext of currency swap. I don’t understand this type of policy. This situation is unimaginable because if somebody had told me that one day, I will have cash in my account and I will be starving, I will say never. What kind of compassionate government is this? I am completely fed up,” he said.

Another owner of a provision shop in the neighbourhood, Madam Bona, lamented that the development has denied her access to cash to buy her prescription drugs. A widow and mother of four with two other dependents, she said the policy has denied her access to basic things such as good food and others.

“Over the past two weeks, getting cash to run my life has remained an illusion. My customers no longer pay me in cash but through transfer. I have lost about N200,000 during this period to transactions that were not completed but which showed were completed on the side of the customers. People advise that I go to the bank and complain, I am managing myself, I don’t have the energy to go and queue up at the banks. I have two grand kids with me that must enter public transport to school every day. Are they going to stay at home because they don’t have money to pay the drivers? What kind of policy is this? In states run by dictators, people’s cash is not brazenly seized,” she said.

The CBN had at the close of last month, started what it said was cash swap and had last year set “the maximum weekly limit for cash withdrawals across all channels by individuals and corporate organisations at N500,000 and N5million” in cash notes.