New Naira Notes: Cash Crunch Hits The Nigerian Banking System, ATMs Run Dry, Banks Ration New Notes

New Naira Notes: Cash Crunch Hits The Nigerian Banking System, ATMs Run Dry, Banks Ration New Notes

  • The Nigerian banking system has been hit with a cash crunch which left customers stranded
  • Many of the banks reported running out of the new naira notes and could not load their ATMs
  • The CBN said there is enough of the new naira notes to go around, insisting on January 31, 2023 deadline

The so-called cashless drive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) came to a head on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, when many Nigerians could not access cash from any bank or ATM.

The Nigerian banking system was hit with a massive cash crunch which left many Nigerians stranded and running from one bank ATM to another.

ATMs, cash, new naira notes
Nigerians unable to get new naira notes Credit: PIUS UTOMI
Source: Getty Images

Many stranded over scarcity of new notes

Findings by show that almost all the banks in Lagos reported being out of the newly redesigned naira notes and their ATMs were not also dispensing.

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Along the Opebi/Allen Avenue stretch in Lagos, none of the banks visited had the new naira notes nor agreed to pay over the counter as they have been barred by the CBN from doing so.

In one of the branches of Access Bank on Opebi Road, a customer who identified herself as Grace lamented to that she needed cash for her mother’s hospital treatment.

“I’ve been inside the bank but they refuse to pay me. They say I can only get the old notes. None of their ATMs is dispensing. The situation is frustrating. This is not a cashless economy, it suffering,” she groaned.

Also, several ATMs attached to banks in Apapa were not dispensing naira notes, leaving customers stranded, according to a BusinessDay report.

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Bank ATMs in some other parts of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, were also not dispensing cash, according to findings.

CBN’s Director of Communications, Osita Nwanisobi was not available for comments as he neither answered calls to his personal line nor replied to messages.

But a credible source in one of the banks told that the move is deliberately designed by the apex bank to curb money laundering, and excess liquidity and track election spending by politicians.

CBN insists on January 31 deadline

The development is coming a few days before the January 31 deadline given by CBN for cessation of the circulation of the old naira notes in a bid to mop up excess cash from the system, strengthen monetary policy and rein in inflation.

According to the CBN, the maximum cash withdrawal from ATMs by individuals shall be N100, 000 weekly and N20,000 daily.

The banks have also been urged by the CBN to dispense just N200 notes via their ATMs.

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Emefiele says there is no shortage of new notes

However, the CBN has insisted that there is no shortage of new naira notes in the banking system.

Emefiele disclosed this in Jos on Wednesday, January 2023. He was represented by CBN’s Director of the Payment System Management Department, Musa Jimoh.

Emefile said that there is enough supply of the new notes insisting on the January 31 deadline, a report said.

He said:

”The CBN has massively supplied the new notes to commercial banks to dispense both at counters and ATMs.
”This is to enable quick circulation and we want to advise commercial banks to desist from keeping the cash away from the public or face the stiffer sanction.”

CBN chooses 5 banks for cash swap programme, excludes Lagos, Abuja PoS operators reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has named about five money deposit banks to participate in its cash swap initiative.

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The development comes as the deadline for the expiration of old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes as legal tender approaches.

The information was contained in an Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document released by the CBN on Monday, January 23, 2023, where the it detailed the procedure for the cash swap programme.


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