The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has selected five money deposit banks to participate in its cash swap programme. However, it has excluded mobile money/Point of Sale agents in Abuja and Lagos.
The information was contained in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document released by the CBN on Monday, January 23, 2023, detailing the procedure for the cash swap programme.
The five banks selected to participate in the programme include First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, and First City Monument Bank.
The statement reads:
Regarding the number of states selected for the programme, the statement reads, “Selected agents in all 36 states (except Lagos state and FCT, Abuja). Lagos and Abuja agents are excluded from this.”
Also, the agents have been restricted from using the new notes for other regular transactions, only for the programme.
The memo further stated that the agents can obtain the fresh notes “from one of these specified institutions” (Zenith, First Bank, Access, UBA, FCMB). However, you need to have a bank account with that institution, and your operators (super agent, MMO, or bank) will have already pre-registered you there.”
“You must go to the bank you have an informed operator (super agent/MMO/bank) of. That is where your agent details will be submitted for verification when you get there to collect the new notes.”
Amongst the requirements listed are the agent’s picture and fingerprint, coupled with each agent’s name, BVN number, and operator’s name. This information is required before the new notes will be released to any agent.
The development comes as the January 31 deadline for phasing out the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes approaches.
More on the requirements for participants
The document noted that an agent is expected to have a record of the customer’s Know-Your-Customer information, which includes name, phone number, bank, account number, and amount.
Although there is no limit on the amount a customer can deposit, the cash swap program has a customer release cap of N10,000. Additionally, The CBN asked the agents to open a wallet or bank account for clients who already had accounts.
CBN threatens sanction for defaulters
Regarding what happens if an agent uses the new notes for other purposes other than the new naira initiative, the document noted, “There will be severe sanctions such as de-listing as an agent, withhold of any applicable benefit, de-list from future programmes, negative report to bank & CBN and other such penalties as directed by regulatory authorities.”
In reacting to the directives by the CBN, Moniepoint has sent a memo to its POS agents. As contained in the memo, Moniepoint directed its agents to collect BVN, NIN, or voter’s card details from customers who paid new notes.
Excerpts from the memo read:
“The Swap should be in the form of PoS withdrawals only of not more than N10,000 per person. Any withdrawal of more than N10,000 per person should not be paid with new notes. Agents are also permitted to charge cash-out fees for the cash swap transactions but are prohibited from charging any further commissions to customers for this service.”
“You are to collect BVN, NIN or votes card details from customers paid with new notes for weekly submissions to the CBN. The CBN will continue to monitor the implementation of the programme and provide further guidance as may be necessary.”
In a statement to the Punch, Mr Victor Olojo, National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, noted that a planned meeting with the CBN had not taken place but added that agents were still actively involved in the process and that a framework had been provided to guide the program.
It said agents might, on request, instantly open a wallet or account, leveraging the CBN tiered know your customer framework. According to the bank, this will ensure that this category of the populace (unbanked citizens) can exchange or deposit their cash seamlessly without taking unnecessary risks or incurring undue costs.
PoS agents react
A PoS agent (name withheld), who reached out to the executive members of the AMMBAN, noted that PoS agents were risking their lives in Kebbi to circulate the new notes, Punch reports.
He said, “Here in Kebbi State, the new notes are only in circulation within Birnin Kebbi, the state capital, and agents are doing their best to mop up the old notes, taking the risk of traveling with huge cash from rural areas to the state capital as most of the banks in Kebbi State has only one branch in the state capital while the few banks exist in the selected local governments are over-crowded.”
The AMMBAN president had earlier told the PUNCH that the insecurity issue would likely affect some PoS agents’ operations, noting that some measures were also in place to safeguard the agents and the cash.
The CBN stated that the goal of the cash swap scheme, which kicked off on Monday, was to make it possible for people living in remote regions or with limited access to formal financial institutions to trade in their old naira notes for the newly designed ones.
According to the CBN, anyone without a bank account could use the service to promote financial inclusion.
The CBN also directed agents to sensitise customers to opening wallets/bank accounts and the various channels for conducting electronic transactions.
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