CAC registration is an attack on financial inclusion and our jobs – POS operators

Ejike Kanife
Atanda said POS operators have launched a joint tax force on fraud in Lagos
POS fraud hit 10,098 in one year: The ugly side of a cashless society?

POS operators in Nigeria have decried a directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) mandating them to register their businesses with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), describing it as an attack on financial inclusion in the country. This was disclosed by the National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN) Fasasi Atanda on Arise News The Morning Show.

Mr Atanda lampooned the CBN’s attempt to regulate the mobile money and banking agency space, noting that the CAC cannot regulate an industry that it does not understand. He noted that the industry in its entirety is an agenda on financial inclusion and that with large swaths of the country lacking bank branches, the apex bank’s move would have far-reaching negative impacts on people.

“What people see as just POS is an industry. An agenda on financial inclusion. Over 300 local governments in Nigeria are without bank branches. And the largest transactions are happening in the informal sector in Nigeria. And this population are excluded. So the POS agents you’re seeing are actually meant to bridge the gap. So the CAC is trying to destroy and attack financial inclusion in Nigeria and it is offending a lot of stakeholders,” he said.

POS operators and fraud

This is coming weeks after the Corporate Affairs Commission formally commenced an enrollment exercise for Point of Sale (PoS) agents and operators in Nigeria. Registrar-General of the CAC, Hussaini Magaji said the exercise was not targeted at just taxing POS operators but also to protect Nigerians against frauding as well as checking banditry.

CAC launches registration point for PoS operators, security agents to go after unregistered operators from July
Registrar-General of the CAC, Hussaini Magaji at the launch of registration point for PoS operators

Noting that fraud in the system is multifaceted and comprises human and technical aspects, AMMBAN president, Atanda said the association is already working with the security agencies and has launched a Joint Tax Force in Lagos. He said the task force has all security officers on the same table so that if there are red flags, they would see red flag transactions and we are aware of where they are doing cash out for bandits.

But the challenge we are having is that we really don’t have ways to escalate them. At times when you arrest criminals, who is going to finance the prosecution? When you alert the banks or service providers about these red flags and suspicious transactions, they won’t arrest them. They would let them be because they are more focused on their business. That’s why it is important that we work with security operatives. We are working with the IGP, the DSS and even the EFCC,” he said.

He also said that the association has introduced an identity card that can match a POS agent with their device. He said there was something called the terminal identity number (TID) which is a unique identity number. and the identity card displays this unique number.

We have observed that all the POS agents are operating outside the legal regulation. Like someone under an umbrella is not located at a physical location. So we are educating the populace to use POS agents as physical locations with signage,” he said.

He also said AMMBAN has set up a control map where they can have visibility to all transactions happening on the terminals. He said all fintechs are working with the association on it.

CAC registration could cost POS operators their livelihoods

Fasasi Atanda also accused the CAC of trying to deprive POS operators of their livelihoods. He noted that the industry has created over two million jobs in Nigeria over the last couple of years, 40 per cent of that number being agent bankers. Describing how much of an impact the industry has had, he noted that the worth of the industry is about N13 trillion, having attracted the largest foreign investment into Nigeria in 2022. A lot of us are filing returns to the CAC so the CAC knows how much we turn over in taxes.

“The challenge is that they are trying to chase a lot of people out of jobs. POS operators are surviving with N20,000 in terms of working capital and you are asking them to come and pay over 15,000 to 20,000 for registration. And every year you are asking them to file returns as individuals whereas they are just branches of existing companies,” he said.

“Most of fintechs don’t operate branches. They leverage sub-agents that act as branches of the banks. So if it is not correct to say a branch of GTB in Egbeda should go and register with the CAC, it is also not correct to ask a sub-agent of Moniepoint or Opay to go and register as a company. That is not what the law says. What the law says is that non-individuals operating under companies should register. So if you are operating under Adamu Enterprises, Adamu Enterprises should be in the books of CAC. You must be legally registered. But if you are Adamu Aliyu, Adamu Aliyu is an individual,”

CAC to deregister over 100,000 companies for failing to file yearly returns in 10 years

He further blasted the CAC for caring only about taxes and not about whether the registered businesses are surviving the harsh economic climate.

“You can’t regulate what you don’t understand. What you are not part of. CAC has registered about 4.9 million businesses in Nigeria today. Almost 50 per cent of them fail every 5 years. So their concern should be the success and viability of these businesses, not about registration,” he said.

See also: CAC launches registration point for PoS operators, security agents to go after unregistered operators from July


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