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VENTURES AFRICA – Nigeria’s Bankers Committee has concluded plans to increase the cN(CRR) on public sector deposits to 100 percent, should foreign reserves weaken. The committee also agreed to extend the cashless policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2011, to all states in Nigeria.
“We have seen statistics from the CBN that the continual reduction in the balance of foreign exchange reserves and when you are confronted with that, the only option available is that you tighten until you see a reverse to that in terms of accretion to reserves,” managing director and chief executive of First Bank Nigeria Limited, Mr Bisi Onasanya said yesterday, after the 315th meeting of the Bankers Committee held in Lagos.
Onasanya said the movement of the CRR to 100 percent was a Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decision, aimed at defending the naira, although it may stay at 75 percent for now, but “if we do not see improvement in the forex earning, CBN made it clear that we will move to 100 per cent,” he noted.
Head, Shared Services of the CBN, Mr. Chidi Umeano also noted after the meeting, that success recorded in the states where the cashless policy was first introduced, has convinced the apex bank that the time was right to extend the service to other parts of Nigeria.
The policy, which was announced by the CBN in 2011, started in Lagos in 2012. After successfully launching in Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Anambra, Abia, Kano and the Federal Capital Territory were added in July 2013.
“By July 1, we are going live in all the states of the federation. As you well know, this is a critical part of the payment system modernisation and the success registered so far has been very impressive,” said Umeano.
He stated that more Nigerians have adopted electronic payment means.
According to Umeano, electronic transactions stand at over N240 billion ($1.5 billion) as at Monday, February 10, 2014.
Baring several irregularities that have been witnessed in states where the cashless policy is already in use, increased convenience, reduced risk of cash-related crimes, cheaper access to (out-of-branch) banking services are enough reasons to embrace the policy.
With adequate awareness already in place, people in other states of Nigeria are expected to welcome the policy and most likely join the rest of the country in enjoying the benefits thereof.
The onus lies on the CBN however, to ensure the irregularities are promptly addressed and electronic payment/transaction platforms work well.