One year after the commencement of the cash-less policy in Lagos, stakeholders say the initiative is still faced with many problems, ADEMOLA ALAWIYE writes
The cash-less policy started in Lagos on January 1, 2012, with the aim of promoting the use of electronic means of transactions and making the country cash-less. No doubt, it has improved the countryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s payment system. But notwithstanding its good side, emerging feelers from its operations are recently pointing out some of its negative effects on consumers, who use e-payment platforms, and employees of deposit money banks.
According to industry watchers, the policy has done well by reducing the amount of cash being carried by the people, which is one of the objectives of the policy.
They, however, pointed out that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“the bad and the uglyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ sides of the policy were the loss of jobs in the banking sector and the bad services customers faced as a result of poor and inadequate infrastructure.
While introducing the policy one year ago, the Bankers Committee had said that the expected benefits were enormous, which included reduced cost of banking operations, which would dovetail into lending rates, financial inclusion of estimated 65 per cent of cash outside the banking system, improved payment system.
One year after the introduction of the policy, lending rates have yet to be reduced by the banks. Instead, the rates have continued to soar. Also, users of e-payment platforms like Point of Sale terminals, mobile banking, Automated Teller Machines and others have continued to lament the poor services they get from the platforms.
This policy has continued to attract a lot of public reactions and comments. While some have called for a repeal of the policy, majority of stakeholders have suggested the continuation of the policy, noting though that the banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria should do more in developing the e-payment system.
The Managing Director, Sotice Investment Company Limited, Mr. Adedayo Toluwase, said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIn Nigeria, people at the helms of affairs are fond of making policies that will inflict pains on people. If a policy is meant to affect peopleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s lives positively, then it should be structured in a way that it will not affect the same people negatively.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œA good policy should not make a set of people better off while making others worse off. In welfare economics, when some people are affected negatively in the course of changing a policy, then there is need to reconsider the policy.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The Deputy Manager, Civic Investment Limited, Mr. Thomas Adenuga, said the idea of a cash-less society was a good initiative but that there were too many flops associated with it.
He said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œNo doubt about it, the cash-less policy is a policy we need in Nigeria looking at how people carry cash everywhere. But there are some basic things that must be put in place for the policy to thrive well. If you want me to change a particular way of doing things, there must be a perfect substitution for me to adopt. And that is what the Bankers Committee has failed to provide. The substitutes we have now are not working perfectly well and that is a turn-off for people who are even ready to adopt the policy.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
A labour expert, Mr. Charles Anenih, said that the number of job losses in the banking sector was becoming alarming.
He said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIn the last one year, job losses in the banking sector have risen more than any other sector of the economy. It is unfortunate that people who are supposed to be protecting the workers in the banking industry are the ones calling for a reduced workforce. A lot of people have been thrown out of work without payments of benefits. Till today, some people have not recovered from the shock they experienced as a result of their job losses.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
A customer, who identified herself as Mrs. Ngozi Okorie, urged the monetary authorities to develop the payment system.
She said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey want us to go cash-less and they have not provided enough facilities to make the system smooth. The e-payment system is terrible; sometimes you are being charged without getting the services you require. When you use the ATM and PoS, sometimes it deducts and refuses to dispense cash, and when you complain at the bank, they will tell you to write letters that they wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t process. If they can make these e-channels work well, it will be more convenient and people will embrace the policy.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Another customer lamented the dearth of quality services in the banks, especially the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œbig banks.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The customer, who simply introduced himself as Adekunle Lawal, said there was the need for the big banks to build more branches and employ more hands to improve their services.
He said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMy problem is with the big banks; their customers have grown enormously in the last two years but they have refused to grow their services at the same pace with the growth in their customer base. Their ATM points are always crowded and their services are poor.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The Managing Director, Kenob-Lyn Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kenneth Nwachineke, said poor infrastructure could stall the cash-less policy.
Nwachineke, who is a consultant on excess bank charge recovery, said, ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe initiative by the CBN is a wonderful one but if issues like poor communication are not properly addressed, there may be problem with people embracing the policy.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
The CBN, however, said it had been meeting with major telecommunication companies on issues relating to poor network connection in a bid to breathe new life into the floundering cash-less policy
The Governor, CBN, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, recently reiterated his call on stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of the cash-less policy in the country.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI wish to state that the cash-less policy has gained traction with a lot of achievements in the areas of adoption basically because of the efforts of the concerned stakeholders. There are challenges like connectivity issue, infrastructure, high illiteracy rate, availability of functional channels and so on. We have taken steps to mitigate these challenges,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he added.