Customers are still having trouble getting the cash they need from banks, which is a worrying symptom that the cash constraint that froze the economy earlier this year is returning.
The result, according to The Guardian, is that point-of-sale systems have begun to cap the amount that customers can withdraw at once and have increased withdrawal fees by as much as 100% in many areas.
This follows last month’s statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that both the old and new naira notes can be used as legal money indefinitely.
In a desperate attempt to get their money out of commercial banks, anxious depositors have petitioned CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso.
Many banks have set withdrawal limitations ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 Naira, according to this paper’s visit to many commercial banks in Lagos and the FCT yesterday.
There were huge crowds of people at most banks. Even the banking halls were too packed to allow some people in.
According to inquiries, banks are currently limiting the amount of cash that can be spent since they claim to be short on funds.
Customers at a tier-one bank in Bwari, Abuja, were once again ordered to take numbers and wait for their turn before reaching the banking hall, as had happened earlier this year, at an ATM that was not dispensing cash. Customers who had previously submitted withdrawal requests for more than the N50,000 limit were advised to revise their requests within the banking hall since they were unable to receive more than the limit.
The N50,000 was an improvement, according to a customer named Ibrahim, who informed our correspondent that the branch’s maximum was N20,000 from Monday to Wednesday. He complained that it hurt to wait for so long and then get less money than he needed.
Another local bank from a bygone age had a similar scenario, albeit with fewer customers and just one ATM machine processing withdrawals. Nevertheless, N50,000 was the daily cap.
With the holiday season coming up in just three weeks, customers were understandably upset that they were being asked to take less money than they required. They wanted to know why this was occurring again.
They demanded that CBN Governor Olayemi Cardoso step in and rescue them from needless suffering, claiming that the banks were hoarding funds.
In other parts of Lagos, the story was identical. Huge crowds gathered outside the banks on Ire-Akari and Okota roads in the Isolo neighbourhood of Lagos.
When questioned if there was a temporary shortage of cash, bank employees said that none of the ATMs were dispensing any.
Despite having cash on hand, point-of-sale operators in the vicinity of banks increased their fees and capped withdrawals at N10,000 per card. The fee for withdrawing 5,000 Naira was raised from N100 to N200.
A client who spoke with our reporter begged the authorities to refrain from repeating the events of earlier this year.
Arise, and let us implore them. We should be able to eat what little we have. At the start of this year, we went through a lot of pain due to the cash swap era. Please tell me what they think the issue is currently.
Some people in Agbor, Delta state, have also complained about money problems for almost two months, claiming that things have only gotten worse.
Augustine Ebor, a local resident, claimed that banks have been withholding cash for nearly two months, leaving residents helpless against point-of-sale operators who cap withdrawals at N5,000 per customer and charge N500 each transaction.
There has been no official reaction from the CBN on the developing problem. But banking insiders said the problem was due to upcoming festivities and wrote it off as a passing fad.