By AMECHI OGBONNA
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that the N150,000 restrictions on third party cheques currently implemented in the Lagos pilot of the cashless policy would go nationwide from next year.
The Deputy Director, Banking and Payment System Department, CBN, Mr. Emmanuel Obaigbhona, disclosed this at the 2nd Annual Conference/Retreat of the Committee of e-Banking Industry Heads (CeBIH) held in Calabar, Cross River State at the weekend.
Under the cashless policy, third party cheques with values above N150,000 cannot be cashed across the counter but through bank accounts.
This restriction was, however, implemented only in Lagos State, as part of the Cashless Lagos Initiative, which test runs the cashless policy.
“The N150,000 maximum limit imposed on third party cheques for across the counter withdrawals, which is only available in Lagos will, from January, next year, go national,” Obaigbhona said during the panel discussion at the conference.
The theme of the CeBIH conference was, ‘Developing a Market Structure that works: Challenges & Prospects for the Nigeria Payments System.’
Chairman of CeBIH, Mr. Chuma Ezirim, commended the CBN and NIBSS for the various policies introduced to drive electronic payment in the country.
Obaigbhona said: “CeBIH is committed to development of an efficient payment system in Nigeria.
“The industry however needs to recognize that electronic payment is not a service but a business and it has to be driven by operators instead of regulators.”
Obaigbhona said, while the industry has made significant progress in the implementation of the cashless policy, there was need for collaboration among stakeholders in the electronic payment system to improve on it.
He said: “In terms of development in the payment system, if we look at our country, we would observe some major improvements since 2007. The aim of the CBN basically is to promote electronic payments and make sure that we have a payment system that is not only effective but a payment system that is nationally utilized and international recognized. We are looking at a system that even the poor can use at affordable rates.
“But to achieve this, CBN needs the cooperation of all operators in the electronic payment system. For example all the policies introduced by the CBN to drive electronic payments were based on suggestions and contributions of banks, especially the Bankers Committee.
“The role of the CBN is that of catalysts. We are there to push the system forward but we depend on the knowledge of the operators and stakeholders in the system.”
He said while operators are out to promote their individual interest, the CBN is committed to promoting the national economy and this was the philosophy behind the introduction of the cashless policy.
The cashless policy he, said was primarily aimed at enthroning electronic payment. “And we are making progress but we need ideas from this group. He called on CeBIH to collaborate with the CBN and NIBSS. Banks need to go to Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) and understand what is happening there.
We put NIBSS in the center, NIBSS is actually in charge of retail payments and the National Central Switch (NCS), operated by the company is designed to achieve interoperability which is critical to driving electronic payment in the country. So we need to collaborate and work with NIBSS.