Eighteen days after the release of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), millions of Nigerians have not physically seen or transacted business with the notes.
Many of those in Abuja, Kano and Lagos are worried over the scarcity of the new notes, especially at banks’ Automated Teller Machine (ATM) points.
This concern is coming less than 28 days to the January 31 deadline CBN fixed for phasing out of the old naira banknotes.
The CBN introduced the redesigned banknotes on December 15, 2022, saying it was part of measures to control inflation, mop up currency outside the banking system, fight corruption and discourage payment of huge cash to kidnappers and bandits among others.
Checks at ATMs across Lagos indicated that the old notes are still being dispensed.
Customers who visited the banking halls before the holiday also disclosed that they were issued the old notes.
A female bank customer said she was still collecting the old notes because the new ones are hardly available. She said that banks are still issuing the old notes to them.
“They are still issuing the old notes to us and in some cases if you are lucky, you can get N2, 000 worth of new notes if you are making a withdrawal of N50, 000 or N100,000 depending on availability,” she said.
It was also observed that most customers who paid with cash at shopping malls and stores during the festive period used the old notes.
However, it was gathered that currency hawkers are profiting from the few redesigned notes in circulation.
In some areas, they charged as high as N10, 000 on a bundle.
A bundle of new N200 notes which is N20,000 is sold for N30,000 while N500 and N1,000 which are N50,000 and N100,000 are sold for N60,000 and N110,000 respectively.
A currency hawker who spoke on condition of anonymity said the charges are their gain.
“There are very few new notes in the market. It was a difficult task getting them during the festive period. We would have made huge gains if they were available. We also paid for the few new notes we got so we have to put the charges,” he said, noting that they couldn’t meet the demand of their customers who wanted the new notes for the celebration of the New Year.
Some of the banks visited by reporters in Abuja showed that the new naira notes were not yet inputted in the ATM machines.
Despite some of the banks having seven ATMs in their vicinity, all were not dispensing the new naira notes.
When reporters visited a commercial bank yesterday, a security guard said the machines were yet to be loaded with the new notes.
A bank customer, who withdrew from one of the machines, said he was not concerned about the type of money available.
He said since the old currencies were still a legal tender, he was not worried as he will spend the notes he collected before the CBN’s policy takes effect.
Some bank customers however said that shortly after the December 15 roll out time, some banks issued pieces of the new banknotes.
The CBN had last week in a circular assured that “The current N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes will circulate side by side with the redesigned banknotes till January 31, 2023, when the current notes shall be withdrawn from circulation and cease to be legal tender.
“The current banknotes remain legal tender till January 31 and should not be rejected as a means of exchange for purchasing goods and services.”
CBN also emphasised that there will be no extension after the January 31, 2023 deadline. It said: “There will be no extension, so citizens are advised to ensure they deposit all the N200, N500 and N1, 000 banknotes in their possession before the deadline of January 31, 2023.”
On December 22, 2022, the Deputy Governor of CBN, Aisha Ahmad, while briefing the House of Representatives on the redesigned naira on behalf of the Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, said 500 million mint notes were ordered by the bank.Follow us on social media