Increased Charges: We buy Naira cash from markets, Fueling stations – POS operators

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A POS Sign-board

Following the CBN’s policy to redesign naira notes of 200, 500 and 1000 denomination, scarcity of it amongst several harsh aftermath effects have arisen upon Nigerians. As some lament the limitation that the unavailability of cash brought to their daily lives, some are decrying the exorbitant increment that POS operators now charge customers upon withdrawal of cash.

The scarcity of cash has become the order of the day, abnormally long queues at ATM points and some banks’ refusal to deliver cash to customers over the counter testify to it. As cash is the lifeblood of every business, its invisibility has paralyzed the legs of business as they are unable to run.

This scarcity has not only affected businesses, individuals are not left out of the imbroglio either, as some now lament the extra cost at which they can get naira cash to hold. From the survey carried out by Ogunwatch in Ago Iwoye, it was discovered that P.O.S agents charge customers who want to withdraw cash from N150 to N200 on each N1000, a 1000% increase.

Going by this, individuals who are compelled to access naira cash from POS operators because the Bank fails to dispense cash, buy at the rate of 1,150 to 1200. The Naira has now begun to gain value against itself, as cash at hand beats down cash at bank.

Having seen the wide outrage that the issue of inaccessibility of cash and Increase in Withdrawal charges has garnered since the CBN ordered that the old Naira would soon cease to be a legal tender, this correspondent moved around Ago Iwoye, Ogun state, to hear the side of POS operators on why the charges upon withdrawal has hysterically surged.

‘’When there is no cash’’, Bunmi asked this correspondent why there should not be an increase in charges upon POS withdrawal. “Banks are not releasing cash, even those queuing a the ATM can only withdraw a maximum of N2000 cash. You now say it should not increase. Banks are not giving us cash, so how do we operate?” Asked about how they get cash to pay customers since banks were not dispensing, he said: We gather it from provision stores. Twenty-twenty Naira, fifty-fifty Naira on N1000, that’s how we gather it.

At another store which trades beverages and also runs POS withdrawal, the owner was absent and the person standing in her told this correspondent her absence was a result of her attempt to obtain cash which she can use to run her POS machine. “She might have gone to Ijebu Ode or Ibadan, that’s how far POS operators now go to get cash,” Betty said “some even go to Lagos, go to marketplaces, and fueling stations, just to get cash. Those people who give cash to POS operators do so not without a cost.”

“There is no cash in Banks, if you go with your ATM card, you can only get a maximum of N1000, or N2000. They programmed it like that because they load the machine with little cash,” Betty added.

At a Wema bank Branch in Olopo Merin in Ago Iwoye, this correspondent who visited there learnt that customers were seated there with the hope that the machine may still gain cash to pay them, as it was out of cash at the moment. Some of the customers there lamented that they were compelled to rely on the Bank’s ATM for withdrawal of cash as they would as business owners fall at a loss if they dare transact at the POS points. “There is no cash at the ATM at the moment, even if you enter the bank, there is no money, Iyabo, one of the waiting customers said.

“The problem we are facing is enormous. Particularly those of us who deal with loans, we are told to make transfers at the bank. The problem is too much. And at the POS, they said they sell 1000 at a rate of N1,150 to 1,350. When I want to withdraw N10,000 now if they remove N1500 from it now, will it be up to N10,000? The stress is too much. The government should do something about this and stop suffering the common people.”

“Since the banks are saying there is no money and there is money with the POS agents, I am forced to think that the bankers are dealing cash at a profit with the POS operators, Iyabo concluded.

Ayobami, another of the waiting customers, lamented that it has now become impossible to feed as his business is crippled. “If you want to buy something, there is no money. When you go to the POS, you are charged N200 on N1,000. Some charge N300. The worst part is that, if you want to do a transfer, bank networks are bad.”

“You can see that this place is now becoming scanty, it is when the ATM ran out of money that they left. If you had come here an hour ago, you would have seen the crowd here rushing to get money. Wives, kids etc were pushing themselves, just to get cash.”

At ‘My choice’, a store in Ago where cash is being withdrawn at the Point of sale, this reporter was told by the manager that scarcity of cash necessitated the increase in charges upon a point of sale withdrawal. So, how do you get cash? this correspondent asked. Why are you asking me that? She queried. Cash is scarce as you said earlier, this correspondent replied. “I didn’t say there is no cash, there is scarcity. Amidst the scarcity, how do you get it? “I have shops where I retail goods,” the manager responded.

Debola, a student of Olabisi Onabanjo University who also spoke to this correspondent revealed that life is becoming hell for students in the face of scarcity of cash. “It has been terrible, it is not affordable, it is not easy, it is a very bad experience,” Debola hurtled on. Most times our phones, which we as students rely on to study, run out of power and there is no light around here to charge them and you can’t even get cash to buy fuel.

“Transportation is the worst: There is no cash to transport ourselves to school and POS is charging us exorbitantly, there are limited ATMs around here,” Debola concluded.

A postgraduate student, Peter who also spoke to Ogunwatch said “it has been a tough time for students in Ago Iwoye in the face of limited circulation of the newly designed naira and fuel scarcity. But then, we hope that the government will accordingly regulate everything very soon. I also use this opportunity to enjoin Nigerians to get their PVS, to vote for the right choice this time around to avoid the calamity we are currently facing.”

Recall that Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor had moved the deadline for recollection of the old notes from January 31st to February 10th. However, news reports that the CBN governor who earlier appeared before the panel of the House of Reps, also said that the CBN will still recollect old naira beyond the February 10th deadline.

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