ATM Cash Crunch Hits Nigerian States: Limited Withdrawals and Note Scarcity Cause Frustration

ATM Cash Crunch Hits Nigerian States: Limited Withdrawals and Note Scarcity Cause Frustration.

Bank customers, as well as Point Of Sales (POS) operators have continued to lament the new directives by commercial banks pegging daily cash withdrawals to a maximum of 50 percent of what was previously obtainable.

In some states, the maximum amount of cash that can be withdrawn in a day is as little as N5,000, while in other states, customers are yet to notice any difference in their daily withdrawal limits.

In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the new directive according to some banks’ officials came into enforcement following the scarcity of bank notes (cash) which forced the deposit banks to evolve means of allowing their customers access to cash.

LEADERSHIP Sunday findings across the three senatorial districts of the state revealed that most POS operators cannot make a cash withdrawal beyond the sum of N50,000 per day, making it a total sum of N250,000 as against the previous total amount of N500,000 per week.

This is coming just as deposit bank customers are also finding it difficult to withdraw cash beyond a total sum of N40,000 per day through most of the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that are also generally failing to dispense cash even where such a bank’s network is fully functional.

Sources within the commercial banks’ corridors confided in LEADERSHIP Sunday that the new banks’ directive allows customers using the ATM cards of specific banks and wants to withdraw from the same bank can make a maximum cash withdraw of N40,000, while those with a different bank’s ATM are restricted to a daily withdrawal of N20,000.

In an interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, a female POS operator who pleaded anonymity for fear of being sanctioned by her deposit banks said her two banks emphatically told her that they would not issue her more than a total sum of N50,000 per day and that she should equally pass same condition on to her customers.

Lamenting that such a directive is already taking a toll on her business, the POS operator appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to quickly intervene, stressing that such posses a danger to their daily income.

Also speaking in an interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Mr Soyemi Olusegun Owolabi who is into shoe-making and leather works under the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSEs) in Ogun State lamented the trend which he said has scared away many customers intending to do business with him.

Soyemi explained that the non-availability of cash would cripple several businesses unless the appropriate authority quickly wades in.

“Even when you ask customers to make transfer, you would discover that the banks’ network is very unreliable as it usually takes close to 72-hours before you can see such transfer. Even in most cases, such bank’s cash transfers are reversed, thereby leaving you to continue to wonder. I have had occasions where I had to quarrel with customers and such is not good for business,” he said.

Soyemi appealed to the appropriate authorities to rise up to the challenge and safe the SMSEs from collapsing.

To Mrs Oghenekome Ochuko, a business woman in Sapele, Delta State, she is unable to stock her shop for the festive period due to this new policy.

“I went to bank to withdraw about N500,000 last month, to buy goods, but I was told that I could not withdraw more than N5,000. What can I use just N5000 to do?” Mrs Ochuko queried.

A mechanic in Sapele, Sunday Emeka, also shared his ordeal with LEADERSHIP Sunday. He said, “After making trouble at the bank, I decided to go to the POS to withdraw my money. I walked up to five POS agents before one agreed to give me N40,000 for a fee of N1,000. The rest POS agents asked for as high as N2000 for withdrawal of N40,000.”

Meanwhile, in Ojota, Lagos, banks in that axis pegged withdrawals to only N50,000 per day.

For instance, a POS agent in Ojota, Lagos, Ms Mfon Ebong, lamented that it was only Zenith Bank that gave customers up to N50,000 on Friday. “I walked up to three branches of Sterling Bank and I was told there is no money. Only Zenith gave me N50,000,” she stated.

When asked if the ATMs were dispensing money, Ms Ebong told LEADERSHIP Sunday that since late November, most ATMs in Ojota do not dispense money as frequent as they used to, adding that, “For those that could dispense, we are allowed to withdraw as little as N40,000. What can that do for me?”

Ms Ebong appealed to the federal government to reverse this policy, adding that, “Nigerians cannot go back to what happened to us early this year. We do not have the resilience to manage another round of hardship.”

Similarly, POS operators at Arepo along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway are facing the same constraints. An attendant simply identified as Bisi said she is not giving more than N10,000 to any customer and if there is a need to collect more than that, it will attract more than the usual charges.

When asked why, she said, she was told that there are not many notes in circulation.

However, another attendant said she has no problem giving out more than N10,000 as she has access to cash supply.

At Simbiat Abiola, Ikeja, Sterling Bank card users could withdraw N40,000 up to four times, while non-Sterling Bank card users could take a maximum of N10,000 up to four times. Zenith Bank cardholders could collect N20,000 per withdrawal, while non-Zenith cardholders could withdraw N10,000.

At Oba Akran Avenue, Fidelity Bank gate was locked because there was no cash in the ATM. FCMB, First Bank, Zenith Bank, GTCO, and Wema Bank were all not dispensing cash while only Access Bank was dispensing N40,000 to Access Bank card users and non-Access card users could access N5,000 four times.

A customer voiced his displeasure at not being able to withdraw cash from the second bank he visited. He said, “These people have started their bosh again. No money in the ATM; is that not rubbish? People keep money in the bank and can’t have access to it; is that not rubbish? They can give POS merchants money, but to load money into the ATM, they can’t. No be Nigeria we dey? POS merchants and banks are doing business.”

LEADERSHIP Sunday observed that despite these banks not dispensing money, there was no long queue at the ATMs dispensing, and this could be attributed to the large number of POS merchants around.

Around Bariga in Lagos Mainland, ATMs in almost all the banks were not working while some POS attendants, hanging around the banks are using the non-availability of Naira in ATMs as loophole to make huge profits.


No scarcity of cash in Kano

The recent problem of scarcity of cash that is showing itself in some parts of the country is yet to hit Kano as commercial activities continue without much challenges.

The situation is such that it has not been visible to the public even if it exists as people patronise POS operators more than the banks when they need cash due to accessibility as it is easier to reach the next POS than a bank.

Some banks allow N150,000 withdrawal per week, which is normal depending on the type of account one is operating. There are procedures by which one could increase the amount he can withdraw from the bank.

Although the public have complained of not having enough smaller denominations in circulation thereby getting change after small purchases or services become a bit of a challenge. This affects commercial vehicles operators and small-scale businesses the most.

POS operators have not increased on the charges of N200 for every N10,000 collected, proving that there is reasonably enough cash in circulation.

At the POS, one is able to withdraw any amount depending on the available cash they have as long as he pays the required charges per transaction.

In a lot of public places, including motor parks and markets, POS operators are readily available to give their services to their customers, cash, for those need it, and transfers for those who need it.

In Gombe State, although there is no any serious cash scarcity, POS operators lament that the cash withdrawal limit at the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) prevented them from making adequate cash available for their customers.

A POS operator, Sani Abdulrahman, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that the daily withdrawal limit at ATMs is N40,000 which he said is not sufficient to satisfy his customers.

He added that some banks do not allow them to withdraw from canters and even when they would do so, they waste precious time in queues or give token sum of money to the bankers to be given huge cash.

“As a result of the ATMs N40, 000 daily limit, I cannot provide my clients with sufficient cash and this also reduces my profits and gains from this business.”, he noted.

Our correspondent gathered that many people have stopped going to banks or ATMs to withdraw money but patronise POS operators due to their proximity and availability everywhere as against the banks that are all sited in one location known as Bank Road in the state capital.

In Borno, the scarcity of the naira notes in banks has been a source of concern to both residents and POS operators.

Although, the situation was far better last month when people could withdraw up to N500,000 cash limit placed by the banks to customers, the last one month according to residents and POS operators has been very difficult as customers were restricted to withdrawal of N5,000 to 20,000 for Automated Teller Machines (ATM), while others who want to withdraw across the counter are restricted to N50,000, when cash is available in the banks.

However, speaking on the predicament of bank customers, a resident, Umaru Abdullahi, alleged that the banks are selling the available cash to wealthy customers to the detriment of the common customers.

“I have witnessed such atrocious act in one of the banks in Maiduguri. On that very day, we were waiting at the bank in turns for withdrawal when a wealthy customer came in to the bank requesting for a huge amount, and to our shock, the bank staff went as far as removing cash already stocked in the ATMs of the bank to service the customer.

“Another contributing factor to the scarcity of naira notes in most of the banks is because customers have lost confidence in depositing their monies in the banks since they can hardly withdraw the required amount when the need arises due to the withdrawal limits,” Abdullahi said.

Corroborating the scarcity of the naira notes, a POS operator at the Post Office area of the metropolis, Hassan Dennis, said most banks in Maiduguri were either complaining of not having cash or dispenses as low as N5000 to customers.

He said the situation has forced many of his colleagues out of business while those still in it only survive on commissions from money transfers.



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