CBN bans withdrawal of new notes over the counter

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered Deposit Money Banks not to pay customers who withdraw new naira notes over the counter.

Instead, the apex bank directed banks to load their Automated Teller Machines with only new notes in order to ensure that the currency circulates across the country before the old notes are no longer legal tender on January 32, 2023.

According to Saturday PUNCH, the apex bank issued the directive to banks on Wednesday and ordered that implementation begin immediately.

However, as of Friday, banks had not been able to comply with the directive due to a lack of new notes, prompting them to load their ATMs with old notes.

A source in a Tier-1 bank, who informed one of PUNCH correspondents of the CBN directive on Thursday, said her lender on Thursday issued a memo in that respect to all the branch managers to enforce the CBN order.

The memo, which was titled., ‘Urgent update on currency redesign’ and signed by the Group Head, Retail Operation, stated, “The CBN has mandated that we immediately stop the Over-the-Counter payment of the new N200, N500 & N,1000 currency. Instead, all new notes should be loaded into the ATMs for customer withdrawals.

“This is effective immediately please.”

The source, who is a manager in one of the bank’s branches in Ikeja, Lagos, however, complained that the new notes were in short supply, hence the branch decided to load a mixture of the old and new N1,000 and N500 notes in the ATMs for customers to withdraw.

The source stated, “We got a memo from the head office this morning (Thursday) that we should stop dispensing new notes to customers who come to withdraw over the counter, but instead we should load the ATMs with the new notes. The correspondence from the head office said the directive was from the CBN and that we should implement it immediately.

“The directive has, however, thrown us into a dilemma as we are in short supply of the new notes and we can’t afford not to load the ATMs as there has been a surge in the number of customers coming to withdraw after the Yuletide holidays.

“Loading of ATMs is the responsibility of the banks. When our bank tested the ATMs, only one denomination of the new notes passed the test of dispensing seamlessly through our machines. The bank is working on reconfiguring the ATMs to be able to dispense the new notes. What we have done in my branch is to mix the few new N1,000 and N500 notes available with old ones so that desperate customers can make withdrawals and meet their immediate needs.

“If you observed, a lot of ATMs were inactive during the Christmas and New Year holidays. The idea was not to give out old notes, but unfortunately, the new ones are not in circulation. The banks have a mandate to evacuate N1bn old notes each to the CBN on a daily basis and our head office has set a strict vault limit or cash holding limit for each branch, which on no condition we must exceed.”

When contacted, the CBN spokesman, Osita Nwanisobi, did not respond to enquiries by Saturday PUNCH. As soon as one of our correspondents introduced himself and the topic, he went mute. Subsequent calls to his mobile line were not taken. Text and WhatsApp messages sent to his telephone were not replied to.

However, a senior official of the CBN, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment on the issue, confirmed to Saturday PUNCH that the apex bank indeed issued the directive to the banks.

 

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