Despite the order given to banks to collect and release old naira notes back into circulation, economic stakeholders have urged the banks to upgrade their technology to make banking transactions seamless. According to them, the cashless transaction introduced to the people cannot be ruled out, hence the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to mandate commercial bank to upgrade their technologies to enable their customers transact online. While pushing people to cashless transactions, online banking has been frustrating, worsening the cash crisis in the country.
Bank customers across the country have continued to lament as they could not make bank transfers nor use the USSD code for transactions. As earlier reported by New Telegraph, the telecommunications service providers, who provide the banks with the USSD service, had claimed that there was nothing wrong with their service, not the technology, saying the challenges being witnessed by bank customers lie with the banks.
They insisted that nothing was wrong with the USSD ser-vice and the network provided to the banks. The Chairman of the Association of Licenced Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, said telecoms operators had not ceased their services to the banks, nor shut down any application of the banking ecosystem. He stated that the challenges faced by bank customers in using USSD had nothing to do with the services rendered to the banks by the telecoms companies, saying the problem was within the banking sector. According to him, the websites of the banks are congested, adding that the crisis has nothing to do with the network or the USSD service.
In a chat with New Telegraph, The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Centre for the Promotion of Public Enterprises (CPPE), Muda Yusuf, said the cash crisis brought by the naira redesign to promote a cashless economy by the apex bank would not have been worse if the banks had the required standard technology to support the online cash transaction. Yusuf, who noted that the economy had been greatly affected by the policy, said businesses across the country had lost an estimated N20 trillion since the beginning of the cash crisis. According to him, the losses arose from the deceleration of economic activities, the crippling of trading activities, the stifling of the informal economy, the contraction in the agricul-tural sector, and the paralysis of the rural economy, adding that there are also corresponding job losses in hundreds of thousands. This is coming more than a week after the Supreme Court had ordered that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extend the validity of N200, N500, and N1,000 old naira notes as legal tender till December 2023, contrary to the March 10 deadline it earlier set. Yusuf noted that CBN had mopped more than 70 percent of cash in the economy in its bid to phase out the old notes but failed to provide adequate replacement of the new notes. He stated that the protracted acute cash scarcity had not only crippled economic activities in the country but has also become a major risk to the livelihoods of most Nigerians. He lamented that millions of citizens had slipped into penury and destitution as a result of the disruptions and tribulations perpetrated by the currency redesign policy, especially the mopping-up aspect of it. The expert explained that Nigerians continued to groan in the adversity inflicted by the acute cash shortage amid the rejection of old currency notes by market operators, refusal by banks to accept the old notes, silence by the presidency on the supreme court judgment; and absence of official pronouncement by the CBN on the issue. While it noted that Nigerians have not been this traumatized in recent history, it added that retail transactions across sectors have become nerve-wracking and distressing as payment system challenges persist. “The CBN has to monitor the technology the banks are operating with even if the old notes are released back into circulation. That will enhance our banking services. If their technology is okay, it will reduce the crowd in the banking halls.”