CBN vs POS agents: Is it time to wave goodbye?
CBN vs POS agents

“Nigeria wants to stop POS business.”

Those were the words of Kemi, a roadside cash agent (aka POS agent or business) who was airing her reactions to CBN’s new cash withdrawal limits that went into effect on January 9.  For context, CBN introduced new weekly limits on Cash withdrawals (Individuals:  ₦500,000, Corporates:  ₦5,000,000).
 

Key takeaways:

  1. If Nigeria wants to go cashless, it will need agents to do the groundwork.

  2. Standalone agents (those without a primary business) would feel the pinch of the new withdrawal limits more than those with an existing cash-generating business.

  3. Incentivising more businesses to become formally registered businesses may be a silver lining for the new cash withdrawal policy.

 

It’s easy to sympathise with Kemi and the many like her.

Over the past five years, selling cash has become a livelihood for the more than 1.4 million agents scattered across Nigeria.

The agent business provided a stream of income for many. 

It also plays a vital role in what I like to call financial re-distribution, as banks haven’t built enough financial infrastructure (i.e. POS machines, ATMs, bank branches) to keep up with demand. For instance, commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults in Nigeria is 4.3 versus South Africa’s 8.0 and Ghana’s 11.5. This is because Nigeria’s large adult population requires more infrastructure. 

So POS agents have stepped in to bridge the gap by bringing banking services closer to customers. When last did you visit a bank branch or even an ATM to withdraw cash? Exactly, my point.

Given all this, could CBN’s new

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Nchedolisa Anammah

Nchedolisa Anammah

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