Distributive policy

Naira Redesign: CBN introduces policy to protect unbanked, underserved and rural dwellers

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has unveiled a new plan to protect rural dwellers and others who may be affected by the overhaul of naira banknotes.

Last month, the financial regulator announced the decision to redesign the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes in a bid to reduce the amount of money outside banks. The CBN also said the overhaul of naira banknotes will help combat money laundering, counterfeiting, terrorism and vote buying ahead of the 2023 general election.

However, while this move was widely applauded, concerns were also raised about it. The CBN said the redesigned notes will be released from December 15 and consumers have until January 31, 2023 to return old notes to banks. For rural dwellers, the unbanked and underserved, meeting the deadline is a challenge.

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In this context, the Senate also joined in the call for the CBN to extend the deadline to accommodate those who are not sufficiently covered by financial inclusion.

In a statement titled, “Currency Overhaul: CBN Committed to Protecting Nigerians in Unbanked, Underserved and Rural Areas,” which was signed by CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, the Apex bank said it has taken steps to ensure the policy is duly implemented nationwide without causing financial harm to any group of people.

The CBN said agent locations across the country have been fully activated for BVN registration, opening of bank/wallet accounts and e-Naira wallets, e-card distribution and cash deposit, among others. This is to allow people in rural areas to deposit their old naira notes before the deadline.

Read the press release below:

Following its Press Release dated October 26, 2022 on the above subject, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is pleased to note the positive response of the banking public to the policy through the increase in foreign currency deposits in banks and other financial institutions.

The CBN remains committed to the transparent implementation of the initiative to ensure the achievement of its objectives of preserving the integrity of local legal tender by reducing the significant amount of cash outside the banking system and its use in criminal activities, reducing counterfeiting and promoting financial inclusion, among others.

While noting the gradual increase in financial access points and alternative banking channels over the years (electronic/internet banking, mobile apps, ATMs, cards/PoS, eNaira, banking agents, etc.), the Bank acknowledges that these may not be evenly distributed. in all geopolitical areas and in some rural areas. In operationalizing this initiative, the CBN has collaborated with relevant agencies and other financial system stakeholders in its execution, particularly ensuring that vulnerable citizens are not disenfranchised.

As a result, the banking public in rural and/or underserved areas can access CBN branches in the 36 States of the Federation to inquire about deposit options for their current N200, N500 and N1,000 notes, the processes of wallet/account opening, financial access points, etc.

Additionally, agent locations across the country have been fully activated for BVN registration, opening of bank/wallet accounts and e-Naira wallets, e-card distribution and cash deposit, among others. Due to the policy, agents have also been given priority to allow them to deposit collections at bank branches across the federation.

The Bank will continue to monitor developments and issue updates to the banking public on the implementation of the Naira Recast Policy as necessary.