Ahead of the January 31 deadline for phasing out old naira notes, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced an exchange of old for new naira notes initiative for the rural and underserved communities, effective Monday, 23 January 2023. This was disclosed in a circular to all deposit money banks (DMBs), mobile money operators (MMOs), super agents and agents, titled ‘Naira redesign policy: CBN launches cash swap programme in rural and underserved areas’, and signed by Haruna Mustafa, director, banking supervision at CBN, and Musa Jimoh, director of, payment system management department, also at CBN.
The cash swap programme enables citizens in rural areas or those with limited access to formal financial services to exchange old naira notes with the redesigned notes. Consequently, the old N1, 000, N500 and N200 can be exchanged for the newly redesigned notes and the existing lower denomination (N100, N50, and N20 etc), which remain legal tender.
The circular said the agent shall exchange a maximum of N10,000 per person and that amounts above N10,000 shall be treated as cash-in deposits into wallets or bank accounts in line with the cashless policy. It says bank verification number (BVN), national identity number (NIN) and voter’s card details of the customer should be captured as soon as possible. To promote financial inclusion, the circular said the service is available to anybody without a bank account.
It says agents may instantly on request open a wallet or account, leveraging the CBN tiered know your customer (KYC) framework. This will ensure that this category of the populace are able to exchange or deposit their cash seamlessly without taking unnecessary risks or incurring undue costs. The circular said states that agents shall sensitize customers on opening wallets/ bank accounts and the various channels for conducting electronic transactions.
According to the circular designated agents are eligible to collect the redesigned notes from MBs in line with the revised cash withdrawal limit policy. Agents are also permitted to charge cash-out fees for the cash swap transactions but prohibited from charging any further commissions to customers for this service. Agents shall render weekly returns to their designated banks regarding the cash swap transactions. MBs shall in tum render same to the CBN on a weekly basis.
“Principals (Super Agents, MMOs, DMBs) shall be held accountable for their agents’ adherence to the above guidelines. Cash Swap agents will be readily identifiable in all local governments, particularly those in rural areas. The CBN will continue to monitor implementation of the programme and provide further guidance as may be necessary,” the circular stated.
In furtherance of its redesign naira policy, the CBN has sustained its nationwide awareness/sensitization programme, enforced speedy collection of the new notes at CBN branches by DMBs and mandated issuance of the new notes through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), to ensure distribution is fair, transparent and evenly spread across the country.