Nigeria to become cashless by 2025

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As Nigerians expect to handle more new naira notes now that the banks have resumed operations for the new year, the Central Bank of Nigeria says the use of cash will naturally slow down by 2025. In its Payments Vision 2025 document, the CBN says that Nigeria aspires to have a cashless and efficient electronic payment system infrastructure that will facilitate financial services in all the sectors of the economy and provide secured, reliable and user-centric, financial solutions, in compliance with international standards by 2025.

According to the CBN, the Nigerian payment landscape has many options that have displaced cash in recent times, including electronic bill payment, mobile phone top up, mobile and instant payments. “The use of cash will naturally slow down with the ‘mobile first generation’ that will be economically active by 2025. So, one of the focuses of the PSV 2025 is enhancing the cashless policy of the CBN”, the document stated.

On 26 October 2022, the CBN announced that higher denominations of the naira- N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes would be redesigned and introduced into the economy from 15 December 2022 while commercial banks were directed to return existing denominations to the CBN. The new naira became a legal tender on 15 December 2022, after it was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on 23 November 2022. 

A visit to some bank branches in Lagos showed that the banks which rationed the new naira when it was first rolled out, no longer had any to give to customers who requested to withdraw some money.  Since the roll out of the new naira, Nigerians have continued to express mixed feelings about the redesigned currency. They observe that new banknotes, which they described as ‘painted’, were being counterfeited. “It is not the issue of design but that of quality,” said an entertainer, in his twitter handle. Another comment from the twitter handle of an IT company said, “perhaps, it was intentionally designed to fade, so that if crooks stash the money somewhere, in two months they will come back to see that it has turned into white paper.”

Sharing his experience about the new naira, a Lagos based self-employed said, “early this morning I got paid with the new note. And out of excitement I decided to buy a few things with the money. I went to a shop in town to buy something but it was rejected. The store keeper refused to accept the money for payment. She claimed that nobody accepted the notes from her when she used it to make purchases. My experience this morning was not funny at all. What if that was the only money left with me?”

To save Nigerians from becoming victims of fake naira notes, the CBN on 20 December 2022 released more information on the new naira which showed 23 security features on the N1, 000 note, 15 features on the N500 note and 10 features on the N200 note. The release of the security features brought some relief to Nigerians who had expressed fears about counterfeiting of the new notes.

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