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Do you still carry wads of bank notes around?

Do you still carry wads of bank notes around?

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‘Nimi Akinkugbe

Do you still carry wads of naira notes in your wallet or under your mattress at home or have you embraced technology? The Central Bank of Nigeria’s cashless policy commenced on January 1, 2012 in a phased approach that featured Lagos as the pilot state because of its “financial sophistication, the presence of an enabling infrastructure, volume of cash transactions and exposure of residents to alternative payment channels.” Phase two followed on July 1, 2013 in the Federal Capital Territory, Abia, Anambra, Kano, Ogun and Rivers States.

The planned nationwide implementation was postponed in 2017, to allow for the deployment of infrastructure needed to support the policy and accelerate the process of migrating towards electronic cards and mobile payments in the remaining states. This will also allow some more time to further sensitise the public and change attitudes in a society that has a prevailing cash culture.

All over the world, the trend has been for governments and financial institutions to pursue policies to reduce the volume of cash in the system. In some developed countries one can do almost entirely without the use of hard cash and electronic means of payments far outstrip cash transactions in much of the industrialised world today; indeed when you are abroad, it can be quite embarrassing and you may be regarded with consternation, if you wish to make a purchase with large amounts of cash. Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in this trend.

As we inch closer towards cashless Nigeria where digital or electronic money will eventually take precedence over physical money, how prepared are you? How would you feel if you were told that you would no longer be able to use paper money and would have to rely on electronic technology for all your transactions? We all like the speed and convenience of e-commerce. Who doesn’t like the look and feel of hard cash in our hands and wallets; particularly new bank notes! It is tangible, it feels real and it gives one a sense of really possessing something!

Technology has changed so much in our lives, the greatest impact being the actual way that transactions take place. The world of banking and finance has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of technological innovations and advancements in global payment systems.

It is exciting to see how millions of Nigerians transact business now; gone are the days when we would queue for hours at the bank waiting to withdraw some cash. A visit to the bank took half your day! The emergence of Financial Technology Companies” has played a critical role in transforming our payments systems through the innovative use of technology.

We should all be deliberate about becoming familiar with some of the great apps that our banks have developed, Internet banking, digital payments, agency banking; all these innovative solutions seek to address the biggest challenge of inclusion and “reach”while ensuring that everyone has access to banking services without necessarily having brick and mortar banks in every corner of our vast nation.

There are many benefits from doing away with “old fashioned cash.” It is a means of curbing corruption, money laundering and other cash related financial crimes, global terrorism and cross-border crimes. It also helps to address the enormous security challenges and the exorbitant cost of cash management to the banking industry.

Businesses embrace technology as a means of receiving instant payments, cutting their expenses and institutionalising operational efficiency, thereby increasing their revenues. As individuals, we should embrace electronic, Internet and mobile banking for the speed, convenience, security, and the efficiency that they provide.

The Internet has revolutionised banking and personal financial management in many ways. Nowadays, we are all so busy in our work lives that there often isn’t the time to visit the bank. If you have not yet embraced your bank’s Internet banking service, there are some compelling reasons to do so. With Internet connectivity, you have unlimited access to your bank accounts and can carry out most of your routine banking transactions at your convenience; you can check your account balances, pay bills, make transfers, and manage your various accounts with a few simple clicks from your laptop or computer, i-Pad or cell phone.

Do you use your bank’s electronic banking services which automate processes relating to your financial transactions for convenience, and efficiency? The most common forms of electronic payments are telephone banking, Internet banking, plastic cards, credit cards, debit cards and Automated Teller Machine cards; instead of currency.

Debit and credit cards have transformed our financial lives; one can execute a host of transactions without ever having to visit a bank. Whether it is from a Point of Service portal at your nearest grocery shop, an increasing number of merchants, including shops, restaurants, clubs, hotels, among others, will accept your card.

Most of the ATM cards issued by Nigerian banks are usually from one of these three companies – Interswitch’s Verve, VISA and Mastercard. The Naira Visa and Mastercard debit cards allow you to access foreign exchange from your naira account while abroad and local currency while in Nigeria. Denominated in naira, they can be used at ATMs or PoS terminals globally where the Visa or Mastercard signs are displayed to either pay for goods and services or access foreign exchange. Linked to your current or savings account, all transactions reflect instantly.

On February 27, 2018, Bestman Games in its mission to engage, entertain and educate through play, will launch “the City of Lagos Electronic Banking Edition of Monopoly. Lagos, Africa’s fastest growing metropolis and an emerging mega city, was an obvious choice to reflect its “cashless policy on Hasbro’s iconic board game as it was the first Nigerian city for the implementation of the CBN’s Cashless Nigeria.”

The Monopoly Electronic Banking game is the modern spin on the classic Monopoly game; this edition reflects changes in how the real world uses money: transactions are conducted with Monopoly’s new banking card system instead of cash. As we inch closer towards a cashless economy, this educational board game shares the same philosophy: buy, trade, win, the electronic way.

How prepared are you for practical improvements in your financial life? Do you still risk carrying wads of bank notes on you and in cupboards at home? There are so many alternatives to cash; explore and become familiar with the alternative electronic payment channels available to you and decide which will best suit your personal financial habits and circumstances.

You can’t afford to be left behind. Embrace technology, and reduce your dependence on cash.

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