• Business - Economy
  • Updated: March 25, 2023

Cash Crunch: Unbanked Nigerians Recount Ordeal

Cash Crunch: Unbanked Nigerians Recount Ordeal

It is normal to think that every adult in Nigeria has access to basic financial services such as a savings bank account.

However, according to research, there are still about 250,000 adults in the country who are unbanked.

AllNews Nigeria reached out to a few of these people in Ogun State who shared their experiences on how they have been coping with the current Naira crisis in the country.

Ola, a 45-year-old meat seller in Abalabi market, Ogun State described the situation as being 'unfair' to him, saying he has been suffering since the naira redesign policy began.

He explained that he has never owned a bank account because he would rather keep his money to himself, where he can easily have access to it at any time.

However, he blamed himself for not owning an account at the moment due to the negative impact this has had on his business, as most of his customers would want to make payments through digital channels.

Because he has been turning them down, this has led to the loss of a whole lot of customers.

"Many of my customers don't have access to cash since the naira scarcity began, and they are willing to make electronic fund transfers.

"But I have been turning them down because I don’t have a bank account and this has drastically reduced my sales," Ola lamented.

On her part, Munirat, an egg seller in the market said even though she doesn't have a bank account, she is not bothered.

She also decried the rate at which failed transactions had soared among her neighbours.

"Though it hasn't been easy, however,  I still don't regret the fact that I don’t have a bank account because even those that have an account have been experiencing declined transactions since the naira redesign policy began.

"To me, banking makes life more difficult, so I would rather keep my money to myself than go to the bank and not have access to it at my own convenient time.

"Though recently, most of my customers ask if I accept transfers, but I'm not ashamed to tell them I don't have an account.

"In fact, presently, I would rather accept the lower denominations like N200, N100 and N50 notes, irrespective of the number of goods a customer is buying because the new N1,000 note looks fake to me, and I won't like to accept a fake naira note, because it is difficult for me to differentiate between the fake and the original note."

Adeife, a petty trader said the situation has been really terrible for her considering the exorbitant charges from POS operators. 

"Because I don’t have an account, whenever my children want to send me money, I have to use the account of a POS operator here in my area who charges about 30 per cent of the amount I am withdrawing 

"For instance, when my children send N5,000, the POS operator would deduct N1500 as charge and give me N3500. This is really terrible and saddening.

"Imagine being hungry but you need to buy money with your money before you can afford what you need.

"The cash scarcity has made life really terrible for me because most times, I would have to go to bed without food."

Adeife, therefore, called on the Federal Government to ease the pain of Nigerians by finding a solution to the naira scarcity.

"At least if there is enough supply of the new naira notes. I am sure the suffering would be minimised," Adeife said.

Speaking on the situation, Favour (name changed), a POS operator in the market, said the reason why there is a hike in charge of POS is that she does not have access to cash in the bank, and even if she is opportune to get the cash, banks no longer dispense more than N10,000 over-the-counter, which is not enough to perform the day's transactions.

As a result, she resorts to buying cash from filling stations.

"As a POS operator, I no longer have access to more than N10,000 for over-the-counter withdrawal.

"ATMs are no longer dispensing cash. Eventually, I will need to pay to get the cash from those who have it.

"For instance, I pay N3,000 to get N20,000 from filling stations and they don't give me cash every time.

"So the little I get is what I manage to share among few customers and that is why there have been increases in the POS charges."

As of the time of filing this report, ATM galleries in Abeokuta, Ilaro, Ifo, Papa, Ajegunle, and Abalabi areas of Ogun State are not dispensing cash, while it was observed that Wema Bank, Ilaro branch was dispensing N10,000 to customers over-the-counter.

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