By UDO ONYEKA
The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has given its support to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Clean Note Policy and Banknote Fitness Guidelines meant to remove dirty, mutilated and unfit Naira notes in circulation from the financial system.
Speaking to financial journalists in Lagos, ABCON President, Alhaji (Dr) Aminu Gwadabe, said the launch of the CBN Clean and Banknote Fitness Policy is not only apt, but timely giving the high volume of unfit and dirty notes in circulation across the country.
He said the policy will discourage the attitude of the public in stashing naira notes in their homes and farms as witnessed recently.
He said the policy will also increase the level of money supply in the economy, and subsequently deepen the volume and value of credit available to real sector operators and other major segments of the economy.
He said the policy entails diverse currency management plans geared towards the efficient circulation of premium quality banknotes and withdrawal of unfit/soiled banknotes. This, he said, will guarantee public confidence and usage of the naira banknotes as a medium of exchange.
According to Gwadabe, the move by the apex bank to sanitize the estimated 7.9 trillion Naira pieces in circulation will enhance transparent currency management system, promote financial inclusion and enhance confidence of the informal sector in the financial system.
The ABCON boss said that the CBN has through the new policy plans, demonstrated its commitment to seamless payment system adding that the regulator has the obligation of providing adequate supply of clean banknotes to facilitate efficient payment and settlement of transactions by the public, government and banks.
He said the policy remains the first step in its bid to address the sorry state of the notes in circulation and create a new culture for better handling of the local currency.
He explained that the clean note policy provides a uniform standard for the circulation of only clean and fit banknotes in the economy adding that the banknote fitness guidelines provide the industry with clear and acceptable criteria for determining the quality of notes in circulation.
He said the policy guidelines is backed by the Sections 18, 20 & 21 of the CBN Act 2007 which prohibits the counterfeiting, sale and abuse of the naira.
Gwadabe said that ABCON, and its over 4,500 members will collaborate with the CBN to make the new policy a success.
He said that the collaboration of deposit money banks (DMBs), merchant banks, Microfinance banks, government agencies, Cash-in- Transit ( CIT), Cash Processing Companies (CPCs), Market Associations, merchants/retailers, chambers of commerce and industry, security agencies, currency Management equipment manufacturers , bank customers and the general public is also needed for the policy to succeed.
He said that Nigeria remains a cash-based economy, and that the new policy is crucial to ensure that the local currency remains attractive to the people.
ABCON boss said that despite the use of e-payment channels, majority of Nigerians still use cash in their day-to-day economic transactions, especially in making payments especially where there are no digital payment platforms.
The ABCON boss said the BDCs have remained resolute in ensuring sustainable and stable exchange rate, price discovery and uniformity in the market pricing for the dollar against the naira.
He said the current less than one per cent transaction margin that operators take is not sufficient for BDCs’ sustained operation, and totally falls below global standard of 10 per cent.
He said the BDCs under the ABCON leadership have demonstrated patriotism in the business by staying and sustaining it despite several challenges facing the sector.
He said the CBN-licenced BDCs under the aegis of ABCON is not in business solely to make profit, but to protect the local currency and ensure that the economy thrives through its contribution to job creation and improved dollar liquidity in the economy.
Gwadabe said the BDCs will continue to operate within the law and set regulation, and is bound to even perform better given the automation of BDCs’ operations though the ABCON Live Run Automation Portal that has continued to integrate each of the over 4,500 CBN-licenced BDCs across the country.