After seeing the cashless economy get off on a shaky start, experts have canvassed the need for more government interventions to discourage cash transactions in every business segments of the economy, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can report.
When the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), came up with the novel ‘Cashless’ policy in 2011, it was aimed at changing the spending culture of Nigerians which is notoriously cash-transaction based with its attendant security challenges.
But six months into the project, most people are still dependant on cash for daily transactions.
Has the project failed six months into trial period? Or are there any measures of successes already credited to the policy?
Folake Ani-Mumuney, head, marketing and corporate communications at First Bank Nigeria Plc said there have been several benefits associated with the ‘Cashless’ policy, although there are still enough rooms for government intervention to make it a sustainable national programme.
Nigeria CommunicaionsWeek learnt that the bank has a good report on the ‘Cashless’ project. For instance, there has been a 200.16 per cent rise in eChannels transaction from December 2011 to May 2012.
“Before the introduction of the policy, we recorded a monthly average of about N3 Billion in eChannels transactions in 2011. But by end of May 2012 volume in eChannels transaction hit N10.6 Billion. That shows there are positives in the policy, although government still has a lot to do in terms to building a sustainable cashless policy,” said Ani-Mumuney.
She noted that the bank is committed to promoting cutting edge technology to serve the diverse needs of its’ teeming customers. “We are also in sync with the Cashless policy and presently, we are driving this policy in Lagos, and Nigeria at large, and this certainly makes our bank very fundamental to the nation’s goal of becoming one of the top 20 largest economies in the world by the year 2020.”
To achieve a frontline position in the cashless policy drive, the Bank took proactive measures by rolling out various e-transaction services and products even before the new CBN policy came on stream.
For instance, FirstBank’s online-real time banking services have been in place for almost a decade in addition to massive deployment of alternative delivery channels like POS, ATM and Internet banking, amongst other products.
“We were able to recognise on time that in the increasingly dynamic and sophisticated business environment, the future of banking will be driven by e-banking, hence we established a dedicated e-banking department many years ago,” said Ani-Mumuney.
Emezino Afiegbe, head, Card Business, concurred stating the bank’s card business segment is focused on delivery world class solutions, hence it’s dealings are measured according to global best practices standard.
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek learnt that the bank is already looking to the mobile telephony platform with a view to reaching the millions of ‘unbanked Nigerians.’ To achieve this, it has introduced the FirstMobile product which complements the existing FirstOnline.
“FirstMobile is aimed at reaching out to the millions of unbanked population who already have or intend to own a mobile phone. The majority of mobile phone users who may be classified uneducated are numeric literates. We are aware of success of such projects elsewhere and we think that with the large mobile phone subscription figures, mobile banking will be a huge success in Nigeria,” said Afiegbe.
Nigeria is Africa’s leading mobile phone market with nearly 100 million active subscribers. It also has the continent’s largest internet users with 45 million connections by December 2011.