E-payment banking operations take off nationwide tomorrow

Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed banks to embrace the e-payment policy of the government commencing tomorrow nationwide.

The initiative covers end-to-end straight electronic payments of suppliers, all form of taxes, salaries and pensions by both private and public organizations with more than 50 employees/pensioners in the country.

The apex bank, in Circular BPS/DRG/GEN/CIR/01/015 dated January 5, 2011, and signed by the Acting Director, Banking and Payments Department, GI Emokpae,  directed all deposit money banks (DMBs) to  “dishonor instructions with scheduled delivered via unsecured methods such as flash drives, compact discs or e-mail attachments with effect from that date”

The bank had over the past months been warning financial services providers, including banks, of the dire consequences of sanctions for any infractions in the course of rendering services to beneficiaries as stipulated by the newly approved guidelines for electronic payments.

The bank had earlier fixed January 2, 2012, as commencement date for the implementation of the e-payment system. But, industry analysts said the shift of date for the take off of the policy might not be unconnected with the challenges createdin the economy in the wake of last week’s contentious removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.

The bank’s Deputy Governor in charge of Operations, Tunde Lemo, had  at a Stakeholders programme organized by the bank on the e-payment policy in Abuja restated the apex bank’s commitment to embark on the implementation of the policy in order to begin to explore its potential benefits to banking system and the economy.

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He reminded the stakeholders on the imperative of fast-tracking their adoption plans on e-payment solutions, which had been certified by the apex bank, pointing out that given the important role that well-functioning payment systems play in monetary policy implementation, financial stability and overall economic activity, the CBN is desirous in putting in place a national payment system that is nationally utilised and internationally recognised.

“We want to eradicate dominance of cash and paper-based activities in the economy, manual operations and delays in clearing time of cheques, infrastructural bottlenecks, sharp practices and insider abuses, shortage of technical personnel and low confidence in the bankers’ clearing system, Mr. Lemo added.”

According to him, responses based on the apex bank’s enquiries from the public indicated that about 84 per cent of public sector organizations were prepared to adopt the system, adding that the long-term vision of the monetary authorities is to achieve an efficient payment system whereby virtually all transactions are done without recourse to manual option.

The apex bank had since last year embarked on a coordinated nationwide campaign to sensitise Nigerians on the imperative of embracing the e-payment system due to, amongst other reasons, perceived  lack of enthusiasm displayed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) towards the directive given by the Federal Government that all payments MDAs should be made electronically.

The purpose of the fora being organised nationwide, Mr. Emokpae said, was to enlighten all stakeholders on the approved guidelines on the operation of the e-payment system, and to also seek their support for its successful implementation.

The sensitisation campaigns were orgnaised in major towns of the six-geopolitical zones including, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory.

Prior the Abuja forum, the CBN had carried out series of promotional campaign on e-payments systems in the country in line with three important operational frameworks on electronic payments recently released to guide both the public and private sector stakeholders, including guidelines on electronic payments of government suppliers in Nigeria; guidelines on electronic payments of all forms of taxes and guidelines on electronic payments of salary and pension in Nigeria.

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