The Central Bank of Nigeria says it has made provisions for Nigerians living in rural areas to exchange their naira notes as the bank moves to redesign 200, 500 and 1,000 bills.
The bank will start the circulation of new notes from December 15, a measure it says will help check inflation, counterfeiting and the amount of money outside of the banking system.
The plan has drawn criticisms over its timing, especially as the bank announced that users have less than two months to exchange their notes before they cease to be legal tender.
In a statement on November 11, the bank said it is working with relevant agencies in the financial system in its execution, particularly in ensuring that vulnerable citizens are not at disadvantage.
It said it remains committed to the seamless implementation of the initiative to ensure the achievement of its objectives to preserve the integrity of the local currency by reducing the significant amount of cash outside the banking system and its use in criminal activities, curtail counterfeiting, and promote financial inclusion, amongst others.
“Whilst noting the progressive increase in financial access points and alternative banking channels over the years (electronic/internet banking, mobile apps, ATM, Cards/PoS, eNaira, agent banking, etc.), the Bank acknowledges that these may not be evenly distributed across all geopolitical zones and in some rural areas,” the statement said.
“In operationalizing this initiative, the CBN has been collaborating with relevant agencies and other stakeholders in the financial system in its execution, particularly ensuring that vulnerable citizens are not disenfranchised.
“Accordingly, the banking public in rural and/or underserved areas may access CBN branches in the 36 States of the Federation to enquire about options for depositing their current N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, wallet/account opening processes, financial access points, etc.”
The bank also said agent locations across the country have been fully enabled for BVN registration, opening banking accounts/wallets & e-Naira wallets, electronic card distribution, and cash deposit, among others.
Due to the policy, the agents have also been accorded priority to enable them to deposit cash collections through bank branches across the federation.
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