The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has refuted suggestions that its new policy restricting cash withdrawals is aimed specifically at point-of-sale (PoS) agents.

Though the apex bank established the weekly withdrawal limit for individuals and organisations at N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, it allowed for compelling instances to take up to N5 million or N10 million.

“Let me just correct an impression: not in any way are they (PoS agents) endangered,” the CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Mustafa Haruna, said during a live appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise on Saturday.

“When you do the numbers, how much does a typical agent outlet need in a day? People need to just see this as a policy that is intended at contributing to economic growth and development, and when Nigerians know the enormous benefits inherent in this policy, I’m very sure it will shift mindsets.

“It is typical when you introduce something new, there is always that trepidation and apprehension. But that is why we are also combining it with extensive and sustained campaigns and sensitisation just to ensure that Nigerians understand what is at play, what is involved, and what is in it for them.”

Haruna highlighted the apex bank’s December 6 circular, which noted that if an individual or organisation requires an amount above the stipulated limit due to “compelling circumstances,” there are prerequisites to meet.

Withdrawals above the limit will be subject to processing costs of five and ten percent for individuals and business entities, respectively, in addition to “increased due diligence and supplementary information requirements,” according to the CBN.

Applicants must also upload the following documents to the CBN’s portal: a valid means of identification for the payee (National ID, International Passport, Driver’s License); the payee’s Bank Verification Number (BVN); and a notarised customer declaration of the purpose for the cash withdrawal; senior management approval for the withdrawal by the Managing Director of the drawee, where applicable; and written approval by the MD/CEO of the bank authorising the withdrawal.

According to Haruna, the CBN has seen exponential expansion of agent networks throughout Nigeria, which he describes as “quite ubiquitous.”

“There is hardly any nuke or cranny in Nigeria where you go that you won’t see one agent outlet or the other where they do cash-in, cash-out services. Such customers can take advantage of those services,” the CBN director said.

“But to the point about the quantum of naira such a customer would need, of course, this is an evolutionary process; we will get there. And if you have such a need for a high volume of cash, you can always go to your bank to say, ‘Look, this is my business,’ and they will be able to (attend to you).”

According to him, the CBN policy was aimed at spreading the cashless policy, which was first implemented as a pilot scheme in major cities including as Lagos and Abuja a decade ago. He added that the policy needed to be scaled up due to the high expense of currency management.

“We started since 2012 and we had some charges that you have to pay, although the revised limit and charges are different from what we had. This is not something new. We feel we should take things to a high level if we must make progress, in line with global trends,” he said.