The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may have reversed the earlier directive stopping banks from loading Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with higher banknotes, saying financial institutions are at liberty to pay in any denomination through the channels.
The apex bank had, as part of the original circular restricting cash holding, capped maximum denominations payable at ATMs at N200. It also pegged individuals’ and corporate entities’ weekly cash withdrawal limits at N100, 000 and N500, 000 respectively.
A follow-up notice upped the limits to N500, 000 and N5 million for individuals and corporate bodies respectively. It reviewed other items associated with the aggressive cashless policy enforcement but not the restriction on ATM payable denomination.
With the reversed policy coming into force, yesterday, customers expected the banks to commence dispensing N200 notes at ATM points. But in what was considered a contravention of the regulatory directive, virtually all ATMs in Lagos continued to dispense N1000 and N500, which the CBN sees as non-transactional but a store of value in its effort to reduce cash-based transactions.
In a telephone conversation yesterday, the Director of Corporate Communication, CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, said the banks have not broken any rule as they are free to load the ATMs with any denominations they have as they are not under any restriction.
“They can load any denomination. If they have N1000, they should load it; if they have N500 they should load it. If they have N200, they should go ahead and load it,” Nwanisobi told The Guardian.
The clarification suggests that commercial banks are not under an obligation to pay customers the scarce lower denominations through the ATMs. The majority of ATMs are configured on N1000, while a few pay N500.