As banks have made more cash available to their customers following the directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Point of Sale (PoS) agents are complaining of low patronage.
Some of the PoS agents who spoke to BusinessDay across Lagos said customers had yet to patronise them as they were doing before the cash scarcity caused by the naira redesign policy of the CBN.
“I used to do between N300,000 and N700,000 daily for both cash and transfers before the scarcity but now I do less than N300k daily. There’s now cash; so people do not really use PoS,” a POS agent in the heart of Idumagbo market said.
She said she had reduced her charges to what they were before the scarcity of banknotes.
“I charge N100 for N5,000 and N200 for N10,000.”
On October 26, 2022, the CBN announced that N200, N500 and N1,000 notes would be redesigned and introduced into the economy from December 15, 2022, while commercial banks were directed to return the old denominations to the CBN.
The withdrawal of the old naira notes from circulation ahead of the February 10 deadline alongside the reduction of over-the-counter cash withdrawal limits to N100,000 and N500,000 per week for individual and corporate organisations, respectively and the limited supply of the new notes led to a severe cash scarcity.
The cash scarcity led to long queues and left Nigerians reliant on PoS agents for cash at exorbitant charges.
“I used to do transactions between N100,000 and N150,000 daily before the scarcity but now I do N100,000 for two days; the N100,000 I withdrew yesterday afternoon is what I’m still giving out,” Naomi Willie, a PoS operator at Badore in Ajah, said.
Willie said business has been slow because there are so many PoS agents now. “Also, a lot of shops have PoS machines now; so people can easily use their cards or transfer to shops and they’d rather do that than pay for charges to collect their money.”
Another PoS agent at Idumagbo said she used to process N300,000 daily but now does less because of the cash availability and the charges. “People prefer to go to the bank now, especially the older women in the market, since they won’t be charged,” she said.
Uche Best, a popular PoS agent under the bridge at Obalende, told BusinessDay that he believes that the business has slowed not because of cash availability but because people lost their jobs and businesses during the cash scarcity and so they don’t have enough money to withdraw.
“A lot of businesses here crumbled; I also experienced losses, and it’s only when you have money you can withdraw,” he said.
BusinessDay had earlier reported that the cash scarcity led to long queues at banks, failed online transactions and limited business activities across the country, causing losses for individuals and businesses.
He said a lot of people rushed into the PoS business thinking it was lucrative during the cash scarcity.
“A lot of people that rushed into the PoS business will close because they won’t be able to make as much as they used to during the scarcity,” he said.
He said that before the scarcity, he was able to save more compared to now.
“My personal daily savings before the scarcity was N15,000; now I save N6,000 to N7,000 daily. Before the scarcity, I could do up to N1 million transactions in a day; between 6:30am and 8am when the bank opens, I would have exhausted N300,000 and then go back to withdraw N700,000, which I exhausted by 8pm in the evening,” he said.
He pointed out that although more cash is in circulation now, some banks only allow a maximum withdrawal of N20,000.
“With a corporate account I’m able to withdraw over N500,000, but it’s not the case for other PoS agents, I believe things can go back to normal if the CBN totally removes the ban because some banks only do N20,000 for individual accounts,” he said.
Another PoS agent said they are not getting as much cash from the banks because of restrictions.
“Although the withdrawal limit has been removed, you still can’t withdraw more than N500,000 weekly except if you own a corporate account,” Bolanle, a POS agent at Obalende, said.
“I used to do up to N300,000 daily before the scarcity but now I do little over N50,000. Before the scarcity, I used to have at least 100 customers in a day; now I barely get 50 customers. I even have to accept lower charges, so they don’t go to other places because we are plenty here,” she said.
She said she does not make as much gain as she used to because the price of paper has doubled and data is more expensive.
“PoS paper is now N1,700, from N800, and data is more expensive compared to before and we also settled the task force; so all of these are additional costs,” she said.
Another PoS agent at Ajah Bus Stop, Christiana, said a lot of people started the PoS business during the cash scarcity.
“We were 21 doing PoS business in this bus stop, and there aren’t enough banks here so we have to go all the way to VI to get money,” she said.
“Now when people bring cash to put in their account they’ll be asking for a commission saying they are doing us a favor. Meanwhile we will be charged for the deposit, it’s also one of the reasons why it’s not as profitable as before,” she added.