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Central Bank of Nigeria extends deadline for people to swap their old naira notes for the new ones

30 January 2023
Reading time: 9 minutes

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced on Sunday, January 29, that it was extending the deadline for citizens to swap their old ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1,000 notes for the newly redesigned notes from January 31 to February 10.

The extension should come as a relief for many Nigerians, especially those living in the rural areas who have experienced great difficulty exchanging their money and have complained bitterly that the new notes are scarce and hard to obtain.

They said many small traders and shopkeepers were refusing to take their old notes and had been doing so long before the exchange deadline.

Because of the difficulties citizens were experiencing, the CBN had started a cash-swapping programme, mostly in rural areas, to fast-track the process.

The CBN, via its Twitter handle @cenbank, stated that “the Cash Swap Programme, cash swap, provides a channel for Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas or those with limited access to formal financial services, to easily exchange the old naira notes for the newly redesigned notes”.

The bank had partnered with super agents, deposit money institutions (DMBs) and mobile money operators (MMOs) to improve the exchange process. The new currency was also available at automated teller machines (ATMs).

The cash swap began on Monday, January 23, across rural areas in Nigeria, where consumers could exchange their old ₦1,000, ₦500 and ₦200 notes for the newly redesigned ones.

About 30,000 super agents had been deployed to help rural and vulnerable people exchange their money before the new deadline. The CBN had also offered a seven-day grace period beginning on February 10 and ending on February 17, allowing Nigerians to deposit their old naira notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would have lost its legal tender.

The cash swap agents, also known as agent banking representatives or Point-of-Sale (POS) agents, would be available for members of the public to exchange their old notes for new ones or make cash deposits into their bank accounts or mobile wallets, which would be credited shortly after a transaction was completed.

The maximum amount to be exchanged per person through the agents was ₦10,000. The agents would accept any amount higher than ₦10,000 but this would be treated as cash-in deposits. The agents would deposit the amounts either into the depositor’s bank account or mobile wallet.
If people did not have a bank account or a wallet, their consent would be obtained and an account or wallet would be opened for them and the amounts would be deposited accordingly.

Before opening accounts or wallets for consumers, agents were instructed to inform people about the account-opening or wallet procedures, as well as the various electronic channels available.

The cash-swapping programme was particularly structured for those in rural areas where no banks existed.
It was the cash swap agents’ responsibility to ensure the exchange of old notes for the new notes.

But, despite massive public awareness campaigns and the ongoing cash-swapping programme, many people in Borno State in the northeast told RNI that they were encountering major difficulties, the main one being unable to exchange the old notes for new ones because of the scarcity of the new notes.

They said their buying power had diminished seriously and that business activities and transactions were being crippled because of the scarcity of the new notes – and their inability to obtain them.
Residents and traders in the Damboa Local Government Area, where there were no banks, said they were dismayed, unhappy and angry.

Bukar Karagama, a resident, said: “The cash-swapping programme put in place by the CBN is a good policy and is helpful because we don’t have banks or any financial institutions here in Damboa. As a result, we don’t know where to take our old money to exchange it. But through the cash-swap policy we will be able to change our money.

“But still the new naira notes are scarce and, as a result, people’s business activities and transactions have come to a standstill. Rich people, who had piles of the old money, have already taken their money to banks in the city [Maiduguri], but those of us who do not have more than ₦6,000 of the old currency are still struggling to exchange our money.”

Fanna Modu, an elderly woman who lives in Damboa town, told RNI that many of the people were facing serious challenges in their day-to-day business activities because they could not make business transactions or buy goods and services with their old notes.

“Small traders and shopkeepers stopped taking the old naira notes before the deadline for rejecting them, which was January 31.

“Also, there are not enough of the new naira notes in the town. We thought the CBN would speed up the transition of the notes and it would take two or three days without difficulty but it has not happened.”

Ya Kaka, another elderly woman in Damboa, said: “Our situation is critical as small traders, especially food and vegetables sellers, have stopped taking the old naira notes and we don’t have the new naira notes. So, we will be very glad when the CBN agents swap our old money so that we can continue with our daily business activities and transactions.”

Abubakar Yunusa, a businessman and trader in Damboa town, said: “There is much confusion and panic among businesspeople and traders because of the scarcity of newly redesigned naira notes. In fact, it’s even affected the prices of products.

“For instance, people who sell sacks and livestock have changed the prices of their products. The products that used to cost ₦40,000 to ₦50,000 before are now being sold for ₦30,000 to ₦45,000 if you use the new currency. But if you want to buy their products with old naira notes, they sell the products at a higher price and sometimes they even reject the old naira notes and refuse the transaction. Honestly, most of the small traders are afraid to take the old naira notes because they don’t know if they will be able to exchange them before the cut-off deadline.

“The rich buyers, who have an abundance of both the old and new naira notes, are dictating what goes on in the market because if they buy goods using the new currency, they get it at a low price and if they use the old currency, they pay the actual price.”

Yunusa said there were not enough new naira notes in circulation.
“The few people who have the new notes are mostly big traders or businessmen, as well as POS agents, which people use to deposit, transfer or withdraw money.

“Both residents and traders are finding it difficult to deposit their old money because there are no banks in Damboa town. That’s why POS agents are making huge profits when they exchange the old notes for new ones. For example, if you want to swap ₦1,000 of the old currency with the new ones with POS agents, you will be charged ₦50. And if you want to swap ₦1 million, they charge ₦30,000.

“Therefore, we, as a traders and businessmen, are appealing to the federal government and the CBN to increase the availability and circulation of the new naira notes for the effective flow of business activities without any challenges.”

Residents of the Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno State have expressed concern about the unavailability of new naira notes which, they said, was hampering business activities and transactions.

Ba Alaji Tela Dikwa, a resident of Dikwa town, said: “It is extremely difficult to do business because the old naira notes are still in circulation and the newly resigned naira notes are scarce within the town. We don’t have the new naira notes and small traders and shopkeepers have stopped taking the old naira notes.

“We don’t know where we can deposit or swap our old money because there is no bank in the town. Even the POS agents have stopped taking the old naira notes. As a result, all business activities and transactions have become tough and challenging. We have a serious problem. The government needs to do something about it.”

Massa Dikwa, a resident of Dikwa town, told RNI that he had not even seen let alone touched the new naira notes.
“It is extremely difficult because traders and shopkeepers are rejecting the old notes and there are no new notes in circulation. Most people don’t have bank accounts or the means to do online transactions.”

Ya’ana Dikwa, a woman who lives in Dikwa town, said: “We don’t have the newly resigned naira notes in Dikwa town and traders and shopkeepers have stopped taking the old naira notes. The government must address the problem now by providing adequate new currency notes so that we can swap our old money for the new notes.”

Even residents of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, had expressed concern about the scarcity of new naira notes, saying there were challenges associated with exchanging the old naira notes in banks.
Babagana Mohammed, a resident, told RNI that he had gone to different banks several times but he still had not been able to exchange the old notes for the new currency.

“There are crowds of people and long queues. Now I have decided not to go to any bank again because of the challenges I faced. And you are charged a higher price if you want to swap your old money from POS agents.”

Ba Goni Usman, from Maiduguri, said: “We are in a difficult situation because if you go to any bank within the city you see long queues of people – more than 200 to 300. In fact, some people are even observing their five daily prayers inside the bank.
“I spent four to five days moving from one bank to another but I didn’t even get a chance to enter them because of the huge crowds.”

Mohammed Jidda said he had spent three days going to various banks but he had still not exchanged his old notes for new ones because of the long queues.
“And you will spend the whole day if you want to withdraw the new naira notes from an automated teller machine [ATM] because of the long queues and crowds of people. It is extremely difficult and most of us are suffering. It is frustrating.”

Isa Grema told RNI that even if people went to the banks early in the morning and spent the whole day there, they were still unable to exchange their money or withdraw the new naira notes from the ATMs because of crowds of people and long queues.

“We are begging the government to do something about it as we are not ready to lose our hard-earned money.”


About the author

Mbodou Hassane Moussa

Journaliste de formation et de profession. Passionné par l'écriture, le digital et les médias sociaux, ces derniers n'ont aucun secret pour lui. Il a embrassé très tôt l'univers des médias et de la Communication. Titulaire d'une Licence en journalisme et d'un Master en Management des projets, Mbodou Hassan Moussa est éditeur Web du journal en ligne Toumaï Web Médias. Aujourd'hui, il est devenu Webmaster à la Radio Ndarason internationale et collabore à la réalisation du journal en langue française et dialecte Kanembou.