Business

Stanbic IBTC top in cash withdrawal to customers

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By Tumininu Ojelabi Hassan

As Christmas is celebrated, and barely a week to 2024, Nigerians are currently distressed over another phase of cash crunch in the country as banks cut down on cash transactions. Many Nigerians, who are in desperate need of cash in preparation for the festive season have resorted to POS operators, who have increased their charges.

Despite the assurance from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that sufficient cash was in circulation across the country, Nigerians are still experiencing difficulties in withdrawing cash at the ATMs and in the banking halls.

Our correspondent, who visited branches of commercial banks at Magodo and Ketu on Wednesday, 20th December, 2023 observed that almost all the ATMs at these banks didn’t dispense cash, the maximum amount for over the counter withdrawal was N20,000 and below, however only a few banks allowed its customers withdraw N40,000 and above in the banking hall, and only Stanbic IBTC Bank, Ketu branch had a maximum limit of N100,000 for both ATM and over the counter withdrawals.

Our correspondent visited six banks on CMD Road, Magodo. At First bank, three ATMs out of the seven ATMs at the branch dispensed cash at the time our correspondent visited the bank, however customers could not withdraw beyond N40,000 while customers of other banks could withdraw only N10,000. The maximum amount of daily withdrawal in the banking hall was N10,000.

Hakeem Salau, a First bank customer, who wanted to withdraw N100,000 but could only withdraw N50,000, that is, N40,000 via the ATM and N10,000 in the banking hall shared his plight while speaking with our correspondent.

“I came to the bank to withdraw N100,000, when I tried to withdraw at the ATM, the security officer told me the maximum amount I could withdraw was N40,000. After withdrawing it, I went into the banking hall with the intention of withdrawing the remaining N60,000, but I was shocked when the teller told me I could withdraw only N10,000. I asked them what the problem was but I didn’t get any good explanation, all they said was there is no cash,” he narrated.

Proceeding to GTCO, customers, who needed cash urgently were disappointed as the ATMs weren’t dispensing cash and they only had access to a maximum amount of N10,000 cash over the counter. As customers approached the ATM gallery, the security officer told them the ATMs weren’t dispensing cash, those, who couldn’t enter into the banking hall to withdraw left while others entered the banking hall to withdraw.

Chioma Eke, a GTCO customer, who interacted with our correspondent, said she planned to withdraw N40,000 cash but, unfortunately, she could only withdraw N10,000 across the counter.

Likewise, at Polaris bank, no ATM dispensed cash when our correspondent visited the bank, however customers were allowed to withdraw a maximum amount of N5000 over the counter. Similarly, no ATM dispensed cash at Keystone bank, but the maximum limit on over the counter withdrawal was N20,000.

At Access bank, only one ATM dispensed cash at the time our correspondent visited the branch, about 21 people were waiting on a long queue at the ATM gallery. The maximum limit on ATM withdrawal for Access bank customers was N40,000 and N10,000 on each withdrawal, however the maximum withdrawal limit in the banking hall was N5000. Customers of other banks were limited to withdraw N5000 through the ATM.

Olumide Agoro, one of the customers, who spoke with our correspondent pleaded to CBN to treat the issue of cash scarcity as a matter of urgency to avoid getting cash strap during the holiday.

“I don’t understand why they like to frustrate us in this country. This is festive period when enough cash should be in circulation. We have been experiencing network issues with the mobile app and we can’t also withdraw enough cash. I have been here for over thirty minutes trying to withdraw cash but there are still over 10 people ahead of me. CBN should please fix this issue urgently, we can’t afford to be cash trapped during the holiday,” he bemoaned.

At Zenith bank, only one of the three ATMs dispensed cash during our correspondent’s visit to the bank. Customers had access to withdraw a maximum amount of N20,000 over the counter and through the ATM, while customers of other banks could only withdraw N10,000.

At UBA, Ikosi Road branch, the maximum ATM withdrawal limit on UBA accounts was N40,000, N20,000 on each withdrawal. The maximum amount for over the counter withdrawal was N20,000. According to the security officer, the ATM withdrawal limit for customers of other banks was determined by their banks, and the withdrawal limit was mostly N10,000 but the highest so far was N20,000

Our correspondent visited 13 banks in the Ketu area of Lagos state. At Stanbic IBTC bank, about 23 people were seated under the canopy, some were there for ATM withdrawals while others wanted to withdraw over the counter. The maximum amount customers could withdraw over the counter and through the ATM was N100,000 each.

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Abigail Medesse, one of the respondents, who had been waiting for over one hour, said she had no choice than to wait as she had no other alternative to get cash.

The maximum amount customers of Eco bank could withdraw both over the counter and ATM was N10,000 while customers of other banks had access to N5,000 cash through the ATM.

At Polaris bank, the maximum limit on ATM withdrawal was N50,000, N20,000 two times and 10,000 the last time. Customers of other banks were allowed to withdraw N20,000, N10,000 on each transaction. In the banking hall, N10,000 was the maximum amount customers could withdraw.

The situation at Sterling bank as observed by our correspondent was that none of the ATMs in the branch dispensed cash, however customers with Sterling bank accounts could withdraw a maximum amount of N50,000 inside the banking hall. It appeared that each branch had the discretion to determine its maximum limit, as another branch of Sterling bank pegged their at N30,000.

Like Sterling bank, none of the ATMs at Zenith bank dispensed cash. The security officer revealed that the ATMs had been dispensing N40,000 cash, N20,000 on each withdrawal to customers of the bank, and N20,000 to customers of other banks, however it stopped dispensing cash some minutes before our correspondent arrived at the bank. He, therefore, directed customers into the banking hall, where the maximum amount of withdrawal was N20,000.

Customers of FCMB, who were in the banking hall to withdraw cash had access to N20,000, which was the withdrawal limit. The highest amount customers could withdraw through the ATM was N40,000, N10,000 on each withdrawal. Customers of other banks had access to a maximum amount of N5,000.

The situation at Union bank was quite different as customers of the bank had access to withdraw a total amount of N120,000, that is, N50,000 withdrawal limit in the banking hall and N70,000 limit on ATM withdrawals. Customers of other banks had access to N20,000 cash, N5000 on each withdrawal.

Based on our correspondent’s observation at UBA, the long queue at the ATM gallery almost blocked the entrance into the banking hall. Due to this, customers had to join another queue to gain entrance into the banking hall. Two employees of the bank were present to control the crowd. The maximum amount on ATM withdrawal was N40,000, while customers of other banks had access to N20,000.

Similarly, at Unity bank, no ATM dispensed cash, but customers could withdraw a maximum amount of N45,000 over the counter.

At Fidelity bank, the maximum limit on ATM withdrawal and over the counter was N40,000 and N20,000 respectively.

To address the issues of cash scarcity across the country, CBN has issued a warning statement to banks and POS operators involved in unauthorized activities disrupting the seamless circulation of cash across the country.

“The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been drawn to alleged cases of collusion between some Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and Point-Of-Sale (PoS) operators affecting the availability of cash and disrupting the seamless circulation of the Naira.

The CBN frowns at such inappropriate actions by certain individuals and is investigating the reported cases capable of undermining the smooth running of the economy.

The CBN has, therefore, warned banks and PoS operators to desist from such activities as relevant sanctions shall be meted out to those found wanting,” the statement warned.

However, competent sources told our correspondent that the banks were only responding to the situation before them, and that the crisis may be part of monetary policy to curb inflation, which is at 28.2 percent, to stop it from crossing the 30 percent mark predicted by experts, as Christmas period is a time of massive spending by households.

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