This piece is interspersed with comments taken off Twitter

Piont of Sale (PoS) service operators continue to do brisk business dispensing money at cut throat rates to millions of Nigerians who are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain cash from banking halls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country.

Investigations around the country, up till Thursday morning, reveal that PoS operators are charging as much as N200 commission per N1,000 and N2,000 commission per N10,000 dispensed to customers in old and new currency notes. The charges are even higher in some locations.

The said charges are 100 percent higher than the standard charges of N100 for transactions up to N5,000 and N200 for transactions up to N10,000 and so forth.

“In my entire neighborhood, only a Muslim lady is still charging N100 for withdrawals less than 5k via POS.
May God bless her and her kind.”

This comes in the face of the cash swap exercise, following on the redesign of Nigeria’s currency, the naira, which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says is to forestall, counterfeiting, terrorism and other unwholesome acts.

“These people also pay bank staffs to collect money. New or old. Someone today complained of how she had to pay 8k to collect 150k.”

Long, fruitless waits and chaotic scenes, often escalating into skirmishes, have become commonplace in banking halls and at ATM points all over the country, as banks are failing to meet the demands of customers.

“Imagine spending half a day in queue just to collect 20k from ATM and u expect the charges not to go up because I’m a Christian? Abeg”

PoS operators are however able to navigate through the maze and bottlenecks and obtain cash, which they then cap with premium commissions and dispense to anxious Nigerians who are only too glad to have cash in hand and save time.

These customers find the experience most costly though.

“Not even that,  Someone i know went to the bank to withdraw for her POS business ,she withdraw 150k new notes and they charge her extra 10k making 160k total. And how do you think she will recover her money.”

The PoS operators are said to obtain much of their cash through insider deals with unscrupulous bank officials who are unable to resist the lure of cash inducements. It is further alleged that in some cases, the bank officials own the PoS operations and operate them by proxy, ensuring from the inside that they never run dry of cash.

“POS operators are charging people 500 to withdraw new N5,000 and 1,000 to withdraw new N10,000.

Filling stations are selling fuel for N400 to N500 per litre.

Nigerians are the problems of Nigerians, not only the leaders. The leaders were common people before they got there.”

The PoS operators are said to also obtain cash after prolonged quequing to draw cash from ATMs, taking from several accounts at a time and by mopping up cash from businessmen and traders who transact in cash and often have excess liquidity.

“In makurdi some of them are charging 500 to withdraw 5000 old notes”

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Industry watchers says these alleged insider deals raise questions as to the integrity of the workings of Nigeria’s deposit money banks and cast a shadow upon the oversight  operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) the industry regulator.

“The main reason we are not ready for change, majority keep shouting go get your PVC when the change we desire begins with us. If we stand together as people to reject paying banks to get cash, the rubbish won’t last more than a day.”

The cash crunch emanating from this ordeal is having a spillover effect on supply, access and pricing of a wide array of goods and services, including food and transportation, to Nigerians across the board.

“If you are not comfortable with their charges, get yourself to the ATM gallery to withdraw for yourself. You have no idea what those guys go through to get 20k.”

There are about 955,234 PoS terminals deployed in Nigeria, as of January 2022 according to data from the Nigerian Interbank Settlemment System (NIBBS). As such it is common to find one ATM or more on every major street in the country’s bigg cities.

“I collected 3K for #200 from a Muslim guy here in Kaduna and it is old notes ooo. Instead for you to praise the good character of that lady you want to make a religious thing. Shame on you. Both religions is packaged with good and bad. Sincere and insincere. Godly and wicked ones.”

The growth of mobile money and PoS terminals is evidenced by ready availability as it has become the most accessible form of payment.

Data from the NIBSS, further shows that PoS transactions in the first seven months of 2022 totaled N4.61tn. For withdraws or tranfers PoS operators typically charge N100 for transactions up to N5,000 and N200 for transactions up to N10,000 and so on and so forth.

This brings the total cost charged for PoS transactions within the said first seven months of 2022 to about N92.2bn.

It is said that as at 2020 there were 18,810 ATMs operating in Nigeria. According to data from the Nigerian Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the total number of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Nigeria as at September, 2018 was 18,321, while the total number of transactions performed came to 650.06 million and the total value of the transactions came to N4.76 trillion.

It is thought that were these ATMs duly loaded over time, they would be enough to deliver significant reliefs to Nigerians by way of the dispensation of physical money in the course of the cash swap exercise.

In Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre, Wednessday, there were reports of banking halls and ATM points being crowded and chaotic.

In Opebi, long queues were reported at Keystone Bank’s ATM points on Wednesday. In the same neighborhood, there were reportedly also long queues at Zenith Bank’s cash machines.

The situation was said to be largely the same in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Meanwhile, with eight days left for the 10 day currency swap extension granted by the CBN last Sunday to expire, there is still no sign of relief on the horizon or that teeming Nigerians will not continue to suffer untold losses in material and time, and find themselves stranded.

The thinking in financial circles is that if the CBN, would simply ‘crunch the numbers’- examine and analyse the numbers, it could determine exactly howmuch money is available in the new and old currencies and how and when to dispense and through what channels without causing the populace so much anguish. Afterall, this is the tech age.