Naira scarcity forces CBN to order opening of banks on Saturdays, Sundays 

Customers queue to withdraw new banknotes in Lagos. Photo credit: Bloomberg

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed all commercial banks to open to customers on Saturdays and Sundays to ease the naira scarcity problems currently being witnessed across the country.

This was disclosed in a statement circulated by the apex bank on Friday, March 24, 2023, as it also assured that the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, is expected to personally supervise and ensure that banks’ doors are open.

The CBN also described it as fake, the news making the rounds that it has suspended the accounts of Fintech companies like Opay and Palmpay, while it equally confirmed the evacuation of banknotes from its vaults to commercial banks across the country.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has confirmed the evacuation of banknotes from its vaults to commercial banks across the country as part of a coordinated effort to ease the circulation of banknotes of various denominations.

“The CBN has also directed all commercial banks to open for operation on Saturdays and Sundays,” the CBN stated in a release from its Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Dr Isa AbdulMumin.

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He explained that a substantial amount of money, in various denominations, had been received by the commercial banks for onward circulation to their respective customers.

AbdulMumin also said that the apex bank had directed all banks to load their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) as well as conduct physical operations in the banking halls through the weekend.

“Branches of commercial banks will operate on Saturdays and Sundays to attend to customers’ cash needs,” he noted, adding that the CBN governor would personally lead teams to monitor the level of compliance by the banks in various locations across the country.

The bankers’ bank urged Nigerians to be patient, saying the current situation would ease soon with the injection of more banknotes into circulation.

AbdulMumin, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said that the viral news that it had suspended accounts of Fintech companies like Opay and Palmpay “is simply fake.”

In the viral news credited to AbdulMumin, but which has been debunked, it stated that the CBN was about to suspend accounts of the Fintech companies because they were being used to perpetrate fraud.

“Please if you are using Opay, Palmpay or any of these CHINA APPs or their POS, stop keeping much money in the account or stop using it.

“The CBN is about suspending their accounts because these apps are being used to perpetrate fraud,’’ the viral news read in parts,” the news said.

Consequently, Opay and Palmpay in separate social media publications have denied being under the networks of the CBN.

Opay and Palmpay licensed under the CBN mobile payment regulatory framework, are to provide mobile money services including mobile payment services to both the banked and unbanked and to drive financial inclusion.

In its post, Opay said that “the post mentioning the CBN shutting down our operations is false and misleading to the general public.”

Palmpay also posted a similar disclaimer, saying: “We are aware of news currently being spread on social media about CBN shutting down the operations of Palmpay. Please ignore all such misleading news of this nature.”