The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved a new cheque standard that will introduce new digit on the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition code line and expiry dates for new cheque books.
Confirming this development is a recent mail by First Bank of Nigeria Limited to its customers titled ‘New features on cheque books’. In the mail, FBN said that the approved new cheque standard will fully take effect from January 1, 2021.
Recall that CBN had earlier emphasized its commitment to ensuring an enabling environment for efficient cheque processing and other paper-based payment instruments through complete application of new and already adopted technologies in one of its recently released report titled; “Monetary, Credit, foreign and exchange policy guidelines for fiscal years 2020/2021’’. Some of the highlights of the new cheque standard contained in the report are;
- Cheque Clearing: The Bank shall continue to improve the clearing infrastructure to increase the efficiency of the system. The cheque truncation system shall continue to be used for the exchange of images of the instruments and Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) data. The cheque clearing cycle remains T+1 and maximum cap on cheque at N10.0 million. The Bank will continue to take necessary steps to achieve a clearing cycle of T+0.
- Cheque Standards and Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme: The Bank has approved the revised Nigeria Cheque Standards (NCS) and Nigeria Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme (NICPAS), to improve the safety and efficiency of the clearing system. Notable changes in the revised Standards include introduction of Quick Response (QR) Code for faster verification of cheque details, expiry date of printed cheque booklet and clear zone at the back of the cheque.
The new and old cheque Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Guidelines for Fiscal Years 2020/2021 standards would run concurrently till September 1, 2020. Thereafter, only cheques that conform with the new standards would be allowed in the clearing system.
The Bank shall continue to conduct annual accreditation of the Nigeria cheque printers and cheque personalizers, in line with the provisions of the revised NICPAS.
CBN to drive implementation of zero balance account opening in banks
The CBN has urged the DMBs to allow zero balance for the opening of new accounts.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has urged the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to allow zero balance for the opening of new accounts, as part of the efforts to promote greater financial inclusion across the country.
In addition, the banks are also expected to simplify their account opening processes, while adhering to Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements in the push towards financial inclusion.
This disclosure was made in the Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Policy Guidelines for 2020/2021 fiscal year, which was issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
While stating that these measures are part of the efforts to encourage banks to intensify deposit mobilization during the 2020/2021 fiscal years, the apex bank also encouraged banks to develop new products that would provide greater access to credit.
A part of the report reads, “As part of its effort towards promoting greater financial inclusion in the country, the bank shall continue to encourage banks to intensify deposit mobilization during the 2020/2021 fiscal years. Accordingly, banks shall allow zero balances for opening new bank accounts and simplify their account opening processes, while adhering to Know-Your-Customer requirements.
“Banks are also encouraged to develop new products that would provide greater access to credit.”
In addition, the apex bank said that the Shared Agency Network Expansion Facility (SANEF), which was established to enhance the provision of financial services access points in under-served and unserved locations and drive financial inclusion through agent banking, would continue in the 2020/2021 fiscal years.
It states that banks, mobile money operators, and super-agents would continue to render returns in the prescribed formats and frequency to the CBN.
CRR: Banks suffer N917.5 billion debits in latest CBN action
The central bank debited Nigerian banks N917.5 billion last week in its latest CRR action.
Nigerian banks suffered a total of N917.5 billion in new CRR debits from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Reliable sources inform Nairalytics Research that the latest debits occurred in the week ended October 23rd, 2020.
The cash reserve requirement is the minimum amount banks are expected to leave retained with the Central Bank of Nigeria from customer deposits. In January, the CRR was increased by 5% to 27.5% by the CBN Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) who explained that the decision was intended to address monetary-induced inflation whilst retaining the benefits from the CBN’s LDR policy.
From the data, Zenith Bank topped the list with N285 billion followed by UBA with N160 billion. The rest of the FUGAZ, Access, FBN, and GTB were debited N140 billion, N95 billion, and GTB N55 billion respectively. The FUGAZ also suffered a N1.9 trillion debit in CRR sequesters in the second quarter of 2020 (April – June) alone.
Nigeria’s central bank has since 2019 debited Nigerian banks a chunk of their deposits as part of a mutually inclusive cash reserve requirement (CRR) and Loan to Deposit Ratio policy that is targeted at coercing banks to lend more to the private sector.
Last month, Nairametrics reported that the CBN now holds a total of N6.57 trillion in CRR debits from the nation’s top 5 banks a whopping 43% higher than the N4.58 trillion held in March and more than double the N3.5 trillion CRR debits as of December 2020. CRR debits in the third quarter of 2020 will be revealed when banks release their results in the coming days and weeks.
Meffynomincs: CBN under the leadership of Godwin Emefiele has deployed several heterodox policies as it strives to stimulate the economy and manage the exchange rate crisis in the absence of strong fiscal support.
- Interest rates on fixed deposits and money market instruments have fallen to single digits despite the galloping inflation rate.
- Last month, the CBN monetary policy committee admitted it was no longer combating inflation but will direct its policies towards stimulating lending to the private sector hoping this will spur local production.
- This policy has placed banks in the crosshairs with the Apex bank exposing them to CRR debits if they cannot use customer deposits to spur lending.
#EndSARS: Access Bank announces N50 billion interest-free facility for businesses
Access Bank Nigeria Plc has announced plans to offer N50billion interest-free credit facility to individuals and businesses.
Access Bank Nigeria Plc. has announced N50 billion in support of Nigerians through interest-free loans and grants to support communities, the youths, and micro, small and medium-sized businesses.
This information was disclosed by the bank through its official LinkedIn page.
The bank’s official statement read thus,
“Now more than ever, we remain committed to our purpose of impacting lives positively. In light of the recent occurrences, we will be supporting Nigerian businesses with 50 Billion Naira interest-free loans and grants. Watch this space for more information.”
Why it matters
The impact of the pandemic, coupled with the hijacked #EndSARS protests that led to the looting of businesses and destruction of properties has thrown so many Nigerians into debts.
This show of support from Access Bank will help alleviate and stimulate economic activities, as well as produce many positive multiplier effects on the economy.