Saturday, March 24, 2012

CASHLESS OR CASHLITE: HOW MUCH WILL WE LOSE IF TO SOLVE A NAGGING PROBLEM WE DISTORT THE MARKET IN QUESTIONABLE WAYS.


Those who are conversant with the news from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) know that one major headache it has is that there are too much cash in the hands of the public. I keep wondering how the CBN intends solving that generational problem.

The recent move to indirectly tax the rich by placing limits on cash withdrawals might result in unforeseen effects for the government that were not predicted.

THE TASTE OF THE PUDDING IS…

The demand for cash will not increase inexorably if substitutes exist. If we compare the opportunity cost of the touted substitutes with that of cash, which will be higher, for transactional and debt payment purposes? Laughable!

I do not see POSes all over satellite town where I live. ATM usage is increasing but should I have to walk to a bank every time I want to collect money, when I was doing that with cash? Where are the ecommerce websites? Even if you want to pay for services and products abroad, some banks still ask for domiciliary account.

Rather than place a hidden tax on cash, would it not be better the CBN carries out this experiment on themselves, with banks and other financial institutions rather than the non-banking public?

How? It should start a process of curtailing or rationing the amount of cash every bank and branch can release to the public. Above that limit, any customer would be made to realize that, “there are substitutes out there, why not use them?” Rather than force customers to bear the burden, we want the banks and the CBN to show they are sincere in its assertion that the substitutes are cheaper and easier.

If cash are rationed such that substitutes seem cheaper, would we see a queue behind ATM machines? That is the test. Would my mobile money account reflect my new bank balances, where I am forced to use them because “cash is not enough at the counter?” That is the test of the exercise. As people say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating.

Take away the cost from the customer and bear the cost, mighty CBN, so that the better bank will win and the loser banks will be at your doorsteps for carrying out a program that crippled its business.

FREEDOM TO CHOOSE IS CENTRAL TO THE SUCCESS OF A CAPITALIST ECONOMIC SYSTEM

If the Government and CBN fail to realize that freedom to choose is key to the success of a capitalist economic system, then it is playing a game which secondary effects we might never know until we are back to level zero. By taxing them from the word go, the people are not free to choose what payment method they want – cash or the touted substitutes.

Placing a limit on withdrawals affects no other sector but the public consuming sectors. Why not the banking sector?

Placing a price on withdrawals affects no other sector but the public consuming sectors. Why not the banking sector?

I wonder why the CBN should not bear the responsibility and burden for a program it wants and dearly seeks to solve; why throw it onto the public. Because she is afraid it might fail?

Fear thee not, CBN. Phase out the long drawn talk about cashless or cash-lite, give us substitutes and make them cheaper than cash. We’ve had enough burdens for one quarter.

Note before: I have not read the CBN document on cashless and think it is a waste of time. Six months from now, I might download it for reading.


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