Nigeria’s central bank extends deadline to turn in old naira notes

Nigeria’s central bank will extend by 10 days a deadline for swapping old naira currency notes, it said in a statement on Sunday.

Nigerians will now have until Feb. 10 to turn in 1,000 ($2.17), 500 and 200 naira notes. The central bank (CBN) started releasing newly designed notes last month but many say they cannot find them at banks or cash machines.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, in a statement, said the new deadline would allow more of those in rural communities to exchange the old notes.

After the Feb. 10 deadline, the statement said, Nigerians would have a further seven days to deposit old notes directly with the CBN.

Nigerian legislators and opposition presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar had called on the central bank to extend the Jan 31 deadline. The latter said that an extension would help in “reducing the financial consequences for citizens”.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is still cash-reliant, particularly among the unbanked and rural communities. Many fear the push for new notes could disrupt business.

The CBN says recalling the notes is part of plans to reduce the use of cash. About 1.3 trillion naira in old notes has been deposited into the bank since the announcement in October, the bank has said.

SOURCE: Reuters

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