Wednesday, 1 August 2012

I Want To Touch My Money

I couldn't help but keep thinking on the way the Central Bank Of Nigeria is pushing hard for the adoption of electronic money in Nigeria. I mean, why the relentless push? First of all, I am not trying to resist change, being a software developer, I should be in support of innovative use of technology but my view is that it shouldn't be pushed down people's throats.

When ATMs were introduced, the CBN never forced people to start using it. ATM got traction because it's value is obvious. It saves you a lot of time you would have spent on a queue in a banking halls. It also lets you withdraw cash anytime of the day.

So I was thinking, is the CBN pushing us to the right direction with it's cashless policy? To answer that we have to consider the qualities needed for something to qualify as good money. Apart from the well known qualities of money like acceptability, portability, durability and homogeneity, modern money should be easily transfered from the physical form to electronic form and back to the physical form. This is not magic or science fiction, we have been doing it for some time now. When we put physical cash in a bank account we are in essence transforming it to electronic form. We can electronically transfer that money to somebody else's bank account and the receiver can cash it, or in order words transform it back to physical money.

The ATMs were successful because they allow us to get money in it's physical form that we can see and touch. People don't want their money to be kept simply as records on some server.

This is me, a person with a fair understanding of electronics and computers being uncomfortable with the cashless policy, how about the local cattle dealer in Maiduguri that transacts in millions and takes his money to the bank in grain bags?

I think what the CBN should do is to make the cashless thing so attractive that people will opt in on their own. And I don't think they can do that by eliminating cash.

The bottom line is, my money should be available whether their is a functioning Internet access or not, whether there is electricity or not. As far as I know now, that can only be in physical cash.

Please tell me if I'm wrong.