in Lagos was meant to change the way we do business transactions that involves the
use of cash. It has long been established that one of the reasons for rising
inflation was the fact that too much money in circulation drove up prices of goods
and services. Other reasons for propagating the cashless policy were mounting
security concerns and the rising cost of cash transactions in the banking system.
The CBN, to encourage individuals and corporate bodies to embrace the cashless
policy, fixed the maximum cash an individual could withdraw or deposit in a day at
N500 000 and for corporate bodies, N3 million. Withdrawals or deposits above the
threshold would attract a surcharge.
While the policy itself has its benefits, there was the need to convince Nigerians
to embrace it. Here is a society that is used to transacting business in cash, no
matter the amount of money involved. So convincing it to use new but better
alternative channels was definitely going to be a tough call in terms of
communications. In identifying this, CBN called a pitch for the Cashless Lagos
campaign, which was won by one the nation’s foremost advertising agencies, Prima
The campaign so far has been running and it has entailed a massive multi-media
approach, making use of different tools of communication to get the message to sink
in. As it is running in the print media, so also are the radio and television
versions. Out-of-home channels have also been deployed. For instance, the “Iyaloja”
(market women leader) motif in the radio version tells the story of the advantage
of going cashless. It is about the “big madam” who kept millions of naira at home
and lost the money to fire.
Similarly, banks too have been trying to outdo themselves through advertising
campaigns about their readiness to go cashless. BusinessWorld, a business
newspaper, in collaboration with the CBN, recently organised a fair on the cashless
campaign, during which banks seized on the opportunity to showcase their readiness
in ensuring that the policy effectively took off.
It must be admitted that the campaign seems to be having the desired effect in some
ways, as some organisations and corporate bodies have started discouraging cash
payments for transactions or have set dates by which all transactions would have to
be effected electronically. For instance, MultiChoice Nigeria, owners of the DSTV
pay television channels, has set June, next month, as the deadline for acceptance
of cash at their different super dealer centres for subscription renewals and
purchase of decoders. Some super market chains in Lagos have also reduced
transactions strictly to the use of POS machines.
However, a closer review of the campaign shows that they are far from achieving the
desired objective. In conceptualisation, the campaign was supposed to be a mass
media campaign that communicates and connects with different strata of the society,
but in execution, it is elitist. And it is obvious that this was not the motive of
those who launched the campaign.
Some consumers, who spoke to THISDAY in Lagos, wondered how the system would work
in rural areas and communities. Mr. Godwin Ibekwe, a spare parts dealer in Ogba,
though appreciative of the fact that the situation would discourage members of the
public from carrying cash around, he feared that infrastructure problems arising
from network failure and erratic power supply could be stumbling blocks to the
Another consumer, Mrs. Grace Adikwu, said she was yet to understand how the
operation would work, as there are millions of people who are still not aware of
the policy or cannot come to term with how it would work. “As I talk to you, the
issue of cashless policy is still like a mirage to some market women. To a large
number of our people, the belief is that the cashless policy is a service that
would only be rendered in the big stores and companies” she said.
But for the chief executive officer of the Total Aluminium, Mr. Frank Owelle, the
cashless policy is an initiative that would help Nigerians overcome a lot of
problems. According to him, aside security, the initiative will ease transactions
A marketing communication analyst, Mr. Gani Olowu, however, faulted the campaigns
that are currently being run to educate the public. He argued that some of the
creative and television commercials were not conceptualised to connect with the
common people on the streets. To this end, the practitioner urged CBN and its
creative agency to go back to drawing board and come up with something that would
connect with all segments of the society. Also, the Chartered Institute of Bankers
of Nigeria recently called on the CBN to intensify the public sensitisation
campaign on the policy. Speaking in Ibadan, the Oyo State chairman of CIBN, Mr.
Abiola Alli, said the policy was not being adequately publicised.
Alli said that more needed to be done in the area of mass enlightenment as many
Nigerians were yet to be adequately enlightened on the initiative. “The central
bank needs to create a lot of awareness; they need to place a lot of jingles on the
radio and the television. People must be aware that this policy is coming up
because majority of these people are not even aware of the policy. “Even people in
urban areas, some of them are not aware that this policy is coming up, so you need
to do a lot of sensitisation programmes so that this people will become aware,” he
A brand analyst and editor of Brandpower, a marketing communication journal, Samuel
Ajayi, concurred, stating that the campaign in concept and execution was good but
something simply has not connected.
He said that he had listened to the messages of the campaign but the woman or man
who handles businesses in excess of hundreds of thousands everyday doesn’t seem to
understand what the campaign is all about.
He conceded that while POS machines have been taken to some points in Oke Aarin and
other markets in Lagos, he wondered if those traders who transact businesses in
excess of millions daily actually know about Cashless Lagos.
While many observers believe that the campaign still has a long way to go, they
suggested that its handlers needed to be more practical using the channel of
experiential marketing more, which will involve road shows and point-to-point
demonstrations on how the policy works and what it entails.
While this might translate to more money being spent on the campaign, perhaps it
remains the only option to make the campaign more embracing and for it attain wider
coverage. As it is, the policy is a laudable one and could positively change the
way business is conducted in this part of the world. However, the people must be
made to buy into it. That is where the challenge lies.