For Kamal Hassan, a Point of Sale (PoS) operator in the Hotoro area of Kano, this is the best time of his life. The current cash crunch created by the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has brought life into a business that was hardly able to generate income on a daily basis. Now, operators charge fees ranging from 10 to 20 per cent; hence their bank accounts are experiencing a boom.
“We thank God; it is just our time. As you know, every business has its own time to flourish.
“When we started this business we could hardly see people the way we are seeing them now. However, we were just surviving like that. But now, sometimes you even hide or switch off your phone because you cannot guarantee that you will serve people with what they are looking for – the cash,” he said with a smile when Daily Trust on Sunday visited him at his shop early last week.
Speaking about the improvement of the business over the past few weeks, Hassan said all he could do was thank God for the blessings despite the challenges of getting the money to give to people.
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In both Lagos and Kano, PoS operators say their business had improved due to the high demand for cash, especially the new naira notes. But with the scarcity of the new notes, demand for the old ones has persisted despite the general misgivings arising from the uncertainties surrounding the policy.
In one of the markets in Lagos, a PoS operator approached the owner of a big supermarket, as she hunted for cash. It was about 8pm. The shop owner, whose business is located in the Mushin market, said he could give her N100,000, in cash.
“The woman knelt down to thank me. I told her to transfer N106,000 to me for N100,000 and she agreed. This was happening around 8pm, and by early the following morning she was sure to sell the whole amount with at least N20,000 gain. That rate would give her a net benefit of N14,000,” he told Daily Trust on Sunday.
Before then, over last weekend he had given the sum of N100,000 in cash to his sister, a PoS operator based in the Ikorodu areas of Lagos, who came also in search of cash.
Hassan admitted that the business, which was becoming popular and growing by the day in the state, especially among youths, had seen rapid growth in the last few weeks as they have become the most sought-after by people who need their services.
Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the minimum being charged by these operators starts from N100 for every N1,000 to as high as N1,000 for every N10,000.
But another PoS operator, Zaid Muhammad, said he could not afford to charge less than N200 per transaction as that is what will cover the troubles gone through to get the money for the people.
“I won’t lie, I charge N200 for every N1,000 because I go through a lot to get it. If it is that easy, then let everyone go and get it.
“We are into a legitimate business and also helping our people. Imagine how things would be without us providing this relief,” he said.
Some residents are lamenting over the high rates being charged by PoS operators, while others thank them for providing them with little.
“These people are really doing good to us. I solely depend on them. Without them I don’t know what to do as far as cash is concerned.
“For the past month, it has been a PoS operator that is giving us (my family) what to spend on a daily basis. I am a very busy person, so I don’t even know where to start,” Mallam Aliyu Yahaya said.
Another female operator in Lagos said she charged N2,000 for N10,000. So, if a customer wants her to withdraw N10,000 from his or her account, she has to deposit it into the operator’s account at N12,000.
This has spurred interest in the business. Now, most retailers in the city have also added PoS machines to their shops or business places.
At the popular Ladipo motor spare parts market in Lagos, PoS business is booming as operators take advantage of the cash crunch to rake in cash. Some of the spare parts dealers have diversified into the cash business, deploying their brothers and sisters to canvas for funds. According to a source, some of them can mobilise up to N1million in a day.
Moses Uduma, a spare parts dealer at Ladipo, said this trend had been on now for nearly two months in the market. For N20,000 the operators charge between N2,000 and N5,000, he said.
“We buy money here. If you want N20,000 you have to transfer N22,000, sometimes N23,000 and they will give you N20,000. Sometimes you transfer N25,000 and they will give you N25,000 cash.
“All the PoS operators are using the opportunity to make a hell of money. They say that they too are buying the money. That is their excuse. Some groups of people are bringing the money to sell to them. Those people distribute the old money to the masses here,” Uduma said.
The cash crush is such that if a buyer transfers money to pay for goods, the receiver in some cases would demand additional money to pay for the retrieval of the payment at the receiving end.
A woman in Lagos said she transferred N10,000 to pay for the transportation of palm oil from Aba and she was asked to pay an additional N1,000 as withdrawal fee. She paid N25,000 for a 25-litre jerry-can of the oil by transfer, but it would have cost her about N18,000 if she had cash, she was told.
However, the provision of these PoS machines, as Daily Trust on Sunday observed, is also used to generate extra money in what can be termed a separate business for organisations, including filling stations that charge N50 on every PoS transaction.
Muhammad lamented that despite all the troubles the operators go through to get the notes from the banks, customers don’t seem to appreciate the services they render because of the rates they charge.
On the contrary, another resident, Yusuf Mukhtar, is of the opinion that most of the PoS operators get the money easily, and therefore, have no reason to trade it for an amount above what people are used to.
“Look, these people you are seeing have connections with bankers who give them this cash easily. Most of them are in business. So, I see no reason why they should join this useless policy to punish their own people also,” he said..
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