By Joseph Ndifon
In the commercial town of Ikom, Ikom Local Government of Cross River State, a growing concern has emerged as residents grapple with a scarcity of physical cash. The issue revolves around commercial banking practices that prioritise disbursing cash to point-of-sale (POS) agents owned by bankers rather than facilitating withdrawals at bank counters and ATMs. This change in approach has left many locals (who relied on bank counters and ATMs for their cash needs) facing difficulties in accessing the cash they need for daily transactions.
The reasons for the reprehensible practice are not far-fetched; the surge in popularity of digital transactions and the convenience of POS services have led banks to channel more resources towards promoting these services, often at the expense of traditional withdrawal methods. The conflict of interest arises as many of these POS agents are owned by bank employees themselves. This has led to speculation that the allocation of cash to these agents may be influenced by internal connections, leaving customers without sufficient access to physical currency.
The situation has had far-reaching consequences for Ikom residents. Businesses that predominantly deal in cash transactions are particularly affected, as they struggle to maintain their daily operations. Furthermore, individuals who prefer or depend on cash for various transactions find themselves inconvenienced and frustrated by the limited availability.
Banks in Ikom and its environs should focus on enhancing the efficiency and availability of ATMs to ensure residents have reliable access to cash, adopt transparent practices in allocating cash to POS agents while ensuring fairness and equal distribution that benefits the entire community. They should also encourage digital transactions with deliberate efforts to enhance digital literacy among residents; helping them adapt to the changing landscape of financial services.
The scarcity of cash in Ikom raises critical questions about the balance between traditional banking services and emerging digital solutions. Striking a harmonious balance that ensures accessibility to cash for all residents, regardless of their preferred transaction method, is crucial for maintaining a healthy and inclusive financial environment.
About the author
Joseph Ndifon is a Public Affairs Analyst.