15 January 2013

Nigeria: Mastercard - 85 Percent of World's Retail Trade Still in Cash

Abuja — President, MasterCard Worldwide, Mr. Jay Banga, Monday lamented that 85 per cent of the world retail transaction were still in cash, a situation, which he linked to the root cause of all evil including corruption and terrorism in most parts of the world.

Speaking at a forum on cashless economy in Abuja, he praised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its boldness in championing the process of making the country a cashless hub, in view of the huge of cost of cash management and transaction.

Banga said political leaders at all levels, including banks, merchants and consumers must develop the will and support the cashless policy considering its immense benefits.

According to him, "It is not about technology, it is about the will of the people in government, banks, merchants and attitudes of consumers. It is all about us as a people."

He advocated for a public dialogue on the cost of cash in a move to give Nigerians a better understanding of the benefits which could be derived from a cashless economy.

Also speaking at the forum, an economic consultant and former banker, Opeyemi Agbaje, argued against the notion that electronic commerce was a challenge in the country.

He said: "First of all, the notion that it would be difficult to do transactions without cash is not true. I am challenging the notion that e-commerce is a challenge given that we have traders moving all over the place without necessarily using cash. It does not make sense for traders to be carrying cash all around

"There is a strong policy environment that is supportive of the strong fundamentals in terms of thinking of opportunities for e-commerce.

Continuing, he said: "There is a huge e-commerce opportunities in Nigeria. In Nigeria today, some people buy practically everything online except water. The banks even the JAMB no longer sell forms for cash. They have actually not done so for some few years now."

Agbaje, however, admitted that there were challenges facing the e-economy.

He said: "With the service mentality in the Nigerian market. Doing e-commerce transaction means you don't have some human beings in front of you, you are vulnerable, afraid and thinking that something could go wrong and when something does go wrong such as when your ATM card gets stuck in the ATM machine, it takes time for one to get his account credited after it was wrongfully debited or getting the card back.

"All these problems arise because of the infrastructure, power, communication and all of that. We also have concern on system integrity."

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