Nigeria's apex bank has directed that banks and payment service providers are required to accept all transactions from any card issued by any Nigerian bank.

In a circular issued Tuesday on the Interoperability and Interconnectivity of the Payments System Infrastructure in Nigeria, the central bank gave the directive based on the provisions of the guidelines on operations of electric payment channels issued in 2020.

According to the guidelines, all certified payment acceptance devices, including all POS terminals deployed in Nigeria are required to accept all transactions arising from any card issued by any Nigerian bank.

The directive to achieve interoperability between banks is said to be in response to complaints that a number of the acceptance devices deployed by banks discriminate between payment cards.

ATM cash withdrawals limits

In related news, the country's central bank has capped the daily withdrawal limit from automatic teller machines (ATMs) to ₦20,000 Naira ($45), a massive step down from the previous limit of ₦150,000 Naira ($337) per day.

Weekly cash withdrawals from banks were also restricted to ₦100,000 Naira for individuals and ₦500,000 Naira for corporations, while any amount above that limit will attract a fee of 5% and 10%, respectively, according to the central bank.

The apex bank says the move is to reduce the amount of physical cash (coins and notes) circulating in the economy and encourage more electronic-based transactions (payments for goods, services, transfers, etc.)

"Customers should be encouraged to use alternative channels — Internet banking, mobile banking apps, USSD, cards, POS, eNaira to conduct their banking transactions," the central bank stated in a circular.

Earlier in October, the apex bank issued draft guidelines for contactless payments in Nigeria to ensure that banks, other financial institutions, and payments service providers implement appropriate risk management processes and measures.

There are concerns that these new rules, which take effect on January 9, 2023, will severely limit the use of cash, disrupting the operations of many MSMEs in the country.

However, it could also be a bold step toward pushing Nigerians to embrace digital cashless transactions over cash payments, allowing merchants and retail businesses to tap into the growing trend of crypto payments around the world.

Reporting by Emmanual Oyedeji; Editing by Loy Okezie