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Cash transactions time-consuming, inefficient, risky— Afiegbe, Visa Nigeria boss

The Country Manager of Visa Nigeria, leading global digital payment group, Mr. Emezino Afiegbe has explained that there are many reasons for the modern global economy to move away from a heavy reliance on cash.

In an interview in Lagos, he said “A unique study commissioned by Visa and conducted by Roubini ThoughtLab tells us why the use of cash is time-consuming, inefficient, and sometimes risky”.

“The research explains why cities around the world should consider moving toward digital payments and demonstrates the potential benefits of their increased adoption to consumers, businesses, and governments across 100 cities worldwide.

“In cities like Lagos, Nigeria, digital payment usage today is not very high. According to the research, 12 per cent of consumers are reportedly relying solely on digital payments in Lagos. In this city, which the report classifies as “cash centric,” consumers incur significant costs as a result of their dependence on cash.

“The report indicates that an average consumer in Lagos spends nearly 22 minutes per month on cash-related activities, whereas in Stockholm, Sweden, which is a world leader in digital payments usage, the average consumer spends less than half that amount of time. Adults living in cash centric cities are spending on average nearly 3.5 hours managing cash over the course of a year, while those in digitally leading cities spend under an hour.

Continuing, he noted that “Reduced time spent on banking activities is hardly the only benefit to consumers who rely more heavily on digital payments. Automated electronic bill payments can help individuals eliminate late fees, and when people carry cash less, they are less susceptible to cash theft.

Explaining more on whether the high cash-dependent culture of Nigerians is reducing given campaigns by industry players in the financial space, Visa Country Manager argued that “There is no country that has zero-cash culture, but I see the Nigeria case improving. Now, we are beginning to see reactions from consumers with respect to their acceptance of the digital platforms. Take for instance a vendor selling wares and shoppers queuing to pay. If the line isn’t moving, it is easy to imagine what happens next”.

“Time ticks by while the vendor counts the currency and distributes the correct change.

Afiegbe stressed that “Some customers may give up and leave, costing the store potential sales. At the end of the day, the shopkeeper spends considerable time counting currency, reconciling the amount of money in hand with the day’s sales, preparing to make a deposit at the bank and organising the cash in hand for the next day. He realises he is short and wonders if he accidentally gave incorrect change to a customer. In the evening, the shopkeeper walks through the busy market with a pouch full of cash, ever-aware of the risk of theft”.