Limiting over-the-counter cash withdrawals

Limiting over-the-counter cash withdrawals
John Awuah

Bankers want deeper stakeholder engagement for possible directives

Bankers have suggested that any discussion on possible introduction of limits on over-the-counter cash withdrawals must have a deeper engagement with the central bank and banks’ customers to build consensus on rationale and the quantum limit.

The Association of Banks believe that directives on cash withdrawals will go a long way to drive traffic to other channels which banks have already invested in to provide convenience and safety of transactions to the public, and thus significantly reduce the spate of robbery attacks on customers who make large cash withdrawals from their bank branches.

John Awuah, CEO of the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), recently raised the issue of working with the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to come up with a directive to reduce high volumes of cash withdrawals by bank customers with the attendant risk of robbery.

Speaking to the B&FT in an interview, Mr. Awuah noted that proper stakeholder engagement will have to be done to decide on the actual amount or limit; and the best time to introduce such a directive that will be suitable for all the stakeholders involved, and thereby receive the needed public endorsement.

“I believe to be successful, engagement with all parties will be necessary; we will therefore need the banking sector regulator, banks and customers to come to a common understanding of the problems imposition of the limit will seek to resolve,” he said.

To him, a directive of this nature will help reduce customers’ footprints in banking halls, drive the cash-lite agenda of the financial sector and government, keep COVID-19 at bay – and ultimately reduce the activities of criminals who thrive on these vulnerabilities.

There have been recent reports of armed robbers attacking clients of banks after these customers make huge withdrawals from banks. These robbers monitor the movement of people and pounce on them the moment they leave the premises of their banks.

“A directive in this direction would be appropriate for the industry and also for users of our banking facilities; and you will agree with me that banks have invested heavily in alternative banking channels, but changing behaviour is a difficult thing to achieve. Banks have done these investments, and directing customer traffic onto those platforms has not been an easy task for them,” he stated.

To Mr. Awuah, it is riskier to go to the banking hall, make a withdrawal and proceed to make payments for goods and services to suppliers and individuals who are bank account holders themselves – when the alternatives include sitting in the comfort of your home, office or any location and effecting transfer of funds from your account to any bank account or mobile money account instantly.

“You will need transport, in most instances, to move from your location to the bank branch for any cash withdrawal; thereby inviting the risk of robbery, cost of transport and the inconvenience of halting activities to make the journey. Carrying money even across the street to the nearest branch of a bank is a dangerous practice that must not be entertained,” he stated.

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