By Mohammed Nasir Shuaibu (Bauchi State Correspondent)
Towards addressing the challenges associated with CBN's cashless policy as it affects the financial transactions of Village Saving and loans Associations (VSLAs), the Bauchi State Agency for Sustainable Micro-Finance has unveiled measures to forestall any perceived hardships that may arise as a result of the Cashless policy.
The Director General of the Agency, Alhaji Nura Muhammad Danmadami (Danmadamin Katagum), disclosed this to newsmen in his office, saying that the move has become imperative for the sustainability of the VSLAs in the State.
The DG said that currently, the Village Saving and loans Associations (VSLAs) deal with cash, where they save money and also collect loans in cash to engage in their petty trading, but that with the renewed cashless policy, the VSLA members found themselves stranded with no cash and any means of making financial transactions.
According to the DG, the VSLAs and their members operate a manual process of cash-in-box and most of the members do not have access to formal financial services of commercial banks which made them financially excluded.
“So, after studying the effects of the cashless policy on the performance of the VSLAs and their members, our Agency has reached out to partner with some formal financial institutions for the account opening process for members of the various VSLAs spread across the state.
“Not only have we created ease of processes of operations for the VSLAs and their members, but other intending VSLAs can also avail themselves of the opportunity of having cooperative registration and account opening options at the Agency.
“What we have here at the Agency is a one-stop-shop to facilitate all the processes of account opening for VSLAs, including cooperative registration of VSLAs and issuance of TIN numbers.
“Under our MIFIN program, it takes just about 24 hours for VSLAs to be financially inclusive, as against long months of waiting, to get VSLAs and their members registered and active with a functional bank account, in line with complying with the cashless policy that has come to stay”, Mallam Nura said.
The DG also revealed that the move by the Agency is aimed at making VSLAs financially included and also spurring them into having a functional bank account at both Associations and individual members levels, which they can leverage for their daily transactions.
He further explains that members of the VLSA group will have a functioning personal account and that VSLA groups will have a cooperative bank account with a POS machine attached to the account. He said members can use the POS machine to make additional income.
Other benefits attached to the process according to the DG, is that it will offer opportunities for Members of VSLA groups to have sound knowledge of how to make financial transactions using POS machines, ATM cards, or using USSD codes.
He also said that at least 2 people from each group will be trained on how to use the POS machine and have them further cascade the training to other members of the community.
The DG however called on all MIFIN partnering MFIs to take advantage of the Agency’s one-stop shop initiative to ensure that their VSLAs groups open bank accounts and are operating on digital financial inclusion to sustain their financial transactions during the cashless policy transition. NNL.