The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has given order to resume cheque clearing in banks which was temporary suspended from March 31st, 2020 to “ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities” during the first 14-days lockdown.
It stated this in a circular to all the DMBs and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System issued on Monday, titled, ‘Temporary suspension of cheque clearing in the Nigerian clearing system’, which was signed by its Director, Banking Services Department, Sam Okojere.
The apex bank said the lifting of the temporary suspension placed on cheque clearing in the country with effect from Tuesday, April 28, 2020 is in furtherance of its effort in the development of a safe and efficient payment system in the country, it has lifted the suspension.
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In collaboration with relevant stakeholders, it added that “there was a need for cheque clearing to accommodate users of cheque as one of the payment instruments in Nigeria, despite the lockdown of some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).”
It stated, “In view of the development, the bank hereby lift the temporary suspension of cheque clearing in Nigeria. Consequently, cheque instruments will be allowed to pass through the clearing system, with effect April 28, 2020.”
Despite a drop in the adoption of cheques a prefered means of payment for most corporates, it still accounts for a monthly average of N373 billion or N4.4 trillion in transaction value annually. The average monthly volume of cheque transactions was about 651k in 2019.
With this new directive cheque payments are not allowed and companies can now start to issue cheques. Banks will, therefore, commence clearing of cheques via the designated clearinghouses. We also expect the staff of banks involved in the clearing of cheques to be allowed to return to work. Signatories of corporates who are currently working from home, will also have to allow employees access to their homes or preferred locations to sign cheques.