Central Bank Governor Milton A. Weeks is encouraging stakeholders to make use of the current payment systems rather than withdrawing huge amounts of cash from the banking system. Governor Weeks said the bank, and by extension Liberia, spends huge amounts of funds to print and import currency; distribute and collect currency. “If we can push our people towards a cash-lite society,’ Mr. Weeks noted, ‘this will prove beneficial to all concerned and will significantly improve efficiencies.” The CBL Executive made the disclosure Thursday, January 18, 2018, in Monrovia when he addressed a National Payment Systems Stakeholder’s Forum organized by the Central Bank of Liberia.
The Governor said the CBL looks forward to all stakeholders embracing the payment systems as a means of creating efficiencies that will lead to cost-savings in the long run. “Your commitment to this process will contribute to the stability of our financial system; reduce various associated costs and improve the security environment in which we transact,” the Governor pointed out.
He disclosed that the Central Bank of Liberia is contemplating applying charges for large cash withdrawals within the banking system. The measure, he said, is intended to serve as a disincentive to customers making large cash withdrawals from banks. The CBL Governor said such withdrawals could be avoided if individuals would only utilize the payment systems which are in place. He said the application of charges for large cash withdrawals by individuals is one of several initiatives being considered by the bank in 2018 to encourage customers to use the digital payment systems.
Meanwhile, Governor Weeks says the CBL made considerable progress in 2017, in the implementation of its financial inclusion agenda. He emphasized that the institution engaged banks and non-bank financial institutions to play key roles in the digital finance space, and expanded their agent networks, while being more innovative in carrying out mobile money activities. During 2017, the CBL Governor said there were further expansion of mobile money activities across the 15 counties of Liberia, with an increase in the agent networks from 2,110 in November 2016 to 3,162 as at October 31, 2017, representing an increase of 49.9 percent. Governor Weeks said the total number of subscribers or users of mobile money significantly increased over the period from 1,034,725 as at end of November 2016 to 1,709,436 as at October 31, 2017, which represents 65.2 percent increase in the subscriber’s base. The total mobile money transactions valued from January to October 2017 was US $20.4 million and L $12.85 billion.
The Thursday’s Forum brought together financial institutions, business houses, government agencies, educational and health establishments, utility companies, and mobile network operators. It provided them an overview of a modernized payment systems, including its status and opportunities.