Sometime in 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took certain steps in order to encourage a cashless economy in Nigeria with Lagos as the pilot state. Till date, a lot more Nigerians still prefer to use cash rather than cards and even a great deal of store owners would prefer cash because they are not comfortable with the charges that comes with POS payments in addition to a number of reasons.
Before I get carried away talking about about those policies or what I think about them, I want to share what it is like attempting to be cashless in Kaduna. Kaduna implemented the cashless policy in 2014 but is it possible to go about your daily activity while cashless?
Is it possible to live cashless in Kaduna, or even anywhere in Nigeria?
Well, I tried to do it. For most parts of April and May, 2018 (when this article was initially written) and also at the start of this year. I deliberately avoided having huge cash sums except where it was extremely necessary. Here’s my experience on what it is like to be cashless in Kaduna.
Public transportation in Kaduna is still as it was almost 10 years ago. The major difference is that there are a lot more motorcycles and keke napeps (tricycles). For public transportation, you will most certainly make payments in cash. Ridesharing services are still yet to penetrate the Kaduna market and they seem like the closest means to incorporate cashless in the public transport space but till then, payment is “cash only”.
On the other hand, if you own a car or motorcycle, going cashless is not really a problem as most fuel stations now accept card payments. The fuel stations in the City Centre do accept card payments but it may be quite difficult finding that service as you go outside the city centre.
For train trips, the train station is still yet to adopt online payment so, you end up paying in cash for your train rides.
I still get most of my foodstuff from the market and all my payment is done with cash. I’ve also noticed that some of the sellers are very open to receiving money via bank transfer however, they are weary of being defrauded.
Recently, I tried to get all my foodstuff from stores but that has been a challenge. All the packaged foods can be gotten from the many superstores that have popped up around Kaduna and cashless payment is accepted. A few shops do sell fresh foodstuffs and accept transfers but I still have to go to the market and pay cash for things like ugu, carrots and other vegetables.
This is one of the very few areas that cashless has been truly embraced. Almost any store you go into is willing to accept payment via transfer or have a POS machine available for card transactions. Shopping in Kaduna is not a problem if you’re short of cash.
After shopping, restaurants and eateries are the next in line in embracing the cashless trend. If you’re hungry or want to eat out you really don’t have to think twice about sourcing cash. Almost all serious restaurants have some alternative to cash. I never worry about how to pay when I go out to eat. The only challenge could be that network could be unavailable.
Our healthcare system is largely “pay-as-you-sick”. A lot of people have to pay out of pocket whenever there is an issue and due to this, a number of hospitals currently accept bank transfers or have a POS machine at the front desk. I haven’t been to a lot of hospitals in Kaduna but I’ve noticed that a few private hospitals seem to have made provisions for cashless payment.
State Government Bodies
The Kaduna State Government has made some progress trying to go digital and it is actually possible to make certain payments without cash. I’ll start with the Kaduna State Traffic Law Enforcement Agency (KASTLEA) because I’ve had to pay a fine (don’t ask why). If you find yourself in violation of any traffic offence, you can pay with your card.
The Kaduna State Water Corporation (KADSWAC) also has POS machines at the Accounts Desks. If you still rely on the state for your water supply, you can pay your bills with your Debit Card.
Overall, I found it very possible although challenging to be cashless in Kaduna because most of my needs were within reach. If you have a car, then it is very possible for the bulk of your expenses to be via card or bank transfers with a mobile app or USSD code.
If your main means of transport is the bus or bikes in Kaduna, then you would be in need of cash. If you’re visiting Kaduna from another country and don’t have a VISA card, Verve card or MasterCard, attempting to be cashless will be quite a challenge. The main cashless means is bank transfers with the mobile app or USSD codes. Because you probably have no local bank accounts, this option may be non-existent for you.
If you’re looking at card payments, you should ask first if the POS in the stores work before going ahead with any purchases.
Do you live in Kaduna and have tried a cashless life? Please let me know about your experience in the comments. If you haven’t tried it, why not give it a try for a month.