Retailers’ big dilemma as D-Day for old generation Sh1,000 banknote nears
Supermarkets and entities that receive large volumes of cash everyday are in a Catch-22 situation on how to deal with sales on the last day of trading with the old Sh1,000 note.
Two weeks to the deadline, retailers now want the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to give them the way forward on how to deal with the ongoing demonetisation of the old-generation Sh1,000 note, which will cease to be legal tender on September 30.
They say they may be forced to reject the old currency days before the deadline so that they are not caught up with large volumes of cash that will become worthless overnight.
Naivas chief executive officer Willy Kimani told the Nation in an interview that, besides fake cash, the biggest concern for retailers is how to deal with the old notes they will collect on the last day given that supermarkets receive a lot of cash.
“The biggest concern for us is deadline day. We may be forced to stop accepting old notes earlier,” Mr Kimani said, adding that retailers have invested heavily in training their staff on differentiating fake from genuine cash.
Mr Kimani said only one of his stores was hit by the fake-currency syndicate in the initial days of rolling out the new-generation notes but it was immediately reported. He said cashiers have been trained and it is their responsibility to ensure that they do not get conned.
CBK did not respond to our inquiries on what supermarkets are expected to do. It has however put up a mobile-based SMS campaign reminding consumers to ensure they return the old Sh1,000 notes before the deadline.
Nakumatt Holdings’ administrator Peter Kahi says the retailer has trained its employees to detect fake currency and has not received any fake-cash incident in any of its branches.
To deal with the last-day nightmare, Kahi says he plans to bank all the cash collected on September 30 so that the retailer is not left with valueless money the following day.
This comes at a time when fake new-generation banknotes have hit the financial market weeks to the September 30 deadline as imitators rush to beat the Central Bank at its own game. Investigations by the Nation revealed that the counterfeiters are getting better with every revision.
The fake money syndicate, which began in Murang’a, has spread its tentacles into Nairobi and Kiambu counties, taking advantage of traders’ naivety.
It was hoped that the introduction of new notes would disrupt the multibillion currency counterfeits business and the fraudsters’ agility at imitating the new notes in a short span of time is bound to be a big blow to efforts to rid the country of dirty and fake money.
Small traders and those running M-Pesa shops have been the easy targets of the counterfeiters, who have now come up with fake versions of the new Sh100, Sh500 and the Sh1,000 notes.
In July, police in Kandara, Murang’a County, arrested two men and a woman who were found with fake money in two separate incidents.
In one incident, a man and a woman were nabbed making rounds in Kandara, conning mobile money transfer agents with fake new-generation currency.
Kandara OCPD Paul Wambugu said the two had conned an agent at Naaro shopping centre where they deposited Sh7,000 and later at Kaburugi where they tried to deposit Sh10,000 only for the attendant to realise that the money was fake.
Almost every week, the DCI through its Twitter handle, reports one incident or the other of fake-money arrests, but the most counterfeited are Kenya shillings and US dollars.
Last week, detectives seized over Sh2.7 million in fake currency in Ngurubani, Mwea East from a bonnet of a Mazda Demio driven by 33-year-old Job Arwa Omondi. Detectives also confiscated assorted bottles of chemicals believed to be used in processing the fake old Sh1,000 notes.
On the same day, over Sh200 million in fake US Dollars, Euros and Pounds was confiscated in Kileleshwa by officers acting on a tip-off. One suspect, 27-year-old Bobby Kariuki Kimani, was arrested.
Another fake currency syndicate was busted in Bungoma last week involving DCI officers, showing how deep the syndicate is, after a senior police officer was arrested with Sh4.3 million in fake foreign currency.