ELEVEN new international money transfer operators (Imtos) have been licensed to do business in the country’s foreign exchange market by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as part a drive to make bring back liquidity.
Over the last year, Nigeria has suffered from a dearth of foreign exchange due to the collapse in global oil prices, which has led to a chronic scarcity of foreign exchange. In response, the CBN has subsequently had to reduce the amount of foreign exchange it makes available to commercial bank and bureau de change’s.
This has had a knock-on effect on the Nigerian economy as businesses have been unable to make international purchases and individuals have been unable to go on holidays, pay the school fees of their children abroad or make global transactions. In a bid to ameliorate the crisis, the CBN has gradually eased its restrictions and the licensing of the 11 Imtos is the latest step in this process.
CBN spokesman Isaac Okorafor, said the licensing was in furtherance of the bank’s effort to liberalise the market and ensure liquidity by making foreign exchange more readily available to low end users. He restated the CB’s commitment to providing an enabling environment for international money transfer services in the country to participate in the market.
These newly licensed Imtos, who are to operate in line with the existing guidelines on international money transfer services include Trans-Fast Remittance, Worldremit, UAE Exchange Centre, and Wari Limited. Others include Homesend SCRL, Small World Financial Services Group, Weblink International, Cashpot, DT&T Corporation, FIEM Group LLC DBA Ping Express and CP Express.
Early this month, the CBN warned Nigerians at home and in the diaspora to beware of the activities of some unlicensed Imtos in the country. It said the warning became necessary following reports of illegal activities of these unregistered operators, describing their modes of operation as detrimental to the country’s economy.
Insisting that all such operators were expected to be duly licensed, the CBN said this would not only protect both customers and the financial system, but would ensure the credibility of financial transactions. Following the recent introduction of the new flexible foreign exchange policy, the CBN has also approved 16 commercial banks to participate in the market as primary dealers.