by Collins Nweze.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will, in the coming weeks, license 20 new International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) to handle an estimated $21 billion annual Diaspora remittances into the country, The Nation learnt yesterday.
The apex bank, the industry sources said, decided to enlarge the number of IMTO operators after it discovered the positive impact their operations were having on its commitment to stabilise the exchange rate.
President, Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadabe said the liberalisation of the foreign exchange market and previous licensing of more IMTOs, had helped to narrow the gap between official and parallel market rates.
He said the CBN increased the rate at which funds can be bought from the IMTOs, which was at N375 to a dollar last week, to N381 this week.
He said: “The CBN’s policy on IMTOs and Diaspora remittances is working. By increasing the rate at which dollars are bought from the IMTOs, more Nigerians in Diaspora are now sending more dollars home.
“I believe the attractive rate the CBN is paying IMTOs will boost Diaspora cash inflow into the country and will force the dollar rates against the naira down,” Gwadabe added.
The CBN had in August 31, licensed 11 IMTOs. The new entrants joined Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria, which were earlier cleared by the CBN.
The new operators are Trans-Fast Remittance LLC; WorldRemit Limited, UAE Exchange Centre LLC; Wari Limited, Homesend S.C.R.L, Small World Financial Services Group Limited and Weblink International Limited. Others are Cash Pot Limited, DT&T Corporation Limited, Fiem Group LLC DBA Ping Express and CP Express Limited.
In a statement announcing the new operators, the CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said the policy shift was in furtherance of efforts to liberalise the forex market, ensure liquidity and make foreign exchange more readily available to low end users.
He explained that the new operators were licensed in line with the existing guidelines on International Money Transfer Services in Nigeria (2014): The CBN also reiterated its commitment to providing an enabling environment for international money transfer services.
He said: “The CBN wishes to state, unequivocally, that it has not foreclosed the licensing of interested players in the IMTO space in Nigeria. “Therefore, interested applicants are required to forward their requests for licensing to the Director, Trade and Exchange Department of the CBN, in line with the CBN Guidelines on International Money Transfer Services in Nigeria (2014), which among other things, specifies the minimum technical and business requirements for various participants in the international money transfer services industry in Nigeria.”