BREAKING: CBN removes exchange rate cap for International Money Transfer Operators
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued a new circular that removes the previous cap on exchange rates quoted by International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs).
This follows a circular issued by the central bank addressing suspected cases of excessive foreign currency speculation and hoarding from Nigerian banks.
The circular titled Removal of Allowable Limit of Exchange Rate Quoted by the International Money Transfer Operators dated September 13, 2023, marks a shift towards a more liberalized foreign exchange regime in Nigeria.
“The circular with reference TED/FEM/PUB/FPC/001/009 dated September 13, 2023 states that International Money Transfer Operators are required to quote rates within an allowable limit of -2.5% to +2.5% around the previous day’s closing rate of the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market.
However, in line with the CBN’s commitment to liberalize the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market, IMTOs are hereby allowed to quote exchange rates for naira payout to beneficiaries based on the prevailing market rates at the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market on a willing seller, willing buyer basis.” CBN
These policies appear to be aimed at addressing Nigeria’s forex liquidity challenges and the resultant exchange rate depreciation which closed at N1,455/$1 on Wednesday, January 31, 2023.
Why the change?
Previously, IMTOs were required to quote rates within a permissible range of -2.5% to +2.5% around the previous day’s closing rate of the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market.
This regulation was aimed at maintaining stability and consistency in exchange rates used for international money transfers.
However, the latest circular from the CBN indicates a policy change. IMTOs are now allowed to quote exchange rates for naira payouts to beneficiaries based on the prevailing market rates at the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market.
This approach follows the principle of a “willing seller, willing buyer” basis, meaning that exchange rates will be determined by the market forces of supply and demand without a fixed cap.
What this means
The removal of the -2.5% to +2.5% cap represents a significant step by the CBN towards liberalizing the foreign exchange market in Nigeria.
This move is expected to encourage more transparent and market-driven exchange rates, potentially leading to more competitive pricing for customers engaging in international money transfers.
Sources familiar with the policy informed Nairametrics that the recent changes aim to encourage International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) to bring their foreign exchange (forex) supply into Nigeria, rather than keeping it abroad.
Previously, due to exchange rate limits, diaspora Nigerians using IMTOs to send money home couldn’t sell forex at market rates, leading to reduced forex liquidity in Nigeria.
Now, with the removal of these limits, the apex bank believes IMTOs can trade forex at prevailing market rates, including rates similar to the black market, thereby increasing forex inflow into Nigeria.
This development is likely to have implications for the foreign exchange market in Nigeria, affecting both individuals and businesses engaged in international transactions.
The CBN’s decision reflects the CBN’s move towards a more flexible and market-oriented foreign exchange environment, which they believe could contribute to the overall health and efficiency of Nigeria’s financial sector.
Circular on allowable limit of exchange rate quote_240131_211923
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