May 8, 2021

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Int’l Flight Resumption: Bureau de change services begin under strict Covid-19 protocol

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, will tomorrow Monday, 7th September, flag off gradual sales of foreign exchange to licensed Bureau De Change, BDC, operators. In the same vein, the leadership of BDC operators has called on CBN to allow its members carry out online documentation to avoid physical contact with buyers due to the pandemic.

At a webinar organized by the CBN for the BDC operators, and with the theme, “Resumption of Foreign Currency Sales to BDCs, COVID-19, Challenges, Compliance and Way Forward“, the CBN representative said the resumption of selling foreign exchange on Monday, was part of CBN’s efforts to enhance accessibility to foreign exchange, particularly to travelers, following the resumption of international flight on Saturday, 5th September, 2020.

President of the “Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria”, ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the association was be-devilled with the challenge of smaller margin, saying there are still gaps between advance exchange rate and what currently obtained in the market.

He called on CBN to review its margin of two naira (N2.00k) as it was not covering their cost of operations. According to Gwadabe, other clients charge as high as 10 per cent margin. He said once the margin is reviewed, the association would perform well.

BDC President said as part of the readiness to resume operations, the association had introduced, queuing management systems called, ”360 QMS”, to allow members work virtually from the comfort of their homes.

He said about 4,000 members had already registered on the platform for seamless online operations.

Speaking at the webinar, Gwadabe urged members to avoid infractions, as the apex bank had means of tracking their dealings. He also called on members to always render returns to CBN.

He warned members not to sell foreign exchange to unauthorized buyers so as to avoid sanctions on the body as sales resume.

Earlier, the CBN had announced that, the purchase of foreign exchange by BDCs shall be on Mondays and Wednesdays in the first instance.

The CBN also announced that, “The BDCs are to ensure that their accounts with the banks are duly funded with the equivalent naira proceeds on Fridays and Tuesdays accordingly.”

The President while reminding members to always render returns to CBN, reiterated acts and deeds by members that would tantamount to infraction which could attract various sanction from the apex bank.  

Gwadabe said, ”you cannot sell dollars to someone that is importing goods in whatever form. As a BDC, you are only authorized to sell to a traveler, sell for payment of school fees, medicals and mortgage”.

He appealed to members not to indulge in bulk payments as the regulator now had robust and innovative technologies to monitor, supervise and track their financial dealings.

ABCON helmsman described as magical wand, the impact of the announcement that BDC operation would soon begin, which resulted in the gain in the value of Naira at the forex market, and added the tempo would be leveraged upon to ensure the upward trend in the value of Naira is sustained.

He said his members are in top gear to begin operation in full swing and still conform to the various protocols as members had begun “ordinary financial transactions or funding transactions for disbursement last Friday, 4th September 2020, in four zones.

Gwadabe broached on ABCON strategic nationwide operations thus, “We have Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Awka Zones; these are our four service providers; and in Port Harcourt, the Travelex Retail Nigeria are back, they are the ones to disburse foreign currency to our members in the zone”.

He further enthused, “So, we are happy to announce to CBN that our waiting areas are ready and we are engaging the payment service providers in all the five payment services areas to ensure we have smooth operation,” he said.

He however announced that, other Covid-19 preventive measures like wash-hand basins, Hand Sanitizers and Face masks had also been provided ahead of the commencement of operations on Monday.

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