Naira stable at N445/$ as CBN set to license 20 new IMTOs

By Odunewu Segun

The naira continued to strengthen to the dollar at the parallel market as the Naira/Dollar buy rate remained stable to close at N445/US$ on Monday, October 17 at the parallel market.

The Nigerian currency also firmed up to the Euro at N475 compared to Friday’s rate of N490 and also extended gains against the Pound Sterling to trade at N520 to one British Pound, compared to N530 it was exchanged for previously at the parallel market.

The naira which sold around N460 to the dollar at the weekend closed yesterday stronger at N455, although bureau de change operators said the value had hit around N440 during the day.

Also, the naira closed stronger at the interbank market on the back of interventions by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and a cash crunch which hit the financial system. At the interbank market, the naira sold at N305.5 to the dollar, the highest in the last two months.

According to traders at the money market, the CBN, which has been selling dollars regularly to prop up the naira, sold around $1.5 million towards the close of trade on Monday after the market was open for nearly four hours with no deals.

Meanwhile, the Central of Nigeria, CBN, is set to license 20 new International Money Transfer Operators, IMTOs, to handle an estimated $21 billion annual Diaspora remittances into the country.

The apex bank decided to increase the number of IMTO operators after it discovered the positive impact their operations were having on its drive to stabilise the exchange rate, The Nation learnt on Monday, October 17.

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.

The ABCON Boss 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.

“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,” he said.

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.