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CBN tightens rules on receipt of diaspora remittances

…warns against patronage of Azimo, TransferWise

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued additional operational guidelines on the receipt of diaspora remittances as part of measures according to the apex bank, to ensure operators’ full compliance with the earlier guidelines it released a few weeks ago. In a circular it issued on November 30, the CBN unveiled a new policy that granted unfettered access to diaspora remittances that are sent through licensed International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs). Specifically, the policy made it mandatory for beneficiaries of diaspora remittances through the IMTOs to receive such inflows in the original foreign currency through the designated bank of their choice.

In the latest circular to IMTOs and Payment Service Providers (PSPs), posted on its website yesterday, the apex bank said it issued the fresh guidelines because while there was substantial compliance, with the previous rule, “a few operators continue to pay remittances in local currency contrary to the regulatory directive.” According to its latest circular, the new measures include: “Switches and Processors should immediately cease all local currency transfers in respect of foreign remittances through IMTOs; “All Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) are required to immediately disable wallets from receipt of funds from IMTOs; Payment service providers are directed to cease integrating their systems with IMTOs going forward and must prevent comingling of remittances with other legitimate transactions and all IMTOs are required to immediately disclose to beneficiaries that they exercise discretion to receive transfer in foreign currency cash or directly into their domiciliary accounts.”

In addition, the CBN said that: “A central reporting portal for all foreign remittances to be managed by the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) is currently under development to improve visibility of foreign remittance flows.” It warned all licensed institutions to comply with the new guidelines as contraventions, “will attract stiff regulatory sanction including revocation of license.” Meanwhile, the CBN has cautioned members of the public against patronizing Azimo and TransferWise, as it had not licensed the two companies to operate as IMTOs. In a statement issued by the Acting Director, Corporate Communications at the apex bank, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, the CBN warned that members of the public patronizing the two firms are doing so at their own risk. According to Nwanisobi, “The attention of CBN has been drawn to the activities of Messrs.

Azimo and Messrs. Transfer Wise, both of which are purportedly transacting business, albeit unauthorised, as IMTOs. “The bank wishes to notify the general public that neither Messrs. Azimo nor Messrs. Transfer Wise is licensed by the CBN to operate as an IMTO. The public is, therefore, advised to beware of the activities of Messrs. Azimo and Messrs. Transfer Wise and desist from patronizing the companies forthwith. “Anyone who patronizes the unregistered companies does so at his or her own risk.”

The CBN’s statement follows disclaimers that some of the country’s leading Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) issued in recent days about the list that Azimo, a London-based money transfer service, posted on its website, indicating that the lenders are among its receiving banks in Nigeria. Lenders such as First- Bank, Fidelity, UBA, GTB and Zenith have issued disclaimers on the subject.


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