The recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) limiting the number of international money transfer operators (IMTOs) from 15 to five has continued to raise dust in the financial circle.
The apex bank had last week instructed banks to block channels through which Nigerians send and receive money to abroad due to what it described as unwholesome activities of some of the operators.
”This is in the sovereign interest of the country, as CBN will not condone any attempt aimed at undermining the country’s foreign exchange regime,” its tacit statement on the issue said.
But the affected operators said this was another way of promoting monopoly in the system and edging out the small and medium-sized operators.
Alhaji Hassan Magima, the spokesman of one of the affected said his firm is considering several actions, including challenging the directive in court.
“We are licenced and registered, internationally and locally to handle the business of receiving and transferring money from one country to another and within a country; so this directive is strange to say the least, he said.
A Nigerian family whose relations live outside the country said the decision will have a negative impact on Nigerians in diaspora.
Others said it pays the country having as many IMTOs as possible to give consumers of the services array of choices.
Nigeria receives an estimated $20 billion in remittances yearly from abroad and there is the fear that this could be at risk as a result of the restriction.
WorldRemit, an online money transfer service that was launched in Nigeria in 2011, was among the firms that have also described the policy as arbitrary.
Others feared that with the directive, the sincerity of government opening its doors to more foreign currency finding its way to the country is suspect.
It is believed in some quarters that the scarcity of the dollar, which has seen the naira, now depreciated to as low as N400 against the US Dollar can be helped by encouraging inflow of the hard currency.
By Emma Eke….
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