Process of licensing of IMTOs is still ongoing – CBN

OPERATORS IN the business of Mobile Money Transfer has criticised the current Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, guideline on the business in the country. The guidelines specify that any company offering Mobile Money transfers must have minimum net assets of $1billion and have been operating for more than 10 years. However, WorldRemit, a leading online remittance provider, has raised concerns about a 2015 memorandum from the CBN, setting out minimum requirements for companies offering international Mobile Money transfer services to Nigeria. WorldRemit is the world leader in transfers to Mobile Money accounts and had been planning to launch remittances to Mobile Money services in Nigeria. WorldRemit is also calling for the urgent restoration of money
transfers to Nigeria as new rules leave virtually all money transfer operators MTOs unable to provide services to the West African country. According to WorldRemit founder and CEO, Ismail Ahmed , “This move is arbitrary, inexplicable and hugely detrimental to the Nigerian diaspora who rely on hundreds of money transfer companies and banks, providing them with choice, convenience and competitive pricing. “Even now, as we suspend our service, there is no clarity on why this sudden change has happened. If it is on the basis of new rules, there was no warning. If it is a re-interpretation of old rules, local correspondent networks and banks should have been forewarned. “This reverses the progress made by the country when the Nigeria Central Bank banned Western Union’s exclusivity
agreements that had created a near-monopolistic position in the international money transfer market. Western Union controlled 78% of the market share when CBN outlawed exclusivity agreements with local banks.” He said that only three companies – Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria – will be able to continue operations, following an extreme and unexpected move by the CBN. WorldRemit, in common with all other international MTOs, has been instructed by its local correspondents that transfers to Nigeria will no longer be processed and is, accordingly, suspending services immediately. Until now, money transfer operators such as WorldRemit operated via partnerships with licensed local correspondents in Nigeria, enabling transfer of funds to local bank accounts – providing a more efficient service than the SWIFT infrastructure. “It looks like all systems in
Nigeria are currently geared against encouraging new entrants and competition in the mobile remittance markets. That is worrying in the extreme,” said Ismail Ahmed. WorldRemit sends more than 40,000 money transfers to Nigeria every month. But CBN dismissed insulations that it has shut the door to International Money Transfer Operators IMTOs in the country, saying that the process of licensing of IMTOs is still ongoing. In a statement by the Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, the apex bank stated that it has not “foreclosed the licensing of interested players in the IMTO space in Nigeria,” CBN therefore, asked interested applicants to forward their requests for licensing to the Director, Trade and Exchange Department of the CBN, in line with the “CBN Guidelines on International Money Transfer Services in Nigeria 2014, which among other things, specifies the minimum technical and business requirements for various participants in the international money transfer services industry in Nigeria”. “The Central Bank of Nigeria remains committed to providing an enabling environment for international money transfer services in Nigeria. It is, however, important to emphasise that a prospective player shall first obtain the requisite licence to operate in Nigeria as an IMTO.”


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