Flutterwave, Interswitch and 45 other International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) have just been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to receive foreign remittances into the country. The approval means that Interswitch and other listed IMTOs are the only operators allowed to collect remittances coming into the country.
The latest development follows the CBN ban on remittance collection by unauthorized IMTOs. According to the apex bank, defaulters would face strong sanctions.
Some big guys are being left out
The CBN list included some big money transfer operators like WorldRemit, PayPal and Western Union but also left out some other popular IMTOs.
Popular and well-renowned money transfer operators like XE, InstaReM, TransferWise, OFX, CitiBank and Skrill were among those not on the list.
For example, XE offers international money transfers to over 170 countries. It is well-known for offering low rates and as an excellent rating from over 40,000 reviews on Trustpilot.
Similarly, Wise (TransferWise) is one of the best-known money transfer operator. It offers rates much cheaper than banks, with a big focus on zero hidden fees. Wise has over 8 million users and a rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Trustpilot
18 local IMNOs on the List
Of the 47 IMTOs approved by the CBN, 18 of them were local. According to the breakdown posted by regulator, 14 of the IMTOs were based in Lagos, 3 in Abuja and one in Ibadan.
Their names are Colony Capital Limited, eTranzact Limited, Flutterwave, Fortified Fronts Limited, Funds & Electronic Transfer Solution, Moneygram, Interswitch Limited and Naira Gram LLC operating in Nigeria as NGN GRAM Limited
Others include Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), Nouveau Mobile Limited, Pagatech Limited, Paycom Nigeria Limited, Shift Financial Services Limited, Simplify International Synergy Limited, TCF LIMITED, Venture Garden Nigeria, VTNetwork Limited and Xpress Payment Solution Limited.
Internationally, 17 of the IMTOs approved were based in the United Kingdom, 8 in the United States of America, two in Senegal and one each in Morocco and Belgium.
From the US, the list includes Chime INC., FIEM Group LLC DBA PING Express, First Apple INC., IDT Payment Services INC., Makeba INC., Paypal INC., Remitly INC and Trans-Fast Remittance LLC
While for the UK and Europe we have Aftab Currency exchange limited, Azimo Limited, Belyfted Limited, Capremit UK Limited, Cashpot Limited, Centrexcard Limited, CP Express Limited, DT&T Corporation Limited, Funtech Global Communications Limited, Global Currency Travel & Tour Limited, Homesend S.C.R.L and Remit Hub Cafe Limited.
Others include Small World Financial Services Group Limited, Transferto Mobile Financial Services Limited (THUNES), Volopa Financial Service, WorldRemit Limited, Xpress Money Service Limited, Weblink International Limited
For Morocco, we have Western Union and for Senegal, we have Immueuble Wari Limited, RIA Financial.
Speaking on the approval of the new IMTOs, Remi Otuneye, a Remittance and Sales Analyst expressed that the number approved for remittance is enough.
They are over 50. And i believe with the new policy and close-knitted regulation, it is enough.
He explained that before now, Western Union was dominant but with minimal agents checks and the new policy balance of payment can be established
New policy and regulation
Even before the list of approved, the CBN changed the policy on remittance collection in the country. According to the new laws, Nigerians in the diaspora will only be able to send money into the country through approved IMTOs.
It also forces IMTOs and Money Deposit Banks like GTbank to pay recipients of remittances in foreign currencies, rather than the Naira.
This according to reports, was aimed at stopping IMTOs and banks from shortchanging beneficiaries, by giving them less Naira equivalent of the remittance collected.
Remi explained that before the reward and cashback system, being the 7th recipient of remittances, the system was marred with irregularities and fraud to the benefit of money transfer agents who take advantage of the under-declaring of the real figures in other to take the undeclared foreign currency to the black market.
He added that the CBN policy will encourage the inflow of foreign remittances where the recipient can decide to locally withdraw foreign currency without going through the black market for exchange.
However, this means that anyone that wishes to collect remittance from money transfer operators if they want to send money to Nigeria abroad needs to have a dollar account before they can receive funds.
Nigerian’s in Diaspora now have to use one of the 47 recognized international transfer operators if they wish to send money into the country.
However, the absence of some of the world’s most popular IMTOs on the approved list could affect the ease of making remittances.