We are ready to help stabilize the dollar if given the opportunity, ABCON President to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) we are appealing to them to give us the opportunity.

Gwadabe observed that as global diaspora remittances is expected to rise to $950 billion by 2025, Nigeria being among the top four countries in the world with the highest remittances, should not be left out in the scheme of things.

 

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to permit Bureau De Change (BDC) operators in Nigeria handle Diaspora Remittances, as is the practice in other countries, to help stabilize the exchange rate and the nation’s economy.

 

President of ABCON, Dr. Aminu Gwadabe, who made the call when a delegation of the Finance and Businesses Online Publishers (FiBOP) paid him a visit in his office in Lagos recently, said the business of Forex, unlike in Nigeria, is not for money deposit banks.

 

He argued that allowing remittances flow through the BDCs to reach the grassroot recipients would help to stabilize the exchange rate which is part of the responsibility of the BDCs.

 

In his words, “like in UAE, all the cash need of banks are met by the BDCs that play pivotal role in diaspora remittances. But in Nigeria, it is the bank that has the agency. What the banks licensed agents are doing is that they are making a kill. Banks are not involved in other clime because it is not attractive owing to the little individual amount of transactions.”

 

He said the BDCs have the structure and expertise to facilitate increase forex inflow in a transparent and competitive manner adding that this will help the country in terms of liquidity and stability of the economy.

 

On the alleged non compliance to Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing laws by some BDCs, Gwadabe called on Government to continuously train, create awareness and sensitize the Bureau De Change operators to equip them with the requisite knowledge to carry on their businesses legally and efficiently.

 

According to him, as a self regulatory organization, the association’s objective was to ensure compliance to Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing framework.

 

Gwadabe observed that although BDC operators are considered the gateway to the financial sector, they are the weakest link in the chain, owing to low capacity as well as low level of knowledge among members.

 

“You know they (CBN) accuse some of us of money laundering and terrorism financing. Money laundering and terrorism financing is a very complex financial sector issue. Yes, I understand the challenge with the BDCs but where there should be an investigation is the banks because all these transactions are routed through the banks.

 

“The BDC operator that you are accusing, his account is with the bank, the man that is buying through the BDCs, his account is in the bank. So, it’s a banking transaction. You will transfer the money to me, investigation will show that”, he argued.

 

On the reforms ongoing in the industry, Gwadabe called for caution as it concerns the N35 million capitalization benchmark requirement for members, “In UK and Kenya, you don’t need high capitalisation to operate. Forex operations should not be for the highest bidder. Anybody that don’t want merger should be shown the way out. They have structure and the expertise to run the business.” He said.

 

On what the association was doing to educate members on the dangers of money laundering and terrorism financing, he said the association has been doing lots of trainings and awareness in collaboration with some government and anti-graft agencies for members.

 

In his words, “Just last year, we went throughout the country, had a training in Kano in collaboration with the Central Bank, NFIU, Federal Inland Revenue Service, EFCC and many other agencies.

 

“They provided the resource persons, we went round the country; Lagos, Asaba, South South, South East, North East, North Central and we trained about 5,600 members nationwide with all these agencies in attendance to educate and sensitize our members for them to gain knowledge on money laundering and terrorism financing.”

 

The ABCON President called fo integration of technology in forex transactions to check illegalities. “Automation is the way to go. With the advent of technology, it could go a long way in checking the incidences of money laundering and terrorism financing.”

 

He disclosed that as part of efforts to improve the proficiency of ABCON members, the association came up with the idea of establishing an institute which is at the level of obtaining approvals from some relevant agencies for the institute to take off.

 

“So, this is part of what the association is doing in terms of documenting them. We want to partner with regulatory and security agencies in order to come up with some Apps so that it will ease registration so as to do away with this stringent registration process which lays more emphasis on money so that we can begin to capture their transactions, know them and bring them closer.

 

“So, these are some of the things we are proposing to the regulators and the security agencies”, he added.

 

Gwadabe also disclosed that the organization is currently upgrading its operations for optimum business transaction and efficiency. “We are linked up to DATA PRO and the NFIU to checkmate any terrorism financing as part of our KYC.”

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