Bank CEOs: We’re ready to meet forex demand of customers

Embattled former CBN governor Emefiele asks for bail

The Body of Bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) say the banking industry is ready to sale of foreign exchange to all legitimate customers as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

This follows the decision of the apex bank to halt the sales of FX to Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators, a development that has led to a significant drop in the value of the naira against the dollar.

Explaining the CBN’s decision, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the apex bank, said that BDC operators have become conduits for illegal financial flows working with corrupt people to conduct money laundering in Nigeria.

He said the CBN will continue to channel weekly allocations of dollar sales to commercial banks to meet legitimate FX demands.

Speaking on Thursday at a virtual media briefing, Herbert Wigwe, chairman of the Body of Bank CEOs and Access Bank MD, said banks have broader sources than BDCs to meet customers’ forex needs.

“The move by the CBN is commendable as it would give customers different channels to collect their Personal Travel Allowances (PTAs), Business Travel Allowances (BTAs) and school fees requirements for their children,” he said.

“This is just to get you up-to-date on the readiness of the banking industry so that you will be able to help us communicate to the market that we are ready to carry on with this responsibility.”

Wigwe explained that the CBN had sent a circular to all banks to create a designated point to meet customers’ need for forex, adding that the service would come at no additional cost.

“They might have not reached 100 per cent across the country, but it is happening as we speak and there is more than enough forex to meet their demands. There is not one additional charge for all of these things,” Wigwe said.

“So, compliance is extremely important and it is going to be centralized and the process would be attached to customers’ BVNs so each time there is an offender, he would be reported and likely to face prosecution.”

He warned that customers with bad intentions would be reported to regulatory agencies, adding that banks are doing everything necessary to avoid abuse of foreign exchange.

Also speaking at the event, Segun Agbaje, group managing director of GT Holding Company Plc, said customers can start walking into banks to get served.

He assured the public of the banks’ capacity to meet customers’ expectations.

“The rates we saw yesterday and today are a complete aberration and if I recall correctly, BDC money comes at N412 and the banks would sell it at N412,” he added.

“With this development, customers have a wider network to buy from and I can bet the rates are going to come down and it would be very easy to buy at N423 or N425 if you are travelling today.”

The bank CEOs present at the briefing include Wigwe, Agbaje, Tomi Somefun of Unity Bank, Yemisi Edun of FCMB and Patrick Akinwuntan of Ecobank.

On Friday, naira gained N8 to appreciate to N517 per dollar at the black market.