The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with Western Union Company and First Bank Plc, on Friday, launched out-bound remittance service to enable Nigerians to transfer money around the world.
At the ceremony in Abuja, CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said that the project was in line with the bank’s policy to transform payment landscape in Nigeria.
Emefiele said that the initiative was targeted at remittances by individuals to dependants, including children, leaving abroad and for other person-to-person needs.
He said that the system would also simplify money transfer process in Nigeria.
“Western Union Company is well known as international electronic payment transfer service provider with a wide range of products and global coverage.
“Since the commencement of the inward money transfer service in 1995, which was pioneered by this same company, the payment landscape in Nigeria has significantly transformed,’’ he said.
The CBN boss said that in-bound money transfer services had been in operation in Nigeria, and were dominated by Western Union, Royale Finance and Moneygram.
“Today, out-bound money services is being launched to provide an alternative channel of foreign exchange transfer to serve the needs of small foreign exchange end users .
“Simultaneously, it reduces the foreign exchange sourced from official foreign exchange window in Nigeria and to a large extent, helps to conserve our foreign exchange,’’ he said.
He explained that under the initiative, a prospective customer, who wished to use the service, would only pay Naira equivalent to the money transfer operators for the foreign currency that would be paid to the specified beneficiary abroad.
According to him, this will end the idea of going to the Bureau de Change or banks to buy foreign currency before transferring money abroad.
“If you have need to make payment to your children, brothers and sisters living abroad that need small financial support, all you need to do is to take your cash to any of the 5,000 Western Union outlets in Nigeria.
“We are working very hard to ensure that the number of outlets increases further from 5,000.
“We have also agreed with Western Union about the need for them to work with Bureau de Change (BDC) operators that are well structured,” he said.
Emefiele said that apex bank was also working hard to make the BDC business robust for operators in the sector.
He said that the out-bound transfer service would only be conducted by international monetary service operators, adding that banks and BDCs that met the new CBN requirements would serve as agents for money transfer service.
He stated that bank accounts were not required to transfer funds and that transactions point would be within the reach of customers.
“We will allow cash, but going forward, we will discuss with operators of mobile telephones so that those on the mobile payment platform can transfer money from their accounts via western union to anybody abroad.
“These are some of the efforts we are making because we are embracing cashless transactions,’’ he said.
Emefiele, however, disclosed that CBN had put measures in place to check foreign currency being taken out of the country, saying that the step would help to manage the nation’s foreign reserve.
He said that guidelines on the measure will soon be released.
He said that the apex bank had been working with relevant agencies to look at reasons for movement of cash out of the country.
He urged stakeholders to use all the channels available to transfer money and avoid carrying of foreign currency out of the country.
Emefiele explained that CBN had increased the allowable limit for credit and debit cards from 40,000 dollars to 450,000 dollars per annum.
He assured that the CBN would continue to provide effective leadership in the payment system transformation in line with the aspirations of the Federal Government.