By Charles Abuede
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a circular sequel to the earlier released operational guidelines on the receipt of diaspora remittances, directing all payment services providers to bring to a close the integration of their systems with the international money transfer operators (IMTOs) to prevent the comingling of remittances with other legitimate transactions, has further directed all deposit money banks to close all naira accounts for the IMTOs.
The CBN in the circular signed by directors of trade and exchange, payments system management departments of the bank, informed that the directive is to ensure that all diaspora remittances are received by beneficiaries in foreign currency only and could be in the form of cash and or transfers to domiciliary accounts of receivers.
The circular which was issued by the apex bank to all deposit money banks (DMBs), payment service providers (PSPs) and International Money transfer operators (IMTOs), permits the banks to open new open exchange (Opex) accounts, such as salary payments and other operating expenses for the purposes of the IMTO operations and excludes diaspora remittance receipts.
Also, the guideline further requires the banks to ensure that proper audit of IMTO accounts is done to forestall further use of the naira accounts for diaspora remittances purposes as strict compliance is needed to be adhered to and accordingly.
Meanwhile, the earlier released additional operation guidelines by the apex bank require all processors and switch operators to, with immediate effect, cease all local currency transfers in respect of foreign remittances through the IMTOs. Also, all mobile money operators are required to immediately disable wallets from receipt of funds from IMTOs while it directed all payment service providers to cease integrating their systems with IMTOs going forward and that they must prevent the comingling of remittances with other legitimate transactions.
Also, the CBN has demanded that all IMTOs disclose with immediate effect to recipients that they exercise discretion in receiving transfers in the foreign-dominated currency in either cash or receive directly into their domiciliary accounts with the development of a central reporting portal for all foreign remittances managed by the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) to improve the visibility of foreign remittances inflows.