By Adebayo Obajemu
Zenith Bank has taken its services a notch higher to ensure that its customers enjoy the best.
This time around the lender, which is the most profitable in the banking industry has already put measures in place to ensure that beneficiaries of U.S. dollar from remittances are paid according to the new regulatory guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Many customers who are beneficiaries of U.S. dollars pay out by banks in respect of Diaspora remittances have expressed joy over the new Central Bank of Nigerian, CBN policy
Recall that the apex bank had as at November last year issued the directive to banks, and in an update this January to its recent circular on the management of remittances from diaspora Nigerians. The apex bank had instructed banks to transfer all Diaspora remittances to the domiciliary accounts of the beneficiaries or pay the customers in foreign currency.
Central Bank also clarified that the choice of how the money should be paid, whether transfer or dollar cash withdrawal should be the choice of the beneficiary of the remittance.
In the circular IMTOs are also instructed to ensure the foreign currency is deposited into their corresponding deposit money bank accounts. It also confirmed banks are to pay the dollars to the beneficiaries either via transfers to domiciliary accounts or in cash.
In yet another circular, the apex bank closed all Naira ledger accounts opened specifically for the purpose of receiving IMTO (foreign transfers from Diaspora Nigerians) with immediate effect. According to BusinessHallmark’s check, the implication according to analysts is that it has made strong the exchange rate in the black market.
Ambrose Omordion, chief research officer at the Investa told this newspaper that the circulars by the central bank are meant to reduce the disparity between the black market and official I&E windows.
“It is a good policy meant to reduce the disparity between the black market and officials I &E window.”
He says if more Nigerians are able to sell their dollars at the rate that they want then this could create more liquidity thus reducing the exchange rate disparity. Recall that before this directive by the apex bank, inflow through IMTO such as Western Union was given to beneficiaries in Naira.
Meanwhile some customers of banks have commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for its U.S. dollars pay out order to banks dealing with Diaspora remittances.
Ayoola Adetubu, a petty trader who regularly receives remittances from her brother in the United States said she initially doubted that Polaris Bank was serious about paying customers in dollars when she received the Bank’s notice until she went to the branch to pick up his remittances and was handed crisp dollar notes.
Her face beaming with excitement and joy, she told this newspaper that the dollars pay out allowed her not only to have a fun-filled Yuletide but has made “the usual noise about January being hard to people to be a mere talk. As for me I don’t have problem, in spite of the second wave of the raging Covid-19”, she said.
Unable to contain her joy, Tosin Farinde, a 300-level Psychology student of University of Ibadan said she did not believe she would receive her money in dollars when she walked into Zenith Bank branch at Ogba.
“Initially, I was unbelieving but it turned out to be true. I can say the process is seamless, and I have to commend the apex bank for this laudable initiative”, she said.
On its own, Fidelity Bank Plc on December 4, 2020, commenced the implementation of the new policy as it said in a note. In a notice to its customers, the bank said customers and non-customers could walk into a Fidelity Bank branch to receive international money transfers in dollars.
“What’s even better is our remittance year-end reward scheme is here and you could be a part of it. So walk into any of our branches for a USD payment today”, the bank stated.
Agu Obi, a teacher at one of the private secondary schools in Agbado said when he saw the Fidelity Bank notice he did not believe.
“Honestly, it was only when I got to the bank and collected the crisp dollars notes that I believed.”
Ecobank, like other banks has also made its customers happy by paying diaspora remittances in dollars. When the policy was rolled out the bank Nigeria assured its customers that it will put the necessary processes in place to make the CBN rule happen seamlessly.
Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, managing director, Ecobank Nigeria, in December when the policy was made public by the apex bank said Ecobank was taking steps to see the immediate implementation of this policy.
He encouraged Nigerians in the diaspora and their loved ones here in Nigeria to take advantage of the policy by opening the Ecobank domiciliary account or reactivating their inactive domiciliary account with the bank.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that our customers instantly receive their transfers as cash (USD) or transfers into their domiciliary accounts. Our customers have the flexibility to choose the mode of receipt that suits them. It is strictly on their terms.” he said.
Continuing, he said, “Our proprietary money transfer platform, Rapidtransfer, available on the App Store and Play Store, makes it possible for Nigerians abroad to remit home instantly at very affordable charges.
“We have also just launched a new version, Rapidtransfer International, specifically for Nigerians living in Europe. The functionality of both apps is being enhanced to meet this new requirement.”
Ecobank also stated that it is collaborating with other remittance partners (Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Small World etc.) on this new development in a bid to deliver maximum value to its customers.
In the same vein, Olukorede Demola-Adeniyi, head, consumer banking, Ecobank Nigeria said the Nigerian diaspora community makes a significant contribution to the economy and Ecobank is committed to supporting them by providing advisory services, remittance solutions, investment options, and financial planning.
Olaniyonu Soji, a customer of the bank told BusinessHallmark that “I did not spend ten minutes at Ijaiye branch of Ecobank, I was really happy to receive the money sent to me by my uncle in Texas, United States in dollars. ”
“Polaris Bank made my Christmas and new year celebrations memorable,” Adeola Folarin, a computer scientist informed this medium. He said it was difficult for him to believe that the money would be paid in dollars when he walked in to a branch of the bank in Ilorin.
“I did not know this notice can be true. I thought on getting to the branch, we will hear another story, but I received dollars sent to me by my uncle in America live and direct from my branch in Ilorin.”
With over 15 million Nigerians in the Diaspora and an estimated $25 billion in annual remittances, Nigeria is the 5th largest receiver of Diaspora remittances in the World.