By Modupe Gbadeyanka
If Nigeria is to attract high inflow and volume of diaspora remittances which can be compared with such countries like India, Israel, Indonesia and others, there must be proper engagement and a transparent exchange rate.
This was the unanimous view of speakers at a virtual summit organised by Ecobank Nigeria as part of its Ecobank Digital Series. The event was themed Financial Services & Remittance Solutions for Nigerians in Diaspora: Leveraging Ecobank’s Pan-African offering as the Nation Celebrates 60.
Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Patrick Akinwuntan, in his opening speech, noted that there was growing evidence that diaspora remittances were impacting positively on the economies of various countries of the world.
He put the total annual remittances to Nigeria at about $20 billion which he said, contributes hugely to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
According to him, apart from constant engagement with Nigerians in the diaspora, the bank is leveraging its digital technology through its Rapidtransfer App and Ecobank mobile App to make it easy and affordable for Nigerians abroad to remit money to their home country.
“Our dedicated Rapidtransfer, mobile remittance app is a game-changer for the market. It enables Africans and indeed Nigerians wherever they are to easily and instantly send money to bank accounts, mobile wallets and cash collection in – and across – 33 African countries.
“Historically, the cost of sending cross-border remittances to Africa has been far too high at about 6%-7%. Similarly, the process to send funds has long been inefficient and burdensome, with customers typically needing to go physically to an agent sometimes late in the night or in poor weather with attendant discomfort and risks.
“The Rapidtransfer app remittance solution is a quick, easy and reliable digital solution that removes all of these issues. It is indeed a game-changer for Nigerians and all Africans with its sustainable and standout affordability,” he said.
The Ecobank Managing Director further explained that the transaction cost is affordable with the charge from zero to about 3% as compared to 6 – 7 per cent elsewhere, and with instant transfer speed, adding that exchange rate is transparent and compares favourably with others. He added that Ecobank also offers mortgages, treasury bills, capital market instruments and others.
He submitted that Ecobank was privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NIDCOM) and will continue to pursue its mandate of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa, through the 33 countries and two affiliates where the bank operates on the continent.
Chairman/CEO of NIDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who was the keynote speaker commended Ecobank for organizing the webinar which she said was very timely and appropriate.
She acknowledged that COVID-19 has affected remittances, but a lot could still be done to encourage more inflow in spite of the pandemic.
The former broadcaster challenged Ecobank to lead other Nigerian banks to provide products and services that would encourage Nigerians in the Diaspora to increase their remittances home.
The bank, she said should blaze the trail in engaging with Nigerians in the diaspora, ensuring proper documentation of remittances, as well as in providing easier and more affordable cost of remitting money to Nigeria.
She regretted that there was currently no proper documentation of remittances inflow into Nigeria from the officially estimated 17 million Nigerians in the diaspora who send money home to take care of their families’ education, health and other needs.
On the ease of doing business in Nigeria, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said it was getting better, disclosing that the country’s diaspora policy was being put together and also working on a Diaspora Trust Fund.
“We also plan to organize a Diaspora Investment Summit very soon and the commission is currently working with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria to set up Diaspora Mortgages for interested Nigerians,” she said.
One of the panellists, former Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), Dr Bashir Obasekola, said Nigeria in the Diaspora would be encouraged to send money home through the formal channel if the rate is competitive, low charges, transparent exchange rate and the government creating the right investment environment.
He commended Ecobank for the webinar, noting that, most Nigerians abroad are now enlightened on the ease and affordable means of remitting funds home.
Head, Consumer Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Korede Demola-Adeniyi, listed the objectives of the webinar to include providing the attendees with access to information on opening accounts online in Naira and other international currencies, information on Ecobank’s bouquet of money transfer services that make it quick and simple for those in the Diaspora to send money to family and loved ones back home in Nigeria.
“This includes the bank’s safe, secure and easy-to-use proprietary solution, Rapidtransfer and the Rapidtransfer App. Other benefits include financial advisory, investment options, financial planning and access to information on BVN Registration,” she said.
She urged Nigerian in the Diaspora to download the Ecobank Rapidtransfer App from Google Play and App Store and follow the simple instructions to activate, disclosing that the bank currently offers zero-fee on transfers till October 31 this year.
Other speakers at the virtual conference included: President, All Nigerian Nationals in Togo, Dabor Amos Mzahan; President, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), New Jersey, Dr Kazeem Bello; Business Manager, Remittance Distribution, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr Linus Adaba and Sales Manager, Diaspora Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Miss Adebukola Ademiluyi.
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