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CBN-BDC Scuffle: After CBN Ban, BDCs Move to P2P Forex as an Alternative Source of Forex

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P2P Forex

Over a month has passed since the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stopped selling forex to Bureau De Change (BDC), leaving many wondering how these parallel market operators will continue to operate in the face of the new CBN policy.

BDC operators play an important role in Nigeria’s economy as informal financiers. This creates a strong foundation for cooperation with apex banking. The apex bank was unable to control the BDCs due to greed and the pursuit of abnormal profits. Godwin Emefiele (the Governor of CBN), ended the relationship as he addressed the media during the MPC briefing, Tuesday 27th July 2021.

He stated that in particular, they have noticed with disappointment and great concern that BDC operators had abandoned their original objective for the establishment, which was serving retail end-users who have $5,000 or less. He claimed that they have turned into wholesale dealers in illegal foreign currency, averaging millions of dollars per transaction.

Despite the fact Nigeria being the only country where a central bank sells dollars directly at the BDCs today, operators in the Nigeria BDC market have not reciprocated that gesture to maintain price stability in that segment.

This approach has hurt top Forex brokers in Nigeria multiple times, many of them even abandoning the local market and switching to international instead. Although reports have suggested that the governor may appeal to the apex bank for assistance, his resolve seems unshaken.

There are ongoing investigations on how these developments have affected the operation of BDCs. An operator of a BDC stated anonymously that BDCs can make money other than the CBN sale. He stated that BDCs were not closing down shops.

He explained that funds inflow refers to money that comes from outside Nigeria, mainly from the UK and other European countries and they can receive a large amount of money due to the account BDCs use.

They normally assist customers in accepting these inflows from overseas and facilitate outflows to countries such as China. There are limitations on how much money one can deposit or send to their domiciliary accounts.

“However, BDC operators have relationships with parties around the world that can facilitate smooth and seamless payment.” He said that there was no way for him to source foreign currency in Nigeria right now.

Abbas, another BDC operator, stated that it is important to be creative in dealing with difficult situations in Nigerian businesses and BDCs are no exception.

He joked that those who cannot keep up with the pace of business would need to shut down. Nigeria is only for the strong players, he says. BDC operators that cannot overcome challenges will have to close their doors.

“It’s not easy to get dollars but for the moment, most of my colleagues and I have discovered that dealing directly with customers has proven more profitable than dealing with licensees.”

He said that he only uses customers with proper documentation like passports and travel documents to get the maximum amount of personal or business travel allowances (PTAs) from banks. Because of the large number of people who are interested in travelling out of the country, this is a significant source of forex supply for BDC operators.

This avenue has been very profitable as it has allowed them to purchase dollars at a lower price and then sell them at black-market rates, while still making significant profits. While this method is not sustainable, he believes that there will be more creative channels soon.

Ango, a BDC operator, also confirmed that BDC operators work in partnership with individuals to obtain FX from banks.

“If someone wishes to take a personal travel allowance, they will need to show us their documentation. We would then fund his account to receive the maximum amount from the bank. Everyone gets a cut so the transaction runs smoothly. The licenses are ineffective at the moment because the CBN has stopped giving us dollars,” he said.

BDC operators are now more dependent on peer-to-peer transactions to fund their dollar supplies in the face of the CBN dollar sales ban. People with strong networks of buyers or sellers attract more business, while those who don’t have such strong networks are less likely to be successful in attracting volume.

However, exchange rates continue to be transacted at black market rates that are higher than those preferred by the central banks.

BDCs’ reactions to the ban by the apex bank raise questions about the effectiveness of Nigerian monetary policy. Can they sideline a major player in the foreign currency space and directly deal with banks? In this case, the end should justify the means. However, there have been very few results as the naira is still extremely weak against the dollar.

The rate at the parallel market was N530 per dollar at the time this article was written. This indicates that black-market forex is still in high demand.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

Unlisted Securities Depreciate by 0.41% Friday

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Unlisted Securities Market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the bearish zone on Friday, January 21 after back-to-back stalemates as it depreciated by 0.41 per cent, driven by the negative price movement in Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc.

CSCS Plc closed at N19.38 per unit after moving down by 57 kobo or 2.7 per cent from its previous day’s value of N19.90.

The depreciation in this stock weakened the market capitalisation by N2.6 billion to N630.46 billion from N633.06 billion and slowed the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) by 3.07 points to wrap the session at 744.54 points compared with 747.61 points of the previous session.

However, there was a surge in the volume of securities traded at the bourse as investors exchanged 4.1 million units, 103,160 per cent higher than the 4,000 units of securities transacted a day earlier.

Likewise, the value of shares traded at the session swelled to N86.9 million, which by evaluation is 11,227.6 per cent higher than N767,100 posted on Thursday.

These transactions were carried out in eight deals, 300 per cent higher than the two deals carried out at the preceding trading session.

Business Post reports that the unlisted securities market wrapped the day without a price gainer.

At the close of trading, the most traded stock by volume on a year-to-date basis was CSCS Plc with 653.6 million units worth N13.7 billion, VFD Group Plc followed with 916,161 units valued at N331.5 million, while Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Plc has traded 205,566 units of its stocks valued at N24.3 million.

Also, CSCS ended the trading session as the most traded stock by value on a year-to-date basis with the sale of 653.6 million units of its securities valued at N13.7 billion, followed by VFD Group Plc with a turnover of 916,161 units worth N331.5 million, while  Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Plc has transacted 205,566 units of its stocks valued at N24.3 million.

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Economy

Naira Falls at I&E as Bears Wipe $1trn from Crypto Market

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Future of the Crypto Market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira recorded a 37 kobo or 0.09 per cent loss against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (forex) market as it traded at N415.10/$1 compared with N414.73/$1 it was traded on Thursday.

It was observed that the Naira came under pressure during the trading session with the value of transactions rising by 56.2 per cent or $60.7 million at the market window to $168.62 million from the preceding day’s $107.92 million.

In the same vein, the local currency depreciated against the American currency at the interbank segment of the market yesterday by 5 kobo or 0.1 per cent to N411.95/$1 from the previous day’s N411.90/$1.

However, the local currency lost 60 kobo against the Pound Sterling to trade at N552.75/£1 in contrast to N553.35/£1 it closed on Thursday and against the Euro, it depreciated by N2.64 to N448.79/€1 from N446.15/€1.

In a related development, the crypto market bled yesterday, with the Federal Reserve intending to withdraw stimulus from the market, riskier assets in the world such as the assets have suffered from over $1 trillion lost in market capitalisation so far.

Russia also added to the fear that seems to be gripping cryptocurrencies as the country’s central bank issued a harsh report on cryptocurrencies, including a potential ban on mining and trading.

Bitcoin (BTC), the largest digital asset, lost more than 9 per cent on Friday and dropped below $36,000, its lowest level since July.

Since its peak in November, it has lost over 45 per cent of its value as it traded at the Naira equivalent of N20,376,819.45.

Other digital currencies have suffered just as much, if not more, with Dash (DASH) plunging 19.7 per cent to trade at N57,825.35, Litecoin (LTC) moved down by 15.9 per cent to trade at N61,392.61, while Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 15.6 per cent to trade at N152,054.69.

Cardano (ADA) went south by 13.1 per cent to trade at N650, Ripple (XRP) fell by 13.0 per cent to trade at N350.32, Dogecoin (DOGE) declined by 11.3 per cent to sell at N84.80, Tron (TRX) depreciated by 5.9 per cent to N35.99, Ethereum (ETH) made a 5.0 per cent loss to sell at N1,699,900.00, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) made a 0.2 per cent depreciation to sell for N575.01.

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Economy

Oil Again Falls Under Pressure of US Inventories Rise, Profit Taking

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Nigerian Oil Industry

By Adedapo Adesanya

Oil prices closed in the bearish territory on Friday, falling for another session pressured by an unexpected rise in US crude and fuel inventories after investors took profits after the benchmarks touched seven-year highs earlier in the week.

Brent crude dropped 49 cents or 0.55 per cent to trade at $87.89 per barrel while the US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) lost 41 cents or 0.48 per cent to settle at $85.14 per barrel.

However, both crude benchmarks rose for a fifth week in a row, gaining around 2 per cent this week, showing that prices were up more than 10 per cent so far this year on concerns over tightening supplies.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported the first US crude build since November in the week just as fuel inventories hit an 11-month high in the world’s largest oil consumer.

Crude inventories rose by 515,000 barrels in the week to January 14 to 413.8 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations of a 938,000-barrel drop.

Earlier in the week, both Brent and WTI rose to their highest levels since October 2014.

But the latest pullback happened due to a combination of pre-weekend profit-taking and the absence of fresh bullish catalysts.

Analysts also said they expect the current pressure on prices to be limited owing to supply concerns and rising demand.

Tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East are also heightening fears of supply disruption as top US and Russian diplomats made no major breakthrough at talks on Ukraine on Friday.

There was, however, an agreement to keep talking to try to resolve a crisis that has stoked fears of a military conflict.

Amid these, there are forecasts that prices will perform their best in recent times this year due to low spare OPEC+ capacity, low inventories and geopolitical tensions rising.

Analysts at Bank of America said they expect to see Brent at around $120 a barrel in mid-2022.

UBS expects crude oil demand to reach record highs this year and for Brent to trade in a range of $80-$90 a barrel for now.

Morgan Stanley has raised its Brent price forecast to $100 a barrel in the third quarter, up from its previous projection of $90.

Meanwhile, in the United States, energy firms cut oil rigs this week for the first time in 13 weeks.

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