ABCON faults Travelex’s ‘triple-position’ in forex market

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THE Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has bared fangs over alleged triple-position taken by Travelex Nigeria in the foreign exchange (forex) market.

The Group, of which Travelex is a member, frowned that the company, as a net importer of forex (80 per cent), also exports 60 per cent, as well a retailer in the bureau de change segment.

The Acting President of ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said that it has become necessary to bring to the attention of the public and the government the “antics of Travelex Worlwide in Nigeria.”

Gwadabe said that the development is giving the company undue advantage over others and encouraging capital flight, as it is a subsidiary of a foreign company.

He alleged that although licensed as a wholesale supplier of forex and importer of forex into the country, Travelex is currently scheming to take over the retail segment of the foreign exchange market through its position.

He also accused the company of trying to portray other operators as working against the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), especially the use of Bank Verification Number for forex transactions, as well as behind the depreciation of the naira in the parallel market.

The ABCON chief said that it is not the first attempt by Travelex to “surreptitiously hijack” forex policy, citing 2001, under the Joseph Sanusi-led CBN, as it opened desks in the branches of some banks, to sell Travellers Cheque to the public.

But the General Manager, Travelex Nigeria, who also heads operations in the country, Anthony Enwereji, said that while the company needs not join issues with anyone, it has maintained the business policy of compliance to guidelines.

According to him, it is part of the company’s policy to study, understand and play by the rules of the countries where it has operations, to protect it from reputation risks, as a global institution.

He noted that Travelex’s clear business policy has endeared the company to customers, as many are willing to remain in the long to buy from the company, even customers from outside its states of operations.
He reiterated that the challenge over CBN’s BVN-for-forex transactions rule is more about attitude than the alleged fears, adding that Travelex is already using the text code unveiled by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System to confirm BVN status of customers before executing the transactions.

However, Gwadabe called on government to be alert to the sector, which provides jobs for millions of Nigeria, income for millions of families, and taxes, as well as the huge commissions to CBN.

He noted that while ABCON acknowledged the recent efforts of CBN with BVN initiative to bring stability in exchange rate and sanity in forex market, its argument has been based on low awareness before enforcement.
According to him, the 10-day notice given to operators ahead of enforcement was sudden, as well as leaving the public unprepared to submit their BVN details for transactions.
He said it is untrue that they have not been making sales because of the introduction of BVN, but that customers, out of fear over consequent frauds in their account, declined to disclose it, preferring to patronise roadside sellers instead.
He however, asked CBN to review the policy and embark on massive awareness to create the needed assurance to the public that the disclosure of BVN will not lead to fraud in their accounts.

“CBN on October 21, 2015, announced the extension of the BVN to BDC operations as a criteria for purchase of foreign exchange from banks effective November 1. We wrote to CBN, noting that the period between the announcement and implementation dates was to short, and there was need for massive publicity, but the apex bank however ignored our observations,” he added.

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