In this report, BUKOLA IDOWU writes on efforts by the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) to ensure that all licenced BDCs comply with extant regulations, including regular rendition of regulatory returns.
The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) recently had its Annual General Meeting recently in Lagos. The event which was on Zoom, was opportunity for ABCON president, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe to restate the prime role played by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-licensed BDCs in promoting exchange rate stability, forex liquidity and forex sale to retail end of the market.
Gwadabe spoke extensively about the N1 trillion turnover milestone achieved by BDCs which reaffirms the sector’s prime position in the economy. He also listed the challenges facing the sub-sector, especially the low transaction margins on dollar sales, which continuously threaten the survival of BDCs businesses.
The meeting, which had the backing of CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele was also attended by the apex bank directors, representatives of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Financial Action Task Force (FATF), DataPro CEO and over 550 top BDC directors, traders and other attendees nationwide.
All the financial sector regulators, watchdogs and facilitators at the event took turns to chart a formidable future for BDCs. They are confident of a future for BDCs built on regulatory compliance, fight against illicit financial flows, and support for CBN’s exchange rate stability mandate.
ABCON boss Gwadabe further highlighted the urgent need to foster better and positive image for the BDC sub-sector. He said the BDCs needed a positive and rewarding image different from what the nay sayers have fed the public with.
“We need to tell everyone that ABCON members are different. Majority of BDCs are not criminals. We need respect from members of the public,” he stated.
He said with over 20,000 Nigerians employed by the sub-sector, there was need to support the BDC business for sustained economic growth and employment generation.
Gwadabe, who spoke on the theme: “BDCS Operations: A Trillion Naira Sub Sector, Issues of Formalisation, Regulation & Way Forward,” said foreign currencies dealt in by a BDCs are derived from private sources and such other sources which may include the CBN window as determined by the CBN from time to time for the purpose of funding Business Travel Allowance (BTA), Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), School Fees Payment abroad, Medicals, mortgage and subscription. There are also other autonomous sources such as diaspora remittances, walk in customers and bank sources. He said ABCON is now training compliance officers to ensure they are acquainted with what is required of them, especially on monthly rendition of results and tracking illicit capital flows through compliance.
According to Gwadabe, BDCs are complying with the rendition of suspicious transactions reports as directed by NFIU, CBN, and EFCC.
“Directors of BDCs are being trained, and after training, whoever is found wanting will be recommended for sanctions,” he said.
He said BDCs are required to comply with all extant rules & regulations prescribed by the CBN, while the CBN closely supervises and monitors their operations.
“In compliance with the provisions of Bank and Other Financial Institutions (BOFIA) as amended, every BDC renders returns to the CBN in prescribed format and within the deadline stipulated by the CBN. The records of the BDCs are made readily available to the CBN examiners as and when requested including carrying out customer due diligence, corporate governance and tax returns,” he said.
He said that ABCON has over the years established itself as a key player in the BDC industry, and has also made several commitments and sacrifices to ensure that the sector continue to thrive despite all odds.
“The recognition of the role of BDCs in Nigeria financial sector remains the first step to building a sustainable and viable forex market that is comparable to what is obtainable in other developed economies. But getting the Nigerian BDC sector to where it is desired to be demands hard-work, quality leadership, regulatory foresight and sound government policies,” he said.
Digitisation/ Transaction Margin Review
Gwadabe said that BDCs have achieved major success with the digitisation of their operations as operators can now file their reports from convenient point without clustering at CBN’s offices.
He said ABCON digitised BDCs operations with the official launch and take off of the ABCON Live Run Automation Portal in Lagos. The project, which has the backing of the CBN ended decades of manual filling of regulatory reports by BDCs and enhanced global competitiveness of operators.