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ABCON seeks collaboration, guidance with SEC on digital currency harmonisation

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The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has reached out to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to propose a collaborative effort on harmonising the nation’s digital currency and peer-to-peer (P2P) forex sectors.

Aminu Gwadabe, the ABCON president, in a recent courtesy visit to Timi Agama, the newly appointed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) director-general, called attention to pressing challenges faced by the sector.

Gwadabe highlighted the threat posed by unregulated online virtual transaction platforms that allow millions of Nigerians to engage in untraceable and unaccountable foreign exchange trading.

He underscored the organisation’s investment in technology to safeguard the future of Bureau de Change (BDC) businesses and maintain the integrity of the sub-sector. Recognising digital currency’s pivotal role in this future, Gwadabe expressed ABCON’s commitment to adapting to the evolving financial landscape.

The meeting with Agama and the SEC executive board was a follow-up to an earlier online consultation, reaffirming ABCON’s dedication to collaborating with regulatory bodies and promoting the sustainable growth of Nigeria’s financial sector through the adoption of digital currency and innovative technology, Gwadabe noted.

The meeting enabled the provision of insights into the organisation’s role as the leading representative body for all licensed retail foreign exchange dealers, established in 1991, as a liaison between regulatory authorities, key stakeholders, and security agencies to foster transparency in the retail foreign exchange market.

Gwadabe stated further: “As at today, there are over 34 million Nigerians dealing in digital currency and the number is rising by about 9% with a huge market of $9 billion annually. There are thousands of multichannel virtual currency FX platforms and none is indigenous to Nigeria, adding that P2P represents individual to individual transaction.

“To automate the entire foreign exchange retail market, ABCON has partnered with the Commodities Exchange Board, in building the platform knowing that they have sources of foreign exchange. ABCON is willing to work with SEC towards achieving full automation of the retail end of the foreign exchange market in Nigeria.

“Hence, in line with changing global business trends and ABCON’s compliance efforts towards technological innovation, the association on behalf of its membership would be pleased to be granted licence to operate in digital currency transactions. This would entail that whoever has USDT and wants to trade it should approach licensed BDCs for their transactions.”

Timi Agama the SEC DG responded with a robust understanding of the ABCON president’s speech. He said: “I understand that ABCON is desirous of setting up a digital market platform with the intention to be part of the emerging digital currency ecosystem in Nigeria. We at the SEC are open to help the sector grow for the love of the country therefore there will be meetings with the relevant departments of the SEC to detail methods and strategies that will strengthen the Naira through necessary innovative ideas as shared by ABCON.”

Agama emphasised the commission’s dedication to fostering local talent in the development of digital platforms and ensuring robust regulatory oversight of the virtual currency market.He also pointed out that new rules have been implemented to support the growth of locally-developed digital platforms and expressed the SEC’s willingness to collaborate with ABCON in achieving their shared objectives.

Given his extensive knowledge of the virtual currency market, Agama urged ABCON to expedite the finalisation of their proposed digital market model, Koletyomoni, and submit it to the SEC technical team for timely review.

He acknowledged the presence of competing interests and emphasised the need for swift action in shaping the market’s future.

Furthermore, Agama underscored the government’s authority through the SEC and affirmed the commission’s readiness to exercise its powers to maintain order and stability in the issuance, marketing, and trading of securities within Nigeria’s capital market.

Oluwasegun Kosemani, technical partner of ABCON, expressed gratitude to the SEC DG and his experienced team for their warm reception and attentive engagement with the association.

Kosemani further informed the SEC of the substantial resources allocated for research and development of the platform and outlined plans to collaborate with key stakeholders in Nigeria’s blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem, such as BICCoN, CDIN, SIBAN, DCC, Bitcoin organisations, local peer-to-peer exchanges, and merchants.

Leveraging ABCON’s wealth of experience, operations, KYC, compliance, and AML capabilities, Kosemani highlighted the platform’s primary goal of harmonising data and ensuring that digital FX merchants operate under a transparent and legitimate framework. He explained further that the  collaborative approach seeks to discourage fraudulent activities and contribute to the government’s revenue through taxes on transactions facilitated by the platform, ultimately enhancing the overall transparency and convenience of the digital foreign exchange market in Nigeria.

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Money market

Naira slumps marginally at official, parallel windows

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The naira slumped marginally against the United States dollar on Friday. Data from the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) showed that the domestic currency traded at N1, 485.53/$1 on Friday.

At the end of trading today, the naira lost less than N1 against the dollar as against the N1,485.36/$1 it recorded on Thursday.

The intra-day high and low recorded during the day were N1, 505/$1 and N1, 401/$1 respectively, representing a very lean spread of N104\$1.

Similarly, the naira slumped against the dollar at the parallel section of the market to trade at N1,495/$1, as against the N1,490/$1 it traded the previous trading day.

However, the Nigerian currency appreciated slightly against the British Pound to trade at N1,890\£1 s against the previous trading day’s N1,900\£1. For several weeks consecutively, the Canadian dollar closed flat against the naira to trade at N1,200| CA$1.

The naira also lost N10 against the Euro to trade at N1,590/€1 as against the previous trading day’s N1,580/€1.

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CBN, OPS collaborate to boost Nigeria’s financial sector

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By Opeyemi Abdulsalam

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently hosted a meeting with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to discuss strategies for enhancing Nigeria’s financial sector.

The meeting aimed to improve monetary policy communication and guidance to boost Nigeria’s image in the global investment community.

CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, emphasised the importance of private sector contributions to economic policy and pledged to establish a framework for collaboration and regular interactions with OPS leadership.

“The private sector is a critical engine of our economy. This meeting underscores our commitment to working collaboratively with stakeholders to create a more robust and investor-friendly financial environment,” Cardoso said.

The CBN presented an overview of the economy’s trajectory, highlighting the deceleration of inflation and expectations of moderation.

The Bank assured the private sector of its commitment to building trust, ensuring price stability, and implementing monetary policies to support economic growth and stability in foreign exchange rates.

The meeting also addressed concerns about macroeconomic risks, exchange rate volatility, and the need for development finance support.

The CBN and OPS agreed to work together to create a more robust and investor-friendly financial environment.

“We appreciate the CBN’s open dialogue and interest in ensuring the manufacturing industry and other organised private sectors are abreast of the bank’s policies,” said Otunba Francis Meshioye, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

The meeting demonstrated the CBN’s commitment to collaboration and its willingness to listen to the concerns of the private sector.

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Sterling Bank, SMEDAN partner on data platform, Databanc

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Sterling Bank and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria have launched a platform called Databanc that provides data on businesses in Nigeria and N5bn worth of single-digit loan programmes.

A statement from the bank said that Databank provides insights which will be utilised by SMEDAN to deliver its mandate on policy formulation and a unique identification for small businesses and their promoters.

Speaking at the launch of the platform, the Executive Director of Commercial and Institutional Banking at Sterling Bank, Tunde Adeola, described the platform and fund as evidence of Sterling Bank’s commitment towards growing the real sector of the nation’s economy.

Adeola said, “We are delighted to bolster the backbone of our economy with SMEDAN. This initial fund of N5bn marks just the beginning of what has been and will continue to be a mainstay of our approach to funding businesses to grow at scale, and become the preferred financial partner for businesses, no matter their scale.”

He added that over 20,000 SMEs had enrolled on the Databanc platform, with over 80 beneficiaries of the single-digit loan programme and further disbursements ongoing.

He encouraged all MSMEs in the country to enrol on the platform.

SMEDAN’s Director-General, Mr Charles Odii, represented by the Director of Agribusiness Development and Access to Finance, Levi Anyikwa, highlighted the programme’s alignment with SMEDAN’s mission to democratise credit access for nano and micro-enterprises.

Anyikwa affirmed that access to finance remained a significant hurdle for SMEs, and restated SMEDAN’s commitment to removing that barrier.

The Head of SME Digital Products at Sterling Bank, Bolanle Tyson, emphasised Sterling Bank’s strategic focus on critical sectors encapsulated in the HEART of Sterling forward strategy: Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy, and Transportation.

She said, “We are leveraging data to empower SMEs like never before. Our commitment to SMEs is steadfast. We recognise their pivotal role in driving Nigeria’s GDP and employment. This partnership with SMEDAN underscores our shared dedication to their success.”

The latest study from Visa, the SME Megatrends report showed that SMEs in Nigeria remained heavily underserved and underbanked with a considerable amount of SMEs relying on personal loans and informal credit, as they face obstacles and requirements that make it difficult to secure loans from banks and other formal lending institutions.

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