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FirstBank driving dollar remittances, economic growth through IMTOS



For centuries, there have been heated debates over the sources of economic growth in developing economies and why some countries reflect strong economic growth compared to others.
The hypotheses have often centred around crude oil, agriculture, revenues, private capital, bubbling stock market, stable security, low unemployment rate, high standard of living amongst others. But in recent times, one factor that has been added to this list is diaspora remittances as it is one of the major international financial resources, which sometimes exceed the flows of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Remittances promote economic growth by increasing household income and increasing income creates the opportunity to boost consumer spending, accumulation of assets, promotion of self-employment, and investment in small business.

Data from the World Bank in 2014 indicates that global remittances stood at $430 billion dollar in 2011 and was 0.31 per cent of global GDP in 2009. The impact of remittances on any economy is more profound in developing countries because they receive $307.1 billion of the total N416 billion inward remittances, amounting to about 74 percent.

Remittances also account for about 27 percent of the GDP of developing countries. According to the World Bank, remittances flows to the developing world have reached $414 billion in 2013 (up 6.3 per cent over 2012), and are now, behind foreign direct investment, the second largest source of external financial flows to developing countries.


Daily Sun investigations reveal that the enormous upward movement in remittances payments may be attributed largely to two factors, namely; immigration between developing and developed countries which increased dramatically in the past 20 years and declined in transaction costs as technological improvements have allowed for faster, lower cost mechanisms for the international transfer of payments between individuals.

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This means that it is different from other external capital inflows like foreign direct investment, foreign loans and aids due to its stable nature. Little wonder why the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) unveiled a new policy in 2020 that granted unfettered access to forex from the diaspora and other money transfer remittances like Western Union and MoneyGram.

The bank also clarified transactions that are eligible under the policy in line with global best practices. The policy allows beneficiaries of diaspora remittances through International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) to henceforth receive such inflows in the original foreign currency through designated bank of their choice. It explained that the new regulation was part of efforts to liberalise, simplify and improve receipt and administration of diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

Under the new policy, recipients of remittances may have the option of receiving such funds in foreign currency cash (US Dollars) or into their ordinary domiciliary account.

“These changes are necessary to deepen the foreign exchange market, provide more liquidity and create more transparency in the administration of Diaspora remittances into Nigeria,” the apex bank stated.


It explained that the changes would help finance a future stream of investment opportunities for Nigerians in the Diaspora, while also guaranteeing that the recipients of remittances would receive a market- reflective exchange rate for their inflows.

Backed by these words, several commercial banks swung into action to tap into this virgin zone by introducing a variety of offers that yield fruits as more remittances started coming in.

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However, the CBN in March 2021, in a bid to encourage more inflows, introduced a new incentive tagged “Naira 4 Dollar Scheme”. In a circular signed by Saleh Jibrin, CBN ‘s Director, Trade and Exchange Department, said, the scheme would allow all recipients of diaspora remittances to be paid N5 for everyone dollar received.

This explains why First Bank of Nigeria Limited chose to expand diaspora remittances inflow into the country by increasing its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) targeted at easing accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner.

Before then, it was on record that FirstBank has maintained a long-standing partnership with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The Bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs including Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflows into the country, thus putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the bank’s 750 branches especially in this Yuletide season.


For potential customers without an existing domiciliary account, they can have their dollar account automatically created for their remittances and can also receive inflow directly into their account through Western Union.  In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, and FBNBank Senegal.

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Reiterating the bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said, “At First Bank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.

We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are across the world.”

Having been at the forefront of pioneering international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago, it is safe to say the bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.

With its total principal standing at N100 billion and over one million customers to service in 2020, FirstBank is providing prospective investors wishing to explore the vast business opportunities that are available in Nigeria, an internationally competitive world-class brand, a credible financial partner, thus promoting economic growth and development.


Culled from The Sun 

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Accion MfB, Justrite launch credit purchase for customers



Accion Microfinance Bank and Justrite Superstore, an e-commerce firm, are partnering to enable customers to purchase goods from the store and pay back later.

This was disclosed at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at Accion MfB’s office in Lagos State.

The duo said the partnership would encourage creditworthiness among the customers as only qualified customers would benefit from the initiative.

The Managing Director, Accion MfB, Taiwo Joda, said the initiative would enable customers to make purchases and pay back later.


While everyone was free to apply and benefit, he said only credit-worthy customers would be considered for it.

The managing director said, “We are launching a collaboration between Accion Microfinance Bank and Justrite. We will be providing the needed funds for customers of Justrite and our customers to be able to buy products from Justrite and pay later.

“We are providing the financial capacity for customers to walk into any Justrite shop and shop and some may decide to pay in a week, a month, or the next day. The initiative is like a credit wallet or loan.”

According to him, with the technology it has, it would look at the individual customers selected, their financial history, capability, and willingness to pay, and put all these together to see their creditworthiness.

He added, “Your credit history will show how much should be given to you. It is going to be for customers who qualify but everybody can apply.”

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Cross-Border Traders Abandon Businesses as Naira’s Value Plummets



The Nigerian Naira’s continuous decline in value has had a significant impact on cross-border traders and the economy. At the close of business last Friday, the Naira traded at N2,010 per CFA1000 in the West African sub-region.

Over the weekend, the Naira traded at N1,870 per CFA1000 in the open market, and just last Thursday, it was sold at N1,800 at one of Nigeria’s busiest land borders, the Seme-Krake border in Lagos.

This ongoing devaluation of the Naira has led many cross-border traders to abandon their businesses, and it has also had a ripple effect on the prices of commodities. For instance, petrol is now being sold at a record high of over CFA 1000 (approximately N2,010) per liter. This has made smuggling of petrol a lucrative business since the removal of subsidies in May.

Furthermore, the scarcity of CFA Francs in circulation has forced markets in Niger Republic’s bordering communities to transact in Naira. Residents and traders in these areas have reported that Naira is now the dominant currency in provinces bordering Nigerian states like Borno, Yobe, Kano, Katsina, and Sokoto.


Aminu Abdulkadir, a resident of Diffa, mentioned that the CFA Franc has become extremely scarce in Niger Republic since a military coup. He noted that Naira is widely used for transactions, except at filling stations and for government revenue remittances.

The scarcity of the CFA Franc has compelled many businesses to switch to the Naira, which is more readily available. Some traders have attributed the CFA Franc shortage to government officials’ hoarding and suspicions of external influence, while others claim that Nigerians are coming into Niger to exchange CFA Francs for dollars, causing the value of the Naira to drop further against the Franc.

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As a result of the Naira’s steep devaluation, cross-border businesses, such as the trade of rice and frozen poultry products, have become significantly less lucrative. The price of a 50kg bag of rice, previously selling for N9,000 to N12,500, has surged to about N35,000 across the Seme border. Similarly, a carton of frozen poultry products, previously priced at N8,000, is now being sold for N28,000.

Traders who used to benefit from cross-border business are now facing financial challenges, as the Naira’s value continues to deteriorate. John Ebube, a trader in Lagos, highlighted that the Naira’s decline started around two months ago, with the exchange rate plummeting from about N1200 to CFA 1000 in August to the current rate of N2,010.

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Lagos: Access Bank pledges sustainable growth via landmark projects



Leading financial institution, Access Bank PLC, has entered into an agreement with the African Export-Import Bank to support and finance key trade-enabling projects in Lagos State to the tune of $1.352 billion.

The signing ceremony took place on the sidelines of the 2023 AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum.

The Forum, which took place in Georgetown, Guyana, had in attendance key delegates, including the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank PLC, Herbert Wigwe; and President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah.

Commenting on the agreement, Wigwe said: “This landmark agreement underscores our commitment to fostering economic growth in Lagos, with a broader view to increase the continent’s trade potential.


“Through our strategic collaboration with Afreximbank, we are poised to drive more inter-African and intra-African trade and investment, creating a brighter future for all.

“In addition to supporting infrastructure, we will also be aiming to improve the levels of food sufficiency in Lagos as well as upscaling the volume of the State’s Internally Generated Revenue in order to spur the growth in its GDP and achieve wide scale economic resilience.

“Across the Access Group, we will continue to make deliberate efforts towards championing sustainable initiatives that will change the global narrative about Africa and Africans.”

Some of the legacy projects highlighted in the collaboration include the Fourth Mainland Bridge, second phase of the Blue Line Rail, Omu Creek Project, Lekki-Epe International Airport and Lagos Food Systems and Logistics Hub in Epe.

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Oramah said: “Afreximbank’s partnership with Access Bank to support Lagos State in executing these critical projects is part of our strategy for the African Sub-Sovereign Governments Network.


“The Network serves as yet another ingenious strategic initiative aimed at firmly establishing an intra-continental trade investment development frontier as it is only through supporting and strengthening trade and investment initiatives at such deeper levels of citizen administration, that Africa be able to fully realise the potential value of its much vaunted 1.3 billion population as a captivating common market for goods and services under AfCFTA.”

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