LICENCING REGIME FOR INTERNATIONAL MONEY TRANSFER SERVICES

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THE BACKGROUND

Central Bank of Nigeria’s Guidelines on International Money Transfer Services in Nigeria, 2014 (the “Guideline”), governs our international money transfer services. No person shall carry on business of international money transfer services without Central Bank of Nigeria’s (the “CBN”) licence.

Certain changes that CBN introduced in subsequent regulatory frameworks apply to international money transfer services (the “international money transfer”). The Guideline required all in-bound international money transfer to be paid to customers in Naira only.

In CBN’s December, 2020, amendment to procedures for receipt of diaspora remittances, CBN allowed customer to enjoy preferences on payment currency on any in-bound international money transfer.

International money transfer transactions may be broadly categorized as out-bound or in-bound transfers. Out-bound money transfer is a fund transfer by any person in Nigeria to a beneficiary outside Nigeria while in-bound money transfer is the reverse.

The World Bank in November 2021, reported that remittance cost is still very high in Nigeria, at an average cost of 8% of (sum sought to be transferred) in Q1, 2021 as against year 2020 average cost of 8.9%.

Deposit money banks that include national or reginal banks as well as microfinance banks cannot act as money transfer services operators (“MTSO”). This prohibition opens a wider door of competitiveness to any other businesses that want to operate as MTSO in Nigeria.

Any persons who is not qualified to be on the employment of banks, is disqualified from applying for Money Transfer Service licence or if already an MTSO, stands disqualified.

RESTRICTIONS ON APPLICATION FOR MTSO LICENCE

All the conditions stated in BOFIA (Banking and other financial institution act) 2020 that exclude certain individuals from the management of banks are incorporated in the Guidelines.

Any MTSO’s proposed management must satisfy a bank’s management eligibility criteria except with the written permission of the CBN’s Governor.

Similarly, shareholders and officers of an MTSO or a proposed MTSO is disquaified in accordance with BOFIA 2020. Ineligibility criteria include:

  • unsoundness of mind;
  • ill-health capable of impairing ability to perform official functions
  • bankruptcy or suspended payments or compounding credits
  • criminal conviction involving dishonesty or fraud
  • guilty of serious misconduct in relation to duties
  • disqualified or suspended professional in Nigeria.

LICENCING REQUIREMENT OF AN MTSO

An application for MTSO licence shall be submitted to the office of the Director, Trade & Exchange Department, CBN, Abuja, accompanied with the following documents:

  • board of director’s approval to offer IMTS
  • copy of certificate of incorporation, certified-true-copy of memorandum & articles of association – object clause must include IMTS.
  • shareholding structure and applicable corporate affair commissions forms
  • profiles of board members and management together with curriculum vitae that should include functional contact e-mails and telephone numbers
  • business plan that will include features of the scheme; internal control systems and (risk) monitoring procedures; security features; and organogram
  • 3 years financial projections/market analysis
  • transaction and other charges that will be borne by customers
  • profit sharing agreement among the parties
  • diagrammatic illustration of transaction flows – MTSO and foreign partner
  • consumer protection and dispute resolution mechanism
  • information technology policy that will include data protection and privacy policy; information ownership/disclosure/loss policy; back-up and restore policy; network security policy; encryption policy; password policy; third party connection policy; incidence response policy; physical security policy; enterprise risk management framework and; business continuity plan.
  • draft agreements with the participating parties
  • tax clearance certificate for three (3) years
  • project deployment plan and credit reports and any other information that cbn may require from time to time.
  • evidence authorized share capital of two billion Naira for Nigerian companies and
  • fifty million Naira or its equivalent for foreign companies, plus the guarantee of the parent company’s presence in at least 7 different countries.

Applicant for MTSO licence must show proof of non-refundable application fee of five hundred thousand Naira or such other amount that CBN may specify from time-to-time, payable to the CBN by electronic transfer.

CONCLUSION

Where MTSO’s business model include collaboration with a foreign technical partner (“foreign partner”) that will provide global or regional payment or money transfer platform, the MTSO is required to obtain a letter of no objection from the CBN.

Pre-conditions for CBN’s letter of no objection include evidence of foreign partner’s:

  • licence in home country
  • minimum net worth of US$1 million
  • record of international money transfer

Subject to CBN’s due diligence.

Inbound international money transfer services are high-volume transactions in Nigeria. Business offering financial technology services and other related non-banking financial services may consider building a payment processing platform that will enable it offer to Nigerians and residents international money transfer services.

Osita Enwe heads SRJ’s Fin Tech, Education law and Agribusiness law practice groups