Central Bank Increases Foreign Exchange Allocations to banks for SMEs, tuition fees, travellers

To accommodate consumer demands, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced an increase in the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks.

This comes after demands from travelers seeking foreign cash for travel allowances, tuition and medical expenses, and other Invisibles, as well as a warning from CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele during a meeting with Managing Directors of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).

The warning was, however, in response to client concerns and difficulty in obtaining foreign cash from banks, with the top bank threatening to take action against any bank that denies clients the ability to purchase foreign money for lawful purposes.

On Sunday, June 6, 2021, the Acting Director of the CBN’s Corporate Communications Department, Osita Nwanisobi, confirmed the discussions during the meeting of bank chiefs.

Emefiele reportedly issued a warning to bank CEOs to avoid denying clients, particularly travelers, the ability to purchase foreign currency.

This includes foreign exchange for Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), university fees, and medical payments, as well as transactions involving Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or the repatriation of FDI revenues.

According to the sources, the CBN may establish hotlines for dissatisfied clients to report banks that refuse to sell foreign currency to them despite having provided the necessary papers.


Commenting on the issue, Nwanisobi stated that the bank was dedicated to maintaining liquidity in the foreign exchange market and meeting genuine and lawful customer needs.

“The CBN decided to raise the amount granted to banks for travelers, SME’s, and other purposes,” he said.

The banks also agreed to run something close to a foreign exchange deposit account, in which the banks’ coffers would be replenished as long as they returned the initial amounts to the CBN’s satisfaction.”

Nwanisobi asked members of the public who want to buy foreign currency for PTA, BTA, tuition fees, or medical bills to go to their local banks.

“We want to reassure the public that the CBN will continue to monitor market developments and is dedicated to ensuring an efficient FX market for all lawful users,” he said.

If their demands are not satisfied, Nwanisobi advised people to contact the Central Bank of Nigeria via its toll-free number: 07002255226 or send an email to cpd@cbn.gov.ng.


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