Dollar scarcity persists as demand overwhelms Travelex – Today

Dollar scarcity has been linked to the inability of Travelex, the sole dollar distributor appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to meet increasing demand from bureaux de change (BDCs).

The three-week-old pilot scheme which allows Travelex to solely sell dollars to BDCs seems to be faltering, it was learnt yesterday.

Travelex, a global forex dealer, was last month appointed the sole dollar distributor by the CBN but the firm does not have the spread to cover over 3,000 BDCs across the six geopolitical zones.

A source said Travelex, which sold dollars to a little above 1,000 out of 3,000 BDCs nationwide, was only focusing on the Lagos market, while demands from other regions were not met. The figure was also far less than the 1,600 BDCs within the Lagos market.

BDCs in Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Benin, Maiduguri, Onitsha and other major cities are yet to get dollars since Travelex started the distribution role, the source said.

Travelex Nigeria General Manager, Anthony Enwereji said the project was a pilot scheme with the policy direction still under study. He, however, said that since Travelex was appointed to sell dollars to BDCs, the naira exchange rate against the dollar has improved.

The CBN last month stopped banks from accessing Diaspora remittances estimated at $21 billion annually, after it was discovered that the lenders were not playing by the rules.

A source said despite the pressure from the BDCs for the CBN to approve more independent dollar distributors, nothing is being done about it. “We need more dollar distributors that would serve BDCs outside the Lagos market,” the source said.

Travelex is the world’s largest foreign exchange bureau. It has in recent months been opening retail shops across major locations in Nigeria, such as airports and highbrow areas to enable it meet the rising forex demand, and fill the vacuum created by the apex bank’s stoppage of the Deposit Money Banks from selling dollars to BDCs.