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Why Some Banks Stopped Foreign Exchange Withdrawal Using Naira Debit Cards

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Frequent travellers in the country may have to come up with alternatives as some commercial banks have decided to suspend the withdrawal of foreign exchange using Naira debit cards outside the country.

GT Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria are some of the banks said to have reportedly suspended withdrawal.  Banks that have enabled ATM cash withdrawal include UBA, Zenith Bank, Ecobank Nigeria and Skye Bank.

Nigeria relies on crude oil revenue, as its major source of foreign exchange. A drop in dollar liquidity led the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) instructing banks to suspend , and banning several items from the official foreign exchange market.

Foreign exchange liquidity has since improved and the nation’s foreign exchange reserves hit an all time of $37 billion in December 2017. They are currently $39 billion.

Why are the banks doing this ?

According to the Punch, the banks may have opted for this step in order not to be caught unawares in the event of a depreciation of the Naira, as witnessed last year. A Naira depreciation means the banks would have to make provisions in Naira than planned.

At the peak of the foreign exchange liquidity crisis in the country, some Nigerians engaged in round tripping, by depositing Naira and withdrawing it as foreign exchange abroad.

A recent report by ratings agency Fitch had suggested that banks in the country, may witness a drop in profits due to a drop in the issuance of treasury bills, and the absence of one off gains in devaluation. The banks may have thus decided to be cautious.

What are the options available?

For frequent travellers or those with dependants abroad, they could decide to open a domiciliary account and get a dollar denominated card. POS and web transactions are not affected. They could also decide to travel with cash.

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