Nigeria’s Central Bank says that two popular United Kingdom-based money transfer companies are not licensed to operate as international money transfer operators (IMTOs) within the country.
The two companies Azimo and TransferWise have seen a steady growth in transaction volumes since the CBN barred IMTOs from paying out remittances in foreign currency. Their higher exchange rates had attracted customers who preferred them to the more established IMTOs. IMTOs are financial companies involved in funds transfers across countries and are usually licensed in several jurisidctions in order to curtail money laundering and terrorism financing.
The CBN’s acting director of corporate communications Osita Nwanisobi said that any person who solicits the services of the two unregistered companies does so at his or her risk.
“The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been drawn to the activities of Messrs. Azimo and Messrs. Transfer Wise, both of which are purportedly transacting business, albeit unauthorised, as International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs),” the statement read.
“The Bank wishes to notify the general public that neither Messrs. Azimo nor Messrs. Transfer Wise is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to operate as an International Money Transfer Operator (IMTO).
“The Public is therefore advised to beware of the activities of Messrs Azimo and TransferWise and desist from patronising the companies forthwith. Anyone who patronises the unregistered companies, does so at his or her own risk.”
While TransferWise has not responded to an email seeking comment, a statement provided by Azimo to Lagos Times reads: “Azimo has provided faster, cheaper money transfers for millions of Nigerians overseas during the last eight years. We have always delivered transfers in Nigeria via local partners who are regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria. We are disappointed that the CBN would describe Azimo in this way, and we look forward to working with them to clarify how we operate.”
The CBN had earlier announced that beneficiaries of diaspora remittances through IMTOs would receive inflows in foreign currency at licensed commercial banks.