Nigeria: UBA's Africa Presence As Elixir for Remittances

2 August 2021

United Bank for Africa Plc's strong presence in 20 African countries is a game changer for diaspora remittances.

Global remittances are said to be the most probable largest channel of external finance in developing countries.

Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), remittances play a vital role in arresting poverty, which might affect the socio-economic existence of a country.

Therefore, it is safe to say remittances are a major driver of long-run growth and development. Having said that, It's imperative to build productive capacities, transform the structure of economies, generate employment and reduce poverty.

In recent times, African countries have had relatively good economic growth performance. However, average investment rates on the continent remain low relative to what is considered necessary to achieve national development goals.

They are also low relative to the average rate for developing countries. These facts suggest that Africa's recent growth may be fragile and that it is unlikely to be sustained in the medium to long term if current trends continue. The key question, then, is how can Africa catalyse investment for sustained and transformative growth.

One of the quick wins and most effective solution to this challenge in recent times are remittances from Nigerians living abroad which has significantly increased domestic income, social welfare and economic development. The economic benefits of remittance inflows have similarly proven to be instrumental in funding cash and non-cash investments thereby fostering new businesses, servicing debts and essentially... drive economic growth. One Nigerian bank with an enviable foot print across Africa; present in 20 countries to be precise has done well to make far reaching impact on the continent and has in no small way brought about unprecedented growth in Nigeria and the countries where it is present.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and banks work closely to broaden the scope and scale of diaspora inflows through formal remittance channels dominated by International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs). The United Bank for Africa (UBA) has through its operation in 20 African countries and partnership with IMTOs supported Nigeria's foreign capital inflows and CBN's policies on exchange rate stability, reserve accretion, job creation, poverty reduction and economic growth.

Without a doubt, diaspora remittances continue to remain major sources of stable external financing for Nigeria and developing countries. Countries have continued to harness these benefits despite the global fall in remittance flows in the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To keep the dollar flows coming, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks work closely to constantly improve Nigeria's remittance infrastructure, ease the process of international money transfer and simplify the experience for senders and recipients.

For these stakeholders, the efficiency of remittance services, especially as provided through commercial banks' and International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs') partnerships are critical to boosting dollar liquidity in the economy.

PwC Forecast

The PwC forecasts suggest that Nigeria's remittance flows could reach $34.89 billion by 2023, hence the need for the apex bank and commercial banks to continually work closely to ensure that more funds flow into the economy.

In this regard, the CBN had urged banks to develop products and investments vehicles, geared towards attracting funds from Nigerians in the diaspora.

Such channels for sending and receiving funds from the diaspora are expected to be seamless and convenient to their customers.

In compliance with this directive, the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, with operations in 20 African countries, has used its wide network to boost foreign capital flows to the economy.

The UBA partnership with top IMTOs is ensuring convenience in sending and receiving money from anywhere in the world.

For instance, through the bank's remittance partners, customers can receive money directly into their UBA account or pick up cash at any of its branches nationwide.

UBA has also created money transfer services that allow customers to deposit, transfer and withdraw cash in local currencies across 20 African countries.

The UBA, led by its Group Managing Director/CEO Kennedy Uzoka, is also implementing the ongoing 'Naira for Dollar' policy of the CBN, which gives a N5 rebate for every $1 sent by Nigerians in the diaspora.

According to CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the new measure would help to make the process of sending remittance through formal bank channels cheaper and more convenient for Nigerians in the diaspora.

In a circular to all authorised dealers and deposit money banks, the apex bank said the policy, which was to end on Saturday, May 8, will continue till further notice.

Forex Trading Associate, AZA, a global forex dealer, Oghenefejiro Eduviere, said the 'Naira for Dollar' policy will continually support exchange rate stability and boost dollar flows to the economy.

Operational Guidelines for IMTOs

International money transfer is a fast and secure electronic payment service that allows money transfer across African countries and beyond.

Although the operational guideline for each IMTO differs, the objective remains to provide seamless and affordable money transfer service to beneficiaries.

According to UBA, to send or receive money through IMTOs would require completing a form indicating the IMTO service, Bank Verification Number, savings or current UBA account, valid means of Identification for non-account holders (National I.D card, International Passport, Drivers licence or Nigerian Voters Card).

For receivers, a Personal Identification Number (PIN) code provided by the sender is required.

The bank says it remains one of the leading banks in terms of remittance services across Africa. "We are currently ranked number two in Money Gram, number three in Western Union and Ria money transfer services. In April, our cumulative transaction count was 33,000 and the amount remitted through UBA was about 14.03 million," it said.

The bank added that it remains committed to providing ease and convenience for money transfers across the world.

UBA's partnership with MoneyGram, Western Union, Ria Money Transfer, World Remit, Flutter Wave, AFTAB (Ace Money Transfer), Cash Pot, Colony Capital (Fincode), Swift Payment, Naira Gram, IDTPS Boss Resolution, SmallWorld, Sendwave and Omnex has enabled it to serve more people in the remittance market.

Country Manager, Nigeria and Ghana, at WorldRemit, Gbenga Okejimi, said the company was excited by the fact that it can continue to enable the transfer of remittances to more people across Nigeria whilst also supporting the Nigerian government in its efforts to strengthen the economy.

WorldRemit founder Ismail Ahmed created WorldRemit to ensure that the diaspora community could send money back home easily and through a safe platform. The company said it is constantly evolving, innovating and adapting to ensure that our customers' needs are met efficiently. It added that customers of UBA can access US Dollar pay-out through bank transfer and cash pick up options.

The World Remit does not require a minimum amount for transfer. However, the initial transaction is subject to a maximum of $2,000, while the maximum limit per transaction is $7,500, the total of which must not exceed $50,000 every six months. There are no charges to the beneficiaries.

For instance, with Africash account and non-account holders of UBA can send and receive money in local currency from all its branches across Africa.

"The customer just need to fill Africash form, provide Bank verification Number (BVN), open a savings/current account with the bank. For Verification holders, a valid means of Identification is required while the receiver should have the Personal Identification Number (PIN) code provided by the sender to collect funds," the bank said in an emailed report.

Sending Money

Also, the UBA Connect gives its customers the option of sending or receiving money across 20 African countries with ease. This service is also available to account and non-account holders of the bank.

The bank explained that all the channels are safe, secure, provide competitive rates, easy and convenient.

It stated, "Flutter Wave is safe, secure, and beneficiaries receive transfers within minutes and service available to UBA account and non-account holders. Africash services are available in cash collection and account transfers.

"With the account transfer, the beneficiary needs not to worry about visiting any business location for payment as funds are instantly credited to the beneficiary's account from the send point. Africash is available in US dollars and local currency, where regulations allow US dollar transfer and receivers are to indicate preferred currency."

The Africash pricing, the bank said, reflects the market realities in each country of operation, "but, in all, prices remain competitive. On average, the price is one per cent or less. The transfer limits vary from one country to another. However, a $50,000 weekly transfer limit applies based on countries' regulations. Also, customers can open accounts with Instant Money Transfer International inflow and credit same into the account. The UBA Nigeria Western Union Money Transfer is also a major remittance channel. The Western Union is an international money transfer service, which has been in service for over 149 years."

"It enables you to send and receive money worldwide. With a network in over 200 countries, Western Union controls 20 per cent of all remittance transactions. It is a fast and easy way to send or receive money in naira or dollars and is available at any UBA Branch," the bank said.

It added that the receiver of the fund through Western Union is expected to provide Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN), "sender's full name, receiver's full name, answer to test question (if provided), location (Country) where money is being sent from as well as an amount to be received. Also to be provided are valid, non-expired government-issued photo identity card which includes International Passport, Voter's card, BVN, Nigerian Driver's Licence.

"In the Fast channel, a customer account is credited in approximately 48 hours, depending on the time of initiation of the transaction. Customers can calculate their fees, receive transfer notifications and track transactions online. The customers can also take advantage of loyalty schemes and such services as standing instructions."

It added that the UBA Nigeria Western Union Money Transfer enables people to send and receive money worldwide.

It stated, "With a network in over 200 countries, Western Union controls 20 per cent of all remittance transactions. It is a fast and easy way to send or receive money in naira or dollars and is available at any UBA Branch. Money Gram uses a high-performance, web-based application that makes it easy for customers to receive their money within a few minutes of their payment request.

"You can now send money to over 200 countries from any UBA branch to family and friends. The service has a maximum send limit of $1,000 equivalent per customer every quarter and is available to account and non-account holders.

"With Money Gram, money can be received directly into a UBA account or at a UBA branch with the reference code received from the sender. At the branch, the beneficiary will complete and submit the 'receive form'. Once details have been verified, the beneficiary receives cash in their local currency."

RIA Money Transfer, the bank said, is one of the largest international money transfer companies in the world.

"With a worldwide network in over 140 countries, RIA allows customers to receive the money within minutes directly into their UBA naira account or cash at a UBA Branch close to you from friends and family living abroad, "the bank said.

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