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Is Forex trading legal in Nigeria?

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If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is this: No one can survive with one source of income. Also, it is unwise to blindly throw your money into any type of investment. You need something solid, a pandemic-proof opportunity.

This explains why many young Nigerians have been looking seriously into the forex trading sector. It is, afterall, the biggest and most liquid market in the world. And anyone can trade at any time, from the comfort and privacy of their smart gadgets.

However, many wonder if it isn’t counterculture. People can’t quite agree on the morality of making a living from speculating about the rise of the dollar against the pound sterling or the Nigerian naira.

And if you have a low appetite for risk, you probably want to be sure that Forex trading is legal in Nigeria. But before we address this concern, let’s look at a brief definition of Forex trading.

What is Forex Trading?

Forex trading is a type of transaction that involves the buying and selling of currencies.

There are several reasons why people and organizations engage in forex trading including:

  • To make a profit.
  • To regulate the market.
  • To facilitate trade.
  • To encourage tourism, etc.

Forex trading has caught on like wildfire. Like I said earlier, many investors are giving the forex market a go, probably because it seems to be pandemic proof.

The main players in the foreign exchange market in Nigeria include:

The Central Bank of Nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria is, by far, the biggest player in the forex exchange business in Nigeria.

The bank is empowered to make laws and regulations to regulate and control the other players in the forex market.

Since its establishment, the central bank has released so many guidelines depending on prevailing economic circumstances.

Commercial Banks

Most commercial banks in Nigeria are licensed by the central bank to deal in foreign exchange.

Customers of commercial banks both residents and non-residents can open and operate domiciliary accounts.

Authorized Buyers

Authorized buyers are corporate bodies and other end-users approved by the central bank to buy foreign exchange from the banks.

Authorized Dealers

In a bid to further liberalize the export sector in Nigeria, the central bank appointed some authorized dealers to sell forex to end-users.

Oil Companies

The oil companies in Nigeria also play a huge role in the forex trade. They earn a lot of foreign currency from the sale of petroleum products and sell the same to other forex players in Nigeria.

The Legal Regime of Forex in Nigeria

With the rise in forex trade and deals in Nigeria, some are beginning to question the legality of such transactions.

The foreign exchange market in Nigeria is highly volatile owing to the dependence of the country on oil which is the major foreign exchange earner.

Due to this volatility, the Nigerian government, through the Central Bank, the apex bank in the country has tried to come up with measures to regulate the sector.

Foreign exchange regulations and laws empower the Central Bank to make policies to control foreign exchange transactions in Nigeria.

Some of these laws and policies include:

  • The Exchange Control Act of 1962.
  • The Central bank of Nigeria Act.
  • Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2007.
  • The Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.
  • The Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
  • Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market 1982.
  • Bureau De Change 1989.
  • Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (AFEM) 1995.
  • Foreign Exchange Market (IFEM) 1999.

These laws and regulations empower the CBN to periodically regulate transactions that are carried out in foreign currencies.

Offline Forex

Foreign exchange transactions conducted by banks and other authorized dealers are well regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Central Bank regulations permit banks and other approved bodies to engage in foreign exchange trading.

Online Forex

Online forex transaction in Nigeria is relatively new and no specific rules are regulating that division.

However, there is a body called the Association of Online Forex Trading Agent in Nigeria.

This body which is recognized by the government is working with the CBN and other regulatory agencies to come up with a working framework for the trade.

Having said that, local forex traders must abide by extant laws to operate legally in Nigeria.

Many people who are now venturing into forex do not know how it works. They, therefore, consult dealers or brokers who take their money and trade on their behalf.

In Nigeria, it is illegal to trade with other people’s funds as only licensed brokers are authorized to do that.

Forex traders should also note that forex like other business transactions is subject to tax deductions.

Conclusion

The potential of forex trading is enormous for everyone involved because of the huge liquidity of the sector. And although it seems a bit counterculture, it isn’t.

The relevant government bodies are working hard to come up with a comprehensive regulatory framework to control online forex trading in Nigeria.

To avoid breaking the law, it is imperative for those who want to venture into forex to avail themselves of forex regulations.

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CURRENCIES

Exchange rate stabilises at N410/$1 as oil price rallies above $65 per barrel

The exchange rate between the Naira and the US Dollar closed at N410/$1 at the Investors and Exporters window on Monday as oil prices hit $65.24 per barrel

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Monday 22nd February 2021: The exchange rate between the Naira and the US Dollar closed at N410/$1 at the Investors and Exporters window, where forex is traded officially.

Naira remained stable on the NAFEX window to stand at N470 to a dollar on Monday, which is the same rate it closed on the previous trading day.

Also, Naira depreciated on the parallel market to close at N480/$1 on Monday, 22nd February 2021. This represents a N2 drop when compared to N478/$1 recorded on Friday, 19th February 2021.

Brent Crude oil price hit a record high as it closed at $65.24 per barrel as Goldman Sach’s projection indicates bullish trades in Q2 2020.

Trading at the official NAFEX window

The exchange rate between the Naira and Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window maintained the same rate as recorded on Friday last week to close at N410/$1 on Monday, 22nd February 2021.

  • The opening indicative rate closed at N408.04 to a dollar on Monday. This represents a 43 kobo drop when compared to N407.61 to a dollar that was recorded the previous trading day on Friday, February 19, 2021.
  • An exchange rate of N412 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before it closed at N410/$1. It also sold for as low as N389.75/$1 during intra-day trading.
  • Forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window declined by 20.8% on Monday, February 22, 2021.
  • According to the data tracked by Themoneymetrics from FMDQ, forex turnover decreased from $66.41 million recorded on Friday, February 19, 2021, to $52.58 million on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Cryptocurrency Watch

  • The largest cryptocurrency in the world, Bitcoin dipped by 4.76% on Monday to stand $54,753.48 as of 11:10pm.
  • This came after the world’s richest man, Elon Musk disclosed that the price of bitcoin and Ethereum seems to be high.
  • Meanwhile, three days ago, the world’s most demanded crypto-asset breached the $1 trillion market capitalisation to become the sixth most-valuable asset worldwide.
  • It is worth noting that, following the directive of the CBN prohibiting regulated financial institutions from dealing with Cryptos, Nigerians have moved towards peer-to-peer transactions trading directly without a third party.
  • According to a recent study seen by Themoneymetrics , the use of Bitcoin for peer-to-peer lending in Nigeria surged by 16% since the CBN directive took effect about 18 days ago

Crude oil prices top $64 per barrel

Crude oil prices picked up again on Monday as Brent Crude gained an additional $2.33 to close at $65.24 per barrel.

  • The increase represents a 3.7% increase when compared to $62.91 per barrel recorded on the previous trading day.
  • The price increase came shortly after Goldman Sach forecasted that oil prices would climb around $70 per barrel in the second quarter of the year.
  • It could also be attributed to the realization that U.S oil production and refineries will take a bit of time to resume their normal level of output after the Texas Freeze knocked out oil refineries.
  • The oil market rallied despite the news that Saudi Arabia and Russia might be on the verge of a disagreement again over output agreement, which the group will deliberate on in March.
  • Meanwhile, Brent closed at $65.24 (+3.7%), WTI closed at $61.49 (+3.8%), Bonny Light at $62.09 (-1.16%), and Natural Gas closed at $2.946 (-0.24%).

Declining external reserve despite bullish oil prices

Nigeria’s external reserve dipped further on Thursday, 18th February 2021, to stand at $35.47 billion.

  • This represents a decline of 0.15% compared to $35.53 billion recorded as of Wednesday, 17th February 2021.
  • Despite rallying oil prices, Nigeria’s external reserve has recorded a steady decline since the 25th of January 2021, losing a sum of $958.1 million in less than a month.
  • It is worth noting that despite the significant increase recorded earlier in January, the current reserve positive is only $99.9 million more than $35.37 billion recorded as of 31st December 2020.
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CURRENCIES

Exchange rate weakens at NAFEX window as Naira settles at N410/$1

Naira closed against the US Dollar at N410/$1 on Friday, 19th February 2021, indicating a drop of 0.54%

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Friday 19th February 2021: The exchange rate between the Naira and the US Dollar closed at N410/$1 at the NAFEX window, where forex is traded officially. Naira  

Naira closed against the US Dollar at N410/$1, representing a 0.54% drop compared to N407.8/$1 recorded on Thursday 18th February 2021. This is the second time in the week that the exchange rate has closed at N410/$1 and the ninth consecutive trading day it closed over N400/$1.

Also, Naira depreciated at the parallel market to close at N478/$1 on Friday, 19th February 2021This represents a N1 shortfall compared to N477/$1 recorded on the previous day.

Trading at the official NAFEX window

The Naira depreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Friday, closing at N410/$1 for the second time in the week. This represents a N2.2 drop when compared with the N407.8/$1 that it closed on the previous trading day. 

  • The opening indicative rate closed at N407.61 to a dollar on Friday. This represents a 48 kobo drop when compared to N407.13 to a dollar that was recorded the previous trading day on Thursday, February 18, 2021. 
  • An exchange rate of N424.15 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before it closed at N410/$1. It also sold for as low as N390/$1 during intra-day trading. 
  • It is also worth noting that throughout the week, the lowest rate during any inter-day trading was N390/$1. 
  • However, forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window rose by 5.9% on Friday, February 19, 2021. 
  • According to the data tracked by Themoneymetrics from FMDQ, forex turnover increased from $62.69 million on Thursday, February 18, 2021, to $66.41 million on Friday, February 19, 2021. 

Cryptocurrency Watch

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency in the world reached an all-time high on Sunday, 21st 2021 to stand at $58,022.48 as of 9:37 pm. 

  • This is just two days after the world’s most demanded crypto-asset breached the $1 trillion market capitalisation to become the sixth most-valuable asset worldwide. 
  • So far in the year, Bitcoin has gained 97.2% from $29,424.17 recorded as of 31st of December 2020. 
  • Meanwhile, the richest man in the world, Elon Musk disclosed through his twitter handle that the price of the two leading cryptos seems to be in overbought territory. 
  • However, popular American online financial advisory company, Motley Fool disclosed that it will be investing $5 million in Bitcoins in the coming weeks using the firm’s fund. 

Oil price dips as Saudi Arabia moves to reverse oil production cut

Crude oil price (Brent crude) dipped on Friday, 19th February 2021 to close at $62.91. 

  • Brent Crude oil price declined by 1.6% to close at $62.91 on Friday. 
  • The decline in oil prices came on the back of Saudi Arabia’s move to increase oil output. According to reports during the week Saudi Arabia is poised to reverse its 1mbpd voluntary production cut in the coming weeks. 
  • Also, about 4mb/d of US oil production was sidelined due to power outages and other equipment failures during the week, which include the damage of four of Texas’ largest oil refineries. A development that is expected to reduce crude oil demand. 
  • Meanwhile, WTI closed at $59.24 (-2.12%), OPEC Basket gained 1.52% to close at $63.43, Bonny Light closed at $62.09 (-1.16%) while Natural gas dipped by 0.42% to settle at $3.069. 

Dwindling external reserve

  • Nigeria’s external reserve dipped further by Thursday, 18th February 2021, to stand at $35.47 billion. 
  • This represents a decline of 0.15% compared to $35.53 billion recorded as Wednesday, 17th February 2021. 
  • Despite rallying oil prices, Nigeria’s external reserve has recorded a steady decline since 25th of January 2021, losing a sum of $958.1 million in less than a month. 
  • It is worth noting that despite the significant increase recorded earlier in January, the current reserve positive is only $99.9 million more than $35.37 billion recorded as of 31st December 2020. 
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CURRENCIES

Naira gains at NAFEX window as CBN’s intervention in forex market continues

The Naira appreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Tuesday, closing at N393.83/$1.

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On January 5, 2020, the exchange rate between the naira and dollar closed at N393.83/$1, the second trading day of 2021 at the Investors and Exporters’ (NAFEX) window where forex is traded officially.

This is an appreciation from the N394.30 recorded on the previous trading day, January 4, 2021.

Themoneymetrics understands that intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria has forced prices further down on Tuesday, sustaining the appreciation recorded on the last day of trading after the sharp depreciation recorded on the last trading day of 2020.

We also reported last week that the latest round of adjustment at the I&E window is temporary as the rates could fall back below N400/$1.

However, at the black market where forex traded unofficially, the exchange rate continued to remain stable at N470/$1 on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. The exchange rate at the parallel market closed at N470/$1 on the previous trading day January 4, 2021.  It has been trading at N470/$1 since the 29th of December 2020.

The exchange rate disparity between the parallel market and the official market widened again to N76.17 representing a 16% devaluation differential.

NAFEX

The Naira appreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Tuesday, closing at N393.83/$1 as against N394.30 reported on January 4, 2021.

  • This represents a 47 kobo gain when compared with that of the previous trading day.
  • The opening indicative rate was N394.63 to a dollar on Monday. This represents a N15.3 gain when compared to the N409.93 that was recorded on Monday, January 4, 2021.
  • The N411 to a dollar was the highest rate during intra-day trading before, it still closed at N393.83 to a dollar. It also sold for as low as N387.10/$1 during intra-day trading.

Forex turnover: Forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window rose by 47.3% on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

  • According to the data tracked by Themoneymetrics from FMDQ, forex turnover rose from $22.75 million on Monday, January 4, 2021, to $33.51 million on Tuesday, January 5, 2021.
  • The average daily forex sale for last week was about $169.93 million, which represents a huge increase from the $34.5 million that was recorded the previous week.
  • The exchange rate is still being affected by low oil prices, dollar scarcity, a backlog of forex demand, and a shaky economy that has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Can the naira sustain below N400?

Last Thursday, December 31, 2020, the central bank allowed the exchange rate to depreciate to N410.25 as a late demand surge forced prices higher. Even though the highest price for the day was N411, the market still closed lower at N393.83 as the trend from the previous trading day continued, blowing any initial belief that a devaluation had occurred last week.

Devaluation supporters who had expected this to be a nudge towards “market reality” will be surprised by the appreciation recorded on Monday, suggesting that the central bank will continue with the defence of the local currency in the new year. On the flip side, policy supporters will cite this as the effect of market forces.

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