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Central Bank of Nigeria Introduces New Minimum Capital Requirements for Banks

Nigeria’s central bank has announced a significant policy change aimed at safeguarding the stability of its banking sector. In a circular issued on Monday, the bank declared that commercial lenders are no longer permitted to accept foreign currency-denominated collateral for naira loans.

This directive comes in response to observed risks associated with the practice, which the central bank has explicitly prohibited. Instead, the bank has identified specific forms of foreign currency collateral deemed acceptable, including government-issued Eurobonds and offshore bank-issued letters of credit.

Commercial banks have been instructed to promptly wind down existing loans secured with dollar-denominated collateral within a 90-day period, failing which sanctions may be imposed. This move follows a recent strengthening of the Nigerian naira against the US dollar, prompted by the central bank’s actions earlier in the year.

Measures such as consecutive interest rate hikes in February and March, coupled with the relaxation of restrictions on foreign participation in fixed-income auctions, have contributed to this currency appreciation. Additionally, recent policy adjustments facilitating smoother transactions for foreign investors have been well-received.

Analysts note that prior challenges faced by lenders in fulfilling bids from foreign investors have been addressed, with the central bank’s initiatives aimed at enhancing market liquidity and efficiency.

In navigating economic uncertainties, the central bank’s proactive stance underscores its commitment to ensuring financial stability. By banning foreign currency collateral for naira loans, it seeks to mitigate risks and uphold the integrity of Nigeria’s banking sector amid evolving global currency dynamics.

photo source: Google

By: Montel Kamau

Serrari Financial Analyst

9th April, 2024

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