CBN’s Exploitative Strategy to Squeeze Bureau De Change Operators Revealed

May 24, 2024 0 Posted By Kaptain Kush

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), under the leadership of Olayemi Cardoso, recently issued a circular that has sent shockwaves through the Bureau De Change (BDC) community across the nation. 

This directive mandates all BDC operators to reapply for their operating licenses, introducing a series of changes that many believe are designed to exploit these financial service providers.

The Real BDC Operators

To clarify, the BDC operators impacted by this directive differ from the street-level money changers in bustling cities like Lagos and Abuja, who vocally solicit currency exchanges. Instead, this refers to their top bosses—figures such as Alhaji, Mr. Emeka, or Femi—who run these operations from offices and are constantly engaged in negotiations and rate confirmations over the phone.

BDC operators are categorized into two tiers. Category (Tier) 1 operators are larger and more capable, akin to commercial banks, whereas Category (Tier) 2 operators function similarly to microfinance banks, with limited capacity compared to their Tier 1 counterparts.

Previous Licensing Structure

Previously, each BDC held a license issued by the CBN, which was renewed annually for a nominal fee: N5k for Tier 1 and N1k for Tier 2. Starting a BDC required initial registration with the CBN, with a capital requirement of N2 million for Tier 1 and N500k for Tier 2. This capital represents the startup funds needed in the operator’s account.

The New Exploitative Strategy

Instead of the usual license renewal process, the CBN is terminating all existing licenses and demanding fresh registrations. In a move that many see as extraordinarily exploitative, the required capital for registration has been quietly increased from N2 million to N2 billion for Tier 1 and from N500k to N5 million for Tier 2.

But the exploitation doesn’t stop there. Previously, Tier 1 operators paid a non-refundable license fee of N5k and a non-refundable application fee of N1k, totaling N6k. Tier 2 operators paid a license fee of N2k and a non-refundable application fee of N250, totaling N2,250. These fees are still listed in the CBN guidelines available on their website.

With the new registration process, the fees have skyrocketed. Tier 1 operators now face a non-refundable application fee of N1 million and a non-refundable license fee of N5 million, totaling N6 million. Tier 2 operators must now pay a non-refundable application fee of N250k and a non-refundable license fee of N2 million, totaling N2.25 million, as outlined in the recent circular.

The Implications

With these exorbitant increases, the CBN sends a clear message: either shut down your operations or endure financial exploitation. This raises the question of whether the CBN genuinely attempts to regulate the sector or merely exploits BDC operators.

Furthermore, this move appears contradictory, given the CBN’s ongoing efforts to stabilize the Naira. Exploiting BDCs, a critical part of the currency exchange ecosystem, could further destabilize the Naira, exacerbating the issue the CBN claims to be addressing.

The Bureaucratic Nightmare

Adding to the frustration is the anticipated bureaucratic nightmare. Under the current CBN structure, obtaining a license will likely involve navigating a maze of red tape, favoritism, and connections, making it an arduous process for those with the right political or financial clout.


In conclusion, the CBN’s new strategy is cunning yet exploitative, placing undue financial strain on BDC operators. This move threatens the livelihoods of these operators and risks further destabilizing the Nigerian currency. 

It remains to be seen how this policy will unfold, but the immediate reaction from the BDC community is one of apprehension and distrust.

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