In a move that signalled improved foreign exchange (forex) liquidity in the banking system, tier-one lender, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) has raised the monthly international spend limit on its naira MasterCard by 900% to US$1,000 from US$100 effective July 10.
In an e-mail to customers, GTBank said the limit was raised for only electronic transactions online and via point of sale terminals, stressing that rstrictions still remain on cash withdrawal.
The bank stated: â€œWe write to inform you of the monthly spending limits currently applicable when using your GTBank Naira MasterCard for International payments. Kindly note that International cash withdrawal is still restricted.â€
The withdrawal commission, however, has been reviewed upward by 138 per cent to N1,000 per withdrawal from N420.
Nigerian banks had reduced and in some cases suspended forex transactions on their Automated Teller Machine cards (debit and credit) in the face of acute dollar shortage brought on by shrinking petrodollars, a tightening in forex policies by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and reduced portfolio inflows.
But recent CBNâ€™s policies have helped to close the gap between the official and parallel market, keep rates stable, and most importantly, improved forex liquidity.
“Access to foreign exchange by Nigerian banks has improved significantly since the the introduction of new forex policies by the CBN. The investorsâ€™ and exportersâ€™ FX window (I &E window) appears to have become an acceptable substitute to a float.
“This move by GTBank, in our view, is a key indicator of improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market. We believe other banks will likely follow in line and raise dollar limits on their naira cards. This implies -on the part of banks, improved fee and commision income in view of a rebound in fee on card transactions and the higher commission charged, and reduced demand pressure at the black market if other banks follow suit,” analysts at Lagos-based CSL Stockbrokers Limited stated.