By Obinna Chima and Nume Ekeghe

Trading on the recently introduced Nigeria Interbank Foreign Exchange (NIFEX) has revealed huge volume of activities by both commercial and merchant banks with competition among the financial institutions heightening as they seek to satisfy their clients.

The returns on forex utilisation and source of funds (purchases) for the week ended June 24, 2016, which was published by banks last week, also showed that forex demand for the payment of school fees and other invisibles such as personal travel allowance (PTA) and business travel allowance (BTA), that used to be dominant activities, have all thinned out. On the other hand, dollar sales to customers for the importation of industrial raw materials and other visibles dominated activities.

Unlike the previous reporting format where banks were only expected to publish how the forex they purchased from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are utilised, the new system requires the banks to publish all their forex sales to customers, other sources of funds as well as how those funds are utilised.

Forex consumption is a function of the volume of business a bank does, particularly with the larger corporates and manufacturing firms that use huge chunks of forex. The NIFEX showed the volume of forex traded by banks as they facilitate forex transactions for their clients and in turn make profit from the bid-ask spread.

The returns on forex utilisation and source of fund published by Zenith Bank Plc put the volume of its activities in the week under review at $391,435,283.88. The bank transacted forex business with a total of 1,045 customers during the week. Some of Zenith Bank’s biggest customers were Access Bank Plc -$1 million; Union Bank Plc -$2 million; Dangote Group, and Boulous Enterprises Limited, among others.

Also, Stanbic IBTC Limited put the volume of its activities in the week under review at $332,835,935. The bank transacted business on the NIFEX with a total of 642 customers. Its biggest customers included Prudent Energy Services Limited whom it sold about $14 million to; and Dangote Cement Plc about $26 million, among others.

For Union Bank Plc, the bank which purchased a total of $70,671,666.98 from the CBN, sold a total of $57,946,243 to its customers which in all were 260 (both corporate and individual).

Access Bank Plc’s returns put the volume of its transactions on the NIFEX last week at $657,128,853. The bank transacted business with a total of 934 customers who bought the greenback for the importation of pharmaceutical products, credit card payments, and for the importation of numerous industrial materials.

Similarly, while First City Monument Bank Plc (FCMB) bought a total of $87,693,240 from the central bank and other sources on the NIFEX, it sold $87,119,764 to its customers, majorly for the importation of industrial raw materials.

In the same vein, Diamond Bank Plc’s returns on forex utilisation showed that the bank sold a total of $67,717,460.85 to 451 customers. However, during the week, the bank purchased a total of $67,717,460 from the CBN, Union Bank and First Bank, among others.

Also, United Bank for Africa Plc’s (UBA) returns on forex utilisation put the volume of its forex activities at $406,871,338.03.

This is just as the volume of transactions executed by Fidelity Bank Plc was put at $244,513,202.34. The bank transacted business with 1,007 customers on the NIFEX.

Keystone Bank Limited also recorded a total of $9,156,730.32.

The merchant banks were not left out as the new forex structure also showed an increase in the volume of their activities in the market.

For instance, Rand Merchant Bank’s publication put the amount of forex it sold to its customers at $18,222,890, while it purchased a total of $18,222,890 from forex sources in the market.

Similarly, Coronation Merchant Bank sold $5,428,873 to its customers, just as its returns showed that it purchased $10,883,646 from the CBN and other sources in the market.

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