Nigeria’s persistent dollar scarcity has led the government to introduce some stringent measures to control access to it.
Before now, Nigerians who need dollars could simply perform the transaction with their Naira debit card and the transaction value will be automatically converted to the government’s exchange rate. Now, the government only approves not more than $20 monthly on each Naira debit card. This means freelancers, shoppers and other Nigerians who need dollars to perform transactions are severely limited, hence the need for alternative methods Nigerians can use to bypass these restrictions.
To its credit, the Nigerian government does have a scheme where it sells dollars directly to citizens at its regulated price. But the PTA and BTA scheme is only available to travelers with some very strict conditions to get approved. Besides, PTA and BTA are limited to $5k and $10k every six months respectively.
So if you are a freelancer, an advertiser, a shopper or you need dollars for other reasons, here are the best ways to source your dollars in Nigeria.
1. Open a domiciliary account
The easiest and most effective way to source dollars in Nigeria today is to open a domiciliary bank account. A domiciliary account is a bank account from which foreign currencies can be deposited and withdrawn. All commercial banks in Nigeria offer domiciliary account service, although the requirements to open one might vary from bank to bank.
Once you have a domiciliary account, you can buy dollars at the black market from operators popularly called Aboki bureau de change dealers and deposit the dollars at your bank branch. Every domiciliary account comes with a debit card which has a much higher spending limit and can be used to make all your online payments. The only downside to this method is you will be buying dollars at the black market rate which is around #620?$.
2. Get a Prepaid Dollar Card
Commercial banks offer their customers prepaid dollar card services which can be used to make payments online and at POS stations worldwide. A prepaid card can be funded and withdrawn from without the cardholder having an account with the bank where it is domiciled. The cardholder can simply load the card with money at the bank or via the app. Some banks load their prepaid cards at a rate much lower than the black market rate, some around #500/$.
But some dollar prepaid cards have lower spending limits depending on the bank and they also have much higher transaction fees compared to domiciliary accounts. Dollar prepaid cards can also be loaded directly with funds from the black market in cases where the bank refuses to sell their FX due to scarcity. Instead of loading a dollar prepaid card with funds from the black market and still paying high transaction fees, users will be much better off to just open a domiciliary account.
KiakiaFX is a highly secure automated online payment system where you can deposit your naira and the dollar equivalent will be deposited into your domiciliary account. It is a black market bureau de change operator, instead of looking for Aboki operators in your city you can simply complete the transaction online on this website.
The platform is secured and highly efficient. Select the amount you want to change and they will show you upfront the amount you will receive. Send your money with a Bank Transfer or a credit or debit card. Immediately they receive your funds, they process your payment in minutes. You can track your transaction on your Dashboard and they will inform you immediately your beneficiary receives funds. This website is especially handy to use in times of emergency or at the weekend when most bureau de change operators don’t work.
4. Barter by Flutterwave
Barter is a digital wallet built and fully supported by the tech giant, Flutterwave. The mobile application lets its users send and receive funds from anywhere in the world, pay bills, create Naira/dollar virtual cards which can be used to pay for services like Facebook Ads, Wise, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Alibaba, Wave, Shopify etc.
The dollar virtual card can be loaded with Naira at the prevailing black market rate. Barter is especially easy to use. Download the app and use your naira debit card to pay for the amount of dollars you need. Though Barter is currently having some issues with their payment partners, they remain one of the easiest platforms to source for dollars in Nigeria.
5. Vella Finance
Vella finance is a one-stop digital bank that offers a wide range of financial services. One of their services is a virtual dollar card that can be funded with Naira and used to make dollar transactions. Vella virtual dollar card can be loaded with a naira debit card at the prevailing black market rate and used to pay for services like Facebook Ads, Wise, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, Alibaba, Wave, Shopify etc. Due to the high volatility of the naira exchange rates, see the current CBN and Aboki exchange rates.
In conclusion, the easiest and most efficient way to buy dollars with Naira is to open a domiciliary account and deposit funds in it from the black market. Freelancers who already earn in dollars can have their funds deposited in the domiciliary account and spend it without limit with their dollar debit card.
Providus Bank allows dollar transactions on their naira card but at the prevailing black market rate. Providus is a new bank in Nigeria founded in 2016, and so far they only have branches in Lagos, Abuja and Akure. Residents in these states can open an account and pick up either a Master or Visa debit card which they can use to make dollar payments. Note that you get charged the black market rate, if the prevailing black market rate on the day you make a transaction is #740/$, that is the amount your naira card will be charged instead of the official CBN rate as has been the case with other banks.