Are Online Forex Traders Safe in Nigeria?

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

Across Africa, online forex trading is on the rise.

Nigeria is the second largest retail online forex market in the continent. According to estimates, the country has 200,000 daily forex traders.

Nigeria trails behind South Africa, which although boasts of a lesser 190,000 daily FX traders record, remains the largest player in online forex trading scene in the continent.

The average daily FX trading volume in Nigeria, minus contributions from the banks, is estimated to be between $10 and $15m daily.

Online Retail Forex: Where Does Africa Stand?
Estimated Number of Forex Traders in Africa

With an increasing number of Nigerian traders joining the global financial market to trade forex online, the forex sub-market is taking a new shape in Africa’s most popular nation.

Temitope Ijibadejo, the Nigeria Regional Manager of CM Trading, a licensed international brokerage and contract for difference (CFD) provider, described the Nigerian forex industry as a “very buoyant one”.

The industry has garnered so much interest from online traders, investors and international brokerage firms, the regional head said.

“It is rumored that active Nigerian forex traders exceed 300,000 with net deposits in billions of Naira annually,” Ijibadejo told Finance Magnates.

“Nigeria has been an attractive investment destination for forex brokerage firms in the past five years with at least one new international brokerage firm opening a local office every quarter,” he added.

Offline FX in Nigeria

There are offline and online forex markets in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a top producer of crude oil in Africa. The offline forex market has been historically present in the country to meet the various domestic and industrial needs for foreign currencies for international trading.

However, this offline FX market is highly volatile due to the country’s economic dependence on crude oil.

In this market, several actors including commercial banks, authorized buyers and dealers, as well as oil companies, thrive.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria’s apex monetary authority, also monitors this market.

Several laws back the activities of foreign exchange transactions in this offline FX market.

Some of them include the Exchange Control Act of 1962, the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 1958, the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1995, the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act of 2007, and the Investments and Securities Act of 2007, among others.

However, while South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) regulate online forex brokers in their countries, Nigeria has no specific regulation to check online forex brokers in the country.

Online FX in Nigeria

While the traditional forex market in Nigeria is well regulated, the nascent online forex trading industry remains largely unregulated.

Experts say this is because online forex trading is an emerging phenomenon in the country.

As a result, Nigeria’s online forex industry is dominated by international forex brokers that are regulated by international commissions and authorities.

For example, HotForex, one of the top foreign brokers available to Nigerian traders, is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, the FSCA of South Africa, and the Cyprus Security Exchange Commission (CySEC).

On the other hand, Deriv is regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority, the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (FSC), the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (FSA), and Malaysia’s Labuan Financial Services Authority.

These international brokers operate in Nigeria through branch offices, referral brokers, or through local affiliates.

Lack of Regulation: Are Nigerian Online Forex Traders Safe?
Interest in retail online forex trading is very high in Nigeria, especially among young people.

Despite Nigeria’s loose regulatory framework, local online forex traders in Nigeria are still required to abide by extant laws to operate legally in the country.

Only licensed brokers are permitted to trade forex in the country just as it is illegal to trade with other people’s funds.

A few years ago, a body called the Association of Online Forex Trading Agents in Nigeria (OFTAN) was formed to work with the CBN and other regulatory agencies to come up with a working framework for online FX trading.

However, little has been heard from the group.

The Rise of ‘Forex Scams’

While online forex trading is legal in Nigeria, authorities have warned of the risks involved.

In 2018, the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission warned Nigerians against engaging in leveraged online retail forex trading solicited by so-called investors.

“The public is hereby advised that online retail forex trading is currently unregulated and consequently may be subject to abuse.

“Until a framework for regulation of online retail forex trading is developed by the SEC, any person participating or engaged in such investment activity does so at his or her own risk,” SEC wrote in a statement on its website.

Lack of regulatory oversight has led to the rise of ‘forex scams’ perpetrated by so-called chief executives fleecing unsuspecting investors of billions of naira.

For example, in 2021, Maxwell Odum, the CEO of MBA Capital and Trading Limited absconded with $518.3m of investors’ funds.

Also, the management of Headway Trade Patterns Limited, another forex company, disappeared into the thin air with billions of naira of people’s investments.

Ijibadejo explained that forex scams are rampant in Nigeria because many step into the space hoping to make profit without being involved physically, mentally, technically or emotionally.

Lack of Regulation: Are Nigerian Online Forex Traders Safe?
Temitope Ijibadejo, Nigeria Regional Manager at CM Trading

“I’ve taken my time to discuss with some people who claim they were victims of a forex scam. When you ask them a simple and easy question like: Which broker did you trade with? Many don’t even know the meaning of a forex broker because they invested in persons and firms that camouflage many a times as a forex broker,” the Nigerian head of CM Trading told Finance Magnates.

Derrick Mgbo, Head of Sales at Egmarkets (EGM Group), a multi-asset derivative trading provider located in Lagos, noted that the average Nigerian is looking for a quick pay-off.

As a result, Mgbo explained, fraudulent and Ponzi companies are disguising and naming their companies as forex investment companies to manipulate clients with unrealistic return on investments.

“Once the circle peaks, they elope,” Mgbo said.

So, Are Nigerian Forex Traders Safe?

Executives of local brokers and regular traders who spoke to Finance Magnates believe that forex traders are safe if they do so within their boundaries of risks.

Boyo Michael, 25, a Lagos-based online forex trader and trainer, told Finance Magnates that traders in the country feel safe working with foreign brokers.

Abidemi noted that managing risks that come with volatility is where the safety concern lies.

“I feel safe because the brokers we use are not Nigerian brokers; they’re European brokers and they are regulated by regulatory bodies from Europe. They are more effective, so we feel safe as traders,” the forex trainer told Finance Magnates.

However, Mgbo believe that while traders with experience “are relatively safe,” new traders are “vulnerable”.

Lack of Regulation: Are Online Forex Traders Safe in Nigeria?
Derrick Mgbo, Head of Sales at Egmarkets (EGM Group)

“New traders are subject to uncertainty given the numerous brokers in Nigeria. Some brokers on occasion have bias for marginal profit, compromising user experience,” he told Finance Magnates.

On his part, Ijibadejo noted that Nigerian online forex traders can play safe based on knowledge of the forex industry.

The CM trading executive pointed out that if traders understand that trading through an unlicensed or unregulated broker is risky, their trading adventure will be built upon a good foundation.

“In addition, if the trader or investor understands that trading financial instruments carries risk, before putting funds into a trading account, they will most likely be cautious, seek knowledge and play safe,” he added.

The Way Forward

The experts agree that coming up with specific regulations can help to strengthen the Nigerian forex industry.

“Development usually starts from instituting law and order and following through. In order to experience true development of the forex industry, there must be law and order and this is the responsibility of the government,” Ijibadejo explained.

“A watchdog must be set up that will license and regulate the activities of forex companies just as it is with the Nigerian banking sector,” he added.

Mgbo also emphasized the importance of regulation, adding that there is the need for strict auditing to enforce compliance.

“Rules on entry, operations and services should shape the framework aimed at growing accountability and providing necessary checks and balances,” he added.

Mgbo noted that indigenous Nigerian-owned brokerage companies should anchor these regulatory meetings.

Also, the Egmarkets executive believes that collaborative efforts by the government and financial institutions to create clear and specific awareness are also a good starting point.

“An organized partnership with major brokers and legitimate forex educators, on what the forex market is exactly about and what the basic expectation from brokers should be would be a bold initiative to ensure development of the Nigerian online forex scene,” Mgbo added.

Across Africa, online forex trading is on the rise.

Nigeria is the second largest retail online forex market in the continent. According to estimates, the country has 200,000 daily forex traders.

Nigeria trails behind South Africa, which although boasts of a lesser 190,000 daily FX traders record, remains the largest player in online forex trading scene in the continent.

The average daily FX trading volume in Nigeria, minus contributions from the banks, is estimated to be between $10 and $15m daily.

Online Retail Forex: Where Does Africa Stand?
Estimated Number of Forex Traders in Africa

With an increasing number of Nigerian traders joining the global financial market to trade forex online, the forex sub-market is taking a new shape in Africa’s most popular nation.

Temitope Ijibadejo, the Nigeria Regional Manager of CM Trading, a licensed international brokerage and contract for difference (CFD) provider, described the Nigerian forex industry as a “very buoyant one”.

The industry has garnered so much interest from online traders, investors and international brokerage firms, the regional head said.

“It is rumored that active Nigerian forex traders exceed 300,000 with net deposits in billions of Naira annually,” Ijibadejo told Finance Magnates.

“Nigeria has been an attractive investment destination for forex brokerage firms in the past five years with at least one new international brokerage firm opening a local office every quarter,” he added.

Offline FX in Nigeria

There are offline and online forex markets in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a top producer of crude oil in Africa. The offline forex market has been historically present in the country to meet the various domestic and industrial needs for foreign currencies for international trading.

However, this offline FX market is highly volatile due to the country’s economic dependence on crude oil.

In this market, several actors including commercial banks, authorized buyers and dealers, as well as oil companies, thrive.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria’s apex monetary authority, also monitors this market.

Several laws back the activities of foreign exchange transactions in this offline FX market.

Some of them include the Exchange Control Act of 1962, the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 1958, the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1995, the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act of 2007, and the Investments and Securities Act of 2007, among others.

However, while South Africa’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) regulate online forex brokers in their countries, Nigeria has no specific regulation to check online forex brokers in the country.

Online FX in Nigeria

While the traditional forex market in Nigeria is well regulated, the nascent online forex trading industry remains largely unregulated.

Experts say this is because online forex trading is an emerging phenomenon in the country.

As a result, Nigeria’s online forex industry is dominated by international forex brokers that are regulated by international commissions and authorities.

For example, HotForex, one of the top foreign brokers available to Nigerian traders, is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK, the FSCA of South Africa, and the Cyprus Security Exchange Commission (CySEC).

On the other hand, Deriv is regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority, the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (FSC), the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (FSA), and Malaysia’s Labuan Financial Services Authority.

These international brokers operate in Nigeria through branch offices, referral brokers, or through local affiliates.

Lack of Regulation: Are Nigerian Online Forex Traders Safe?
Interest in retail online forex trading is very high in Nigeria, especially among young people.

Despite Nigeria’s loose regulatory framework, local online forex traders in Nigeria are still required to abide by extant laws to operate legally in the country.

Only licensed brokers are permitted to trade forex in the country just as it is illegal to trade with other people’s funds.

A few years ago, a body called the Association of Online Forex Trading Agents in Nigeria (OFTAN) was formed to work with the CBN and other regulatory agencies to come up with a working framework for online FX trading.

However, little has been heard from the group.

The Rise of ‘Forex Scams’

While online forex trading is legal in Nigeria, authorities have warned of the risks involved.

In 2018, the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission warned Nigerians against engaging in leveraged online retail forex trading solicited by so-called investors.

“The public is hereby advised that online retail forex trading is currently unregulated and consequently may be subject to abuse.

“Until a framework for regulation of online retail forex trading is developed by the SEC, any person participating or engaged in such investment activity does so at his or her own risk,” SEC wrote in a statement on its website.

Lack of regulatory oversight has led to the rise of ‘forex scams’ perpetrated by so-called chief executives fleecing unsuspecting investors of billions of naira.

For example, in 2021, Maxwell Odum, the CEO of MBA Capital and Trading Limited absconded with $518.3m of investors’ funds.

Also, the management of Headway Trade Patterns Limited, another forex company, disappeared into the thin air with billions of naira of people’s investments.

Ijibadejo explained that forex scams are rampant in Nigeria because many step into the space hoping to make profit without being involved physically, mentally, technically or emotionally.

Lack of Regulation: Are Nigerian Online Forex Traders Safe?
Temitope Ijibadejo, Nigeria Regional Manager at CM Trading

“I’ve taken my time to discuss with some people who claim they were victims of a forex scam. When you ask them a simple and easy question like: Which broker did you trade with? Many don’t even know the meaning of a forex broker because they invested in persons and firms that camouflage many a times as a forex broker,” the Nigerian head of CM Trading told Finance Magnates.

Derrick Mgbo, Head of Sales at Egmarkets (EGM Group), a multi-asset derivative trading provider located in Lagos, noted that the average Nigerian is looking for a quick pay-off.

As a result, Mgbo explained, fraudulent and Ponzi companies are disguising and naming their companies as forex investment companies to manipulate clients with unrealistic return on investments.

“Once the circle peaks, they elope,” Mgbo said.

So, Are Nigerian Forex Traders Safe?

Executives of local brokers and regular traders who spoke to Finance Magnates believe that forex traders are safe if they do so within their boundaries of risks.

Boyo Michael, 25, a Lagos-based online forex trader and trainer, told Finance Magnates that traders in the country feel safe working with foreign brokers.

Abidemi noted that managing risks that come with volatility is where the safety concern lies.

“I feel safe because the brokers we use are not Nigerian brokers; they’re European brokers and they are regulated by regulatory bodies from Europe. They are more effective, so we feel safe as traders,” the forex trainer told Finance Magnates.

However, Mgbo believe that while traders with experience “are relatively safe,” new traders are “vulnerable”.

Lack of Regulation: Are Online Forex Traders Safe in Nigeria?
Derrick Mgbo, Head of Sales at Egmarkets (EGM Group)

“New traders are subject to uncertainty given the numerous brokers in Nigeria. Some brokers on occasion have bias for marginal profit, compromising user experience,” he told Finance Magnates.

On his part, Ijibadejo noted that Nigerian online forex traders can play safe based on knowledge of the forex industry.

The CM trading executive pointed out that if traders understand that trading through an unlicensed or unregulated broker is risky, their trading adventure will be built upon a good foundation.

“In addition, if the trader or investor understands that trading financial instruments carries risk, before putting funds into a trading account, they will most likely be cautious, seek knowledge and play safe,” he added.

The Way Forward

The experts agree that coming up with specific regulations can help to strengthen the Nigerian forex industry.

“Development usually starts from instituting law and order and following through. In order to experience true development of the forex industry, there must be law and order and this is the responsibility of the government,” Ijibadejo explained.

“A watchdog must be set up that will license and regulate the activities of forex companies just as it is with the Nigerian banking sector,” he added.

Mgbo also emphasized the importance of regulation, adding that there is the need for strict auditing to enforce compliance.

“Rules on entry, operations and services should shape the framework aimed at growing accountability and providing necessary checks and balances,” he added.

Mgbo noted that indigenous Nigerian-owned brokerage companies should anchor these regulatory meetings.

Also, the Egmarkets executive believes that collaborative efforts by the government and financial institutions to create clear and specific awareness are also a good starting point.

“An organized partnership with major brokers and legitimate forex educators, on what the forex market is exactly about and what the basic expectation from brokers should be would be a bold initiative to ensure development of the Nigerian online forex scene,” Mgbo added.

Source link