Kenyans to go through banks for forex over $100,000 as CBK tightens grip on shilling slide


A record slump of Kenya shilling against the dollar continued into the second half of the year, worsening the country’s debt service and import costs.

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Kenyans seeking to buy foreign exchange (forex) in excess of US$100,000 per day must now strictly go through commercial banks, following a new directive from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

The move comes at a time when the Kenyan shilling is under immense pressure against major currencies, closing Wednesday's trading at 146.49 units to the US dollar, according to the CBK's official rate.

"In the recent past, the CBK has observed increased participation of money transfer operators in the wholesale foreign exchange market without being required to comply with various guidelines, standards and codes of conduct.

"In order to create a fair and orderly market, the CBK has restricted the sale of foreign exchange by money remittance providers to customers to a maximum of USD 100,000 per customer per day. 

"Money transfer operators will only be allowed to sell foreign exchange in excess of USD 100,000 or its equivalent to commercial banks," reads Banking Circular dated September 13, 2023 and signed by CBK's Director of Banking Supervision, Gerald Nyaoma.

The letter is addressed to the CEOs of the country's 20 money transfer companies. 

In March, Kenya entered into an agreement with the Gulf to source petroleum products on credit, a move aimed at addressing challenges in the foreign exchange market.

"From time to time, the CBK has issued standards, policies and guidelines for adoption by participants in the foreign exchange market with a view to promoting an orderly and vibrant foreign exchange market.

"Consequently, market participants are required to comply with the guidelines, including quotations," the CBK said in its letter.