A friend sent me a tweet recently that said the world is a museum of passion projects. Everything that is beautiful or useful to other humans first started as an idea in the mind of someone who then pushed for it to become reality.
Today, innovative technologies in financial services emerge to make processes easier, more efficient, reduce errors, and generally make life better for people.
NairaRates, an automation bot that pulls exchange rates from open source APIs is one of such innovative technology. Since its launch only two months ago, it has garnered a following of over 23000 people on Twitter, clearly emphasizing its usefulness. It’s a brilliant example of something borne out of passion going on to be adopted widely.
How does it work? Everyday, on its Twitter page, the NairaRates bot sends current exchange rates for the Naira against major world currencies like the Dollar, Pound and the Euro.. NairaRates offers value to people in the Nigerian financial market by delivering these data to them right on their social media feed. It has started with Twitter, the 5th most used social media platform in Nigeria. Other social media channels might soon follow as the NairaRates community grows. The bot is an anonymous one, so there’s no way to know for certain what plans the creator has for the future.
Reading comments beneath many auto tweets by NairaRates, you’ll find as I have, that people want to see rates for more currencies. This begs the question where were we getting our rates from before the launch of this famed Twitter bot?
For as long as I can remember, Nigerians have depended on getting currency rates from black market sources, as well as the banks. The Central Bank came to a conclusion that this was causing the Naira to fall against other world currencies, proposing full control of FX transactions by the banks. In a bid to completely move retail forex transactions from bureau de change operators to banks, in September last year, the Federal government shut down the operations of a popular website providing currency exchange information. With the Central Bank now having full control of the forex market transactions, the Naira will begin to rise. Or so they thought.
Resulting in the exact opposite of CBN intentions, suppressing forex supply has only boosted the underground economy. People have found alternative sources for information and the Naira continues to plummet. With Nigeria’s long term depreciation of its currency rate, the Naira is at its worst valuation yet.
Pooling and pulling rates from the most trusted and most used alternative source, the NairaRates bot is an essential for the average Nigerian, whether they are involved in FX trade or not. Only 2 in 5 Nigerians will quote bank rates if you inquired the price of Naira to US Dollar. This proves that the market sets the rates and not the banks. It’s the classic market mechanism- the power of supply and demand determines the price and quantity of goods (in this instance currency) traded.
As the NairaRates bot expands its scope to capture some major cryptocurrencies, it’s gaining more ground in top of mind awareness for exchange rate platforms across the country.