The integrated Iranian foreign exchange platform or also briefly called NIMA was launched in February 2018 by Central Bank of Iran, aiming to facilitate trades and providing needed foreign exchange, creating a secure and competitive environment for buyers and sellers and currency exchange houses.
In this platform, players are: importers as the demand side, exporters as the supply side, exchange houses and banks as intermediaries that navigate funds from suppliers to demanders and CBI is the policy maker.
In general, the process of supplying required foreign exchange for commodity importers and foreign exchange applicants is provided in two ways. One of the methods is through a bank in which the importer put the order, and the CBI provides currency through the foreign exchange portal and payments are made to foreign dealers through the brokerage relations which Iranian banks have with international banks in other countries. Another way is to provide foreign exchange in which the banking system does not interfere, and currency exchange houses play a major role in the exchange of money. CBI has announced that this approach to supplying and transferring foreign exchange is due to bank sanctions. Demanders in this way can apply through NIMA system and then, if exchange houses offer to provide service, demanders can view the available options and choose from the suggestions offered.
Merchants can apply on the comprehensive trade system in order to provide currency for a non-bank order. After the order is registered and considering the coordination between the Central Bank of Iran and the Ministry of Industry, Mining and Trade, the request is transferred to the NIMA platform automatically, and as a result, the request for the purchase of the currency of merchants is observed by exchange houses and they can offer their rates.
Another advantage of using NIMA platform is the access of traders to a wide range of banks and exchange houses, and hence NIMA can create a fair competition among the exchange houses in the system. NIMA platform has begun its work from February 28,2018 but it officially began to work on May 3, 2018. The Central Bank has stated that in the new foreign exchange system using the unified system of currency transactions, the official and legal imports without the Central Bank’s control and verification regarding its currency aspects cannot be done. NIMA platform has three main features: the platform provides complete and real information about the supply and demand of the foreign exchange. sources are allocated in an integrated structure and ultimately, NIMA platform also has the capability to cover the retail needs of people, such as travel, medicine and also foreign exchange required for international students in addition macro needs of the country.