Nigerians have expressed their displeasure at the order by the Central Bank of Nigeria which prohibits commercial banks and all non-banking financial institutions from transactions involving cryptocurrencies.
The CBN gave the order as seen in a statement issued on Friday, stressing that all the institutions are to close the accounts of customers with cryptocurrency transactions immediately.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) circular of January 12, 2017 ref: FPR/DIR/GEN/CIR/06/010 which cautioned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) and members of the public on the risk associated with transactions in cryptocurrency refers,” CBN said.
“Further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited.
“Accordingly, all DMBs, NBFIs and OFIs are directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.”
The apex bank added that breaches of the directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions.
The development was not welcomed by many Nigerians who took to social media to express their displeasure.
Human rights activist, Segun Awosanya described the CBN’s move as ill-advised, saying, “This is yet another developing horror story in our dying society. The govt via @cenbank is now shutting down cryptocurrency in a desperate move to block any ray of hope for the huge youth demographic they have largely failed. This won’t end well. This is ill-advised.”
Senator Ben Murray Bruce faulted the apex bank’s decision, saying, “I thought it’s universal knowledge that decisions or policy regarding finance or economy should never be hasty?”
Blogger Japhet Omojuwa said: “Individuals that can fund the entire Nigerian budget for donkey years are betting on Bitcoin but Hassan and Musa are afraid it could make Nigerians wealthy. Welcome to the Dark Age! Others are in the Age of Deep Learning. We are in The Age of Deep Poverty.”
However, the move was welcomed by a former presidential aspirant, Adamu Garba, who said, “With the banning of crypto transactions, I believe The CBN is taking proactive measures to protect Nigerians from fraudsters who deceive ordinary citizens & rid them of their earnings. Crypto traders supposed to be regularised so that they can be tracked in the event of cheats.”
In December 2020, Quartz Africa reported that Nigeria was number two in the global Bitcoin market after trading 60,215 Bitcoins in the last five years.
Nigeria got to the position in the market after young citizens who were shut out from local payment methods by the government opted for Bitcoin to fund the October 2020 EndSARS protest against police brutality and bad governance in the country.
DJ Switch, who partook in the EndSARS protest, expressed displeasure at the CBN order, saying, “If the ban on crypto by CBN is true, it points yet again to the ill-informed, backward, poverty promoting dinosaurs T-Rex leading us. Use your time to investigate and close accounts sponsoring terrorists in the country if you don’t know what to do!”