Senate summons Emefiele, SEC DG to explain ban on Cryptocurrency

Access Bank

The Senate has invited the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, to brief it on the opportunities and threats of cryptocurrency on the nation’s economy and security.

It also invited the Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda.

This invitation comes about a week after the CBN directed banks in the country to close all cryptocurrency-related accounts prohibiting financial institutions from facilitating crypto currency payments in the country.

This was a follow up of its earlier directives in January 2017 and February 2018 which forbade banks not to use, hold, trade or transact in cryptocurrencies.

The apex bank claimed that the digital currency is used for money laundering and terrorism.

CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, said the ban on such transactions will not have any negative impact on fintechs.

The decision has triggered outrage across the country, from many Nigerians, mostly young people, who have invested in the digital currency.

Messrs Emefiele and Yuguda will, in a briefing, explain the reasons behind the recent ban, the negative impact that cryptocurrency can cause to the economy as well as opportunities that can be explored.

The decision to invite the duo was a sequel to a motion titled “CBN’s decision to stop financial institutions from transacting in cryptocurrencies” sponsored by Plateau senator, Istifanus Gyang and Adetokumbo Abiru (APC, Lagos).

Leading the debate, Mr. Gyang said the digital currency was anchored on anonymity and concealment of its patrons making it difficult if not impossible to trace and uncover those that may deploy it for ignoble and illegal usage such as money laundering, terrorism financing, drug purchase, cybercrime, among others.

Cryptocurrency is, however, both an opportunity and a threat, he said.

He, therefore, called on the Senate to ensure that the nation and citizens do not miss out on the opportunities that cryptocurrency offers and in the same vein, mitigate and prevent likely consequential effects on the nation’s economy and security.

Other senators like Adeola Olamilekan, Sani Musa, Albert Bassey and Biodun Olujimi, spoke in support of the motion.

Matthew Urighode (PDP, Edo) on the other hand, expressed fear about the anonymity of the digital currency.

The briefing with Messrs Emefiele and Yuguda will be conducted by the Senate Committees on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Cybercrimes and ICT and Capital Market.

The joint committee will thereafter prepare a report with recommendations and submit to the Senate in two weeks.


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