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Hundreds of Nigerians on Friday angrily protested the ban by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), earlier in the day, on buying and selling of bitcoin and cryptocurrency in the country.
The protesters took to the social media to slam the federal government for what they considered to be a retrogressive action.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had directed all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs) and Other Financial Institutions (OFls) to close the accounts used for cryptocurrency operations.
The CBN, in circular BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/14/001, ordered all financial institutions “to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating crypto currency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.”
Any financial institution that breaches this directive, the CBN warned, “will attract severe regulatory sanctions.”
According to the CBN, “dealing in crypto currencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited”.
The circular signed by Bello Hassan, Director of Banking Supervision and Musa I Jimoh Director, Payments System Management Department said the order took immediate effect.
They also said the apex bank had in the past “cautioned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), Other Financial Institutions (OFls) and members of the pubic on the risk associated with transactions in crypto currency refers”.
Reacting to the CBN ban, social media influencer Japheth Omojuwa said: “This letter, if it stands, will literally kill Nigerian companies and also harm foreign investment”.
Omojuwa argued that “investors from mostly the United States have, in spite of the risks involved in investing in our country, invested in Nigerian fintech companies that this letter clearly targets”.
“This is not going to be a case of losing some money; this is a case of companies closing shop. Companies operating on investment from abroad. That’s before you address the effect on everyday Nigerians trading legitimately and looking to make ends meet in the midst of an excruciating environment and economy.”
Also reacting to the CBN directive, Prof. Uche Uwaleke of Nasarawa State University said the decision may not be unconnected with the fact that “the CBN and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are not yet ready with regulations guiding crypto asset trading platforms operations in Nigeria”.
He urged the public to see this directive by the CBN to banks “in the light of the risk that unregulated crypto currency trading could pose to the financial system”.
Senator Shehu Sani tweeted: “Why the ban on cryptocurrency? Why are we running backwards?”
Sen. Olalere Azeez Ololade @iam senolalere,replying to Sani said: “Gokada was killed. Max and other start-ups like them were killed. Over one year on, okadas are back thriving. But the foreign investors that put money in those Nigerian startups learnt never to put their money in Nigeria again. One morning, one letter, no warning. Death.”
Aju @SimplySweetAju said: Totally sad!… yet you hear our politicians saying they need direct foreign investments… how is that possible when there are no security for such investments! It will never be well with BAT! He brought this EVIL on us all!”
AhmadBBS @ahmadbabashe said: “CBN banning Crypto has to be the worst decision by any government on eth… We’re in modern era not Golden age system,” while @Mabinuorimayowa said: “People no longer save in banks. Most of our youths make transactions and savings on crypto and this is the only way the CBN can fight back, although it’s a lost battle. When the world moves our so called elders here are stagnant and now they want us to stand with them. I laf.”
Another protester Jamovic @ManzMovic said: “crypto has done me good in the last 4 months more than the Nigerian government has done for me in 23 years.