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‘FG will allow Nigerians trade freely’ — stakeholders hopeful about removal of crypto restrictions

‘FG will allow Nigerians trade freely’ — stakeholders hopeful about removal of crypto restrictions
October 03
21:05 2023

Stakeholders in the blockchain industry have expressed optimism that President Bola Tinubu will lift the restriction placed on cryptocurrency trading by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN, under Godwin Emefiele, its former governor, banned cryptocurrency transactions between banks and crypto exchanges in February 2021.

Following the policy, six banks — First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Wema Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Access Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), and Fidelity Bank — were fined N1.31 billion for enabling crypto trading.

In May, the federal government approved the national blockchain policy to ensure the adoption of the technology in various sectors such as banking, education, security and commerce.


In the 2023 Finance Act, the government placed a 10 percent tax on gains on the disposal of digital assets, including cryptocurrencies.

But despite these developments, it appears bank and crypto exchanges are still unable to execute digital currency transactions — implying that the CBN restriction is still effective.

During his presidential manifesto in 2022, Tinubu said if elected as president, he would reform the government’s policies around the usage of blockchain and cryptocurrency to create a more efficient and business-friendly regulatory framework.


Speaking to TheCable on the sideline of the Technext Coinference 3.0 held in Lagos on Monday, Chris Ani, the founder of Daba — a digital currency school — said he expects that by 2024, the government will allow Nigerians to trade cryptocurrency freely without restriction.

Ani said crypto is not illegal in Nigeria, but there is no legal status from the government to allow people to trade freely without fear.

“So, let the government come and say crypto is legal. Then it now facilitates that thing you are doing with the banks — those reversals will now happen,” Ani said.

Also speaking, Obi Emetarom, the co-founder of Zone, a regulated blockchain network, said he believes the restriction will be lifted because Tinubu’s administration is progressive.


“The government is very disposed to lifting the ban. I expect it will happen at some point. The consideration is to make sure all loopholes are (blocked). As you lift it… how do you plug regulation?” Emetarom asked.

Emetarom said the government will have to deliberate on certain factors, such as “plugging the holes of illicit activities and determining those allowed to trade”.

“For example, if you lift the ban, individuals can trade as they want. And that’s fine because individuals are using their own money. The risk is limited to you who owns the value (money),” he said.

However, he questioned the extent of banks’ participation in cryptocurrency trading should the ban be lifted.


“For example, how does it affect financial institutions that have fiduciary responsibility to their depositors? Do you want them to participate, take that risk with depositors’ funds, and if so, to what extent?” he said.

Emetarom also said while there might be interest in lifting the ban, the aforementioned factors are what the government is considering and working on before ending the restriction.


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