The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered banks and financial institutions to close down accounts involved in the transfer or exchange of cryptocurrencies.
In a statement dated February 5, CBN announced that Cryptocurrency in Nigeria is prohibited, and financial institutions that go against the directive face “severe regulatory sanctions”.
“The Bank (CBN) 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 crypto currency exchanges within tier systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately,” the statement read in part.
“Please note that breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions. This letter is with immediate effect.”
In 2018, CBN announced that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender and are not recognised in the country as a form of currency.
In a circular dated February 28th, 2018, and published on its website, CBN reiterated that “cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripples, Monero, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Onecoin, etc and Exchanges such as NairaEx are not licensed or regulated by the CBN.”
Nigerians looking to trade in cryptocurrency will now have to seek other means outside of the banking sector, assuming Nigerian banks strictly implement the new directives.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and home to over 200 million people, with a number of traders turning to cryptocurrencies whose value has been in an upward trajectory.