The Central Bank has ordered banks and other financial institutions to identify persons and entities operating cryptocurrency exchanges and close all such accounts.
It stated that dealing with cryptocurrencies and facilitating payments through them are illegal in the country.
This was disclosed in a circular titled ‘Letter to all Deposit Money Banks, non-bank financial institutions and other financial institutions’ Friday.
The circular was signed by the Director of Banking Supervision, Bello Hassan; and the Director of Payments System Management Department.
It read, “The Central Bank of Nigeria circular of January 12, 2017 ref FPR/DIR/GEN/CIR/06/010 which cautioned the Deposit Money Banks, non-bank financial institutions, other financial institutions and members of the public on the risk associated with transactions in cryptocurrency refers.
“Further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing with 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.
“Please, note that breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions.
“The letter takes immediate effect.”
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.