The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday 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 Nigeria apex bank in a circular BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/14/001 issued on Friday and signed by Bello Hassan, Director of Banking Supervision and Musa I Jimoh Director, Payments System Management Department, said the order is with immediate effect.
It ordered all financial institutions, “To identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately”.
It also warned that any financial institution that breaches the directive: “Will attract severe regulatory sanctions.
“Dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited”.
The CBN noted that it 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 cryptocurrency refers”.
Meanwhile, reactions have trailed the apex bank’s decision with social media influencers like Japheth Omojuwa stating that “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”.
With this decision by the CBN, Omojuwa lamented that “The CBN wants to kill businesses”.