Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Nigerian central bank, who previously banned banks from operating crypto exchanges, has reportedly clarified the bank’s position on the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.
According to local news agency TodayNG, the Central Bank of Nigeria or CBN, Deputy Governor Adamu Lamtek said on behalf of Emefiele that the bank has not banned Nigerian residents from buying, trading or selling crypto, but “[protected] the banking sector from the activities of cryptocurrencies. “Lamtek spoke at a seminar for financial correspondents and business writers in the capital, Abuja.
“The CBN has not put any restrictions on the use of cryptocurrencies and we are not stopping people from trading them,” Emefiele said. “What we just did was ban cryptocurrency transactions in the banking sector.”
The statement follows the CBN’s announcement in a circular last month that it has banned all regulated financial institutions from providing services to crypto exchanges in the country. The ban ordered all commercial banks to close accounts of crypto exchanges and other companies that do business in cryptocurrencies in Nigeria, and warned of “tough regulatory sanctions” for any institution that violates the rule. Some Nigerian Access Bank account holders have already reported that their accounts have been closed.
Emefiele previously described cryptocurrencies as “illegitimate money” with no place in the Nigerian monetary system. The governor said at the time that the central bank was doing its due diligence to better understand the impact of the space being created.
However, many regulators and crypto enthusiasts in Nigeria have criticized the ban. Some lawmakers in the Nigerian Senate have proposed inviting the CBN governor and key crypto stakeholders to a hearing to discuss issues related to crypto rules in the country.
Since the CBN introduced the crypto ban, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) has been trading at a premium in the country. Data from Crypto Exchange Luno, valued at $ 57,349 in the US, currently shows that BTC in Nigeria has risen to a premium of more than 70% at a price of $ 97,509.