Nigeria’s central bank orders closure of crypto-related accounts

By Oluwapelumi Adejumo

Nigeria’s central bank (CBN) has maintained its hostile position towards crypto assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and others has it recently ordered financial institutions in the country to close the accounts of individuals suspected to have traded cryptocurrency.

CBN orders banks to close crypto trader accounts

The CBN, on November 3, released a circular signed by its director of banking supervision, J.Y. Mammanand, ordering commercial banks to close accounts of TVS Hallmark Service Limited, Nnamdi Francis Okereke, and Nwaorgu Kingsley Chibuzor because they have been involved in crypto trading.

According to Peoples Gazette, a local media house in the country, the CBN circular reads that the banks “are hereby directed to close accounts of the under listed bank customers and place the funds in the accounts in suspense accounts for engaging in cryptocurrency trading in contravention of CBN Circular BSD/DIR/PUB/014/001 dated February 5, 2021.”

You will recall that the Nigerian apex bank ordered all financial institutions within its jurisdiction to stop providing their services for crypto-related transactions or face sanctions. However, despite the ban, Nigerians remain one of the highest crypto adopters in the world.

The central bank’s resolve to sanction defaulters was confirmed by a mail seen by this reporter from one of the commercial banks in the country which told members of its staff “to identify persons/entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.”

Nigeria’s “ENaira” project continues apace

Nigeria’s CBDC project, eNaira, after the early hiccups has been able to complete over 40 million naira ($113,000) worth of transactions and has seen over 400,000 wallets registered on the platform within the first two weeks of its existence.

At the launch of the project, the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari had projected that ENaira could add as much as $29bn to the country’s economy in the next 10 years.

While the project’s launch hasn’t been totally smooth sailing, Bitt Inc, the technical partner of CBN on the project, has revealed plans to launch a mobile application for the unbanked in the country.

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