The Central Bank of Nigeria on February 5, 2021, released a statement signed by the Director of Banking Supervision Bello Hassan and the Director of Payments System Management Department Musa I. Jomoh, prohibiting financial institutions in Nigeria from dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchange.
Meaning all trading of cryptocurrency in Nigeria has been banned, as all Deposit Money Banks, Non-Bank Financial Institutions and Other Financial Institutions have been directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchange within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately. The statement added that “breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions.”
The use of bitcoins and cryptocurrencies in Nigeria skyrocketed in 2020, especially during the #EndSARS protests when bank accounts of activists like the Feminist Coalition were blocked and other payment platforms for freelancers were banned. This made the disbursement of funds difficult, therefore leading many youths to rely on the use of bitcoins and cryptocurrencies.
Although the reason for this ban is still unknown, Nigerians have taken to social media to express their disapproval with the #WeWantOurCryptoBack as trading of cryptocurrency is a means of livelihood for many young people.