Nigeria Plans to Regulate Digital Asset Platforms

Nigeria, one of the most curious nations about cryptocurrencies, is preparing new industry regulations for digital asset platforms. The Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering new regulations that would allow licensed digital exchanges to list tokens backed by certain assets, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Abdulkadir Abbas, the head of securities and investment at the Nigerian SEC, noted that the authority plans to only authorize listings of tokens based on assets such as equity, debt, or property. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether will not be among those assets. The aim is to register fintech firms as digital sub-brokers, crowdfunding intermediaries, fund managers, and tokenized coins issuers. However, the SEC will not register crypto exchanges until the central bank provides clear regulations for the crypto market.

License applicants would undergo a year of “regulatory incubation,” during which the SEC would study their operations and render their services in the country, according to Abbas. He added that by the 10th month, the SEC should be able to make a determination whether to register the firm, extend the incubation period, or even ask the firm to stop operation.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had banned local banks from providing services to cryptocurrency-related platforms in early 2021. On the ban, the regulator cited high risks associated with trading cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The central bank also promised to impose strict penalties for any lender or financial institution failing to comply with the directive.

Despite the ban, Nigeria has emerged as one of the most active countries in terms of adoption and curiosity about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Nigeria ranks second by search interest for the keyword “Bitcoin,” behind El Salvador, which adopted Bitcoin as legal tender in 2021, according to data from Google Trends. Other jurisdictions in the top-five crypto-curious countries list include Slovenia, Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Nigeria was also among the top 20 countries in terms of crypto adoption in 2022, according to Chainalysis’ crypto adoption index.

While prohibiting cryptocurrencies, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been actively promoting its central bank digital currency known as the eNaira. The eNaira reportedly saw increased adoption due to national fiat reserves facing severe shortages.

In conclusion, Nigeria is taking steps to regulate digital asset platforms, with the SEC considering allowing licensed digital exchanges to list tokens backed by certain assets. The country aims to register fintech firms as digital sub-brokers, crowdfunding intermediaries, fund managers, and tokenized coins issuers. However, the SEC will not register crypto exchanges until the central bank provides clear regulations for the crypto market. Despite the ban on cryptocurrencies, Nigeria has emerged as one of the most active countries in terms of adoption and curiosity about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.


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Nigeria’s Foreign Investment and Crypto Adoption Dilemma

Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, has been facing a severe shortage of dollars, leading to a decline in foreign direct investment (FDI). The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that FDI dropped by 33% in 2021, decreasing from $698 million in the previous year to $468 million. The situation is worrying as FDI has decreased by 90% since its peak in 2008, reaching a new low in 2021. The scarcity of foreign investment in the country has led to a significant setback for the growth of the economy.

Despite the decline in FDI, the adoption of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria has grown exponentially. Many Nigerians prefer to store their money in digital currencies rather than the national currency, the naira, due to its constant devaluation. In fact, Nigeria ranked eighth in the world in terms of crypto adoption and usage rate in Chainalysis’ 2020 Cryptocurrency Geography Report. This exponential growth in crypto adoption rate in Nigeria was expected to encourage more foreign investment in the country. However, the shortage of dollars has discouraged foreign crypto companies from investing in Nigeria.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) banned cryptocurrency transactions in February 2021, directing all commercial banks to close accounts belonging to crypto exchanges and other businesses that deal with cryptocurrencies. The ban has further discouraged foreign investors from entering the market.

Despite the challenges, Olumide Adesina, a certified investment trader, tweeted that no state in Nigeria has taken the initiative to attract foreign investors in the fintech, entertainment, and crypto industries, despite the fact that Nigerians “love” these sectors. In another tweet, Adesina highlighted that building a real tech and crypto community like Silicon Valley in Lagos state would create thousands of direct jobs.

In response, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, announced proposals for crypto adoption in the state, according to local media reports. The initiatives proposed by Sanwo-Olu include establishing a dedicated sandbox regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, creating a crypto-focused innovation hub, and providing incentives for businesses that accept crypto payments. These initiatives are expected to encourage foreign investors to enter the Nigerian market and to boost the growth of the economy.

In conclusion, Nigeria’s dilemma is that while the adoption of cryptocurrencies has grown exponentially, the country is facing a severe shortage of foreign direct investment. The shortage of dollars has discouraged foreign investors, including crypto companies, from investing in the country. Therefore, it is essential for the government to take the necessary measures to attract foreign investors, particularly in the fintech, entertainment, and crypto industries. By doing so, Nigeria will not only stimulate its economy but will also establish itself as a hub for innovation and technology in Africa.


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Nigerian Crypto Community Affected by Paxful Shutdown

The worldwide user community of Paxful, which was a prominent peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace, has been left looking for alternatives after the platform’s collapse. However, it has a big effect on the crypto community in Nigeria, where the platform has a huge influence on the acceptance and use of cryptocurrencies. This has led to a considerable impact.

According to the blog written by Paxful’s founder and CEO Ray Youssef, the company made the announcement on April 4 that it will be ceasing its activities because of “key staff departures” and the regulatory climate. A great number of Nigerians who conduct their financial dealings using the platform’s services are now feeling uneasy as a result of this statement.

According to Chainalysis’s “The 2020 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report,” out of the 154 nations that were analyzed for the report, Nigeria placed ninth in terms of the acceptance and use of cryptocurrencies. This highlights the importance of the cryptocurrency business to the nation. The innovative application of peer-to-peer technology in Nigeria that was pioneered by Paxful has contributed to the growth of the business, which has resulted in more Nigerians having access to cryptocurrencies.

A data analyst by the name of Obinna Uzoije, a member of the Paxful Nigerian community, recently told his story of utilizing the platform while he was just starting out in his professional life. Paxful was the platform that he used in order to convert the dollars that he had been given by his employers as payment into naira. Skrill, an online payment network, was used in order to transfer money to independent contractors working in Nigeria for multinational corporations. Because some Paxful users accepted the money, it became much simpler for independent contractors to trade them in for Bitcoin or hard currency. Many crypto aficionados in Nigeria are now left wondering what the future holds for cryptocurrency markets as a result of the closure of Paxful, which occurred recently.

Over-the-counter (OTC) vendor Akeem Abdullahi said that Paxful’s escrow service has given rise to a new generation of OTC vendors. Gift cards might be purchased from people who intended to sell them but lacked the computer literacy required to utilize the platform by the merchants. Many Nigerians gained a greater feeling of financial autonomy and an entrepreneurial spirit as a direct result of this development.

On Twitter, several members of the Nigerian cryptocurrency community voiced their fears regarding the possibility of individuals regaining access to the monies that they had lost. However, Youssef has reassured users in a tweet that the Paxful team is working on clearing users’ send-outs, which indicates that users’ cash would be secure. This information was shared by Youssef.

In conclusion, the termination of Paxful has had a substantial negative effect on the cryptocurrency community in Nigeria, where the platform played an essential part in the development of the cryptocurrency business. Given the unpredictability of the future of cryptocurrency markets, many people in Nigeria are forced to look for alternatives to Paxful while simultaneously fretting about the safety of their assets.


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Nigerian Crypto Investors Face Account Freezing

Nigerian crypto investors using peer-to-peer (P2P) services are facing difficulties as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has flagged their bank accounts. The CBN’s decision is believed to be in relation to the recent Flutterwave hack, which saw almost $6.5 million (3 billion nairas) illegally transferred from the accounts of the Nigerian fintech company.

On February 27th, a motion ex-parte was filed and granted in support of Flutterwave’s claims, resulting in 107 accounts being put on lien/Post-No-Debit (PND), including their fifth beneficiaries. While the bank accounts have yet to be proven affiliations with the hack, some locals have confirmed that their accounts have been frozen in connection to the incident.

The situation has discouraged P2P users from using over-the-counter (OTC) markets, which allow trading of securities between two counterparties executed outside of formal exchanges and without the supervision of an exchange regulator. The hacked sum flowed into the Nigeria crypto market on different OTCs, and users now have problems with financial intermediaries when they want to use P2P services for crypto transfers.

Investors worldwide use P2P as a medium of direct exchange of crypto between parties without the involvement of a central authority. They may choose to swap cryptocurrencies for cryptocurrencies or crypto for cash. In 2021, the CBN announced a regulation that prevented financial institutions like banks from enabling crypto use. However, Nigerians were able to find a way forward and still maintain their leading position as the largest crypto hub of Africa through the use of P2P platforms.

Some community members believe that this situation could affect the general interest of Nigerians who are yet to join the crypto digital ecosystem in acquiring digital assets. The situation is causing some businesses to crumble as unsuspecting entrepreneurs have received payments for their services with funds that were allegedly linked to the hacked amount, resulting in confusion and possible legal repercussions.

Despite strict crypto regulations by the CBN, the P2P market has aided Nigerian trade. However, a financial analyst known as Sadeik calls it a black market hub for scammers laundering fraud funds. Sadeik went on to say that a friend of his lost more than 500,000 nairas because the person he transacted with had his account flagged in the Flutterwave hack.

In an official statement, Flutterwave denied the hack and stated that it identified an unusual trend of transactions on some users’ profiles and immediately launched a review in line with its standard operating procedure. The review revealed that some users who had not activated some of their recommended security settings might have been susceptible. Flutterwave was able to address the issue before any harm was done to its users.

The current situation highlights the need for increased security measures and awareness in the Nigerian crypto market. The CBN’s decision to flag accounts highlights the importance of financial institutions’ role in combating fraudulent activities. It also emphasizes the importance of financial intermediaries, such as banks, in ensuring that funds are not used for illegal purposes. The incident serves as a reminder for crypto investors to take necessary precautions and to only use reputable P2P platforms.


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eNaira Adoption Grows Amid Nigeria’s Cash Shortages

Nigeria’s central bank launched its own digital currency, the eNaira, in 2021, and nearly 18 months later, the CBDC is seeing increased adoption in the country. The acute cash shortage in Nigeria is due to the central bank’s decision to replace older banknotes with bigger denominations, which has caused severe shortages in national fiat reserves. In a country where cash accounts for about 90% of transactions, the lack of physical cash has forced Nigerians to turn to the eNaira.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, the value of eNaira transactions has increased by 63% to 22 billion nairas ($47.7 million), indicating a growing adoption of the CBDC. Furthermore, the total number of eNaira wallets has grown more than 12 times compared to October 2022, and is currently at 13 million, as reported by Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The demonetization, which reduced the circulating cash supply from 3.2 trillion nairas to 1 trillion nairas, prompted Nigeria to mint over 10 billion eNairas to compensate for the decline. The use of eNaira payouts in government initiatives and social schemes has also contributed to the increase in CBDC adoption.

For developing countries like Nigeria, CBDCs present a way to overcome challenges presented by the fiat economy, including reducing operating costs and strengthening Anti-Money Laundering initiatives. The eNaira, in particular, has emerged as the electronic payment channel of choice for financial inclusion and executing social interventions, according to Emefiele.

In addition to the increased adoption of the eNaira, Nigerians have also been presented with another option for procuring cryptocurrencies. MetaMask’s parent firm ConsenSys recently announced a new MoonPay integration, which allows Nigerians to purchase crypto via bank transfers. This new feature is available within the MetaMask mobile and Portfolio DApp, significantly simplifying buying crypto without using credit or debit cards in Nigeria.

It is clear that the adoption of CBDCs like the eNaira in Nigeria is becoming increasingly important in the face of cash shortages and other economic challenges. The use of digital currencies presents a viable solution to revamp the fiat capabilities of developing nations and to provide greater financial inclusion to citizens. As such, it will be interesting to see how the adoption of eNaira and other CBDCs continues to evolve in Nigeria and beyond.


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MetaMask Enables Direct Bank Transfers for Crypto Purchases in Nigeria

In a move that aims to make self-custody cryptocurrency purchases more accessible in Nigeria, MetaMask has partnered with MoonPay to expand direct on-ramps with local banks. ConsenSys, the parent firm of MetaMask, announced the integration on March 21, allowing users in Nigeria to purchase crypto via instant bank transfers. This new feature is available within the MetaMask mobile and Portfolio DApp, significantly simplifying the process of buying crypto without using credit or debit cards in Nigeria.

Previously, MoonPay had a card integration feature, but about 90% of attempts to buy crypto with a credit or debit card were declined, according to Santos, a MetaMask spokesperson. With the new integration supporting local bank transfers, crypto purchases on MetaMask are now faster and cheaper, allowing users to access crypto without sending assets from a centralized exchange.

Despite the current issues with crypto on-ramps in Nigeria, the country has emerged as a major market for MetaMask, ranking third in mobile monthly active users. It is also among the top ten countries in terms of visitors to over the last month, Santos added. Nigeria is one of the world’s top 20 ranked countries in cryptocurrency adoption, according to the Chainalysis 2022 Global Crypto Adoption Index. Some reports suggest that 35% of the Nigerian population aged 18 to 60 owned or traded cryptocurrencies in 2022.

This high level of adoption is despite the Central Bank of Nigeria banning banks from servicing crypto exchanges in February 2021. However, in December 2022, local media reported that the Nigerian government was preparing to pass a law recognizing the usage of Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies to keep up to date with “global practices.” This move, coupled with the new integration between MetaMask and MoonPay, may signal a growing acceptance of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria.

It is important to note that Nigeria’s cryptocurrency market faces challenges such as a lack of regulatory clarity and security concerns. However, the partnership between MetaMask and MoonPay provides a viable solution for those seeking to invest in crypto without the use of credit or debit cards. As the adoption of cryptocurrencies continues to grow in Nigeria and other countries around the world, we may see further innovations aimed at increasing accessibility and usability.


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Nigerian President-elect’s Manifesto Includes Blockchain and Crypto Regulations

Nigeria is one of the countries where cryptocurrency adoption is on the rise. In recent years, the country has seen a surge in crypto trading and the use of cryptocurrencies for cross-border payments, remittances, and e-commerce. However, the lack of clear regulations and guidelines for the use of cryptocurrencies has been a hindrance to the growth of the sector.

To address this issue, Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian President-elect, has released a manifesto that includes proposals for the use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Nigeria’s banking and finance sector. The manifesto proposes a review of the existing Nigerian Security Exchange Commission regulations on digital assets to make them more business-friendly.

The proposed reforms would require digital asset companies to register with the SEC and comply with SEC regulations. The manifesto also proposes the establishment of an advisory committee to review the SEC regulations on digital assets to create a more efficient and business-friendly regulatory framework. The proposed regulations would enable the use of cryptocurrencies and other digital tokens in Nigeria’s banking and finance sector, as well as in identity management, revenue collection, and other areas.

The government hopes that the proposed reforms to the SEC regulations will help attract more investors in the digital and economic sectors and stimulate economic growth. The manifesto also aligns with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s eNaira, the country’s central bank digital currency. The government plans to expand the adoption of the eNaira, which has not lived up to expectations since its launch.

However, some cryptocurrency enthusiasts have criticized the existing regulations for lacking provisions that allow crypto users to transact with their local banks. The proposed reforms to the SEC regulations would address this issue and provide a framework for regulating digital assets like cryptocurrencies and other digital tokens in Nigeria.

The release of the manifesto coincides with the increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria, which is among the highest in the world. According to a report by Chainalysis, Nigeria ranks second in the world in terms of cryptocurrency adoption, after Ukraine. The report notes that Nigeria’s high adoption of cryptocurrencies is driven by a variety of factors, including high remittance fees, currency volatility, and a large young population with a high level of technology adoption.

The Nigerian government’s interest in cryptocurrencies is also reflected in the Central Bank of Nigeria’s milder position towards stablecoins. The bank recently published a research report titled “Nigeria’s Payment System Vision 2025,” which explores the creation of a new framework to introduce a stablecoin in Nigeria.

In conclusion, Bola Tinubu’s manifesto includes proposals for the use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in Nigeria’s banking and finance sector. The proposed reforms to the SEC regulations would enable the use of cryptocurrencies and other digital tokens in Nigeria’s banking and finance sector, as well as in identity management, revenue collection, and other areas. The government hopes that the proposed reforms will help attract more investors in the digital and economic sectors and stimulate economic growth.


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CBN is continuing to develop its eNaira

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is making progress on the development of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the eNaira; nevertheless, the CBN is seeking assistance this time around.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is reportedly in discussions with new “technology partners” to establish a new and better system to administer the eNaira, as stated in a story published by Bloomberg on February 21.

According to people with direct knowledge of the situation, the Nigerian financial authority has reportedly discussed these intentions with the technology company R3, which is situated in New York.

The CBN will have full control over the effort thanks to new software that will be developed for the eNaria; nevertheless, the source who did not want to be identified said that the information on this topic is private.

In 2021, with the assistance of the financial software business Bitt, efforts were initiated to establish a digital currency known as the eNaira. According to the article, the new partner will not instantly take over Bitt’s function but would assist phase in absolute responsibility for the Nigerian central bank. This will take place over the course of many years.

Bitt has acknowledged, in a statement, that it is cognizant of the fact that the CBN collaborates with a variety of partners on its technical advancements. It affirmed that it continues to maintain strong collaboration with the CBN and that it is “actively developing further features and upgrades.”

Despite the fact that Nigeria was one of the first nations to introduce a CBDC, the country’s digital currency, the eNaira, got off to a slow start, and adoption was minimal. Only 0.5 percent of Nigerians are reportedly utilizing the CBDC, which leads some to conclude that the grandiose initiative has been “crippled.”

In January, a Nigerian entrepreneur became the first person in the nation to create an operational Bitcoin Lightning node. Not long before that, the government made public its intention to develop a regulatory infrastructure for stablecoins as well as initial coin offers (ICOs).

Nigeria is one of over 90 nations across the world that is investigating the usage of CBDCs. Among the others are Russia and Japan, both of which are making preparations to launch their own currencies before to the summer. Additionally, the city of San Francisco is investigating the potential for the establishment of a CBDC system.

However, CBDCs are facing opposition from activists who refer to them as “surveillance instruments.” This opposition is now being actively pursued.


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Nigeria Tops in Global Crypto Ownership, With Nearly Half of the Population Being Crypto Users or Owners

With cryptocurrencies being one of the technological innovations taking the world by storm, Nigeria takes the lead in terms of crypto ownership, according to Statista Global Consumer Survey. 

Per the report:

“Nigeria leads in global crypto ownership, where 45% of the population, or almost every second person, uses or owns cryptocurrency.”

The survey interviewed consumers from nations in South America, Asia, and Africa. The study added:

“Thailand ranked in second place, with 44% of the population that used or owned cryptos in the last two years. Turkey follows with 40%, and Argentina and United Arab Emirates round the top five list, with 35% and 34%, respectively.”

Even though the crypto owners in the United States are three times more than those in Nigeria, this represents 16% of the entire population. As a result, the US comes twenty-fifth in terms of crypto ownership.

On the other hand, India has 134 million crypto users, which is the highest globally. Statista recently estimated that there were 257.2 million crypto users globally, denoting 3.2% of the world’s population. This figure is expected to jump to 293.6 million in 2023.

Nigeria has been gaining the spotlight in crypto due to the trends being witnessed.

For instance, a study by Jack Dorsey-owned Block, Inc. revealed that the nation took the helm regarding Bitcoin optimism levels at 60%, Blockchain.News reported. 

Furthermore, a KuCoin study showed that high inflation rates and the lack of affordable financial services drove crypto adoption on Nigerian soil. 

The KuCoin survey suggested cryptocurrencies were filling the gap in the traditional currency-based market because Nigerians were using them as an alternative for storing and transferring assets.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Nigeria’s eNaira Records 200,000 Transactions Worth Over $10 Million Since October

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Nigerian Central Bank, said on Thursday that the eNaira, Nigeria’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), is expected to enter the second phase of its expansion through new technology to increase its user base.

The Central Bank Governor delivered a speech in eNaira Hackathon event on Thursday where he talked about the progress and related developments regarding eNaira, Africa’s first ever CBDC launched in October last year.

Mr. Emefiele said the second phase of the national digital currency project has begun and is focused on driving the initiative of financial inclusion through the onboarding of unbanked users with a target of about eight million active users.

The Governor disclosed that since the launch of the eNaira, the CBDC has garnered over 840,000 downloads in over 270,000 active wallets. And so far, about 200,000 transactions worth over $9.5 million have been recorded through the eNaira digital currency.

In the first phase, the eNaira offering was only available to bank account holders and through smartphone apps.

In the second phase, the Central Bank plans to extend the payment service to feature phones by using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes which operate the same way as SMS. The regulator expects that such an effort will further boost financial inclusion for unbanked users who currently constitute about 40% of the national population.

The Nigerian authorities plan to allow eNaira users to create wallets for the CBDC by dialing a four-digit code on their mobile phones, whether or not they have bank accounts.

The aim is to onboard unbanked citizens of Nigeria onto the country’s existing financial system. The government targets to get over eight million people to adopt eNaira as a payment method in the next few months.

The Nigerian government also plans to enhance the eNaira Hackathon platform to connect people to the developers and coders of eNaira to ensure accessing quick solutions to any issues or glitches.

Emefiele commented: “We don’t have a choice but to live with the fact that we are now in a digital economy, in a digital space, where the user[s] of cash will dissipate almost to zero.”

Earlier in May, the Central Bank started allowing people to use the eNaira for day-to-day payments like paying utility bills and booking flight tickets.

The Race to Launch CBDCs

According to the 2022 PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Global Index, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s eNaira and the Sand Dollar of the Bahamas are leading the retail project indexes of central banks worldwide.

In October last year, Nigeria launched eNaira, a central bank digital currency (CBDC), to complement the country’s physical currency.

In October 2020, the Central Bank of The Bahamas issued a CBDC known as “the Sand Dollar,” a digital iteration of the Bahamian Dollar, the national fiat currency.

According to PwC index report, over 80 percent of Central Banks globally are considering launching a CBDC, with many in the research phase while others in the pilot phase.

China became the first major economy to pilot a CBDC in 2020 with a digital currency (the digital yuan) being developed by the People’s Bank of China.

As of March, this year, the digital yuan’s pilot programs are running in 12 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Image source: Shutterstock


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