The Nigerian cryptocurrency community was shaken to its core when the country’s apex bank released a circular warning financial institutions to desist from enabling cryptocurrency transactions. The Central Bank made arguments to justify the decision, with several notable figures weighing in on the subject.
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is the latest to share his view on the ban. In his keynote address at the CBN Bankers’ Committee Economic Summit, Osinbajo tipped digital assets to fiercely challenge traditional and reserve banking in the future.
Calls For Knowledge-Based Actions That Will Prove Beneficial
The ban on cryptocurrencies has continued making the rounds in Nigeria. Several weeks after, it has finally forced reactions from the upper echelon of the government. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo bared his views at a summit organized by the Central Bank earlier today.
He admitted to the disruptive capacity of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, stating that they could well displace existing banking systems in the coming years.
Cryptocurrencies in the coming years will challenge traditional banking, including reserve banking, in ways that we cannot yet imagine, so we need to be prepared for that seismic shift. pic.twitter.com/tbIR8eah2s
— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) February 26, 2021
He further opined that emerging technologies like blockchain must be adopted strategically, before praising the regulatory bodies for being ‘very articulate’ with their measures. He called for initiatives that will enable people to enjoy the benefits of blockchains and cryptocurrencies while keeping the adverse effects in check.
Prior to Osinbajo’s remarks, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele publicly defended the ban, saying that cryptocurrencies were created “out of thin air”. He further described cryptocurrencies as being “used to describe the activities of players in an electronic dark world”
Many Nigerians have taken the Vice President’s comments with a grain of salt. They urged him to use his influence to turn the tides instead.
Waging War Between Cryptocurrencies and Nigerian Banking System
Industry enthusiasts in Nigeria interpreted the CBN ban as a direct attack on cryptocurrencies. Speculations emerged that the apex bank was rattled by the traction gained by the digital assets and the fact that they were gradually displacing conventional banks.
A Nigerian economist shared a shocking statistic that bared the Nigerian Stock Exchange trading volume and how it measured against the trading volume on Binance.
How important is crypto in Nigeria? On binance today the value of BTC/NGN trades was worth N13.4bn. For context the volume of trade on the Nigerian stock exchange today was N5.6bn. And binance is just one exchange.
— Nonso Obikili (@nonso2) February 5, 2021
In all of these, it is widely rumored that the adoption of bitcoin in last year’s protest against police brutality was the last straw to break the camel’s back. Activists spearheading the protests started accepting bitcoin donations after the Central Bank issued orders to freeze their bank accounts. The recent ban allegedly signals the central bank’s intention to maintain a stronghold on the country’s monetary system.
Entrepreneur and investor, Victor Asemota believes that banning cryptocurrencies is self-defeating and does not address the deficient banking system. He tweeted :
“I have predicted the demise of traditional banking institutions in Africa for a while now until things accelerated during the pandemic and agent models became prominent. The cost structure of old banking Africa do not make sense. Community banking and cooperatives make more sense. What happened to Nigerian remittances during the pandemic was that people discovered more efficient channels to send money home as bank branches were closed. We now had multiple FX exchanges as people became aware that it was lucrative. Crypto is not the problem, it is banking.”