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The governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank seems to have relaxed his position on cryptocurrencies for people, if not banks.
Godwin Emefiele, governor of Nigeria’s central bank, which recently barred banks from serving crypto exchanges, is said to have explained the bank’s stance on cryptocurrency usage in the nation.
According to the local news outlet TodayNG, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) deputy governor Adamu Lamtek reported on behalf of Emefiele that the bank had not barred Nigerian citizens from acquiring, exchanging, or selling cryptocurrency, but had instead “[protected] the banking sector from the activities of cryptocurrencies.” Lamtek spoke at a conference for Finance Correspondents and Business Editors in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
“The CBN did not place restrictions from use of cryptocurrencies and we are not discouraging people from trading in it,” said Emefiele. “What we have just done was to prohibit transactions on cryptocurrencies in the banking sector.”
The announcement comes after the CBN announced in a circular last month that it had barred all licenced financial institutions from offering services to crypto exchanges in the region. The ban mandated all commercial banks in Nigeria to close accounts belonging to cryptocurrency exchanges and other companies transacting in cryptocurrencies, and cautioned of “strong regulatory penalties” on any entity that did not comply. Any Access Bank account holders in Nigeria have already announced that their accounts have been locked.
Emefiele previously claimed that cryptocurrencies are “not legal currency” and have no role in Nigeria’s monetary system. At the time, the governor indicated that the central bank was undertaking due diligence to better understand the ramifications of the evolving space.
However, several Nigerian regulators and cryptocurrency enthusiasts have opposed the injunction. Some lawmakers in Nigeria’s Senate have suggested inviting the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and other major crypto players to a hearing to discuss crypto regulations in the region.
Bitcoin (BTC) has been selling at a premium in the country since the CBN imposed the crypto ban. BTC is reportedly valued at $57,349 in the United States, but according to data from crypto exchange Luno, it has risen to a more than 70% premium in Nigeria at a price of $97,509.