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Why Nigeria is taking regulatory action against Binance and crypto firms, by Abubakar Hassan Gimba


Why Nigeria is taking regulatory action against Binance and crypto firms, by Abubakar Hassan Gimba

In response to Nigeria’s ongoing forex crisis, the government is stepping up efforts to regulate cryptocurrency trading platforms, notably targeting Binance and similar firms. This comes amidst mounting concerns over the impact of crypto trading on the country’s foreign exchange reserves and monetary stability.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has long voiced reservations about the use of cryptocurrencies, citing risks such as money laundering, terrorism financing, and volatility in the forex market. Now, the CBN is doubling down on its regulatory stance by announcing plans to tighten regulations on crypto exchanges, including Binance, one of the world’s largest platforms.

Binance, headquartered in Malta but operating globally, has gained significant traction in Nigeria, offering users access to a wide range of cryptocurrencies and trading pairs. However, its popularity has raised red flags among regulators, who fear it could worsen the forex crisis by diverting funds away from traditional financial instruments.

Presidency and regulatory sources say the government decided to move against Binance and other crypto firms following reports that currency speculators and money launderers were using them to execute criminal activities. Authorities believe the ‘criminal activities’ going on across platforms are contributing significantly to the weakening of the naira.
In September 2023, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) placed a disclaimer on Binance Nigeria Limited, saying the platform was “neither registered nor regulated by the Commission and its operations in Nigeria are therefore illegal”.

The proposed clampdown on Binance and other crypto firms represents a significant escalation in Nigeria’s regulatory approach to digital assets. While proponents argue that cryptocurrencies provide a decentralized alternative to traditional banking, critics opined that they pose a serious threat to financial stability and regulatory oversight.

Nigeria’s forex crisis, exacerbated by declining oil revenues and capital flight, has prompted policymakers to explore various measures to stabilize the economy. However, the government’s crackdown on crypto firms has sparked intense debate among citizens and industry stakeholders.

As the regulatory landscape evolves, the future of cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria hangs in the balance. The decisions made by the government regarding Binance and other crypto firms will have far-reaching implications for the country’s forex market and financial stability.

Abubakar Hassan Gimba is a 26-year-old graduate of agriculture from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. Email: ageember@gmail.com

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