The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed all banks to close accounts of their customers involved in cryptocurrency transactions.
In a circular released to deposit money banks (DMBs), non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs) on Friday, the Apex bank stated that “further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited.”
The circular signed by the bank’s Director for Banking Supervision, Hassan Bello, and the Director of the Payment System Management Department, Musa Jimoh, ordered the banks to effect the directive immediately.
The Apex bank had warned in the past that digital currencies such as bitcoin, litecoin, and others are largely used in terrorism financing and money laundering, considering the anonymity of virtual transactions.
The circular further stated: “Accordingly, all DMBs, NBFIs and OFIs are directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.”
The CBN said that disobedience to the directive will attract severe sanctions.
This is coming after crypto marketplace Paxful reported that Nigeria had the world’s second-largest Bitcoin by trading volume.
It was gathered that Nigerians especially youths have traded 60,215 Bitcoins, or more than $566 million USD.
It had also said that such currencies are not accepted as legal tender in Nigeria, warning people against investing in them.