“We reject the undue discrimination against Nigeria’s blockchain & crypto industry”, BICCoN tells CBN

Introduction

In a public statement issued by the Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria (BICCoN) today 22 November, BICCoN has made six resolutions touching on its position on the issues affecting Nigeria’s blockchain & crypto industry. The resolutions have been made in response to what appears to be an ongoing clampdown on cryptocurrency in Nigeria, supervised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to the resolutions contained in the public statement, “[h]aving comprehensively considered the current regulatory state of cryptocurrency in Nigeria particularly with the most recent and renewed blocking, closure and/or freezing of bank accounts used or suspiciously used for crypto-related transactions in the country, we have come to the following resolutions:

Firstly, BICCoN considers “questinable” the actions of deposit money banks (DMBs), nonbank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs) blocking, closing, and/or freezing the bank accounts of individuals and entities by the mere fact that these individuals and entities are involved in cryptocurrency trading or cryptocurrency-related transactions without more.

Secondly, BICCoN emphasized the position it took in its 13 February press release when it maintained that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has by its 5 February circular on cryptocurrency overstepped its statutory bounds and should review its step. 

Thirdly, BICCoN maintained that “however well-intentioned CBN’s current anti-crypto policy or action may be, it encroaches on the law-making powers of the National Assembly, contrary to the provisions of chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)”.

Fourthly, BICCoN expressed its dissatisfaction over the manner the CBN particularly fail to recognize the place of  the blockchain & crypto industry despite the efforts industry players make to engage the CBN “particularly since its 5 February directive on cryptocurrency in Nigeria”. BICCoN believes that CBN “continues to act on its questionable circular without any serious regard or consideration for stakeholder engagements”. According to the public statement, “[i]n March, BICCoN contributed to the Nigeria fintech industry paper submitted to the CBN. Titled Attaining Common Grounds: Central Bank of Nigeria Circular to Deposit Money Banks Position, Non-Bank Financial Institutions, and Other Financial Institutions on Transacting in Cryptocurrency, other contributors to the industry paper are Fintech Association of Nigeria (FintechNGR),  Financial Services Innovator Association (FSI), and Fintech1000. Since March 2021, no attention has been given to the industry paper. “This should not be so”, stated BICCoN. “It leaves much to be desired.”

Fifthly, BICCoN strongly rejected what it described as “the undue discrimination against Nigeria’s blockchain & crypto industry”. According to BICCoN, this has  resulted in the emerging blockchain & crypto industry being “severally, repeatedly, and largely unduly criminalized, demonized, and stigmatized, and discriminated against”,   consequently, “the CBN  continues to effectively treat players and operators in the country’s blockchain & crypto space (and whoever engages with this blockchain-technology application called crypto) as outcasts that must be denied access to banking and financial services”.

Finally, BICCoN concluded its public statement by pointing out that it was “not unmindful of the need for a safe and sound financial system and safeguard of national security.” To address this, BICCoN stated that it continues “to work collaboratively to ensure that players in the cryptocurrency space, including crypto exchanges, cryptocurrency wallet service providers, peer-to-peer platforms, and OTC traders adopt and imbibe as much as practicable global best practices particularly in order to ensure KYC/AML mechanisms are put in place”. 

While BICCoN promised to step up its “self-regulatory interventions particularly concerning the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit transactions” BICCON  called on “concerned regulators, law enforcement agencies, and the government to collaborate” with it in order “to help sanitize the industry together, not stigmatize or demonize it”.

Meanwhile, BICCoN has launched its 5-point Crypto Advocacy Agenda in Nigeria (5 CAAN!) campaign. It has called on all industry players and stakeholders to get involved and support the campaign for crypto adoption in the country. 

BICCoN is the intercommunity working group set up by players in Nigeria’s emerging blockchain industry. It is constituted by the three major blockchain bodies/communities in Nigeria, namely the Blockchain Nigeria User Group (BNUG), Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN), Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN); and independent stakeholders who may not yet be affiliated with any of the three blockchain bodies/communities.

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