The Federal Government of Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, has decided to put the final nail in the coffin of cryptocurrencies in the country. A new directive from the country’s central bank is ordering all national banks and financial institutions to close the accounts of all customers linked to cryptocurrency use.
The new directive is to take effect immediately. This will be the first time a country’s central bank is ordering the closure of citizens’ bank accounts for using cryptocurrencies. The Reserve Bank of India, for instance, placed a ban on cryptocurrency transactions in the country without restricting the fiat accounts of customers. However, Nigeria is taking crypto regulation to a whole new level.
Under the new mandate, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has tasked all financial institutions with the responsibility of fishing out citizens and companies in the country who actively use and transact in cryptocurrencies. A portion of the letter, which was signed by Bello Hassan, Director of Banking Supervision, reads:
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 such accounts are close immediately.
Banks who fail to comply with the new rule will be given harsh regulatory sanctions.
Speaking to insiders who are familiar with the Nigerian economic landscape, some citizens have accused the government of trying to silence the voice of the people. During the country’s #ENDSARS protest against police brutality late last year, the government moved to block the accounts of organizers. Participants quickly turned to Bitcoin, with the CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey endorsing the movement.