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Nigeria orders banks to close accounts involved in cryptocurrency

·1-min read
Digital currencies are popular in Nigeria, where they are seen as ways of easing business in a country known for corruption, currency fluctuations and often sidelined in the past by the global financial system

Nigeria's central bank on Friday ordered banks and financial institutions to close down accounts involved in the transfer or exchange of cryptocurrencies, warning of sanctions it they did not comply.

Africa's largest economy has become a huge market for crypocurrency trade, but the central bank has warned for several years that the currencies are not regulated or legal tender in Nigeria.

"The bank hereby wishes to remind regulated financial institutions that dealing with cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited," it said in a statement posted on its website.

It said all banks and financial institutions were directed to identify persons and/or entities involved in cryptocurrency exchanges and close their accounts immediately.

"Breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions," it said.

A spokesman at the bank did not respond to calls seeking more details on the decision.

Digital currencies are popular in Nigeria, where they are seen as ways of easing business in a country known for corruption, currency fluctuations and often sidelined in the past by the global financial system.

But the central bank has warned since 2017 that the currencies are not authorised, and that traders and investors in them were at risk as they were not protected by law.

pma/rl