The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reacted to condemnations trailing the directive to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to desist from transacting in cryptocurrencies.
In a statement on Sunday, Osita Nwanisobi, Acting Director, Corporate Communications, clarified that the CBN circular of February 5, 2021 did not place any new restrictions on cryptocurrencies.
He recalled that all banks in the country had earlier been forbidden, through CBN’s circular dated January 12, 2017, not to use, hold, trade and/or transact in cryptocurrencies.
Nwanisobi noted that the CBN’s position on cryptocurrencies is not an outlier as many countries, central banks, international financial institutions, and distinguished investors and economists have also warned against its use.
He said China, Canada, Taiwan, Indonesia, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Bangladesh, Nepal and Cambodia have all
placed certain level of restrictions on financial institutions facilitating cryptocurrency transactions.
CBN said in China, cryptocurrencies are completely banned and all exchanges closed as well.
Nwanisobi said even famed investor Warren Buffett has called cryptocurrencies “rat poison squared,” a “mirage,” and a “gambling device.”
“Mr. Buffett believes it is a “gambling device” given that they are mostly valuable because the person buying it does so, not as a means of payment; but in the hope they can sell it for even more than what they paid at some point.
During an online forum hosted by the Davos-based World Economic Forum few weeks ago, Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, highlighted the extreme price volatility of cryptocurrencies as one of the biggest flaws and explained that this flaw makes it impossible for them to be used as a lasting means of payment.
It is not surprising he would take that position because, Bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency, hit a record high of $42,000 per unit on January 8, 2021, and sank as low as $28,800 about two weeks later. This is far greater volatility than is found with normal currencies.”
CBN listed the justifications for CBN’s recent policy reminder.
Nwanisobi said first, in light of the fact that they are issued by unregulated and unlicensed entities, their use in Nigeria goes against the key mandates of the CBN, as enshrined in the CBN Act (2007), as the issuer of legal tender in Nigeria. In effect, the use of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria are a direct contravention of existing law.