June 25, 2024
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Stakeholders in the Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN), the umbrella body of players in the cryptocurrency industry, has blamed the rise of peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto trading in the country on the lack of regulation amid heightened concerns that the government may ban P2P anytime soon.

The President of the SIBAN, Mr. Obinna Iwuno, stated this on Saturday during an X space to discuss the state of the web3 in Nigeria.

The space was held against the backdrop of the recent clampdown on crypto trading by the government.

According to Iwuno, if the government had regulated the industry, many Nigerians would have been trading through regulated exchanges and not through P2P. While the government has forbidden banks and fintechs from processing any crypto-related transactions, the SIBAN President expressed concern that crypto trading may soon be criminalized if nothing is done to make the government understand the business.

While insisting that the industry needs regulation, the SIBAN President said all stakeholders must now speak out to clear the names on the allegations of crypto being used to manipulate the Nigerian currency.

“We need regulation as an industry. Regulation will help us more than an unregulated sector would help us. In fact, the reason why fingers are being pointed at P2P presently is because of the lack of regulation.

“And if the government had regulated the industry, I bet you that there would have been no rise in P2P because everybody would have been trading through regulated agencies and exchanges and we wouldn’t have an issue of so much rise in P2P that is unregulated and now being accused of economic sabotage and manipulation of forex rates, which is affecting the economy,” Iwuno said during the online meeting that had several crypto traders in attendance.

The SIBAN President said the stakeholders must now come together to change the narrative that they are sabotaging the economy. According to him, the image of the crypto industry being portrayed by the government is not what it is.

“I think it is time for us to start to take the right step to begin to make approaches that do not open us up to this sort of attacks that we are facing as an industry. We want to be on the right standing with the government.

“The reason is very simple. When we have a regulated space, it is going to help us to achieve economic development and wealth creation using this technology. We stand a big chance at it than when we are operating in an unregulated space.

“What we are seeing currently is not the action of our industry, but because certain things have been made to look as though this is what our industry represents.

Accusing fingers are being pointed at us when we are not guilty and it is one that we have to deal with because if we don’t deal with it, it has the possibility of spreading even further than it is now and hurting the industry more than it is already.

“We do not want to wake up one day and crypto has been criminalized and then has been made illegitimate and illegal and against the law,” he said.

Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA) recently classified cryptocurrency trading as a national security issue. With this, the Central Bank of Nigeria directed four fintech startups operating in the country—Opay, Moniepoint, Paga, and Palmpay—to block the accounts of customers engaging in cryptocurrency transactions and report those transactions to law enforcement agencies.

Earlier, a court order had been obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to freeze at least 1,146 bank accounts belonging to different people and businesses that were allegedly engaged in illicit foreign exchange dealings.

All the affected fintechs have since sent messages to their customers warning them against any crypto-related transactions. In a message to its customers on Friday, one of the fintechs, OPay said it would block any account found engaging in such trading and also forward the details of the account owner to the regulator. Other fintechs have since sent a similar warning message to their customers.

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