The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has lifted the ban placed on cryptocurrency transactions in Nigeria in a move to regulate its operations.
The apex bank had in February 2021 restricted banks and other financial institutions from operating accounts for cryptocurrency service providers in view of the money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risks and vulnerabilities inherent in their operations as well as the absence of regulations and consumer protection measures.
This is contained in the apex bank’s circular dated December 22, 2023, with reference number FPR/DIR/PUB/CIR/002/003, and signed by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Haruna Mustafa.
The CBN said current trends globally had shown that there is a need to regulate the activities of virtual assets service providers (VASPs) which include cryptocurrencies and crypto assets.
The bank added that following this development, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2018 also updated its Recommendation 15 to require VASPS to be regulated to prevent misuse of virtual assets for ML/TF/PF.
“Furthermore, Section 30 of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 recognises VASPs as part of the definition of a financial institution,” it said.
The CBN stated that in addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission in May 2022 issued Rules on Issuance, Offering and Custody of Digital Assets and VASPs to provide a regulatory framework for their operations in Nigeria.
“In view of the foregoing, the CBN hereby issues this guideline to provide guidance to financial institutions under its regulatory purview in respect of their banking relationship with VASPs in Nigeria,” the bank said.