Bitmama says move to isolate Nigerian banking industry
The Chief Executive Officer of one of Africa’s pioneer cryptocurrency trading platform, Bitmama has described Nigeria’s central bank’s decision to restrict cryptocurrency exchange as highly uninformed, as it will only isolate the Nigerian financial industry.
In an exclusive interview with Nigeria Today News, she explained that the recent ban only seeks to isolate the Nigerian banking industry from cryptocurrency innovations.
“It does not stifle or slow down innovation in the digital currency space because cryptocurrency is built on blockchain technology which is highly decentralized and independent of any central government,” she said.
She recalled that when the apex bank issued a circular dated January 12, 2017, that forbade banks from dealing with crypto but permitted them to have crypto exchanges so far they meet the anti-money laundering and country terrorism financing requirement, the banks and crypto companies were self-regulating, ensuring that their customers meet KYC requirements before accessing their services.
She also debunked claims that cryptocurrencies are used to facilitate fraudulent activities and other criminal ventures.
She said: “According to Chainalysis, a cryptocurrency data firm, only one per cent of transactions are linked to illegal activity compared to cash transactions that account for a far higher percentage. It is obviously not true because most crypto exchanges meet up with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulations. They make it mandatory for their customers to provide some level of identity verification before accessing their services.”
Iselema noted that “digital currencies are bankable and also tools of investments which means they have to be regulated by central banks and security exchanges. Although some currencies are experiencing short-time volatility, it is normal for new currencies but long-term stability is imminent”.
She expressed optimism that despite the recent turn of events, along the line, there will be some form of regulation around cryptocurrencies in Nigeria, adding that the impact of the digital currency in the economy is far too great and there has been a massive leap in the lives of Nigerians who currently utilize it for different purposes like trading or cross border transactions.
“Nigeria will have no choice but to fall in line with the rest of the world because peer-to-peer, P2P transactions are already doing massive volumes which are proof of the widespread adoption of digital currencies.”
When asked about the future of her company in the line of unfolding events, she said: “At Bitmama, we place customer satisfaction over everything we do. We have released several communications to our customers educating them about the ban and how it affects some services such as naira deposits and withdrawals while providing alternate solutions. Our customers have been assured that their monies are safe and they can access them anytime.”
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in a circular a fortnight ago directed Deposit Money Banks, Non-Financial Institutions, other financial institutions to close all crypto-currency accounts and desist from doing business in Crypto and other digital assets.
In the circular, signed by the Director of banking supervision, Bello Hassan, and Director, Payment System Management department, Musa Jimoh, the apex bank reminded the financial institutions about the circular of January distributed to regulated financial firms, the apex bank of Africa’s largest economy warned and reminded local financial institutions against having any transactions in crypto or facilitating payments for crypto exchanges.