In a fundamental shift in its stance on cryptocurrencies, The Central Bank of Nigeria (CNB) announced at a cryptocurrency-focused conference in Lagos that it is looking at researching blockchain technology and even introducing its own digital currency. CNB’s deputy director and head of payments system policy and oversight, Musa Jimoh also indicated in his announcement that the bank is preparing a white paper on the subject, reported The Guardian, a Lagos-based, Nigerian-owned newspaper unaffiliated with the British publication of the same name.
It was only January 2017 when CNB issued a notice to financial institutions – including banks – around the country, warning them of virtual currencies and effectively barring them from holding any reserves of virtual currencies. In the same month, Nigeria’s capital’s market regulator issued a warning urging the public against investing in cryptocurrencies including bitcoin.
More notably, Jimoh’s comments represent a remarkable admission from a central bank official where he explained the motive behind the decision.
“The CBN cannot stop the tide of waves generated by the blockchain technology and its derivatives. Currently, we have taken measures to create four departments in the institution that are looking forward to harmonise the white paper on Crypto currency.” Such comments carry extra weight coming from the institution that oversees domestic monetary policy as well as banking sector regulation.
In his remarks, Jimoh also noted that the nature of the technology, which gives users autonomy over the private keys that access blockchain-linked data, enables the creation of forms of money that are “beyond restriction and confiscation.” The report underlines how the CBN had previously been ‘wary’ of adopting or being open to digital currencies.
Conference attendee and head of Nigeria’s cyberspace watchdog, Information Security Society of Nigeria president Dr David Isiawe opined that Nigerians must accept cryptocurrency whether they like it or not. More specifically, the official called for Nigeria to proactively embrace the decentralized technology in adopting them among wider society.