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CRYPTOCURRENCY

CBN instruct banks to close accounts related to Crypto

The apex bank has warned Nigerian banks against having any transactions in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for crypto exchanges.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has notified Deposit Money Banks, Non-Financial Institutions, other financial institutions against doing business in Crypto and other digital assets.

In a circular dated 5th February 2021 and 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.

In addition, the apex bank instructed the financial institutions to immediately close the accounts of such persons or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges.

The Apex bank further warned the Nigerian Financial Stakeholders that any breach of this directive will attract serious regulatory sanctions.

See excerpt

“The Central of Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) circular of January 12, 2017 ref FPR1DIR/GEN/C1R106/010 which cautioned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs), Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) and members of the pubic on the risk associated with transactions in cryptocurrency refers.”

“Further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the Bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited.”

“Accordingly, all DMBs, NBFIs and OFIs are directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.”

“Please note that breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions. This letter is with immediate effect.”

Not the first time

In 2018, Our source reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria had issued a statement reiterating that cryptocurrencies are not a legal tender and as such are illegal.

In a circular dated February 28th, 2018, and published on its website, the apex bank reiterated that “cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripples, Monero, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Onecoin, etc and Exchanges such as NairaEx are not licensed or regulated by the CBN.”

This was the strongest against cryptocurrencies made by the CBN at the time. It also coincided with a bullish run for cryptocurrencies especially when bitcoins rallied to an all-time high of $17,000 at the time.

That same year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) were all directed by the Senate to enlighten Nigerians on the risks involved in trading with Bitcoins, but this report shows the enlightenment campaign has done little or nothing to dissuade Nigerians.

Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies have rallied since late last year as investors flock to alternative assets in pursuit of sharp gains.

Can the CBN actually stop trading?

The central bank has control over the banking sector and by a large extent can use its powers to determine how banks allow customers to use their bank accounts for transactions.

  • While cryptocurrencies are a digital form of currency it still relies heavily on the regular currencies for everything from pricing its value to how its ownership is being determined.
  • To buy cryptocurrencies, you can either pay with a cryptocurrency or pay in dollars using your bank account.
  • Thus, Nigerians looking to trade in cryptocurrency will now have to seek other means outside of the banking sector, assuming Nigerian banks strictly implement the new directives.

There is also the suspicion that this could be tied to the CBN’s foreign currency controls.

How Banks will stop it

  • Banks can use the KYC information of their customers to determine which of them are used for cryptocurrency-related transactions. Once this is determined, they can block the accounts or restrict anyone from depositing money into the accounts.
  • In fact, they can place a no-debit on the account, meaning that when you transfer money to a cryptocurrency trading platform, the money could be stuck as they won’t be able to access it.
  • This process is very easy now that banks have BVN of their customers and can easily determine how funds are being utilized.
  • Ironically this is the very reason why cryptocurrencies exist in the first place, to stop any regulator, third party from getting in between transfers from one person to another.

What this means

The recent directive of the CBN will have clear negative consequences for the international crypto community, taking into consideration Nigeria (Africa’s largest economy and home to over 200 million people, mostly young), has the highest interest in Bitcoin globally.

  • According to a recent report released by Google, Nigeria emerged the first amongst other countries around the world in Bitcoin searches on Google.
  • If this policy is strictly implemented it will snuff out millions in demand from crypto hungry young Nigerians, taking out a major source of investments for many.
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CRYPTOCURRENCY

Square to build Bitcoin hardware wallet

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Last month, Square CEO, Jack Dorsey hinted in a tweet that the company was considering creating a non-custodial hardware wallet for Bitcoin. Yesterday, he confirmed the rumours by tweeting “We’re doing it,” in a reply to Jesse Dorogusker, Square Inc.’s hardware Lead, who was announcing that the company had decided to build a hardware wallet.

Square, Inc. is an American fintech financial services and digital payments company based in San Francisco, California. The company was founded by Jack Dorsey who is also the CEO of Twitter.

Jesse Dorogusker also tweeted that the company has started assembling a team to handle the project, emphasizing the product is very much in the drawing-board stage. Nevertheless, he said Square will seek to bring a mobile-friendly, “assisted-self-custody” wallet to a global audience.

“We have decided to build a hardware wallet and service to make Bitcoin custody more mainstream. We will continue to ask and answer questions in the open. This community’s response to our thread about this project has been awesome, encouraging, generous, collaborative and inspiring,” he stated.

Square’s status as a mainstream fintech would likely inject new attention into Bitcoin custody. It has much wider name recognition than even the best-known hardware builders in the cryptocurrency industry. It has also carved out a niche in making Bitcoin accessible through its flagship product, Cash App.

What this means

With the increase in cryptocurrency-related thefts and scams, many companies have emerged to serve a growing need to protect their crypto assets. A hardware wallet provides a unique opportunity to safeguard cryptocurrency assets offline, safe from the clutches of online scammers. Hardware wallets provide a non-custodial service in such a way that you have sole control of your private keys, which in turn control your cryptocurrency and prove the funds are yours.

This innovation will help stem the increase in cryptocurrency-related theft and will help make Bitcoin custody more mainstream.

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CRYPTOCURRENCY

Standard Chartered Bank plans European crypto exchange

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Standard Chartered Bank, United Kingdom’s multinational banking and financial services company, plans to launch a cryptocurrency exchange. To achieve this, the bank has partnered with Hong Kong exchange owner, BC Technology Group, to launch a platform for the U.K. and European institutional market.

The bank has long expressed interest in the cryptocurrency market and this is their way of breaking into the space. The project will be handled by Standard Chartered Ventures, the innovation arm of the bank, but no timeline has been given for the launch.

What they are saying

Alex Manson, Head of SC Ventures, in an interview with Reuters, stated, “We have a strong conviction that digital assets are here to stay and will be adopted by the institutional market as a highly relevant asset class.”

Raphael Polansky, the managing director at Boerse Stuttgart Digital Ventures GmbH, mentioned last week that demand for cryptocurrencies from traditional banks will increase over time but in the short run, they may be more reluctant and sceptical especially now that the market has been getting a lot of backlashes from regulatory authorities in various countries.

He stated, “We foresee a lot of strategic moves in the market where traditional banks will invest in crypto custodians instead of building up their own solutions.”

Standard Chartered is now one of the latest mainstream financial players to show interest in cryptocurrency trading. The bank’s longtime rival, HSBC, publicly announced that it had no interest in entering the cryptocurrency market, even as competitors seek to meet institutional and client demand for cryptocurrency-based investments.

What this means

With more traditional banks getting involved in cryptocurrencies, the notion that cryptocurrencies are speculative assets is being dispelled and the value of the crypto market is becoming clearer to investors, especially and with the global inflation rate which is expected to increase.

Standard Chartered share price is trading £505, currently up 0.52%.

 

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CRYPTOCURRENCY

Chinese government set to launch Digital Yuan lottery as part of digital currency trial

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The Chinese government is set to launch another digital Yuan lottery to help its ongoing digital currency trials, happening in the capital of Beijing. The Beijing Local Financial Supervision and Administration announced yesterday that the government will distribute 40 million digital yuan ($6.2 million) to Beijing residents as part of a test run for the new digital currency.

Starting in June, the program will feature red envelopes, a traditional way of gifting money. Each envelope will have a free wallet containing 200 digital yuan ($31). The red envelopes are intended to be distributed to 200,000 lottery winners. Winners must download an application to use their prizes. The digital yuan can be used at nearly 2,000 designated merchants in the city. To register, consumers can use two banking apps: China’s Mobile Banking App and ICBC Mobile Banking app.

According to the announcement, Beijing residents must apply to participate in the lottery before midnight of June 7, and the winners will be able to spend their prizes by June 20. Users will have the ability to top up their wallets if they want to spend some extra money.

This is not the first giveaway the government has carried out. Multiple digital yuan giveaways were done in other cities such as Shenzhen. The lotteries are intended to help the People’s Bank of China test the country’s digital currency after the central bank launched the first digital Yuan trials in April 2020.

China has reportedly given away as much as 150 million digital Yuan ($23.5 million) to promote digital currency use as part of the trials as of late March. In fact, China’s central bank is looking to allow foreign athletes and visitors to use the digital yuan during the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

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