Nigeria central bank missed opportunity for blockchain regulation in 2021 — Convexity CEO


A group of Nigerian digital asset professionals took to the stage at the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SIBAN)’s Digital Assets Summit 2023 in Abuja, to discuss the future of digital asset regulation in Nigeria.

In the panel titled The Future of Digital Assets: Regulatory Uncertainty and the Way Forward, the group discussed why implementing digital assets regulation and blockchain policy has been slow in Nigeria.

The developmental regulation created by The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is a big step toward understanding and creating a favorable environment for the blockchain and crypto industry, according to Adedeji Owonibi, CEO of Convexity. Owonibi stated that this step is what the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should have taken back in 2021 instead of cutting ties between cryptocurrency exchange firms and local banks.

The panel discussion on the Future of Digital Assets at the SIBAN Digital Assets Summit. Source: SIBAN

Acknowledging NITDA’s strides in crafting a blockchain policy, Preye Itonyo, the deputy director of the agency’s Digital Economy Development Department, highlighted the regulatory hurdle posed by the decentralized nature of blockchain, resulting in a lack of understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrency concepts in Nigeria. He stated that this lack of understanding fueled the 2021 crypto/traditional finance ban.

In a recent global survey, Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, was found to be the most cryptocurrency-aware population in the world and 90% of the Nigerian respondents expressed interest in investing in cryptocurrencies in the next year. However, there is a need for regulation in the industry to foster security while encouraging scalability.

Related: 99% of Nigerians are crypto aware — ConsenSys report

In response to this, Itonyo stated that the already established blockchain policy is the first step Nigeria has taken towards ensuring the safety and protection of crypto investors. He went ahead to reveal that a steering committee has been set up by NITDA to facilitate the implementation strategies of the national blockchain policy. According to Itonyo, the CBN and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are members of the committee.

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