Nigeria: Banks That Handle Bitcoin Do So 'At Their Own Risk'

Nigeria’s central bank has a message for domestic institutions: don’t touch virtual currencies.

AccessTimeIconJan 18, 2017 at 4:47 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. UTC

Nigeria’s central bank has a message for domestic financial firms and institutions: don’t touch virtual currencies.

The Central Bank of Nigeria’s Financial Policy and Regulation Department has released a new circular advising banks not to "use, hold and/or transact in any way" with the technology. The document cites bitcoin, onecoin, monero and dogecoin as examples, noting that banks that opt to handle digital currencies “do so at [their] own risk”.

Notably, the circular also calls for banks to keep tabs on any customers they may have that operate digital currency exchanges. Specifically, the central bank said that institutions should make sure those exchanges are adhering to AML/KYC rules. Those that aren’t in compliance, the Central Bank of Nigeria said, should have their accounts closed as a result.

The central bank went on to say:

"Where banks and other institutions are not satisfied with the controls put in place by the virtual currency exchange/customers, the relationship should be terminated immediately….and any suspicious transactions should immediately be reported to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit."

The release comes more than a year after the central bank issued a call for new regulation for bitcoin. At the time, officials cited money laundering risks as a justification for pursuing possible regulation.

Other parts of the Nigerian government have moved to scrutinize the tech more closely in recent days as well. Earlier this week Nigeria’s top securities regulator warned local investors about buying digital currencies, citing local radio advertisements as a source of concern.

Image via Shutterstock


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.