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.

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.