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

Stan Higgins
Jan 18, 2017 at 16:47 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