Nigeria continues to be interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies despite the central bank declaring them as not legal tender.
Nigeria is one of the most interesting locations for cryptocurrencies. On the one hand, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as well as the Nigerian Senate, have said that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in the country. Only the local fiat currency, the naira, remains the legal tender for Nigeria due to no crypto regulations and the aforementioned requests for citizens to avoid crypto altogether. On the other hand, Nigeria is home to Luno, the biggest crypto exchange in Africa also offering a renowned online bitcoin wallet.
The CBN has even instructed banks to be cautious with customers who may be using cryptocurrencies. Banks in Nigeria are not allowed to offer cryptocurrency services, somewhat like the stance taken in Kenya. There are even more similarities as the crackdown by Kenyan authorities on cryptocurrency resulted in an increased interest within the general population – just like it has done in Nigeria.
Crypto Interest Remains High Following Crackdown
Over the last decade, different countries have come out on top of the league table of the most crypto-related Google searches. Most of the countries topping the list are from Europe, but over the recent years, that accolade has been handed to African countries.
Nigeria and South Africa are now home to the most google searches relating toc cryptocurrency. Although there was a slight dip in searches post the comments made by the CBN and Senate, search hits remained high. This shows that Nigerians are still interested in cryptocurrency and their persistence in owning crypto will not be deterred by lacking acceptance among the banks.
Nigeria is also experiencing high rates of inflation just above 18% and cryptocurrency could provide shelter from the storm. This has been the case in other African nations where citizens protect their wealth by investing in bitcoin.
But, What if Nigeria Banned Cryptocurrency?
There is also the chance that Nigeria will follow other counties and banning cryptocurrency altogether. It may be presumed that banning crypto in Nigeria would lead to reduced interest and use of it, but history suggests otherwise.
Cryptocurrencies were also banned in Bolivia and Bangladesh to stop citizens from using it. However, the plan backfired as it only increased interest in crypto and its opportunities that they were being denied. In the end, interest in cryptocurrencies skyrocketed as a result of the ban.
Crypto Has a Lot to Offer Africa
Warding away crypto and banning it in African nations is a shame considering the benefits crypto can offer Africans. If governments and central banks were to regulate its use and embrace it rather than backlist it, there is potential for crypto to aid unbanked populations and help businesses.
Africa already has a mobile app culture, widespread internet connections and fewer infrastructure barriers preventing the implementation of crypto. Hopefully, the future will roll out the red carpet for crypto in Nigeria.