Cryptocurrency: Why Osinbajo calls for regulation instead of ban

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to rethink its decision on cryptocurrency transaction in the country.

The Vice President said there is need for monetary authorities to rethink their stand on cryptocurrency stating that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in the coming years will challenge traditional banking, including reserve banking in ways that the country has never imagined.

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo made the remark while delivering a keynote address at the CBN Bankers Committee Economic Summit held virtually recently, according to a statement issued by Laolu Akande, his spokesperson.

“Rather than adopt a policy that prohibits cryptocurrency operations in the Nigerian banking sector, we must act with knowledge and not fear and develop a robust regulatory regime that is thoughtful and knowledge-based,” Osinbajo said.

“So, we need to be prepared for that seismic shift. And it may come sooner than later,” he added.

The Central Bank of Nigeria on February 5 had directed all financial institutions in the country to close all cryptocurrency-related accounts and transactions.

But Osinbajo noted that remittance systems are being challenged and that blockchain technology will provide far cheaper options to the kind of fees being paid today for cross-border transfers.

“I am sure you are all aware of the challenge that the traditional SWIFT system is facing from new systems like Ripple which is based on the blockchain distributed ledger technology with its own crypto tokens,” he said.

He said there are, of course, a whole range of digital assets spawned daily from block-chain technology and that decentralised finance, using smart contracts to create financial instruments, in place of central financial intermediaries such as banks or brokerages, is set to challenge traditional finance.

The vice-president noted that Nigeria must ensure that it is in a position to benefit and prevent any adverse side effects or evil criminal acts that may arise as a consequence of adopting or taking any of these options.

He said “There is a role for regulation here, and it is in the place of both our monetary authorities and SEC to provide a robust regulatory regime that addresses these serious concerns without killing the goose that might lay the golden eggs.”

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