In a fundamental shift in its stance on cryptocurrencies, Nigeria's central bank is now looking at researching blockchain technology and even introducing its own digital currency.
It was only January 2017 when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CNB) issued a notice to financial institutions – including banks – around the country, warning them of virtual currencies and effectively barring them from holding any reserves of virtual currencies. In the same month, Nigeria's capitals market regulator issued a warning urging the public against investing in cryptocurrencies including bitcoin.
However, as a recent report from The Guardian reveals, the CNB is now allocating resources and personnel to study digital currencies and its underlying technology, the blockchain. Indeed, the central bank's deputy director Musa Jimoh was speaking at a recent cryptocurrency conference in Lagos where the official revealed the central bank is working on a white paper on cryptocurrencies.
More notably, Jimoh's comments represents a remarkable admission from a central bank official where he stated that:
[The CNB] cannot stop the tide of waves generated by the blockchain technology and its derivatives. Currently, we have taken measures to create four departments in the institution that are looking forward to harmonise the white paper on crypto currency.
The report underlines how the CBN had previously been 'wary' of adopting or being open to digital currencies. Until, it learned that "decentralized crypto currencies such as bitcoin now provide an outlet for personal wealth that is beyond restriction and confiscation."