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25 Feb, 2024 16:03

Nigeria blocks crypto exchanges

The authorities believe such platforms have engaged in currency speculation that has led to a devaluation of the country’s national currency
Nigeria blocks crypto exchanges

Nigeria has blocked user access to several major cryptocurrency exchanges in a bid to protect the national currency, the naira, according to a report this week by the local online newspaper Premium Times. The report stated that the measures had been ordered by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

“Premium Times is correct,” presidential spokesman Bayo Onanuga said in a post on X (former Twitter), adding that the directive affects major platforms such as Binance, OctaFX, Coinbase, and others.

In a statement to Bloomberg, Binance confirmed that some of its clients in Nigeria had been facing issues accessing its website. However, Coinbase was still accessible from Nigeria as of Thursday, according to a statement made by the company to the news outlet Coindesk. Media reports note that towards the end of the week, Nigerian users had been reporting only intermittent access to some platforms.

Nigerians often store their wealth in crypto as a hedge against frequent devaluations of the naira, but the local authorities have been accusing crypto exchanges of undermining the naira through currency speculations. According to LSEG data, the naira plunged to a record low of 1,600 against the US dollar this past Wednesday, which came after Binance placed limits on peer-to-peer transactions in the pair. At the start of January, the naira was trading at less than 900 to the dollar.

“Binance... is blatantly setting exchange rate for Nigeria, hijacking CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) role… [The authorities] should move against these platforms trying to manipulate our national currency to Ground Zero. Crypto should be banned in our country or else this bleeding of our currency will continue unabated,” Onanuga stated in another X post this week.

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has faced escalating scrutiny from authorities worldwide in recent months, including a criminal investigation in the US that resulted in a $4 billion fine for violating anti-money laundering regulations. Many countries have also stepped up work on legislation aimed at regulating cryptocurrencies and trading platforms following a 2022 collapse of the FTX crypto exchange which saw crypto prices plunge.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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