Expert Calls for Full Cryptocurrency Regulation in Nigeria to Mitigate Digital Asset-Related Financial Crimes

February 13, 2024 | by


In Nigeria, there is a growing concern regarding the rise of digital asset-related financial crimes, prompting a leading expert to advocate for comprehensive regulation of cryptocurrencies. As the popularity and usage of cryptocurrencies increase, so does the potential for fraudulent activities and illegal transactions. This article explores the imperative need for Nigeria to establish a robust regulatory framework to curb such financial crimes, and the role it plays in mitigating the risks associated with digital assets. The expert’s call for full cryptocurrency regulation aims to safeguard the country’s financial system and instill trust in the use of cryptocurrencies among Nigerian investors.

The Need for Cryptocurrency Regulation

Cryptocurrency has become increasingly popular in Nigeria, with a growing number of individuals and businesses adopting digital assets for various transactions. However, this rise in popularity has also led to a significant increase in digital asset-related financial crimes, such as fraud, money laundering, and terrorism financing. To address these challenges and promote the safe and responsible use of cryptocurrencies, there is an urgent need for comprehensive cryptocurrency regulation in Nigeria.

Increasing Popularity of Cryptocurrency in Nigeria

Over the past few years, Nigeria has witnessed a surge in the adoption of cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin. This increased popularity can be attributed to several factors, including the country’s large and tech-savvy youth population, the need for alternative financial systems, and the desire for greater financial inclusion. Cryptocurrencies offer individuals and businesses a decentralized and efficient means of conducting transactions, reducing the reliance on traditional banking systems.

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Rise in Digital Asset-Related Financial Crimes

However, the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies has also attracted criminal elements who seek to exploit the anonymity and decentralized nature of these digital assets. Nigeria has seen a rise in digital asset-related financial crimes, with reports of scams, Ponzi schemes, and money laundering activities becoming more prevalent. These criminal activities not only undermine the integrity of the financial system but also pose significant risks to consumers and investors.

Benefits of Full Cryptocurrency Regulation

Implementing comprehensive cryptocurrency regulation can bring several benefits to Nigeria’s financial ecosystem. Firstly, it can help reduce financial crimes associated with digital assets. By establishing clear guidelines and standards, regulators can monitor and enforce compliance, making it harder for criminals to exploit the anonymity of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities.

Furthermore, proper regulation can enhance consumer protection and investor confidence. With clear rules in place, individuals and businesses can have more trust in the cryptocurrency market, leading to increased adoption and investment. This, in turn, can stimulate economic growth and innovation, as entrepreneurs and startups can operate in a regulated environment with greater certainty.

Challenges in Regulating Cryptocurrency

Regulating cryptocurrencies presents several challenges due to their global nature, lack of international consensus, technological complexity, and regulatory uncertainty. Cryptocurrencies transcend national boundaries, making it difficult for any single country to regulate them effectively. Without international cooperation and consensus, regulatory efforts may be limited in their effectiveness, as criminals can exploit loopholes in different jurisdictions.

Additionally, the technological complexity of cryptocurrencies poses challenges for regulators. The decentralized nature of blockchain technology and the high level of technical expertise required to understand and regulate cryptocurrencies make it a complex task. Moreover, the evolving nature of the technology and the emergence of new cryptocurrencies make it challenging for regulators to keep pace with the rapid advancements in the industry.

Furthermore, regulatory uncertainty can hinder the development of the cryptocurrency market. Lack of clarity in regulations or conflicting regulations across different government agencies can create confusion and deter potential investors and businesses from entering the market. This can stifle innovation and hinder the growth of a thriving cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Current Regulatory Efforts in Nigerian Cryptocurrency Market

In Nigeria, both the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have taken steps to regulate the cryptocurrency market. The CBN, in its circular issued in 2017, classified cryptocurrencies as “not a legal tender in Nigeria,” effectively restricting banking institutions from dealing in cryptocurrencies. However, this stance has been challenged by industry stakeholders who argue for a more progressive approach to regulation.

On the other hand, the SEC has recognized the potential of cryptocurrencies and has recently introduced regulations to govern the offering and trading of digital assets. These regulations aim to provide clarity for businesses and investors operating in the cryptocurrency market, while also ensuring consumer protection and market integrity.

Proposed Measures for Full Cryptocurrency Regulation

To achieve comprehensive cryptocurrency regulation in Nigeria, several measures should be considered. Firstly, licensing and registration of cryptocurrency exchanges should be mandatory. By implementing a licensing regime, regulators can ensure that only reputable and trustworthy exchanges operate in the market, reducing the risk of fraud and scams.

Additionally, implementing robust Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements can enhance the transparency and accountability of cryptocurrency transactions. By verifying the identities of users and establishing clear guidelines for customer due diligence, regulators can mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing associated with cryptocurrencies.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) regulations should also be applied to cryptocurrency transactions. This would require cryptocurrency exchanges and other intermediaries to implement effective AML and CTF measures, such as transaction monitoring and reporting suspicious activities. These measures can help prevent the illicit use of cryptocurrencies and promote the integrity of the financial system.

Moreover, the taxation of cryptocurrency transactions should be addressed to ensure compliance with existing tax laws. Clear policies and guidelines should be established to determine the tax treatment of income generated from cryptocurrency activities, providing certainty to individuals and businesses operating in the cryptocurrency market.

International Best Practices in Cryptocurrency Regulation

Nigeria can learn from the regulatory efforts of other countries when formulating cryptocurrency regulations. The United States, for example, has implemented a comprehensive regulatory framework that combines multiple regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). This multi-agency approach ensures that different aspects of the cryptocurrency market are effectively regulated, promoting market integrity and consumer protection.


Several African countries, including South Africa and Kenya, have also introduced regulations to govern the cryptocurrency market. These regulations focus on consumer protection, AML, and CTF measures, and the licensing of cryptocurrency exchanges. By adopting similar approaches, Nigeria can leverage the experiences and best practices of these countries to formulate effective cryptocurrency regulations.

In Europe and Asia, countries like Switzerland and Japan have established regulatory frameworks that provide clarity and legal certainty for individuals and businesses operating in the cryptocurrency market. These frameworks offer a balance between regulation and innovation, ensuring consumer protection while fostering the development of a vibrant cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Expert Recommendations for Nigerian Cryptocurrency Regulation

To establish effective regulation in Nigeria, experts have recommended several key measures. Firstly, the establishment of a dedicated regulatory authority for cryptocurrencies is crucial. This authority should have the expertise and resources to oversee the cryptocurrency market, formulate regulations, and enforce compliance. By having a dedicated regulator, Nigeria can streamline regulatory efforts and promote consistency in the application of regulations.

Furthermore, collaboration with international stakeholders is essential for effective cryptocurrency regulation. Nigeria should engage with other countries and international organizations to share experiences, exchange information, and develop common standards for regulating cryptocurrencies. This collaboration can help address the cross-border nature of cryptocurrencies and promote international cooperation in combating digital asset-related financial crimes.

Capacity building for law enforcement agencies is another important recommendation. Given the technical complexity of cryptocurrencies and the challenges associated with investigating digital asset-related crimes, law enforcement agencies need specialized training and expertise. By investing in capacity building programs, Nigeria can equip its law enforcement agencies with the necessary skills to effectively combat cryptocurrency-related crimes.

Additionally, public awareness and education campaigns should be conducted to promote understanding and responsible use of cryptocurrencies. Many individuals and businesses may not be aware of the risks and benefits associated with cryptocurrencies. Through educational initiatives, Nigeria can empower its citizens with the knowledge to make informed decisions and protect themselves from fraudulent activities.

Concerns and Criticisms on Cryptocurrency Regulation

While comprehensive cryptocurrency regulation is necessary, there are certain concerns and criticisms that need to be addressed. One concern is the impact of regulation on financial inclusion. Cryptocurrencies have the potential to provide financial services to the unbanked population, enabling greater financial inclusion. Excessive regulation may hinder the growth of this sector and limit access to financial services for vulnerable populations.

Another concern is the possible disruption to traditional banking systems. As cryptocurrencies offer alternative means of transacting and storing value, they may compete with traditional banks. Regulators need to strike a balance between fostering innovation in the cryptocurrency market and ensuring the stability of the traditional banking system.

Furthermore, there are concerns about the infringement on privacy and anonymity when regulating cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies, by their nature, provide users with a certain level of privacy and pseudonymity. Striking the right balance between regulation and preserving user privacy is a challenge that regulators need to address.


In conclusion, comprehensive cryptocurrency regulation is essential to mitigate digital asset-related financial crimes in Nigeria. By implementing clear guidelines and standards, regulators can reduce financial crimes, protect consumers and investors, and stimulate innovation and economic growth. However, regulating cryptocurrencies presents challenges due to their global nature, lack of international consensus, and technological complexity. It is crucial for Nigeria to learn from international best practices and adopt expert recommendations to establish effective regulation. By striking a balance between innovation and security, Nigeria can harness the potential of cryptocurrencies while safeguarding its financial system.


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