Nigeria’s financial technology startups have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide legal guidelines for the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. A lack of regulation is driving investment out of Africa’s biggest economy to areas like Rwanda and Europe while fomenting uncertainty, according to the Electronic Payment Practitioners Association of Nigeria (E-ppan).
Lack of Regulation Drives Capital Away
“Investments in blockchain-based financial services such as cryptocurrency are today going to Rwanda and Malta, which have provided regulatory frameworks that guide operators of the technology,” Ade Atobatele, founder of Gboza Gboza Technology Ltd, a member of the E-ppan association, is quoted by the local Guardian newspaper as saying.
Atobatele was speaking at a conference organised by the fintech lobby group in the Nigerian commercial capital Lagos this week. Noting how technology develops at a rate much faster than financial regulators can cope with, he said some regulatory oversight is, nevertheless, needed to give direction and to tackle issues around risk and service delivery. Atobatele lamented:
We have a license with CBN, but our blockchain-based services are being operated in Rwanda, which has offered us the license.
E-ppan is a broad-based fintech industry representative body with links to the Nigerian central bank, particularly “on regulations that govern the electronic payments industry.” The group says on its website that “we influence the policy environment by applying pressure strategically to key decision makers to change the business environment positively.”
‘Cryptocurrency a Gamble’
In 2014 Nigeria eclipsed South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy, with a GDP of $400 billion.