The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has said that cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin, are a gamble. Emefiele said this in an interview with Bloomberg where he explained the CBN's position on cryptocurrencies.
This is not the first time that the CBN has expressed negative sentiment towards Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In January 2017 the CBN issued a circular to banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria warning them against the use of virtual currencies like Bitcoin. The CBN stated that "transactions in VCs (Virtual Currencies) are largely untraceable and anonymous making them susceptible to abuse by criminals, especially in money laundering and financing of terrorism. VCs are traded in exchange platforms that are unregulated, all over the world. Consumers may, therefore, lose their money without any legal redress in the event these exchanges collapse or close business."
12 January 2017: Circular sent by the Central Bank of Nigeria to Banks and other Financial Institutions on Virtual Currency Operations in Nigeria.
"Cryptocurrency or bitcoin is like a gamble, and there is a need for everybody to be very careful. We cannot as a central bank give support to situations where people risk savings to ‘gamble.’," said Emefiele.
The latest statement by the CBN's governor comes after Nigeria saw the launch of several Bitcoin exchanges in the country such as Luno and Bitkoin Africa. The news will also likely not be well received by those FinTech startups in the country innovating around cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology and will likely be seen as a signal by the CBN looking to ban cryptocurrencies altogether or regulate them.
Nigeria's is not the first central bank in Afrika to express these sentiments towards cryptocurrencies. Another example is Bank of Namibia, the Southern Afrikan country's central bank, which emphasized in 2017 and issued their report stating that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are illegal in the country and not considered legal tender.