Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has made a decisive move, declaring the operations of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, as “illegal” within the country’s borders. The regulatory body took issue with Binance Nigeria Limited, the local unit that had been actively targeting Nigerian investors through its website, emphasizing that the entity lacked proper registration and regulation.
In a stern statement released on June 9, the SEC directed Binance Nigeria Limited to cease all activities aimed at soliciting Nigerian investors, unequivocally denouncing any form of engagement with them. The SEC’s position on the matter firmly cemented the illegality of the operations conducted by the company.
This development coincides with the recent legal actions taken by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against both Binance and Coinbase, alleging violations of regulatory protocols. Such actions serve as a testament to the increasing scrutiny faced by cryptocurrency exchanges from authorities worldwide.
In response to the growing interest in digital assets within Nigeria, the SEC had previously issued a comprehensive set of regulations governing their use. This move demonstrated the country’s efforts to strike a delicate balance between a complete ban on cryptocurrencies and their unregulated proliferation. Notably, Nigeria’s central bank had already imposed a ban in 2021, prohibiting banks and financial institutions from engaging in or facilitating transactions involving digital currencies.
Despite these regulatory hurdles, Nigeria’s tech-savvy and youthful population has demonstrated an eagerness to embrace cryptocurrencies. They have resorted to alternative avenues such as peer-to-peer trading, provided by various crypto exchanges, as a means of circumventing the limitations imposed by the traditional financial sector.
As Nigeria’s regulatory landscape continues to evolve, the fate of Binance’s operations within the country hangs in the balance. The clash between regulators and the cryptocurrency industry reflects the ongoing struggle to find a harmonious coexistence between the digital revolution and traditional financial frameworks.
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Francis Chinedu is a Nigerian-born digital marketing specialist, a bitcoin and blockchain enthusiast, and a YouTuber who enjoys covering events that empower young Africans, especially in technology.