A minister in Nigeria, where cryptocurrencies are largely banned, is calling for regulation that promotes opportunities from the wider use of the digital technology rather than clamp down on it.
Clem Agba, minister of state for budget and national planning, said uncertainty in regulating cryptocurrencies risks denying government and citizens the chance to maximize opportunities from the technology.
Agba’s comments come after Central Bank of Nigeria in February ordered commercial banks to stop transactions or operations in cryptocurrencies, citing a threat to the financial system which it regulates. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which views cryptocurrencies as exchangeable securities, said it’s seeking clarity on regulation of the asset.
There is a challenge of who regulates cryptocurrencies because of its different classifications as securities or currencies, Agba said at a conference on Thursday. “Since our existing laws cannot explicitly stipulate who holds the power to regulate cryptocurrencies, there may be a need for an additional body to play that role,” he said.
Better regulation should help the government promote and grow the blockchain technology for broader use and not to clamp down on operators, according to Agba. “It is crucial for all stakeholders to view each player as a key teammate toward a healthy crypto space in Nigeria,” he said.
Regulatory uncertainty, however, hasn’t kept Nigerians away from digital currencies — individuals in the country hold the world’s highest proportion of such assets per capita, according to a survey by Statista. In October, Nigeria’s central bank joined a growing list of emerging markets in introducing its own digital currency, the eNaira, to help cut transaction costs and boost participation in the formal financial system.