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Crypto scams and regulatory uncertainty slowing down adoption of digital currencies in Nigeria

Cryptotvplus founder and CEO Tony Emeka believes education can overcome hurdles that are slowing down crypto adoption in Nigeria.

Abuja, Nigeria / Image by: Wikimedia Commons

Fri, 16 Apr 2021, 08:31 am UTC

Nigeria’s crypto market is acknowledged as one of the largest in the world, thanks to the country’s massive population of 200 million. However, a couple of factors are hindering the acceptance of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) in the country.

One of these is the rising cases of Bitcoin-related scams which have tainted the image of crypto in the country. However, blockchain educator Tony Emeka believes that education is the key to address the issue.

“In Nigeria and around the world, crypto-related scams have risen and continue to rise, but quality crypto education is the key, the only potent weapon to fight fraudulent actors,” Emeka told Bitcoin.com in an interview. Emeka is the founder and CEO of the crypto-focused media group Cryptotvplus.

He believes that while scams cannot be totally eliminated, educating the investing public could help greatly reduce Bitcoin-related scams. “Regulators can issue warnings and enforcement agencies will arrest bad actors,” Emeka said. “However, since these organizations are mostly reactive, education presents a fascinating solution.”

Cryptotvplu’s latest education project is called Earnathon, which was launched on February 1, 2021. It is an educational platform to help people learn about crypto and blockchain technology through videos. Users can also take quizzes so they can test their mastery of the topics.

Emeka believes that increased awareness on issues surrounding cryptos and blockchain could help them spot potential scams. “When people are proactive as a result of sound crypto knowledge, they can easily beat bad actors,” he said. “Education is thus key.”

Another reason for the slow crypto adoption in the country is regulatory uncertainty. According to Emeka the circular issued by the CBN prohibiting financial institutions from facilitating crypto-related transactions shows that it and the government “still lack a good understanding” of crypto.

“Surprisingly, the CBN position has been supported by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a few months after the same regulator classified cryptocurrencies as securities,” he opined. “This shows that the CBN and the govt still lack a good understanding of cryptocurrencies and money.”

Indeed, the circular caused confusion among members of Nigeria’s crypto community that the CBN had to later issue a clarification that it is now banning crypto trading. “The CBN did not place restrictions from use of [sic] cryptocurrencies and we are not discouraging people from trading in it,” Adamu Lamtek, Central Bank of Nigeria deputy director for corporate services, said. “What we have just done was to prohibit transactions on cryptocurrencies in the banking sector.”

But Emeka felt that the circular was somewhat rushed and issued from a position of fear. “The Circular on February 7th was somewhat from a position of fear. It was reactive,” he said. “The apex bank ought to be proactive. The government had earlier noted it wanted to explore blockchain technology. This is only possible by creating a good environment for existing businesses to grow. But the circular was a setback for many businesses and thus, it seems rushed.”

Emeka said that such regulatory misstep can be avoided. “Progress can only come by engaging the regulator, showing them the possibilities, the importance of cryptocurrency and blockchain,” Emeka. “No organization wants an intruder. Educating the CBN will enable it to see cryptocurrencies as tools for economic growth.”

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