Nigerian Archives -
It made the BBC’s list of legitimate stories that you might mistake for April Fools’ pranks: Nigeria’s minister of culture last week made the bizarre claim that some Nigerians are ordering pizza from London via cellphone in the morning and that the pies are then flown in via British Airways….
A three-story building housing school collapsed Wednesday morning in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, officials and eyewitnesses told CNN.
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A high-ranking Nigerian policewoman has warned gay people living in the country to leave or risk criminal prosecution.
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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. But huge inequalities, corruption and illicit financial flows still persist in Africa’s most populous nation. The cryptosphere in Nigeria is trading under caution from Godwin Emifiele, governor of the CBN, who has likened cryptocurrencies “to a gamble.” However, the Nigerian parliament has instituted an investigation into the merits and demerits of adopting bitcoin as a means of payment.
In spite of all that, Nigerians continue to flood the digital currency space in search of cheaper and faster ways to send money abroad – or receive it – and to hedge against inflation and exchange-related losses of the Naira, the local unit. According to Citigroup, Nigerians account for the world’s third largest holdings of bitcoin, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, after Russia and New Zealand. Ignoring warnings from financial regulators, a flurry of startups in the country have taken to initial coin offerings or setting up virtual currency exchanges.
Speaking at the E-ppan conference, Musa Jimoh, an official with the Central Bank of Nigeria, said regulation is on the way. He detailed:
We are restructuring the licensing regime to accommodate risks that fintech present in the system and how they can work with banks to mitigate those risks. Fintechs are coming up with products and technology that is unmatched with banks, this also needs to be addressed.
According to the the Guardian report, Michael Kiberu, chief executive officer of Vault Bridge, a member of E-ppan, called on regulators in the West African country to learn from countries such as Uganda, Switzerland, Kenya and Japan, where cryptocurrencies operate with some level of legal guidance, allowing capital to flow more freely into the sector.
Calls for regulation of the digital currency landscape may, however, be anathema to some crypto hardliners. Such so-called maximalists advocate the foundational principles of bitcoin, as a currency built for freedom, to resist any form of control, especially that from governments.
What do you think about the calls for cryptocurrency regulation in Nigeria? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Earlier this week, Amnesty International condemned the Nigerian army for firing on protesters during a march in the capital. Now the army is using comments by President Trump to argue that the soldiers were within their rights to do so, reports the New York Times . The army’s reference is to…
Kubitx, a Pan-African financial technology startup registered in Malta, announced the beta launch of its new cryptocurrency exchange on Thursday. The platform, which supports six digital coins, including BCH and BTC, will initially be available to users in Nigeria, before the company expands it to other African countries in the coming months.
‘Hybrid’ Exchange Facilitates Payments,
Remittances and OTC Trades
“Today we launch the Kubitx Exchange feature release version 0.1,” Victor Philips, co-founder and chief operating officer at Kubitx, told news.Bitcoin.com by telephone. He added that 150 people qualified for the company’s open invitation to prospective beta test users seeking to participate in the launch.
Philips, a Nigerian economist and IT program manager based in Canada, said: “(The) first rollout spot for crypto-to-fiat conversions and bill payments using crypto is Nigeria — a suitable destination to test our platform, as the country boasts the largest population and active youth with massive crypto adoption, ranking sixth globally.”
Founded in 2017, Kubitx describes itself as a “hybrid digital asset exchange” that leverages distributed ledger technology to facilitate payments throughout Africa and abroad. It also offers trade financing, while handling remittances and over-the-counter trades. In addition, the exchange is registered as a legal entity in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
With the beta release, users will be able try out the exchange’s trading, deposit and withdrawal interface, among other features, using a demo token. Consumer feedback will then be incorporated into the final beta version, which will use real digital currencies such as BCH and BTC.
The trial period runs until Oct. 15, with official live trading to begin one week after that, Philips said. When fully operational, for example, a Nigerian who is a resident of the U.K. will be able to send money back home by depositing BCH through Kubitx. The recipient in Nigeria will then be able to withdraw funds in naira, the local currency.
“Once the beta test is done, we will have a one-week window to implement any suggestions received from the users on our platform, after which the (official) beta launch takes place,” Kubitx wrote, in a separate online statement.
Crypto Adoption Growing Steadily in Africa
The digital currency ecosystem has grown rapidly in African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe over the past few years. Bitcoin has particularly become popular. The wave of steady cryptocurrency adoption is widely viewed as key to driving economic growth and financial inclusion, while reducing remittance costs throughout the continent, which is home to roughly 1.2 billion people.
Africa’s booming technological advancement is reflected in the rapid growth of mobile phone use, both as a means of payment and to serve as bank accounts. With more than 100 million active users of mobile money transacting about $ 2.1 billion each year, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Africa has become a global leader in mobile-based financial settlements.
In Nigeria, Kubitx recently reached an agreement with Interswitch International, a major payment switching company, to claim a 99% share of the Nigerian banking sector, with an additional presence in Kenya and Uganda. It will operate its fiat-to-crypto payments and remittance business in those markets, the exchange said. It has struck similar deals in Gambia with Modulus Global, and in Zimbabwe with undisclosed local financial institutions.
“Our ecosystem will support cryptocurrency-to-fiat handshake to get transactions done using the transparency, speed, security, immutability and decentralized features of the underlying (blockchain) technology,” said Philips. The exchange hopes to open new trading platforms in Zimbabwe, Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere after it completes its planned $ 12.5 million initial coin offering later this year.
What do you think about the development of cryptocurrencies throughout Africa? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Kubitx.
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Decentralised cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are anathema to traditional banking. Bitcoin allows people to trade directly with each other, bypassing banks, the conventional middlemen. Banks make money by charging fees for the services they provide, including keeping one’s money in a bank. It is no surprise, therefore, that they hate cryptocurrency. But banks aren’t guiltless, they have facilitated some of the most egregious financial crimes of our time.
‘Return Our Stolen Assets’
President Muhammad Buhari has demanded HSBC Bank returns up to $ 100 million it allegedly helped former dictator Sani Abacha launder from the Nigerian economy.
Abacha ruled Nigeria with an iron fist for five years until he died of a heart attack in 1998. During his rule, the Nigerian economy improved somewhat, with inflation plummeting to 8,5 percent in 1998 from about 55 percent five years earlier. Forex reserves shot more than 1,800 percent to $ 9,6 billion.
But the former army general is accused of plundering the West African country at a grand scale, looting more than $ 4,3 billion of Nigeria’s oil wealth while still President. Transparency International has listed Abacha as the world’s fourth most corrupt leader in history.
“Our investigation agencies believe that HSBC had laundered more than US$ 100 million for the late General Sani Abacha in Jersey, Paris, London, and Geneva,” Nigeria’s presidential spokesperson Malam Garba Shehu, said in a statement issued to the local Leadership newspaper on September 16.
“Among these accounts on the records are: AC : S-104460 HSBC Fund Admin Ltd. Jersey ($ 12 million); AC 37060762 HSBC Life (Europe), UK ($ 20 million) and AC : 38175076 HSBC Bank Plc, UK ($ 1.6 million),” Shehu said.
Shehu was reacting to a report by HSBC Bank in July, which predicted the Nigerian economy would decline if President Buhari won a second term in office in general elections slated for next year.
He continued: “The Presidency wishes to make clear to all Nigerians, and particularly the global banking giant HSBC…that what killed Nigeria’s economy in the past was the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders, the type which was actively supported by HSBC.
“A bank that soiled its hand with ‘millions of US dollars yet- to- be – recovered Abacha loot’, and continued until a few months ago to shield the stolen funds of one of the leaders of the Nigerian Senate has no moral right whatsoever to project that a second term for Mr Buhari raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration.”
Shehu said, “we ask them (HSBC)…to return our stolen assets…”
The Nigerian anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Sunday also accused the British bank of being “involved with laundering proceeds of corruption for over 50 Nigerians including a Nigerian serving Senator.”
HSBC Holdings plc is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC’s international network comprises around 7,500 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa.
But the firm has been forced to pay billions of dollars in fines for money laundering and other financial crimes. In the US, HSBC paid $ 1.92 billion for helping to facilitate the laundering of Mexican drug money, and several million were paid in Hong Kong for systemic deficiencies.
Of the Abacha loot, the US has repatriated about $ 480 million that was stashed in banks in that country. In 2006, Switzerland handed back $ 500 million to Nigeria – the first time any bank in Europe had returned stolen money to a country in Africa. The continent loses up to $ 50 billion in illicit financial flows each year, according to the African Capacity Building Foundation.
Do you think cryptocurrencies can help stem the flow of corrupt money in Africa? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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The wave of asylum seekers continue to cross into Canada from the United States, and that has drawn concerns that the numbers will only rise as the weather gets warmer.
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Nigeria has deployed fighter jets, helicopters and surveillance planes to search for more than 100 girls who are missing after suspected Boko Haram militants attacked their school in the northeastern region of the country.
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