The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has announced the apex bank is in talks with the government to launch Nigeria’s digital currency.
Emefiele disclosed this during the 279th monetary policy rate (MPR) meeting held on Tuesday, May 26 in Abuja.
The news was a response to questions relating to the crackdown on crypto trading in Nigeria. The regulator had in February ordered banks to shut down any accounts linked to crypto transactions.
When asked whether the CBN had been vindicated following the crash of cryptocurrency in recent weeks, Mr Emefiele said the CBN investigated and found out that a substantial percentage of Nigerians are involved in cryptocurrency.
“Don’t get me wrong, some may be legitimate but I dare say most are illegitimate and I will corroborate that,” he said.
“Under cryptocurrency and bitcoin, Nigeria comes second right? But in the global size of the economy, Nigeria comes 27th.
“So do you think that there is some correlation? You think those countries whose economies are second and 26th will allow you to grow your cryptocurrency business to the second position if what is inside is a big deal that is going to profit everybody?” he asked
Emefiele’s draconian clampdown on crypto startups and investors is still fresh in memory, and perhaps one of the underlying motives for the CBN ban was to pave the way for the launch of its own Naira-pegged digital currency.
After all, the regulator introduced its Naira4Dollar scheme after banning mobile money operators, payment service providers and online wallets from processing diaspora remittances, effectively forcing many to resort to traditional banks.
Meanwhile, crypto prices have crashed in recent weeks due to a combination of Elon Musk-led Tesla’s Bitcoin U-turn and China’s reinforced ban on mining and trading.