The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has given its backing to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy mandating banks to close all accounts belonging to cryptocurrency traders.
Speaking to financial journalists in Lagos on the CBN’s move against cryptocurrency trading, ABCON President, Alhaji (Dr) AminuGwadabe, said the regulator acted fast to curtail an emerging dangerous trend capable of eroding Nigeria’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT) gains.
He said that before placing a ban on financial dealings that does not conform with the norm, the regulator must have gotten a financial intelligence on such operations, as seen in kidnappers now collecting Bitcoin for ransom.
Gwadabe said the new changing global behaviour towards cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria is not in tandem with Nigeria’s AML/CFT compliance structure as the country battled to move out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sanctions list.
He said cryptocurrency trading is so pervasive and widespread that every segment and all operators in the financial industry is becoming vulnerable to their operations that are not guided by regulation.
That is why many financial sector regulators, prominent financial institutions including global banks, and investment firms are moving swiftly against the cryptocurrency operators .
“All over the world, no regulatory institution has given a fiat approval of the new digital money due to its vulnerability to money laundering and counter terrorism financing. It is therefore the believe of our Association that the measures of the CBN will ensure confidence of our foreign partners to boost economic growth,” Gwadabe stated.
According to the ABCON boss, rather than criticising the CBN, the nay sayers should have advised government to introduce Digital Agri-business to Nigeria’s teeming youth for capacity and self employment.
“We therefore support the CBN measures and urge the Apex Bank to support a paradigm shift in Bureaux de Change (BDCs) business where we are moving from traditional bricks and mortar operations to a digitized model that boosts transparency, foreign capital inflows and ease of monitoring and supervision of our operations,” he said.
According to Gwadabe, the BDCs have so far introduced four factors authentication digital applications in their operations to improve efficiency and transparency in operations.
The Applications include SAAS MASTERS for rendition of utilisation of returns to CBN online real time; many BDCs are in the the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIUs) GOAML platform for suspicious and cash transactions reports.
Equally, BDCs are on the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) Bank Verification Number (BVN) Validation portal of their members and finally, ABCON is also working with Data Pro Consultant to integrate their new Application Programming Interface (API) for Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and sanction list search.
Gwadabe said he believes that every player in the financial sector should be regulated , and where such regulations are not available, caution should be applied.
“There is need for every segment of the financial system to be regulated and guided by the CBN Act, BOFIA, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism guidelines, Know Your Customer (KYC) Requirements for a safe and secured Nigeria and stable financial system,” he said.
He said ABCON will continue to support CBN’s moves to tighten and strictly enforce regulations in the foreign exchange market for sustained exchange rate stability and improved economic growth.
Gwadabe said ABCON leadership backs the CBN’s ongoing clampdown on cryptocurrency trading and believes that money laundering through the channel or any other financial institutions is unacceptable and those found wanting should be punished based on the law.