The Central Bank of Nigeria has fined three Deposit Money Banks in the country N800 million for violating regulations prohibiting customers from transacting in cryptocurrencies.
The three banks are Access Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC, and United Bank for Africa Plc, according to a Bloomberg report released on Wednesday.
The penalties, according to the report, were part of the apex bank’s efforts to ensure that banks implement an order to block cryptocurrency trading due to the threat they pose to Nigeria’s financial system.
The directive was included in a circular issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria in February 2021.
Furthermore, the CBN directed banks to close the accounts of two individuals and a company in November for allegedly trading in cryptocurrencies.
Despite these regulations, according to Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace, Nigeria has the highest volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside of the United States.
According to Chainalysis, the country also has the highest proportion of retail users conducting crypto transactions under $10,000.
According to the report, Access Bank was fined N500 million for failing to close customers’ crypto accounts, according to a filing with the Nigerian Exchange Limited, while UBA was fined N100 million for a customer’s digital-currency transactions.
According to the report, Wole Adeniyi, Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC, revealed during an investor conference call in Lagos on Tuesday that his bank was fined N200m ($478,595) for two accounts allegedly used for crypto transactions.
According to Adeniyi, while Stanbic IBTC followed the apex bank’s directive, the transactions for which it was sanctioned may have passed through its system undetected.
He stated that the CBN was able to detect the relevant transactions using a “advanced capability” that Nigerian banks do not have, and that they have requested that the technology be shared with them.
“It doesn’t appear that they will entertain a refund, but they are now sharing intelligence with us in order to deter clients,” he added.