By Adesina Wahab
The ban placed on cryptocurrency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the grounds that it encourages money laundering and terrorism has continued to generate ripples.
Youths, especially, say trading in cryptocurrency gives them the opportunity to be gainfully employed and suggested that instead of banning trading in it, government can evolve means of regulating it. They that outright ban would be like throwing away the baby with the bathwater.
A cross-section of the youths told our correspondent that government should take a cue from countries such as Australia where a regulatory platform had been created to ensure that things are done in accordance with the laws of the land.
A former teacher in a private secondary school, who gave his name as Johnson, said his job, where he earned less than N35, 000 a month, was wiped off as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus.
“Our February 2020 salary was yet to be paid when the lockdown was announced last March and it did not take the owner of the school a.long time to send us messages that running the school was becoming difficult and eventually we were laid off and a friend later introduced me to cryptocurrency trading.
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“It has sustained me since and I think that is better than stealing or engaging in fraud that tarnishes the image of the nation. Honestly, banning it is not the solution, it would rather create more problems. Which jobs has the government provided for youths to do?
“I agree that the business is very volatile, but all businesses have their own risks too. By February 2020, the price rose to over $10,000 only to drop to $9,160 in March and $8,784 in April. I entered the market in March and despite a decline in the market, I still made a profit.
“I like the volatile nature of cryptocurrency and with the help of cryptocurrency trading, I’ve been able to earn money at home, even much more than the salary I earned as a teacher. I have been able to feed my family and conveniently pay my other bills,” he stated.
Another youth, Samuel, urged the government to have a rethink, noting that the social consequences of banning it could be greater than whatever the government thinks it is trying to prevent.
He recalled that he downloaded the Binance app, a global crypto exchange, and began a journey that saw him meeting his needs without much stress.
“Apart from those trading in it, there are people who have set up exchanges to make the business seamless. To say there is no way the government can monitor how it goes is a lie. The Security Exchange Commission, SEC, can do that among other government agencies.
“I used the money I made from it to pay my school fees and I have graduated and still earning a living from it. Many people would be thrown into a state of confusion if the ban if not reversed. Crime would increase and furthermore, many youths who hitherto shunned internet fraud would go into that, “ he opined.
He appealed to the government to take another look at the matter.
Many young Nigerians have taken interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain-related matters because of their educational and career benefits – for traders and non-traders.
Few days ago, a former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Kingsley Moghalu, said Nigerians had made over $500 million through cryptocurrencies in the past five years, though some said it could be more.
Since the announcement by the CBN, global exchanges like Binance and Luno have suspended naira deposits on their platforms, while local exchanges like BuyCoins, Bundle, and Quidax have done the same and have placed restrictions on naira deposits on their platforms.
While the National Assembly has waded into the matter, asking officials of SEC and others to appear before them, industry watchers are waiting to see where the pendulum will finally swing.