Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey on Sunday, June 13, 2021, said “the people of Nigeria will lead bitcoin” despite the Nigerian authorities clamp down on the trading of cryptocurrencies.
Dorsey’s take was a direct reaction to an oped written by NFL star Russell Okung in Bitcoin Magazine.
Okung, a Nigerian descendant and self-acclaimed Bitcoin proponent, advised Nigeria to focus on achieving “economic independence and financial sovereignty” by establishing a Bitcoin Standard.
— jack (@jack) June 13, 2021
Nigeria is one of the largest cryptocurrency markets in the world. But the country’s central bank prohibited financial institutions from trading in cryptocurrency.
Banks were also ordered to identify and close down all accounts involved in the transfer or exchange of cryptocurrencies.
“The bank hereby wishes to remind regulated financial institutions that dealing with cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited,” the CBN said in a statement.
Still, about $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies have been traded in Nigeria in 2021, Statista, a global market data tracker, said. The volume of trading places it behind only the United States and Russia in the world.
Despite the government’s action, many young Nigerians found alternative ways of buying and selling cryptocurrencies as the country’s currency, the naira, continues to slide against the dollar.
“It is no secret that the current global economic environment is worrisome and unsustainable,” Okung wrote in the oped. “Sadly, the fate of the Nigerian economy is in the hands of global central bankers who do not represent the best interests of the Nigerian people. Despite the challenges we face, the resilience of Nigerians continues to inspire.”
Okung insisted that it is “urgent” for Nigeria to act and that the country has a “limited window”. He pointed to the finite supply of digital currency as one of its main attractions.
He claimed that Iran, Russia, China, and Kenya are already “mining or otherwise utilising bitcoin,” partly as a means of circumventing the United States sanctions which prevent them from full participation in the global financial system.
“Other nations like Barbados, Singapore, and Malta have moved to become “bitcoin friendly” in an effort to attract wealth and human capital through migration,” Okung wrote.
El Salvador, last week, became the first country in the world to recognise bitcoin as a legal tender, weeks after China renewed its crackdown on cryptocurrency.
The CBN recently said it was starting a digital currency of its own later this year.