Skip to content

Nigeria Puts a Stop to Binance

Nigeria’s markets regulator has ordered the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance to halt its operations in the country, saying a local unit that courted Nigerian investors through a website was illegal. Last year, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a set of regulations for digital assets, signaling Africa’s greatest demographic power was trying to find a middle ground between an outright ban on crypto assets and their unregulated use. That was after Nigeria’s central bank in 2021 banned banks and financial institutions from dealing in or facilitating transactions in digital currencies. Last week, the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance and Coinbase for allegedly breaching its rule, detailing a list of 13 charges against Binance, as well as its US subsidiary and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao. According to the crypto exchange platform Coinbase, roughly 50% of African citizens don’t have banking access, making Bitcoin an attractive alternative. To fill the banking gap, cellular companies have built a patchwork system around mobile wallets and payments tied to phone numbers — but most of these systems aren’t interoperable, and sending or receiving money from abroad often means high fees or running into government currency controls.