By Clifford Ndujihe
CRYPOCURRENCY and alternative finance expert, Rume Ophi, has urged the Senate to investigate the rising adoption of currency in Nigeria despite clampdowns on accounts associated with cryptocurrency transactions by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Ophi, who is the founder of CryptoPreacher Blockchain Academy, CPA, Premium Ambassador at Newscrypto, and Head of Mobilization for stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (Siban) Presidential Task Force, PTF, said it was time the Senate toed the path taken by other countries on the issue.
Recently, the United States Congress set up a ‘“Demystifying Crypto: Digital Assets and the Role of Government” committee hearing which was held on November 17. It was chaired by Representative Don Beyer — who has previously proposed legislation expanding the regulatory and legal framework for digital assets in the U.S.
Giving the rationale for the rise in adoption of cryptocurrency in Nigeria, Ophi said: “Adoption of cryptocurrencies is much higher in developing countries like Nigeria than in developed countries apart from the United States.
Surprisingly, Nigeria is leading in worldwide adoption of cryptocurrency. In 2020, cryptocurrency transactions worth more than $400m were generated in Nigeria, with the country ranking third on the planet in terms of highest bitcoin trading volume. This figure is still on the rise as cryptocurrency transactions saw a year-on-year increase of 25% in June, 2021.
“The reason is very simple: inflation is a chief cause of this. This is evident in markets like Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Tanzania. This is a way people can actually hedge themselves and get into other currencies and enable them offset that,” Ophi said.
Harping on the importance of cryptocurrency and how Nigeria can gain from her vantage position on the global map, Ophi appealed to the Senate to set up an independent panel to look into crypto and work out a legal framework for it.
He said: “Like the US Senate, our lawmakers can hold a hearing on the role of government concerning crypto where stakeholders in this space will have a dialogue with lawmakers on cryptocurrency in Nigeria and how Nigeria and Nigerians can make the best of it.”
Cryptocurrency has provided hope to a new generation of Nigerians and a steady source of income in a country where average incomes have been declining for six years and the fiat currency continues to lose value.