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A payment app reportedly suspending operations in Nigeria plan to move to U.S. due to Government crackdown on crypto

 One of the payment app operating in Nigeria KurePay is planning to suspend operations in the country after the government began cracking down on crypto exchanges.

According to a report by Cryptoassetbuyer, the suspension of operations will take effect from the first quarter of 2022. KurePay will be restricting its business to over-the-counter (OTC) and crypto consulting services for Nigerians and Africans generally.

  • KurePay claim for its step towards leaving Nigeria is "due to the increasing hostile regulatory environment" for cryptocurrency service providers.
  • In February, Nigeria's central bank ordered the country's banks to close accounts associated with crypto activity, which CBN later clarified that the order was not new, citing a circular from 2017.
Commenting on the startup's plan to quit Nigeria, Abikure Wisdom Tega the KurePay CEO reportedly show his dissatisfaction about the government action against the crypto trader in the country lamenting what he calls a horrible year for cryptocurrency adoption and expansion in Nigeria

"This year has been quite horrible for cryptocurrency adoption and expansion in Nigeria as CBN continues to take drastic measures to slow down and frustrate Nigeria's growing ability to participate in what has been a fastest-growing emerging industry in the world."

Tega added that when the CBN denied crypto companies access to the banking ecosystem, this resulted in the closure of many cryptocurrency businesses. The same blockade also forced other companies to reduce their operations to skeletal flow using a P2P system. According to the CEO, the central bank's February 5 directive had forced Kurepay to switch to an agency network model which enabled customers to transact directly with each other.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) orders from November directing banks to close accounts associated with specific users suspected of trading cryptocurrency further fueled KurePay's decision to suspend operation in the country.

"The recent show of lowliness from CBN in its recent closure of bank accounts in Nigerian with connection to crypto transactions affecting most of Kurepay agent partners in the name of regulation is unfair and frustrating, Due to this recent clampdown which we find difficult to understand considering Nigeria is not a lawless country, Kurepay, Africa's foremost social payment app for cryptocurrency & fiat - is announcing the suspension  of business operations in Nigeria."

Adding that KurePay has plans to launch a U.S. based platform "in order to innovate in a more business-friendly environment".

Nigerian Crypto and Blockchain Advocacy Group (BICCON) shows their dissatisfaction about the crypto traders account closure

However, In a public statement issued on November 22, Nigerian Crypto and Blockchain Advocacy Group (BICCON) a coalition of Nigeria's foremost cryptocurrency and blockchain advocacy groups advise affected individuals and companies to seek legal advice and redress in courts where appropriate. The body also insists that no Nigerian organization, public or private, should be above the law.

The Nigerian financial institutions have started closing or freezing bank accounts of individuals suspected of trading crypto since November 3 claiming they are doing this in order to comply with the Central Bank of Nigeria directive that was initially issued on February 5.

Despite these claims by banks, the blockchain committee insists it is questionable for the financial institutions to block or freeze accounts simply because the account holders are cryptocurrency traders. BICCON's statement explains:

"We consider questionable the actions of deposit money banks (DMBs), nonbank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs) blocking, closing, and/or freezing the bank accounts of individuals and entities by the mere fact that these individuals and entities are involved in cryptocurrency trading or cryptocurrency-related transactions without more. It is not supported under the current laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

The statement also reiterates BICCON's stance on a CBN directive that was initially used by banks to justify their operation of exclusion of crypto entities from the banking system.

BICCON make it known the same statement that though as the regulator, CBN has the statutory authority to delimit banking operations, [the} ordering of banks and other financial institutions to freeze or close accounts suspected to be in use for cryptocurrency may not be supported by law. This is because there is currently no legislation by the National Assembly criminalizing or illegalizing trade in cryptocurrency in Nigeria."

The statement insists the failure to review the CBN's circular "will set a dangerous precedent in the country." also suggests that while BICCON is against the "undue discrimination" against Nigeria's blockchain & crypto industry, the body is willing to collaborate with concerned regulators, law enforcement agencies, and the government. 

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