Cryptocurrency users in Nigeria are reacting to the public notice by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria (SEC), opposing the approach, tone and content of its warning to the public on cryptocurrency investment.
What was the announcement about?
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria, SEC issued a public notice on its website, warning citizens to apply caution in their approach towards investing in cryptocurrencies.The commission made reference to radio advertisements and other modes of solicitations to the public to invest in cryptocurrencies such as Swisscoin, OneCoin, Bitcoin and other forms of virtual or digital currencies.
In the announcement, SEC alerts the public that none of the persons, companies or entities promoting cryptocurrencies have been recognized or authorized by it or by other regulatory agencies in Nigeria to receive deposits from the public or to provide any investment or other financial services in or from Nigeria.
This notice came after the sudden disappearance of a number of Ponzi and Pyramid schemes such as MMM and UltimateCycler. Schemes that have employed the use of cryptocurrencies as a means of transaction, probably due to the convenience of application.
Nothing wrong with buying Bitcoin
Chigozie Ononiwu, President of Hypernet Technologies Limited thinks that the commission is distracted at the moment. He advises SEC to focus on things that matter within the industry.
Ononiwu believes that putting the proper system in place will automatically eliminate the prevailing vices as is being observed in the country.
He notes that Skype, WhatsApp and IMO do not need specific licenses to operate in Nigeria or anywhere in the world. These are the biggest global providers of Over The Top- OTT communication. He explains the same applies to the Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology- DLT and Bitcoin/Altcoin.
Ononiwu asks where SEC was four years ago when forward-looking and disruptive Securities and Exchange Commissions worldwide where studying to understand the use cases of the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.
“SEC should work with Blockchain and Cryptocurrency technologies to drive transparency, accountability, equity, fairness and cost-effectiveness in our financial sector. There is absolutely nothing wrong for every Nigerian to buy Bitcoin for personal investment.”
Ononiwu however, frowns at ‘get rich quick schemes’ masquerading as Bitcoin and the Cryptocurrency HYIP. He also notes that Blockchain is bringing about an innovative and disruptive ‘tsunami’ that world governments can not stop and suggests that Nigeria plays an important role in its integration and adoption in Africa.
“Part of the New York Exchange now runs on the Blockchain because they understand that it is the future,” he concludes.
Ineffective commission resistant to change
Cryptocurrency enthusiast, John Dee describes the commission as “ineffective and resistant to change.”
Dee echoes the mind of the majority of Nigerian citizens about civil service in general.
The general perception about the Nigerian civil service is a society of employees who are mostly incompetent when it comes to prevailing technological advancements. It is a common assumption that such commissions are always reactionary in their approach to innovations.
Dee thinks that it is not the place of SEC to advise people about investments in cryptocurrency as he deems the commission knowledgeably incapable of doing so.
“SEC should either make it easier for Nigerians to participate in the emerging technology or hold their peace,” he says.