The Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published new rules for regulating cryptocurrencies, which classified them as securities.
According to the 54-page document, digital assets are analogous to a stock or an issuer's debt claim.
“Cryptocurrencies are by default administered by the SEC,” the regulator stressed. The rules also include registration requirements for trading platforms. Specifically, exchanges must have a minimum paid-up capital of 500,000,000 naira ($1.2 million at the time of writing).
Registered sites are required to provide the regulator with a list of assets and obtain approval for each. The SEC is asking exchanges to adhere to "fair, reasonable, and transparent" fee policies.
In 2020, the SEC recognized crypto assets as securities with a clause "unless proven otherwise." Thus, the Commission left the issuers the right to prove that this or that asset does not fall under its jurisdiction.
Owen Odia, regional manager of the Luno exchange, in a comment to Bloomberg, noted that the new rules could act “as a harbinger of an unexpected move by the central bank, which will change its approach, creating a critical basis for the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies across the country.”
In February 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria banned commercial financial institutions from providing services to cryptocurrency exchanges and companies working with digital assets.
Later, the Senate proposed that the central bank should regulate the industry rather than restrict it.
In March, the regulator said that it did not prohibit residents from buying and selling bitcoin, and the restrictions affected only financial institutions. Against this background, the volume of p2p transactions in the country increased by 27%.
In August, The Guardian reported on the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria, despite the prohibitive measures by the authorities.