Nigerian banks have started blocking accounts of customers involved in crypto transactions, many sources are reporting.
The action comes barely five days after the Central Bank directed banks and other financial institutions to deactivate accounts used for the selling and buying of cryptocurrencies in the country.
TechCabal, on Thursday, reported that Access Bank, First Bank, and GTBank have started shutting down accounts of customers who trade cryptocurrencies and other related transactions.
James Chijindu told TechCabal that he only noticed Access and GTBank blocked his account when he could not transact with his credit cards. He said his First Bank account was also not responsive.
The publication reported that there was no prior notice given to Mr. Chijindu by either of the banks but GTB told him that his account was blocked based on ‘a federal government directive’ to commercial banks to stop facilitating cryptocurrency transactions in Nigeria.
Newsmen learnt Mr. Chijindu had used only his Access bank account to trade Bitcoin, but a link with BVN could possibly exposed customers’ account details in other banks.
Access bank said it reviewed the customer’s account activities and “observed that transactions therein have been linked to cryptocurrency trading.”
“Due to the unregulated nature of cryptocurrency trading and the further directive from the CBN, we are unable to serve as your organisation’s financial partner going forward. We have therefore proceeded on the closure of your account and a draft will be issued to you for the equivalent sum in your account”, TechCabal quoted Access bank to have stated in an email to Mr. Chijindu.
A Twitter user, @Dumbgenius_ng, also tweeted complaining of a similar shutdown by UBA.
He said, “So I heard @gtbank have started closing accounts of people that have bought crypto with their GTB accounts before. A friend just confirmed the same with @UBAGroup ….. Anyways, until I am sure of whatever that is going on”
Access Bank, UBA, First Bank, and GTBank could not be reached for comments as of press time.
Prominent Nigerians including some current senators and former vice president Atiku Abubakar have asked the CBN not to outrightly ban cryptocurrencies and other related transactions.
Newsmen learnt that trading in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in the past few weeks as the global economy becomes increasingly volatile.