The #EndSARS protest in Nigeria has been on for a couple of years but it has finally gotten the attention of the government and the dreaded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has been dissolved.
Crypto traders and investors in Nigeria can now breath a sigh of relief, because they have also been at the receiving end of the atrocities committed by SARS officers. A crypto enthusiast recently recounts his experience with SARS. His phone was searched by a SARS officer and when he found trust wallet app on it he was slapped by the officer and extorted, can you imagine this?
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There are also many complaints by crypto and forex traders on Twitter of extortion by SARS officers. Some had Bitcoin and Ethereum transferred directly from their wallets or were extorted in fiat.
How the government and banks view cryptocurrency in Nigeria
Cryptocurrency is decentralized in nature, due to this a number of people including those in the government, banks and law enforcement in Nigeria view crypto as an illegal asset used for fraudulent activities like internet fraud popularly known as yahoo yahoo.
Recently a top Bank in Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank sent a memo directing its staff to close all existing accounts of Crypto Exchanges (corporate and individual). Many cryptocurrency traders in Nigeria have had their accounts frozen due to adding Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in their transaction details.
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain community supports #EndSARS
The Global Crypto community has thrown their support behind the #EndSARS campaign on Twitter, with top influencers like CZ the CEO of Binance and Justin Sun, CEO of the Tron Foundation sending tweets in support of the protest.
— CZ Binance (@cz_binance) October 12, 2020
A Nigerian blockchain start-up backed by Binance, Bundle Africa donated 2145 BUSD (~1,000,000 Naira) and has also set up wallets to accept donations globally in cryptocurrency to support #EndSARS protesters and victims of SARS.
Cryptocurrency and blockchain enthusiasts in Nigeria have trouped out in their numbers to join the protest on the streets. The cryptocurrency community in Nigeria are fully in support of the #EndSARS and #SARSMUSTEND protests.
Why crypto traders and investors are not fraudsters?
- Investing and trading cryptocurrencies are similar to buying and selling stocks on the stock market or from stock brokers. Cryptocurrencies can be traded on either a cryptocurrency exchange or over the counter (OTC).
- Cryptocurrencies are digital forms of money denominated in monetary value. For instance 1 Bitcoin is 5,394,000 Naira. If I have 1 Bitcoin and someone wants to buy it, I will trade it for 5,394,000 Naira. In a nutshell this is how crypto trading works over the counter (OTC). Doing this doesn’t involve breaking any Nigerian law.
- Cryptocurrencies are investment class assets. Back in 2017 when I joined the crypto industry, 1 Bitcoin was 250,000 Naira but today 1 Bitcoin is 5,394,000 Naira. Investing in treasury bills or stocks in Nigeria will never give you this type of returns in four years. So people basically buy cryptocurrencies and hold as a form of investment.
The Securities and Exchange Commission Nigeria, recently released an official statement on digital assets. While this was applauded by the cryptocurrency and blockchain community in Nigeria a lot still has to be done in the area of sensitization and creating awareness generally on the legality of cryptocurrencies.
The #EndSARS protest presents a good platform for blockchain start-ups, crypto investors and traders to leverage on in passing the message that cryptocurrencies are not illegal, neither is blockchain technology used for illegal activities like yahoo yahoo.
People need to understand that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralized in nature. This means that no central authority or government controls them.
The government and banks believe they own exclusive rights to the financial sector and any form of competition here will always be fought off and not supported by either of them. Which is what we are witnessing today.