The Senate yesterday charged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to enlighten Nigerians on potential risks associated with cryptocurrency trading, particularly Bitcoin, with a view to protecting them from likely losses through such transactions.
This is even as the upper chamber also directed the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to also create awareness about the dangers in dealing with banks and Ponzi schemes operating in the country.
As part of its own internal arrangements to complement the activities of the financial system regulators, the Senate also committed its Committee on Banking and other Financial Institutions to investigate the viability of Bitcoin as an investment option and report back within two weeks.
These directives were sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu.
The lawmaker, while leading debate on motion, noted the alarming rate at which Bitcoin was being promoted in the country as one of the best forms of investment and called for urgent action to determine the desirability or otherwise of the new digital trading for the economy.
He explained: “This crypto-currency is openly marketed across the country on the local television and radio stations, mostly to Nigerians not aware of the consequences. Nigerians are freely advised, and even persuaded to invest in this crypto-currency, as it promises quick returns, in certain instances, a triple or quadruple of the invested sum as profit within days. “Google, quoted one Bit-coin to be equivalent to N5, 706, 713.20.”
The Senator pointed out that JP Morgan, the US-based investment bank, at a conference in New York, reportedly noted that the bitcoin was “only fit for drug dealers and would eventually blow up’’.
Uwajumogu recalled that the MMM bubble of 2016 left millions of Nigerian families devastated following huge losses they suffered from the phony scheme.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Dino Melaye said it was the responsibility of government to protect its citizens from being defrauded by fraudsters in whatever guise and urged NOA to enlighten Nigerians on the need for them to be wary and not to rush into such scams.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, also harped on the strategic roles the NOA could play in properly educating the people on the risks associated with cryptocurrency and other forms of digital currency trading.