Nigeria's FX Crisis: Can Banning Binance Save the Naira?

Nigeria's FX Crisis: Can Banning Binance Save the Naira?

It is 2024 and the Nigerian government isn't just going after Bureau De Change Operators and any other alleged speculators as the country's FX (Foreign exchange) crisis gets worse. Its recently appointed central bank chief has been implementing several policies and initiatives to put out the fire that appears to be tearing the economy apart. The government of Nigeria recently banned Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms in the globe, along with other similar platforms like Kucoin and OctaFX, a move that has caused a stir in the country's tech and cryptocurrency scenes. This ban is attributed to concerns over the impact of the USDT/NGN Pair Peer-to-Peer trading on the FX rates and the depreciation of the Naira. In its wisdom, the government of the day strongly believes in this move although it sharply erodes its recent initiatives and published policies aimed at creating a welcoming business and regulatory climate for Cryptocurrencies and Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) in Nigeria. This article aims to further dissect the implications of this ban, offering insights into its potential impact on both the Nigerian crypto players and the government's broader economic strategy.

The Timing

The timing of the decision may also seem to be paradoxical, given how it starkly contrasts with recent actions that Nigeria's Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Tunji Bosun, has taken. He was in talks with well-known personalities like Idris Elba and a few Stellar Development Foundation representatives about the enormous potential that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies could provide for Nigerian artists and creators. And just about a day or two later, the Nigerian government has placed a ban on Binance and its peers.
For a better context - The Stellar Development Foundation(SDF) is a nonprofit organization creating equitable access to the global financial system through blockchain technology. The foundation has made 4 known major investments in the African startup ecosystem. With their latest grossing a $10M Series A investment into Afriex, a Nigerian startup, and a $2.5M Seed investment into Skrmiish another startup in South Africa.

What the Government Believes

  1. It is Strengthening the Naira

    The government believes that collaborating with local telcos to restrict access to platforms like Binance that facilitate USDT/NGN trades could reduce pressure on the Naira, potentially mitigating further depreciation of the Naira. It believes that such trades encourage speculation against the Naira, exacerbating the currency's decline in value. In the wake of September 2021, the immediate past Chief of the Nigerian Central Bank believed that AbokiFX, an online platform that gathers and displays parallel market rates in Nigeria, was significantly contributing to the country's rising FX rate. He abruptly called for the platform's closure and the cessation of its alleged criminal operations and activities. However, the platform released a counter-statement emphasizing its innocence and agreed to suspend operations for its Nigerian audience to prove its claim. Counterintuitively, Fast forward to today - over two years after the suspension of AbokiFXs’ operations, Nigeria's foreign exchange rates have worsened.

  2. It is Protecting Nigerians Against Volatility

    The government also believes it is shielding the economy and its citizens from the inherent volatility associated with cryptocurrencies. This move is intended to protect investors from potential losses that can arise from sudden market swings, which are common in the crypto space.

  3. It is a form of Regulatory Control

    Additionally, the government believes the ban is a step towards establishing more robust regulatory frameworks for the cryptocurrency sector. By taking a firm stance at the moment, and re-positioning itself to introduce more comprehensive and effective regulations in the future, ensuring that the growth of this sector is in line with national financial security and economic policies.

What Nigerian Crypto Enthusiasts and Investors Believe

  1. Stifling of Innovation

    Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, according to Nigerian cryptocurrency players, represent a new frontier in financial innovation with the potential to spur substantial economic growth. Nigeria stands to lose out on the numerous opportunities that these technologies present for financial inclusion, job creation, and economic diversification if it continues to ban platforms like Binance and its peers.

  2. Contradictory Signals

    The recent discussions between officials of Stellar Development Foundation, Idris Elba, and the Nigerian Minister of Communications, Innovation, and the Digital Economy as well as the recent CBN guidelines released for intending Cryptocurrencies and Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) which indicated the government's growing interest in exploring the benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrencies contradicts this current ban and sends mixed signals to both domestic and international investors and innovators, potentially undermining confidence in Nigeria's commitment to fostering a supportive environment for digital economy ventures.

  3. Emergence of P2P (Peer-to-peer) Black Market

    The ban on Binance and similar platforms might inadvertently fuel the rise of a black market for cryptocurrencies in Nigeria. Especially for the USDT/NGN Pair. Without regulated exchanges, P2P transactions could move underground, making it harder for authorities to monitor and control the flow of funds, potentially exacerbating the very FX crises the ban aims to mitigate.

  4. Loss of Consumer Protection

    Regulated platforms offer users security and recourse. By prohibiting reputable exchanges, the government exposes Nigerian citizens to an increased risk of fraud and scams, as they may turn to less secure platforms and methods to access digital currencies. Using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access the platforms carries its risks, as users' devices may be vulnerable to security and data breaches.

  5. Loss of Oversight

    A black market scenario would significantly hamper the government's ability to monitor and regulate cryptocurrency transactions, making it more challenging to prevent money laundering and other illicit financial activities.

Moving Forward

- Benefits of Collaborating With and Regulating CEXs (Centralized Exchanges)

  1. Enhanced Security and Transparency

    Adequate collaboration with platforms such as the one Binance offers as well as effective regulatory frameworks of their P2P market transactions, will provide a more secure and transparent environment for users and a win-win situation for the government and operators. This will ensure that trades are conducted fairly, with mechanisms in place to resolve disputes and protect against fraud, manipulations, and unchecked speculations.

  2. Revenue Generation

    By recognizing and regulating platforms like Binance, the Nigerian government could tap into a new revenue stream through taxes and transaction fees. This approach would not only support the national economy but also legitimize the crypto sector, encouraging further investment and innovation

  3. Market Stability

    A partnership-powered ecosystem and a regulated environment will contribute to the stability of the cryptocurrency market. It can help mitigate drastic fluctuations in the USDT/NGN exchange rate, aligning with the government's concerns about the impact of crypto trading on the Naira's value.


To harness the benefits of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology while mitigating the risks, the Nigerian government needs to adopt a more discerning and collaborative approach. This includes engaging with stakeholders from the crypto sector, financial institutions, and international regulatory bodies to create a regulatory framework that promotes transparency, security, and innovation.

The ban on Binance is a pivotal moment for Nigeria's digital economy. It presents an opportunity to rethink the country's approach to digital finance and cryptocurrency regulation. By fostering a collaborative and forward-thinking regulatory environment, Nigeria can protect its economy, encourage innovation, and secure its place as a leader in the global digital economy.