Cryptocurrency: VP Osinbajo calls for regulation - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

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Friday, 26 February 2021

Cryptocurrency: VP Osinbajo calls for regulation


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says rather than adopt a policy that prohibits cryptocurrency operations in the country, “we must act with knowledge and not fear” and develop a robust regulatory regime that is thoughtful and knowledge-based.

Osinbajo stated this in a keynote address delivered virtually at a one-day economic summit organized by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Banker’s Committee, and the Vanguard Newspaper, themed “Bankers’ Initiative for Economic Growth”.
 
“I fully appreciate the strong position of the CBN, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and some of the anti-corruption agencies on the possible abuses of cryptocurrencies and their other well-articulated concerns. But I believe that their position should be the subject of further reflection.

“There is a role for regulation here. And it is in the place of both our monetary authorities and SEC to provide a robust regulatory regime that addresses these serious concerns without killing the goose that might lay the golden eggs.

“So it should be thoughtful and knowledge-based regulation, not prohibition. The point I am making is that some of the exciting developments we see the call for prudence and care in adopting them, but we must act with knowledge and not fear.”
 
While Emphasizing the need for monetary authorities to rethink their stand on cryptocurrencies, Osinbajo said “there is no question that blockchain technology generally and cryptocurrencies, in particular, will in the coming years challenge traditional banking, including reserve (Central) banking, in ways that we cannot yet imagine. So, we need to be prepared for that seismic shift. And it may come sooner than later.”

His words: “Already remittance systems are being challenged. Blockchain technology will provide far cheaper options for the kind of fees being paid today for cross-border transfers. I am sure you are all aware of the challenge that the traditional SWIFT system is facing from new systems like Ripple which is based on the blockchain distributed ledger technology with its own crypto tokens.

“There are, of course, a whole range of digital assets spawned daily from block-chain technology. Decentralized finance, using smart contracts to create financial instruments, in place of central financial intermediaries such as banks or brokerages are set to challenge traditional finance. The likes of Nexo finance offer instant loans using cryptocurrency as collateral. Some reserve banks are investigating issuing their own digital currencies.”

The Vice President emphasized that “in order to engender sustained economic growth, we must think in terms of scale”.

“I am quite concerned when I hear that national interventions are classified as pilots involving sometimes no more than 1000 people. Given the size of our population, we cannot afford the luxury of pilot projects. We should design our interventions very carefully and then go big.
 
“It was quite puzzling to me when people said that our plan to build 300,000 houses under the ESP was too ambitious a target. After all, this just amounts to 400 houses per local government yet many of our local governments are larger than some African countries who would not consider building 400 houses in one year as too onerous a task.

“The task of national development requires that we fire on all cylinders after all, at one stage, China was building 1.9m housing units per year over a number of years.”

Osinbajo noted that “the Buhari administration has a track record of building roads, rail, and power projects across the country. In spite of this commitment we are still very far away from meeting the full infrastructural needs of the economy.”