Nigeria’s SEC chief says crypto could assist almost 40 million unbanked

Nigeria’s SEC chief says crypto could assist almost 40 million unbanked

Nigeria’s SEC Chief Explores the Potential of Cryptocurrencies in Banking the Unbanked Population (Approximately 40 Million)

Mary Uduk, the Acting Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Nigeria, has expressed her belief in the potential of cryptocurrencies to bank the unbanked population in the country, which is estimated to be around 40 million people. In a recent interview with BusinessDay, Uduk stated that the

SEC is open to exploring the use of cryptocurrencies

in the Nigerian financial system, and that the commission is currently working on a framework to regulate their activities.

Uduk acknowledged that cryptocurrencies have been met with skepticism and even outright rejection by some stakeholders in the Nigerian financial sector. However, she emphasized that

the potential benefits of using cryptocurrencies to reach the unbanked population are significant

. She pointed out that many Nigerians living in rural areas or who cannot afford the fees associated with traditional banking services often rely on informal methods, such as mobile money or cash transfers, to manage their financial transactions.

According to Uduk, cryptocurrencies offer a more secure and efficient alternative to these methods. She noted that while there are risks associated with the use of cryptocurrencies, such as volatility and security concerns, the SEC is committed to working with other regulatory agencies and stakeholders to mitigate these risks. She also emphasized that it is important for Nigerians to be educated about the potential benefits and risks of using cryptocurrencies, and urged the public to engage in open and transparent dialogue with regulators and industry experts.

In conclusion, Uduk’s comments represent a significant shift in the narrative around cryptocurrencies in Nigeria. While some have seen them as a threat to traditional financial institutions, Uduk is focused on their potential to expand financial inclusion and reach the unbanked population. With the support of regulators like the SEC, it is possible that cryptocurrencies could play a key role in Nigeria’s financial future.

I. Introduction


Approximately 40 million people in Nigeria, which represents about 60% of the population, are considered to be unbanked. This means that they do not have access to traditional banking services such as checking or savings accounts, loans, or credit cards. The unbanked population in Nigeria faces numerous challenges that prevent them from joining the formal financial sector. These challenges include high fees for opening and maintaining bank accounts, long distances to the nearest banking facilities, lack of documentation required to open an account, and a general distrust in traditional financial institutions.


In the midst of this challenge, it is important to understand the context in which the unbanked population exists. The Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), established in 1999, is the apex regulatory body responsible for supervising and regulating activities in the Nigerian capital market. The SEC’s primary role is to protect investors, maintain fair, efficient, and transparent markets, and promote investor education.

Preliminary Statement:

Against this backdrop, the potential role of cryptocurrencies in banking the unbanked population in Nigeria cannot be overlooked. Cryptocurrencies offer an alternative financial system that is decentralized, secure, and accessible to anyone with an internet connection. As such, they have the potential to bypass many of the challenges faced by the unbanked population in accessing traditional banking services. In the following paragraphs, we will explore this concept in more detail and examine the role of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in regulating the use of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s SEC chief says crypto could assist almost 40 million unbanked

Nigerian SEC’s View on Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology

Previous stance: Regulation and cautions against cryptocurrencies

Initially, the SEC in Nigeria expressed skepticism towards cryptocurrencies, issuing several warnings against their use due to the potential risks they pose. These risks include, but are not limited to, fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing. The SEC was concerned that the anonymity of cryptocurrencies could be exploited by unscrupulous individuals and organizations to engage in illicit activities. Furthermore, there was a lack of regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in Nigeria, which added to the uncertainty surrounding their use.

Shifting perspective: Embracing the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology

However, as the global adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology continued to grow, the Nigerian SEC began to recognize their potential benefits. One of these benefits is

financial inclusion

. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology offer a decentralized, borderless, and low-cost means of financial transactions. This is particularly important in Nigeria, where many people are unbanked or underbanked.

Another benefit is the role of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in

economic growth

. They offer new opportunities for businesses to expand their reach and increase efficiency. For instance, blockchain technology can be used to create transparent and secure supply chains, while cryptocurrencies can facilitate cross-border transactions without the need for intermediaries or lengthy regulatory procedures.

Lastly, the Nigerian SEC recognizes that

innovation and fintech development

are key drivers of economic growth. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are at the forefront of this innovation, offering new ways to solve traditional financial challenges. Therefore, the SEC is working on creating a regulatory framework that will encourage the responsible use of these technologies while mitigating the risks associated with them.

Nigeria’s SEC chief says crypto could assist almost 40 million unbanked

I Potential Impact of Cryptocurrencies on the Unbanked Population

Access to financial services: Overcoming geographical and infrastructure barriers

Cryptocurrencies offer a promising solution for the unbanked population, who often face significant challenges in accessing traditional financial services due to geographical and infrastructure barriers. This issue is particularly prevalent in developing countries, where mobile wallets and digital currencies have emerged as viable alternatives.

Mobile wallets and digital currencies

Mobile wallets, such as M-Pesa in Kenya, have been successful in enabling millions of users to conduct financial transactions using their mobile phones. Cryptocurrencies, with their decentralized and borderless nature, can further expand access to financial services in remote areas, where setting up a physical bank branch is not feasible.

Cost reduction: Lowering the cost of financial transactions for the unbanked population

Another significant advantage of cryptocurrencies is their potential to reduce costs associated with financial transactions for the unbanked population. By eliminating intermediaries and reducing transaction fees, cryptocurrencies can provide a more cost-effective solution for sending and receiving remittances, making small purchases, or even saving for the future.

Eliminating intermediaries and reducing transaction fees

In contrast to traditional banking systems, which rely on intermediaries like banks and money transfer operators to facilitate transactions, cryptocurrencies enable users to transact directly with one another. This peer-to-peer (P2P) nature of cryptocurrency transactions can lead to substantial savings, as there are no intermediaries taking a cut from each transaction.

Financial literacy: Empowering users with knowledge and control over their finances

Lastly, cryptocurrencies have the potential to empower the unbanked population by enhancing their financial literacy and providing them with more control over their finances.

User education and community building initiatives

Cryptocurrency-focused user education and community building initiatives can help bridge the knowledge gap for those who may not be familiar with the concept of digital currencies. By offering training programs, workshops, and online resources, cryptocurrency organizations can help promote financial literacy and encourage adoption among the unbanked population.

Collaboration with financial institutions and NGOs to promote financial literacy

Moreover, partnerships between cryptocurrency organizations, financial institutions, and NGOs can play a crucial role in promoting financial literacy within the unbanked population. By combining the strengths of each sector – the innovative technology of cryptocurrencies, the reach and resources of financial institutions, and the expertise and community engagement of NGOs – these collaborations can help create a more inclusive financial ecosystem for all.

Nigeria’s SEC chief says crypto could assist almost 40 million unbanked

Challenges and Risks Associated with Cryptocurrency Adoption in Nigeria

Legal and regulatory challenges:

Despite the growing interest in cryptocurrencies in Nigeria, there are significant challenges that need to be addressed for widespread adoption.
Lack of clear guidelines and frameworks: One of the major hurdles is the absence of a legal and regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Central Bank of Nigeria, and other stakeholders must collaborate to provide clear guidelines and regulations to govern the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.

Security concerns:

Security is another major concern when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption in Nigeria.
Potential risks of fraud, hacking, and money laundering: The anonymity associated with cryptocurrencies makes them a target for criminal activities.
It is essential to adopt best practices for secure storage and transactions to mitigate these risks.

Technological challenges:

Limited access to reliable internet connectivity and smartphones is another challenge that needs to be addressed for cryptocurrency adoption in Nigeria.
Potential solutions: Solutions such as SMS-based transactions and offline wallets can help overcome the technological challenges and make cryptocurrencies more accessible to a larger population.

Nigeria’s SEC chief says crypto could assist almost 40 million unbanked

Conclusion: Cryptocurrencies have emerged as a promising solution to the financial exclusion challenge in Nigeria.

Summary of Key Points and Potential Impact on the Unbanked Population

With over 41% of Nigeria’s population unbanked, there is a significant opportunity for cryptocurrencies to bridge the financial gap. Cryptocurrencies offer several advantages, including borderless transactions, lower transaction fees, and accessibility through mobile devices. Peer-to-peer transactions via cryptocurrencies have already gained popularity among Nigerians, with platforms like Binance P2P and LocalBitcoins witnessing high trading volumes.

Call to Action: Encouragement for Collaboration Between Government, Financial Institutions, and Tech Companies

The potential of cryptocurrencies in promoting financial inclusion is significant. However, it requires a collective effort from all stakeholders. Government: Regulatory clarity and support for innovative financial solutions will foster an enabling environment for cryptocurrency adoption. Financial Institutions: Collaboration with tech companies to integrate cryptocurrencies into their offerings can attract the unbanked population. Tech Companies: Continued innovation and investment in user-friendly cryptocurrency solutions will make digital currencies more accessible to the masses.

Future Considerations: Continuous Monitoring and Assessment of the Regulatory Landscape and Emerging Trends in Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology

The cryptocurrency landscape is dynamic, with new trends emerging continuously. Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), DeFi, and stablecoins are some of the latest developments in the space. Regulatory bodies must keep abreast of these trends to ensure they promote financial stability while fostering innovation. A balanced approach that encourages responsible adoption and mitigates risks will be key to maximizing the potential of cryptocurrencies in financial inclusion efforts.