The President of the Stakeholders in Blockchain technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN), Mr. Senator Ihenyen has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as other critical stakeholders in the financial sector in the country to navigate the way forward in regulating the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.
Speaking at the inaugural peer-to-peer conference organised by SiBAN over the weekend at the Civic Event Centre in Lagos, Ihenyen explained that with the unprecedented growth of the blockchain industry in Nigeria, a point of convergence becomes necessary.
He said, “What we represent is a self-regulatory body in Nigeria’s blockchain industry. With the P2P conference, we want to have a platform where innovators as well as policy makers and other stakeholders within and outside the industry can have conversations around blockchain adoption, policy and regulation.
“We are looking at P2P not inform of peer to peer transactions only but in terms of open one-on-one conversations where we have a marketplace of ideas about how Nigeria should go about maximising the opportunity provided by blockchain technology while also helping to minimise the risk. As a self-regulatory body in this space, we recognise that there are opportunities and that there are risks as well. How we respond to this is what matters.
Noting that there is a divergence in the financial sector, he said, “We talk about the Traditional Finance (TradFi) as represented by the banks, insurance companies, etc. There is a divergence between how they operate and the regulatory framework which they work with, and what Decentralised Finance (DeFi) and Centralised Finance (CeFi) represent.
“We will need a re-engagement of stakeholders, lawmakers, and policymakers so that we can have a proper regulatory framework for Blockchain adoption in the country. In this way, we will be able to converge and not have this current divergence. In this way, the CBN will be able to understand that decentralised applications or finance or cryptocurrencies are financial technologies, its fintech. It is not about banning or restricting… its about understanding the pros and cons and working with all industry stakeholders including banks and law enforcement agencies to ensure that we have transparency in the space,” he said.
Corroborating this, crypto market analyst and Founder, Cryptopreacher Blockchain Academy, Rume Ophi said despite efforts to strangulate the industry by authorities, its massive growth has continued unhindered, despite the bearish run and downtime experienced in the market. Citing recently Google Trends data of popular crypto search terms which revealed that the Nigerian population searched the term “cryptocurrency,” “invest in crypto” and “buy crypto” the most among the 15 countries that were part of the research, he advised that the government and the CBN to tow the path of countries who are taking advantage of the opportunities that this space has got to offer as against the futile effort of strangulating it.
“Our government can take practical lessons from such countries like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, El Salvador, to try their best in making sure that it maximise the potential of this technology and people also benefit massively from it.
“In terms of addressing issues of money laundry, financing terrorism and other vices the government has come to identify with blockchain and cryptocurrency, the government needs to sit down with stakeholders, fully understand tis space, make policies and make regulations to effectively curbs these vices. That is what this conference has also tried to do,” he said.
At the conference, experts from across the world cutting across different segments in the alternative finance ecosystem spoke to the theme of the conference “CeFi, DeFi & TradFi: is there a need for Convergence in the Current Divergence?” Chief Olutoyin Oloniteru, Founder and Chairman, Crypto Economy Institute of Africa (CEIAfrica) commenced as the first keynote, speaking to the topic, “Emergence of CeFi, DeFi & TradFi: Securing the Future in the Current Divergence.”
Giving a global perspective to the theme of the discourse, Lars Seier Christensen, Chairman of Concordium who is a global pioneer in FX and derivative trading and a co-Founder & former Co-CEO of Saxo Bank addressed participants, speaking on the topic, “The Emergence of CeFi, DeFi and TradFi: a Concordium Perspective.”
Exploring the theme of the conference more broadly, more speakers also spoke at the panel sessions of the conference. In the first titled “Navigating the Opportunities and Risks in CeFi and DeFi, and Exploring Possible Opportunities in TradFi. In the highly engaging session, AbikureTega, Team Lead, Kumon Wallet; Chuta Chimezie, Founder, BNUG & Vice-President, BiCCoN; Eric Anan, Founder/CEO, Global DCA and Rume Ophi, Founder, Cryptopreacher Blockchain Academy were in their elements sharing knowledge on the subject matter. The session was moderated by Chioma Onyekelu, CCI, A&D Forensics.
The last session was on “Crypto Exchanges and VASPs as Partners to Regulators and the Government: Where Innovation Meets Regulation.” Chiagozie Iwu, CEO, NaijaCrypto; Franklin Peters, CEO, BoundlessPay; Beverley Onyejianya-Agbakoba, Partner, Olisa wer e Agbakoba Legal; Oyewole Joledo, Snr. Manager, Paxful; Prince Nwafuru, Partner, The Law Suite; Ruth Iselama, CEO, Bitmama and Seun Dania, CEO, TradeFada were all panellists on this session.
Chairman of the P2P Conference Planning Committee, Jude Ozinegbe revealed that the overwhelming turnout by stakeholders in the financial sector especially those who play in the alternative finance segment is a huge indication of the sheer influence SiBAN commands. He also thanked organisations that have played onerous parts in the success of the conference through their partnership support and sponsorship.
These organisations he noted include Alpha ltd, ABCC, BEI, thinkcrypto, Blockchain Vibes, Everest, Crypto Hills, Cryptopreacher Blockchain Academy, Sinso Technologies, Market Advance, Near Finance Protocol, Bitget, Empowered CryptoHub, Smart Investors Hub, Super Woman, GIDA, LUPPON, Finsmart, CryptoMart, MoEX Consult, among others.
Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN) is a Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO), an association of blockchain & crypto industry players founded in 2018. Registered members work together to promote a free market for blockchain & crypto players by driving blockchain & crypto education, encouraging the adoption of model self-regulatory policies in accordance with global best practices, and collaborating with relevant bodies to ensure that innovation is not stifled by regulation, consumer protection and investor safety are safeguarded.
At the Nigeria Fintech Week 2021, SiBAN was recognized as “The Best Blockchain Association in Africa”.