Nigeria’s central bank fines Access Bank, Stanbic IBTC and UBA $1.9 million for facilitating crypto transactions

  • Access Bank Plc received the largest portion of the fine at $1.2 million, followed by Stanbic IBTC Bank and UBA.
  • Recall that the CBN had earlier in 2021 ordered Nigerian banks to close down all the bank accounts linked to cryptocurrency trading.
  • Despite the CBN ban, Nigeria has continued to rank as a major global hub for cryptocurrency usage.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) imposed a fine of N8 million ($1.9 million) on three banks —Access Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank and United Bank for Africa Plc — for allegedly facilitating cryptocurrency transactions in 2021.

Access Bank explained in its latest earnings report that it was fined the sum of N500 million ($1.2 million) by the apex bank.

Meanwhile, Stanbic IBTC Bank received a N200 million ($478,595) fine for the same infraction, followed by a N100 million ($240, 500) fine for United Bank for Africa, UBA.

Wole Adeniyi, the Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC Bank, acknowledged the fine while speaking during an investor call on Tuesday.

He informed stakeholders that although the bank did everything possible to adhere to a 2021 CBN directive banning crypto transactions, its systems failed to detect two bank accounts that were linked to crypto merchants. Interestingly, the CBN was able to detect the two accounts using an advanced technology that Stanbic IBTC Bank did not have.

Mr Adeniyi added that Stanbic IBTC has since requested access to the advanced technology from the CBN. And while the apex bank is currently sharing useful intelligence with the lender, “it doesn’t seem that they are going to entertain a refund” of the fine that was imposed, Bloomberg quoted the CEO to have clarified.

Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria had, in February 2021, ordered banks to close down all the bank accounts used by crypto traders to facilitate transactions. The policy move drew widespread outrage, as it affected virtually all the crypto exchange platforms operating in the West African country.

Note that the CBN move against cryptocurrency is despite the fact that Nigeria accounts for the second largest volume of crypto transactions in the world, second only to the USA. The country also has the largest portion of retail crypto traders who carry out transactions below $10, 000, according to a recent report by Chainalysis.

But the CBN said cryptocurrency poses risks to Nigeria’s financial system, hence the ban.