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Coinbase Denies Reports of Nigerian Crypto Ban

Cryptocurrency platform Coinbase is denying reports that it is being blocked in Nigeria.

Last week saw a report by the Financial Times (FT) that the Nigerian government had gotten the country’s telecoms to block platforms including Coinbase, Binance and Kraken.

However, a spokesperson for Coinbase told Coindesk on Thursday (Feb. 22) that it was still in operation in Africa’s largest nation.

“We are continuing to investigate these reports, but based on an initial investigation, it appears that Coinbase.com remains accessible from Nigeria,” the spokesperson told the news outlet.

PYMNTS has reached out to Coinbase, Binance and Kraken for comment but has not yet received a reply.

According to the Financial Times, Nigeria’s move came as the country is working to rein in currency speculation amid a drop in value for the country’s naira. The FT report said this marks a shift in attitude by the Nigerian government.

Last December, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) lifted a nearly three-year-old ban on transacting in cryptocurrencies, though still noted a need to regulate virtual asset service providers (VASPs), including cryptocurrencies and crypto assets. The bank issued new guidelines that stress the need for VASPs to obtain licensing from the Nigerian SEC to engage in crypto business.

Last week, Bayo Onanuga, an adviser to Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, wrote on X that crypto platforms have been “blatantly setting exchange rate for Nigeria,” usurping the role of the country’s central bank.

Onanuga also called for other companies to “be banned from operating in our cyberspace” or else “this bleeding of our currency will continue unabated.”

The news comes as Coinbase and other crypto companies are looking to overseas markets amid increased regulatory pressure in the U.S. 

Among those markets is Singapore, where more than half of the city state’s “finance-forward” residents own cryptocurrency, according to a recent Coinbase survey.

“We are encouraged by the results of the recent survey in Singapore that underscore both the rising interest in cryptocurrency and staking, further solidifying our conviction that decentralized technologies have the power to broaden access to financial services and represent the future of finance,” Coinbase wrote in a blog post last week.

Among Singapore’s cryptocurrency users, the post said, staking has become the most popular activity in the last year, with 55% of respondents saying they had staked cryptocurrency through a centralized exchange, and 38% using decentralized finance apps.