It’s been roughly 11 days since the Central Bank of Nigeria banned all regulated financial institutions from providing services to cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. At the risk of stiff penalties, all banks and institutions were directed to close crypto-related firms’ accounts immediately.
In the wake of the controversial move, public interest in Bitcoin (BTC) in Nigeria continues to outstrip other countries, according to the latest available data from Google Trends. Even more stark is the hefty 36% premium on Bitcoin’s price as of the time of writing, Feb. 16.
The premium translates into a $71,150 price tag per Bitcoin, as compared with the average spot market price of $51,314 calculated in Cointelegraph’s price index. The premium is also incomparable to the five next largest premiums globally at present: 3.24% in South Africa, and between 1% and 3% in Argentina, Peru, Malaysia and Vietnam.
As a Cointelegraph analysis outlined last week, the immediate impact of the central bank ban appears to have done little to quell what its author dubbed the “hyperbitcoinization” of retail trading culture in the country. Blockchain.com published a report back in Aug. 2020 revealing that Nigeria had been the best-performing country on its platform since April of that year. Google Trends at the time likewise reflected the country’s persistent top ranking in terms of global search interest in Bitcoin.
Citing the consequences of the central bank ban, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission halted its planned regulatory sandbox for crypto firms last week.
Nigeria senator Sani Musa remarked during a plenary Senate on Feb. 11 that Bitcoin posed a significant threat to the national fiat currency, the naira, although other lawmakers countered his argument with an argument in favor of cracking down on rogue actors using crypto, rather than preventing citizens from doing “great business” and benefiting from opportunities in the cryptocurrency industry.
Representatives from one cryptocurrency business in Nigeria declined to comment to Cointelegraph on the premium, citing a sensitive climate following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ban on bankings services to crypto firms.