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Strengthening Financial Compliance: Nigeria’s Fintech Sector Faces New Onboarding Restrictions

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In a significant move to enhance Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance within the financial sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued directives to several Nigerian fintech companies to halt the onboarding of new customers. This decision impacts prominent firms such as OPay, Kuda Bank, Moniepoint, and PalmPay, which have suspended new account creation as part of an audit of their KYC practices. This information comes from TechCabal, an African publication, citing a source familiar with the matter who stated,

The CBN feels like a lot of crypto traders were leveraging the fintech platforms to disrupt the FX (Forex) market.

Regulatory Efforts to Enhance Financial Security in Nigeria’s Fintech Industry

The measure follows closely on the heels of actions taken by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which recently blocked 1,146 bank accounts due to unauthorized forex transactions. A review of these accounts revealed that only about 10% were associated with fintech companies, the majority being held by traditional commercial banks.

Despite the halt in new registrations, existing customers of the affected fintech firms can continue to deposit and transfer funds without restrictions. One of the impacted companies announced,

We’ve temporarily paused new signups on our platform. This means that you’ll be unable to open a new account at the moment. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

The ongoing regulatory actions are a collaborative effort involving the CBN, the National Security Agency, and the EFCC. A recent related incident saw Fidelity Bank, a Nigerian commercial bank, blocking all outgoing transfers to the aforementioned fintechs in October 2023 due to KYC concerns.

These firms have been scrutinized for insufficient KYC procedures, which have reportedly facilitated financial crimes such as tax evasion and money laundering. A representative from one of the firms emphasized that the suspension of new account creations is a temporary measure and assured that normal operations would resume after the audit is completed.

Moreover, the financial community has shown positive reactions to the appointment of Emomotimi Agama as the new director-general of the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission. This development is aimed at regulating the capital market to boost investor confidence and foster economic growth. Nathaniel Luz, CEO of Flincap, an over-the-counter crypto exchange, and Lucky Uwakwe, chair of the Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria (BICCoN) and founder of SaBi Exchange, have both praised the appointment, highlighting its potential to streamline licensing processes for crypto platforms in Nigeria.

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