With a population of over 200 million, Nigeria is widely regarded as one the biggest crypto markets in the world. Some in the crypto world believe Nigeria is one of the few countries better placed to see a greater acceptance of digital currencies.
However, despite this optimism, the Nigerian crypto industry continues to be plagued by constant hurdles that then complicate mass adoption efforts. Some of the problems faced include an uncertain regulatory environment as well as the proliferation of bitcoin-related scams which often taint the image of cryptocurrencies.
However, according to Tony Emeka, the founder and CEO of Cryptotvplus a Nigerian crypto-focused media organization, some of these challenges can be overcome through education.
In a question and answer session with Bitcoin.com News, Emeka discusses his latest education project Earnathon and why believes it will make a difference. The CEO also shares his views on the current impasse between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the crypto industry.
To kick things off, Terence Zimwara (TZ) of Bitcoin.com News asked Emeka to share the background and experiences that motivated him to focus his efforts on crypto education?
Tony Emeka (TE): The Nigerian crypto industry is noted to be one of the largest in the world considering market data. This growth has been due to the bad state of affairs of the nation and a strong enthusiasm by Nigerians to break free and make something for themselves. However, this celebrated growth has only been possible because of education. However, it has not been easy considering negative sentiments towards cryptocurrency as a tool for scams.
Still, with the help of many individuals and business organisations, including Cryptotvplus, the industry has grown considerably. For instance, Cryptotvplus, through its education platform the Campus Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Awareness Tour (BCAT), has helped to raise awareness of blockchain and cryptocurrency across Nigeria since 2019. At one point, Cryptotvplus helped to organize one of the largest crypto-focused gatherings in West Africa. The education platform also helped to expose tens of thousands of individuals mostly students to crypto.
On seeing the success of the BCAT campaign across Nigerian universities, it occurred to the team that there was a need to do more. For mass adoption to be achieved, it was imperative to automate the process and have millions of people learning crypto all at once. We also observed how incentivizing attendees via airdrops helped bring a lot of people to crypto. These experiences and ideas were the basis of Earnathon.
To bring crypto education to millions of people globally.
TZ: What is your impression on what is currently happening in the Nigerian crypto space, education-wise?
TE: Education plays a unique role in shaping any (emerging) industry. Globally, there has been an increase in crypto education as well as greater awareness. This is reflected in the trackable search trends and user adoptions. But more has to be done. For mass adoption to be achieved, education efforts need to go to the grassroots. This is one thing that has been missing and now it is one of the things we are looking to do through Earnathon.
TZ: I know crypto scams are a problem in Nigeria. Are you specifically dealing with this issue as well?
TE: While scams cannot be eradicated totally they can be reduced to very low numbers. In Nigeria and around the world, crypto-related scams have risen and continue to rise, but quality crypto education is the key, the only potent weapon to fight fraudulent actors. Regulators can issue warnings and enforcement agencies will arrest bad actors. However, since these organizations are mostly reactive, education presents a fascinating solution.
When people are proactive as a result of sound crypto knowledge, they can easily beat bad actors. Education is thus key.
TZ: Now as someone who is trying to help raise awareness on cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, how do you rate the ignorance levels in Government and the CBN?
TE: The CBN stated in a circular published on February 7, 2021, that financial institutions could no longer facilitate crypto-related transactions. Surprisingly, the CBN position has been supported by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a few months after the same regulator classified cryptocurrencies as securities. This shows that the CBN and the govt still lack a good understanding of cryptocurrencies and money.
TZ: So in your view, did the CBN fully understand (cryptocurrencies) or it just rushed its directive back in February?
TE: The Circular on February 7th was somewhat from a position of fear. It was reactive. The apex bank ought to be proactive. The government had earlier noted it wanted to explore blockchain technology.
This is only possible by creating a good environment for existing businesses to grow. But the circular was a setback for many businesses and thus, it seems rushed.
TZ: How can this impasse between the crypto industry and the CBN be ended?
TE: The position of the CBN on cryptocurrency seems to be on a faulty foundation. But progress can only come by engaging the regulator, showing them the possibilities, the importance of cryptocurrency and blockchain. No organization wants an intruder. Educating the CBN will enable it to see cryptocurrencies as tools for economic growth.
Do you agree with Emeka’s assertion that education is a key step that will guarantee a greater acceptance of cryptos? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.