Navigating the Winds of Change: Crypto Trading in Nigeria Faces New Tax Realities

November 1, 2023
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In the dynamic landscape of Nigeria’s economy, crypto trading has emerged as both a refuge and a challenge amid currency devaluation and economic uncertainties. According to a recent report by New York-based blockchain research firm Chainalysis, Nigeria’s crypto transactions witnessed a substantial 9% year-over-year growth, reaching an impressive $56.7 billion between July 2022 and June 2023. This surge can be attributed to a growing number of Nigerians beginning to trade crypto like bitcoin and stablecoins, particularly during periods of extreme drops in the value of the naira.

From Ban to Tax: The Unpredictable Trajectory

The crypto boom in Nigeria gained momentum as citizens sought alternatives to hedge against the devaluation of the national currency, exacerbated by bold economic reforms implemented by President Bola Tinubu. Notably, the scrapping of a costly petrol subsidy and the removal of certain exchange rate restrictions contributed to the weakening of the naira.

In response to these economic challenges, Nigeria’s young and tech-savvy population turned to cryptocurrencies, leveraging peer-to-peer trading options offered by crypto exchanges to navigate around the 2021 ban on crypto transactions imposed by the country’s banks and financial institutions.

However, as the crypto market flourished, the government took an unexpected turn in 2023. In a surprising move, the Buhari-led government introduced a new law to tax gains on digital assets, including cryptocurrencies. This shift marked a departure from the 2021 ban and showcased the government’s willingness to explore crypto taxation as a potential revenue source.

The crypto tax, embedded in a series of amendments to the 2022 Finance Act, imposes a 10% tax on profits from digital assets. This involves not solely cryptocurrencies but also non-fungible tokens and other tokenized assets, as elucidated by Adewale Ajayi, a partner at KPMG. The implementation of this tax, nevertheless, surprised numerous individuals in the crypto community, instigating discussions on the absence of a well-defined policy framework and stakeholder participation in the decision-making process.

Challenges and Debates: Navigating the Road Ahead

Obinna Iwuno, the president of the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN), expressed bewilderment at the sudden imposition of a tax without a comprehensive policy framework. He highlighted the necessity for cooperation between the government and stakeholders in the cryptocurrency realm to guarantee impartial and well-informed decision-making.

Opponents contend that, although levying taxes on cryptocurrency is not inherently erroneous, excessive taxation could impede the development of an industry that is still in its early stages. Davizoe Effiong, CEO of BEI Consultancy, warned against the potential negative impact on crypto adoption, suggesting that capping the tax profit at 5% could strike a balance between revenue generation for the government and sustaining the growth of the crypto ecosystem.

One key challenge highlighted by crypto traders, such as Wale, is the need for the government to formalize and legitimize the crypto industry. To effectively implement the tax, there must be collaboration with international exchanges and the licensing of crypto traders. The government’s recent directive to Binance Nigeria Limited to cease soliciting Nigerian investors is indicative of its efforts to regulate and control the crypto space.

The crypto community awaits the release of guidelines from Nigeria’s tax authority, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in collaboration with the Joint Tax Board. As the regulatory landscape evolves, questions loom over the enforcement of the tax and its potential impact on the promises made by President Bola Tinubu’s administration, which expressed a bullish stance on crypto and blockchain technology.


In summary, the trajectory of cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria mirrors an intricate interaction among economic circumstances, governmental directives and the ambitions of a technology-savvy populace. While the country contends with the imperative for fresh income streams, the cryptocurrency sector stands at a juncture, weighing the prospective advantages of taxation against the hazard of impeding its advancement. The coming months will reveal how Nigeria navigates these challenges and whether the crypto tax becomes a catalyst for industry maturation or a hurdle to widespread adoption.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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