Binance stops services in Nigeria as local execs arrested

Binance announced it will stop all services related to Nigeria’s fiat currency, the naira (NGN), because of ongoing regulatory conflicts in the country.

Binance Nigeria

Starting from March 8 at 8:00 a.m. UTC, Binance will automatically convert any naira balances on its platform to USDT, the stablecoin pegged to the US dollar. However, the platform will stop accepting naira deposits after 14:00 UTC today, and withdrawals in naira will no longer be possible after March 8 at 6:00 a.m. UTC.

For these automatic conversions, Binance will use a rate of 1 USDT for every 1,515.13 naira. The exchange also plans to remove all trading pairs that involve the naira on March 7 at 3:00 a.m. UTC, and any open orders in these pairs will be closed automatically.

Additionally, Binance will discontinue naira support for its various services, including Binance Convert, Binance P2P, its Auto Invest feature, and Binance Pay, at different times and dates.

This decision comes in the wake of a BBC report stating that the Nigerian government has demanded a minimum of $10 billion from Binance. The demand is linked to “illegal transactions” that supposedly negatively impacted Nigeria. There are also multiple reports suggesting that Binance has been under investigation by Nigerian authorities, leading to the detention of several of its executives.

In response to the government’s actions last week, Binance has removed the Nigerian naira from its peer-to-peer (P2P) service, which allows users to trade cryptocurrencies without involving a third party. The P2P feature became popular in Nigeria in 2021 following the government’s ban on its crypto industry.

Binance has also faced criticism for setting a limit on the selling price of Tether (USDT) tokens on its P2P platform, leaving traders unable to sell USDT above a certain price. The exchange explained that this was due to an automatic system pause, contrary to speculation by the local crypto community.

The Nigerian government banned cryptocurrency operations during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The move aimed at stemming the rapid decline of the Naira and addressing the country’s soaring inflation rate, which has reached a near three-decade high of 29.9%.

Back in 2022, angry consumers of the troubled crypto exchange AAX stormed its local office in Nigeria hoping they can get their money back after the firm when it halted operations.