From the Desk of the SiBAN President, Senator Ihenyen
The first half of the year 2021 came to an end yesterday. It has also been the first quarter of my tenure as SiBAN President. Though we are not where we want to be yet, we are no longer where we used to be. I, as well as the Executive Council I head, remain committed to the vision: To transform Nigeria into the world’s safest and biggest blockchain space with the largest blockchain solutions, investments, and adoption.
First of all, a big THANK YOU!
I wish to thank all the members of SiBAN and the larger community for the support we have been getting especially since the new administration came on board. With your support, SiBAN’s role in Nigeria’s emerging blockchain industry has been impacting on the growth and development of the blockchain industry. I have no doubt that with even more support from the community in the next half of the year and beyond, SiBAN will be able to achieve greater milestones in the best interest of Nigeria’s ever-growing blockchain community.
In the first half of the year and first quarter of the current 2-year tenure, not only has the SiBAN community remained strong and united but we have also been building bridges across the blockchain industry, both locally and internationally. Today, SiBAN is recognized globally for the work it is doing in the Nigerian blockchain ecosystem.
What SiBAN has accomplished locally, particularly in the area of aligning interests in the blockchain industry
Locally—appreciating the need to work together with all stakeholders—we have continued to collaborate with other blockchain & crypto bodies as well as other relevant communities in Nigeria towards ensuring that we have a stronger, vibrant, and safer blockchain ecosystem in the country.
SiBAN collaborates to found an intercommunity working group for Nigeria’s emerging blockchain industry.
First, in January 2021, SiBAN collaborated with the Blockchain Nigeria User Group (BNUG) and the Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN) to found the Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria (BICCoN). BICCoN is the intercommunity working group for Nigeria’s emerging blockchain industry. BICCoN’s mission is to “provide an intercommunity approach to blockchain technology adoption towards achieving a more collaborative, innovative, and safer blockchain ecosystem in Nigeria.” Apart from setting up an Anti-Crypto Scam Task Force in collaboration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in February 2021 in order to support the SEC’s efforts in ensuring consumer protection and investor safety, BICCoN was instrumental in the blockchain industry’s response to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following the CBN’s directive restricting banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria from providing banking and financial services to cryptocurrency traders and entities. Working closely with the Fintech Association of Nigeria (FinTechNGR), a comprehensive response was submitted to the CBN in March 2021. I am the current General Secretary of BICCoN. Last month, through a public statement, BICCoN also indicated to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) its readiness to contribute to the conversation on CBDC and the plan of the CBN to launch a digital Naira. Happily, this engagement is already ongoing.
SiBAN becomes a member of the Reguvators Forum, a platform where regulators and innovators meet quarterly.
Second, in May 2021, as part of the need to improve our policy and regulatory support, SiBAN was admitted into the Reguvator Forum. An initiative of FinTechNGR, the Reguvator Forum is an exclusive platform where a number of Nigerian regulators as well as stakeholders in the fintech space meet quarterly. With the increasing need for players to proactively and constructively engage regulators, I believe that the Reguvator Forum will help boost our ability to share ideas with relevant regulators in the country. I participated in the Reguvator Forum which held in May 2021. There, the CBN crypto restriction came up. We have been informed that a process is in place to comprehensively review issues and concerns bordering on cryptocurrency in the country’s best interest. We will continue to engage constructively.
SiBAN becomes a founding member of Fintech Alliance Coordinating Team (FACT), a fintech-industry wide alliance in Nigeria
Third, in June 2021, SiBAN Executive Council approved SiBAN’s membership of a fintech industry-wide which was mainly set up to align voices in Nigeria’s fintech industry. Apart from SiBAN, BNUG and CDIN are also founding members of this alliance. The alliance is called the Fintech Alliance Coordinating Team (FACT). One of objectives of FACT is to enable players and stakeholders to have a proactive approach to policy and regulatory issues affecting them. Last month, as part of our policy and regulatory advocacy work, through FACT, we made a well-received technical presentation to the Technical Committee on Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). I am the current Secretary of FACT.
What SiBAN has accomplished globally, particularly in the area of strategic partnerships to promote blockchain technology
Globally, SiBAN has continued to form strategic partnerships and collaborations in the global blockchain and crypto space.
SiBAN signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Global Digital Assets & Cryptocurrency Association (Global DCA) for mutual support.
First, on the international front, SiBAN is a partner of the Global Digital Assets & Cryptocurrency Association (Global DCA) where we have gotten policy and regulatory advisory support. It is by virtue of our Global DCA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that SiBAN had the opportunity to invite Nigerian regulators to the global Regulator Working Group of the Government Blockchain Association (GBA). The Global DCA also provided support to SiBAN in the thick of the CBN directive to banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria over cryptocurrencies in the banking and financial system. Global DCA has great respect for what SiBAN is doing in Nigeria. We hope to also work together with the Global DCA to expose SiBAN corporate members to global opportunities in the blockchain space for collaboration and growth.
SiBAN becomes founding member of the global Blockchain Associations Forum (BAF), “the united nations of blockchain” to drive and support blockchain education, innovation, and policy & regulations for global blockchain adoption.
Second, SiBAN’s efforts in the Nigeria blockchain & cryptocurrency space has also been noticed and recognized by the British Blockchain Association (BBA) recently, especially during our media engagements on TV, radio, and social media on the current CBN crypto policy in Nigeria. In June 2021, the BBA, being one of the most prestigious associations in the global blockchain space, extended a hand of partnership to SiBAN. This has led to SiBAN standing with other associations and bodies in over 50 counties to found the global Blockchain Associations Forum (BAF). This was a historic feat. On 26 June, I represented the Nigeria blockchain & crypto space where I delivered a brief presentation about the journey so far. I believe that this will be the beginning of bigger things in the space.
Beyond the hype around blockchain, SiBAN joins the Centre for Evidence-Based Blockchain (CEBB) in order to promote real use cases of blockchain applications.
Third, towards ensuring that we are part of the global community that is all about value and not hype, SiBAN joined the Centre for Evidence-Based Blockchain (CEBB) last month. Through the CEBB for the next one year, SiBAN will be supporting and promoting real use cases of blockchain applications based on evidence, not hype and noise. Personally, I’m bullish about this development. This is because perhaps more than ever before the blockchain industry needs to transit from what many have described as “hype” to real value across all sectors and industries. I believe CEBB will play a key role here.
On blockchain education, a major collaboration with a strategic blockchain education provider is underway.
SiBAN endorses the Journal of British Blockchain Association (JBBA) for making contributions to research in blockchain & cryptocurrency globally.
Fourth, because of the critical role research plays in the development of any industry, we have identified with a globally recognized and prestigious journal on blockchain and cryptocurrency, the Journal of British Blockchain Association (JBBA) and wish to contribute to research and knowledge in this regard. Under Mr. Paul Ezeafukukwe’s administration (my immediate predecessor), we had the dream of SiBAN initiating a continent-wide journal on blockchain & cryptocurrency. Though this idea was greatly welcomed, we couldn’t pull it off due to several challenges. While we keep the dream alive, the JBBA as a journal that enjoys global circulation and meets international standards will meet this need at a global scale. Through the JBBA, we wish to contribute to global research and conversation on blockchain and crypto. We want to put Nigeria on the global map not only in terms of the volume of crypto trading but also through blockchain & crypto research & writing. This way, we also want to collaborate with our universities to get involved in research in this area, thus helping us constructively and positively influence the thinking and work of policymakers, lawmakers, and regulators.
SiBAN National Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency ….
Recently, I was on the call with the Executive Secretary Obinna Iwuno when amongst other things, he emphasized the need for an annual SiBAN blockchain & crypto conference. I know how long our members have been waiting for this. As I assured the Executive Secretary, we will get there. All that we want to do at this time is get our other platforms and programs going first—our virtual townhall meetups, our offline community meetups, our open Telegram group, etc. When these things are up and running to some great level, I believe that we will have a better and more vibrant support system for a successful national conference. I am happy that we have started getting this right, helping us keep the community informed, engaged, and empowered. With consistency and focus, we will achieve the level of community engagement and support that we need to take the SiBAN community to higher heights. I continue to rely on your support.
On the CBN’s restrictive directive on cryptocurrencies in Nigeria
Today, we may not have gotten the big results the blockchain & cryptocurrency community expects in crypto regulation in Nigeria so far, but I can assure you that the efforts stakeholders have been putting together all this time are not in vain.
I can tell you without doubt that the process, as we speak, is on. There is no result without process. As long as that process has started, the result is only a matter of time. The process is on. We will continue to do our best to navigate this issue in the best interest of the community without comprising national interest.
I wish to particularly appreciate Binance, Bundle, Buycoins, Kurepay, Luno, NaijaCrypto, Quidax, Yellowcard, Paxful, and others for particularly aligning with SiBAN in the thick of the cryptocurrency “ban” in Nigeria’s banking and financial system. I also thank the media houses, including crypto media agencies, national newspapers, local and international TV and radio stations, for engaging SiBAN on pertinent issues affecting blockchain & cryptocurrency. Thanks to you and thanks to all members of the community for the general support we received, I am happy that SiBAN was there when it mattered most. We will continue to engage all stakeholders.
Deepening membership benefits and driving membership expansion
As part of the Growth Agenda of my administration, one of the key areas we wish to focus on as we start the next half of the year 2021 is empowering the SiBAN community through a more engaging and value-driven membership system.
Thankfully, just last week I have appointed with support from the Executive Council Osagie Ighodaro as the acting Vice President on Membership pending the election of a substantive Vice President after Toju Kaka’s resignation weeks ago. I look forward to working closely with Mr. Ighodaro to transform SiBAN’s membership experience. Rume Ophi, whom I appointed as Head of the Presidential Task Force on Special Duties (Membership Mobilization) will work with Mr. Ighodaro to help deliver the goods, with support from the Executive Council and members of the community. So all members, especially our corporate members, should expect some changes. And YES, SiBAN AMA which the last administration started is coming back this second half of the year.
I believe that a happy SiBAN family should be a major boost for our membership drive. Just as common values unite use, exchange of value can help us significantly boost collaboration and growth in the SiBAN community.
To explore and maximize the opportunities that SiBAN’s growth brings, endeavour to actively join a Committee or Unit.
One of the proven ways to benefit from SiBAN’s strategic collaborations, partnerships, and growth is to participate actively in the affairs of the body. There is plenty of work in the vineyard but the laborers are few. Identify with one of our Committees and actively contribute. While you boost capacity and network, SiBAN grows faster. It’s a win-win. I cannot quantify how much I have gained since SiBAN came my way over 3 years ago.
Together, let’s continue to make efforts to realize SiBAN’s vision as a body established for the best interest of the industry.
Your support is welcomed at all times.
Long live SiBAN! Long live the Blockchain & Crypto industry! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!