In my New Year statement on 2 January 2022, I outlined my administration’s achievements and identified the areas we need to improve on in order to ensure that SiBAN is meeting the needs of our members as well as the Nigeria blockchain industry.
For accountability to you the SiBAN community that gave me mandate to serve as President, I state below the activities and plans I have been involved in as SiBAN President with the support of the Executive Council, our partners, and of course the members of the SiBAN community. I also state what I will be committed to in the closing half of 2022, the last lap of my current mandate:
- Regulation: In the months of February and March 2022, I worked with the National Workstream on Virtual Assets Sector (the ‘Workstream’) for the purpose of assisting the Workstream with its assignment to conduct a National Risk Assessment (NRA). Relevant regulators, including the NFIU and SEC conducted the NRA “with the aim of drafting appropriate regulation for the virtual assets sector and improving regulations for already-regulated sectors” (NFIU). In my capacity as SiBAN President and General Secretaries of Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria (BICCoN) and FinTech Alliance Coordinating Team (FACT), I attended the Lagos meeting in March where both members of the Workstream and industry players discussed how the NRA would be navigated considering CBN’s restriction of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria’s banking and financial system.
Unprecedented in Nigeria’s regulatory landscape, Nigeria now has a regulatory framework for virtual assets in the capital market by virtue of the SEC’s ‘New Rules on Issuance, Offering Platforms and Custody of Digital Assets’. Nigeria also introduced a new Central Bank of Nigeria (Anti-Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Countering Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Financial Institutions) Regulations 2022 and a new Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022. The new Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022 requires AML for the virtual assets sector. The implications of these new regulations and law is that the virtual assets sector is now a regulated sector in Nigeria. There is no better time for industry players to imbibe best practices. As a self-regulatory body that is pro-innovation and pro-regulation, SiBAN will play a key role in ensuring that our work complements the work of relevant regulators in the country. Join us today.
- Self-regulation: On 2 June 2022, with the assistance of the SiBAN Policy & Regulations Committee headed by Arinze Okafor, SiBAN introduced a Code of Conduct for both members and nonmembers who voluntarily adopt the Code. This development was well reported in the media as stakeholders, locally and globally, understand the role that self-regulation plays towards achieving a safer Nigeria blockchain & crypto industry in accordance with global best practices.
In the remaining half of the year, we will be officially introducing the Code of Conduct to players in the industry, including leading local and global brands, for the purpose of adoption. The goal is to operate the self-regulation model recommended by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) SRO Consultative Committee on self-regulation.
I implore and encourage all stakeholders to support our efforts towards not only getting stakeholders to adopt the Code but also entrenching the Code in our operations and practices. This way, we will be able to promote consumer protection, investor safety, and market integrity in the emerging virtual assets sector in Nigeria, thus complementing government-based regulations.
- Community Engagements: Because I understand that SiBAN has not been engaging its community as much as it should, we introduced two things: a new membership structure and new community engagement channels in the second half of 2021.
On the membership part, we introduced the Patron Board, Advisory Council, Foundation Block, Stakeholder Circle, Student Node, and Community Node. And on the engagement part, we introduced SiBAN Village Square, SiBAN Market Square, and SiBAN Palace. But similar to the challenges we faced last year, we are yet to maximize this new membership structure and engagement channels. In my opinion, two major factors behind this are administrative lapses and low-level participation on the part of members. SiBAN being an association needs the active participation of all its members. We are SiBAN because you are.
We did not however give up. With some strategic collaborations in the 1st and 2nd quarters of the year, SiBAN engaged in programs that helped us promote blockchain & crypto awareness, adoption, and advocacy. In May, SiBAN partnered with Legal Business Network for the Legal Business Conference 2022 which focused on regulating blockchain, FinTech, and innovation. SiBAN was also a partner at Cyberchain Uyo 2022 where I was also a guest speaker. Also in May, SiBAN was industry partner at Techpoint Africa Blockchain Summit (#TABS2022) on Web3 by Techpoint. I was one of the guest speakers as well as some other members of SiBAN and blockchain industry players. Also, SiBAN was industry partner at The Future of Payments and Fraud Conference by BusinessDay. Amongst other leaders in the blockchain and FinTech industry, I was also a speaker at the conference. All conferences were a resounding success with participants, helping SiBAN promote blockchain awareness, adoption, and advocacy. This month of July, SiBAN is partnering with BlockchainVibes, the convener of what would become the annual international blockchain summit, on 9 July, Lagos. I believe that this strategic collaboration will help SiBAN further promote blockchain awareness and adoption, while also providing to the community an opportunity to secure funding and partnerships. I encourage us to register and participate in the Summit and other events by us or by our partners.
- Membership Mobilization, Growth, and Expansion: In the first half of the year, we have registered up to 30 individuals, bringing registered individual members to about 235 individuals from across various sectors and locations. In the same half, we registered up to 10 organizations, bringing registered corporate members to 30. While this isn’t where I envisioned SiBAN to be in terms of membership base, I greatly appreciate that we are no longer where we used to be.
With a more functional Membership Registration Unit (MRU) under the capable hands of Mosun Omotunde (who took over the MRU and doubles as the Financial Secretary), the membership application process has significantly improved. I thank Mrs. Omotunde for her selfless volunteer service to SiBAN. She has been amazing. I am confident that in this second half of the year, more individuals and organizations will identify with SiBAN and join us. Meanwhile, existing registered members will be finally issued their SiBAN membership certificates.
Apart from our membership-by-registration model, we are also introducing Partner Nodes. Partner Nodes are local or global brands that partner with SiBAN on a project or program and by virtue of this official partnership are recognized as members of the SiBAN community. A number of leading organizations, including Binance, Luno, and Paxful, have partnered with SiBAN in the past and I see more partnerships ahead. As long as these partners continue to support SiBAN’s projects or programs, they will remain Partner Nodes.
To ensure that existing members continue to be a part of the SiBAN community and have enough incentives to continue to renew their membership with SiBAN, I have been working closely with the Executive Council to ensure that we are adding value. I realize that we must provide specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART) benefits to our members. We remain committed to this. So our members can hold us accountable, we have outlined membership benefits in the SiBAN Membership Brochure we developed in the first half of the year. I encourage all members to continue to support us to enable us succeed. Join SiBAN committees. Attend our programs. Support our projects. Provide feedback and constructive criticism. Interact and engage in the open SiBAN channels and platforms. Participate actively in activities. This is how we can build a vibrant community that benefits all of us.
- P2P Conference 2022: SiBAN’s first-ever annual conference, P2P Conference, is coming up Saturday 6 August 2022, Civic Centre, Lagos. Themed ‘CeFi, DeFi, and TradFi: Is there a need for convergence in the current divergence?’, the maiden edition of P2P Conference promises to be educative, engaging, and empowering for all stakeholders. Last month, I with the support of the Executive Council appointed Jude Ozinegbe the Chairman of the planning committee. I am happy with the progress they have made so far. I remain excited about the window of opportunities and possibilities P2P Conference will open up for the SiBAN community and the blockchain & crypto industry. I appeal for support from both individuals and organizations. Sponsors and partners are welcomed to support us.
- Introducing the SiBAN Ecosystem: Towards realizing SiBAN’s vision and achieving her mission, I have introduced to the SiBAN Executive Council what I have described as the new SiBAN Ecosystem. Having listened to the feedback and considered some of the challenges we face as an association, the new SiBAN Ecosystem has been designed to enable SiBAN to become more responsive to the needs of its members as well as the industry as a whole. Comprising 7 arms, each arm in the SiBAN Ecosystem will be coordinated by a Manager. In the next 2 weeks, I will be reaching out to some of our members to consider becoming managers of these new arms. To enable us run this ecosystem successfully, we need the support of all our members. Let’s work together in the best interest of our nascent industry.
- Blockchain Awareness, Adoption, and Advocacy: In April, we published a press release, ‘Blockchain Technology is Not Cryptocurrency and Cryptocurrency is Not Unlawful in Nigeria: To All Public Agencies, Law Enforcement Agencies, Banks, and Other Institutions in Nigeria’. Also published on BusinessDay, this press release helped us reach all stakeholders as well as the members of the public about a matter that is of concern to all. Although we couldn’t crowdfund the publication in other newspapers as we planned to do, the BusinessDay publication helped us bring the issue to public attention. Gradually, we have also succeeded in having both new media and traditional media support our advocacy work in the industry through print and TV interviews. On16 May, I represented SiBAN at a special interview on Channels’ Business Morning program. Techponit has also taken great interest in our advocacy work. Currently, BusinessDay is collaborating with SiBAN on its forthcoming WeB3 conference.
In the last 18 months, I have been serving the SiBAN community as President. The journey has been challenging, exciting, and rewarding at the same time. While my administration has recorded a number of achievements, the largest room remains the room for improvement. There is more work to be done.
I thank the members of the Executive Council, Advisory Council, members of the SiBAN community, and our partners locally and globally for their support.
In this final quarter of my 2-year tenure, I will continue to commit myself to the 4-point agenda I set when I asked for your mandate in December 2020: policy development, regulatory interventions, blockchain education, and collaboration for innovation. I see the new SiBAN Ecosystem helping to accelerate the 4-point agenda above. In the last 18 months, we have succeeded in positioning SiBAN as a bride to many suitors. As my tenure elapses in November 2022, I look forward to ensuring that this bride does not only live in a happy marriage with the blockchain industry but also multiply. With the vote of confidence I have enjoyed from the community before and after the mandate given to me as President, I see us flying the SiBAN flag higher in the space.
Long live SiBAN! Long Live the blockchain & crypto industry! Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!