Regulators Approve Tokenized Real-World Assets in Nigeria

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Nigeria is considering permitting tokenized coin offerings on registered digital exchanges as the regulator looks to boost market participation in the country, Bloomberg reported on Monday. The SEC could allow offerings of tokens backed by equity, property, and debt, but not crypto.

Nigeria Seeking to Widen Market Participation

According to Bloomberg, Nigeria’s securities regulator is mulling over allowing tokenized coin offerings on licensed digital exchanges backed by assets such as equity, property, and debt. However, the country is not yet considering allowing crypto-backed coin offerings, said Abdulkadir Abbas, head of securities and investment services at the SEC.

“We always like to start, as a regulator, with a very simple clear proposal before we go into the complex ones.”

-said Abbas.

The decision comes as Nigeria’s SEC handles applications for digital exchanges on a trial basis to drive market participation in Nigeria, where crypto trading remains banned by the country’s central banking authority. In February 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered all banks and financial institutions to close accounts associated with crypto transactions, citing potential economic and financial risks. Meanwhile, Nigeria is one of the leaders in the global race to develop a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Asset-backed tokens are digital tokens designed to represent ownership or a claim on an underlying real-world asset. These tokens can be created and traded on a blockchain, allowing for greater transparency, accessibility, and liquidity than traditional asset ownership. Several assets, including commodities, crypto, equity, real estate, and precious metals, can back such tokens.

Digital Exchanges Must Undergo “Regulatory Incubation” for a Year

Since commercial lenders and banks in Nigeria were instructed to stop facilitating crypto-related transactions, the SEC will not allow crypto exchanges to obtain a license in the West African nation until there’s an agreement with the central bank. Instead, the securities regulator is now trying to register fintech firms as digital sub-brokers, fund management firms, robo-advisors, and tokenized coin issues.

Digital exchanges will have to go through a year of “regulatory incubation,” during which they can only provide skeletal services while the SEC monitors their operations. “By the 10th month, we should be able to decide whether to register the firm, extend the incubation period or even ask the firm to stop operation,” said Abbas.

The move aims to attract more tech-savvy citizens to local assets such as equities. Meanwhile, despite the 2021 ban, Nigeria accounts for the largest volume of crypto transactions on peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges outside the US. The country has more than 200 million residents, 43% below 14.

This article originally appeared on The Tokenist

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