Access Bank, GTBank begin closing customer accounts that have traded cryptocurrency

On Tuesday evening, James Chijindu went to a mall in Lagos to grab a meal and groceries. When it came time to pay, his Guaranty Trust Bank and First Bank debit cards were unresponsive. So he called a GTBank helpline and the message was clear; Chijindu’s account was closed in accordance with the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria asking commercial banks to stop facilitating cryptocurrency transactions in Nigeria.

“I will go [to the bank myself] because they are supposed to write to me or inform me,” Chijindu says.

At least GTBank responded to him and gave a reason. Chijindu admits that he had indeed traded cryptocurrency with the bank account. But he did not do so with his First Bank. His First Bank account officer did not respond to his call that evening.

“I am confused. Did they use my BVN to block my accounts?”

It’s a valid question; one bank verification number (BVN) can be used to connect multiple accounts belonging to the same customer. It remains to be seen whether more account holders will suffer same fate.

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