Crypto exchange fees should increase fivefold

Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing a significant hike in registration fees for cryptocurrency exchanges operating within the nation.

The suggested amendment would raise the fee from the current 30 million naira (approximately $18,620) to 150 million naira ($93,000). The adjustment is part of a broader set of proposed changes aimed at enhancing the regulatory framework for digital asset service providers.

The SEC also seeks to provide clearer regulatory guidelines for crypto services. This includes incorporating feedback from industry stakeholders, particularly after recent discussions with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The initial rules and guidelines for crypto and digital asset service providers were released by the Nigerian SEC in May 2022. However, on Friday, March 15, 2024, the commission announced its intention to modify these rules.

Under the proposed changes, the application fee for entities like digital asset exchanges, digital asset offering platforms, and digital asset custodians will see an increase from 100,000 naira ($62) to 300,000 naira ($186).

The registration processing fee will also jump from 300,000 naira ($186) to 1 million naira ($620), indicating a 234% increase.

Another significant amendment includes renaming the rules. The name would change from “New Rules on Issuance, Offering Platforms and Custody of Digital Assets” to “Rules on Digital Assets Issuance, Offering Platforms, Exchange, and Custody.”

Diplomatic friction

Meanwhile, Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and the head of the Binance crypto exchange’s criminal investigations team, has been detained by Nigerian authorities since Feb. 26, 2024, without formal charges.

The circumstances surrounding their arrest have prompted calls for intervention by the U.S. government.

Gambaryan and a colleague were reportedly lured to Nigeria under false pretenses and subsequently taken into custody by armed individuals.

They have been held at an undisclosed location, with their passports confiscated, leading to speculations of a possible government-led effort to secure a large ransom from Binance.

The lack of clear charges and denial of legal representation for the detained individuals has led to criticisms regarding the legitimacy of their detention.

The incident not only challenges international legal norms but also puts a strain on diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the U.S., a country that provides over $1 billion in foreign aid to Nigeria annually.

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