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Nigerian fintech Risevest, Bamboo, others ease fears amid CBN freezing accounts

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Nigerian fintech firms Risevest, Bamboo, Chaka, and Trove have assured users of the safety of their funds amid the Central Bank of Nigeria freezing their accounts on Tuesday.

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CBN secured an injunction at Federal High Court in Abuja to freeze the bank accounts of four financial technology firms for operating as asset management companies without a license.

Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), a lawyer to the CBN, alleged that the companies were operating without licences as asset management companies “and utilising foreign exchange sourced from the Nigerian FX market for purchasing foreign bonds/shares in contravention of the CBN circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/012, dated July 1, 2015.”

However, the fintech firms said they are negotiating with government authorities and urged users not to panic about the safety of their funds.

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‘Don’t panic’
Bamboo said it is aware of the recent reports and their “legal and government relations teams are looking into it, but we thought it was important to let you know that your money remains safe with Bamboo and will always be readily accessible.”

Chaka, however, argued that it “is duly licensed by the Security Exchange Commission (SEC), which means that all of our operations are within the purview of Nigerian regulators.”

The firm said it has started engaging with appropriate authorities to gain clarity and clear any misunderstandings.

“Funds on Chaka are insured by the SIPC and all investments are registered and regulated by the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX),” Chaka said in an email to its users.

Rise Vest CEO Eke Urum said trading activities would continue as usual on the platform as his team had sought resolution with the regulator.

“You can be sure that your investments and funds are safely managed, that funding and withdrawals will continue to be processed as normal, and that all our US operations remain intact,” Rise Vest told users in an email.

Rise Vest said it “will work with regulators, as we always have to ensure that all issues raised are properly addressed.”

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Why CBN is freezing fintech accounts
CBN’s latest clampdown on the fintech firms has elicited varying reactions from users of the affected platforms, with some Nigerians accusing the apex bank of ‘dragging Nigerians backwards’.

It is, however, not the first time a CBN action would affect fintech firms in Nigeria.

In February 2021, the CBN directed banks, fintech firms and other financial institutions to close accounts dealing in cryptocurrency or facilitating payment for cryptocurrency exchange.

The court injunction cited cryptocurrency trading, licensing issues, trading in stocks, and other issues as the cause for freezing accounts of the fintech firms.

The CBN accused Risevest and Trove of engaging in cryptocurrency trading which contravened its directive in February 2021. CBN stated that Trove was operating mobile and digital investment app for local and foreign securities without approval.

CBN said Bamboo operates an online app for trading in stocks, exchange-traded fund, and derivatives listed in major US exchanges.

The Nigerian apex bank accused Chaka of engaging in the purchase of forex from illegal operators for trading in naira and dollar securities.


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