The Nigerian social media space has been filled with mixed reactions following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s freezing of accounts owned by six fintech companies.
A Federal High Court in Abuja recently granted the request of the CBN to freeze the accounts of the companies – Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited OPNS, Chaka Technologies Limited, CTL/Business Expenses, and Trove Technologies Limited, alleging “illegal foreign exchange trading.”
It sought the court injunction to freeze their account details for 180 days pending the completion of investigations.
Reacting to the CBN’s action, Risevest cofounder @eldivyn assured customers that their funds are safe as it will engage the regulator to resolved the issues raised.
“In respect to the most recent news regarding @Risevest and our FX dealings, rest assured all user investments and funds are safely managed, funding and withdrawals will continue to be processed as normal and all our US operations are intact.
“We’ll engage with regulators as we always have to ensure that any issues raised are dealt with properly. But this does not impact or affect our users or their investments which are managed via regulated third parties across all jurisdictions we operate. Thank you very much,” he said.
Some social media users have expressed disappointment at the federal government, accusing the government of displaying a rent-seeking attitude that strangles the growth of tech in Nigeria.
A user with the handle @boluxxxx said, “The Nigerian Tech Industry especially FinTech has been under constant attack since ThisDay referenced them as the new oil of the economy.”
“The end game is to have one Fintech for them all. One that they own and control,” @dondekojo said.
Calling on the intervention of the Presidency, another user with the handle @Adheydayor said, “You are working on a startup bill with the presidency, but the institutions under its control are trying to destroy you. NITDA is under ICT, Pantami heads ICT which is under the presidency. The presidency should show good faith, else this will turn out to be a waste.
“If the presidency is truly on your side, you would know. A startup bill will not be the evidence of that. Tell them to call their institutions to order until the bill is done. That should be the first priority. If they can’t do that, well…OYO.”
Some practitioners in the tech space have described the CBN’s action as bullying. @fullstackmafia insists, “The deep carnage fintech startups have been experiencing from these guys is equivalent to bullies grabbing your lunch money. If a bully is used to grabbing $8 from you, the day he sees $10, he won’t let you keep $2 – he’s taking the entire $10.”
Kalu Aja, a financial analyst and Nairametrics contributor stressed that the FG is barely helping the asset managing eco-system even as the startups are competing with foreign startups. He said: “An American citizen can open his phone & buy a Mutual Fund that holds Nigerian stock. Robinhood is not registered and pays zero taxes. These Nigeria Fintechs are competing with foreigners and get NO help from FGN.”
Many others have highlighted how Nigeria exhibits a poor business climate for young people and how such occurrence has discouraged foreigners from investing in the country. Socialite and podcaster, Jolla said, “Scatter passenger bike business, scatter fintechs, make simple trading hellish through arbitrary costs and corrupt disorganized ports, ban social media, fine and tax small businesses. But don’t worry? Nigeria is open for business.”
“Build nothing, scatter everything, tax what remains, that’s all this Nigerian government knows,” another social media by the handle, @bolu_ay lamented.
CBN’s court order to freeze accounts of asset managing fintech companies mainly used by the Nigerian youth comes in a period following a cryptocurrency trading ban and Twitter ban which has also affected investor confidence in Nigeria’s investment space.