Given the convenience of established currency and payment systems, what is driving the ever-growing interest in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies?
Different reasons are driving the interest in Bitcoin, depending on the stakeholder. Many stakeholders are engaged in speculation, becoming rich by mining Bitcoin or accepting it as a form of payment. Bitcoin is also interesting because a new set of technologies is being built to enable it to function (eg, to enable Bitcoin mining and Bitcoin ATMs). These technologies will lead the way for new advances in payment techniques. Technology and financial companies have seen the potential of Bitcoin and are becoming involved.
Another issue driving interest in Bitcoin is the fact that it is decentralised. The US Treasury classifies it as a “convertible decentralised virtual currency”. Bitcoin gives users anonymity, as no personal details are involved and it cannot be traced.
Has your jurisdiction taken steps to regulate virtual currencies? What is their current status?
At present, the Central Bank of Nigeria does not regulate virtual currencies. It remains to be seen what concrete steps the bank will take to regulate Bitcoin and other virtual currencies in future. Perhaps. after its work to stabilise the naira during the ongoing oil price slump