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Nigeria’s markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, to halt its operations in the country, saying a local unit that courted Nigerian investors through a website was illegal.

“The attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the Commission) has been drawn to the website operated by Binance Nigeria Limited, soliciting the Nigerian public to trade crypto assets on its various web and mobile-enabled platforms.

“Binance Nigeria Limited is neither registered nor regulated by the Commission and its operations in Nigeria are therefore illegal. Any member of the investing public dealing with the entity is doing so at his/her own risk.

“As the regulator with the statutory mandate of investor protection, the Commission urges Nigerians to be wary of investing in crypto-assets, and crypto-asset-related financial products and services if the service provider/its platform is not registered or regulated by the Commission. Nigerian investors are hereby warned that investing in crypto-assets is extremely risky and may result in total loss of their investment.

“By this circular, Binance Nigeria Limited is hereby directed to immediately stop soliciting Nigerian investors in any form whatsoever.

“The Commission shall provide updates on further regulatory actions with respect to the activities of Binance Nigeria Limited, and other similar platforms and shall work with other regulators in Nigeria to provide further guidance on this matter,” SEC wrote on the statement pasted on its website.

Binance could not be immediately reached for comment.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance and Coinbase this week for allegedly breaching its rules.

Last year, Nigeria’s SEC published a set of regulations for digital assets, signaling that Africa’s most populous country was trying to find a middle ground between an outright ban on crypto assets and their unregulated use.

That was after Nigeria’s central bank banned banks and financial institutions from dealing in or facilitating transactions in digital currencies in 2021.

Nigeria’s young, tech-savvy population has eagerly adopted cryptocurrencies, for example, using peer-to-peer trading offered by crypto exchanges to avoid the financial sector ban.

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