Despite the halt and climate of uncertainty occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Assembly passed several significant pieces of legislation into law. The highlight of the year 2020 is the amendment of the Companies and Allied Matters Act and the enactment of the Finance Act. Market regulators also issued a considerable number of regulations and guidelines, most notably the Classification and Treatment of Digital Assets by the Securities and Exchange Commission which clarifies the position of the agency on cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. A significant measure in the fintech space was taken by the CBN via its issuance of the Draft Regulatory Framework for Sandbox Operations. In response to the pandemic, the Central Bank also spearheaded various programmes to ease the burden of slowed down economic activity and cut losses.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
The Commission issued multiple regulations aimed at addressing pressing issues such as data privacy, regulation of digital assets, corporate governance, etc. Amendments were also made to existing guidelines by the regulator.
Policies and Guidelines
2. Corporate Governance Guidelines 2020
3. Guidelines on Implementation of Sections 60-63 of the Investment and Securities Act
1. Circular to all Brokers/ Dealers
2. Circular on the Extension of Deadline to file Quarterly Financial Statements
3. Circular on the Audited Accounts of Collective Investment Schemes
4. Circular to Capital Market Operators
5. Circular on Post-transaction approval fees
1. Revised Guidelines on the Rules on Net Capital
2. Revised Form 01 (Template for Reporting Compliance with Corporate Governance Guidelines)
Table 75: Regulation and Activity by SEC in 2020
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
1. Nigerian Payments System Risk and Information Security Management Framework: January 2020 which was formulated considering the increase in the volume of financial transactions to guide the management of the risks associated with the payments system in Nigeria. It also lays down the rules necessary for carrying out the risk-management objectives.
2. Revised Supervisory and Regulatory Guidelines for Microfinance Banks in Nigeria: March 2020. This amendment introduces changes such as the recategorization of microfinance banks, revision of minimum share capital, etc.
3. Guidelines on the Operation of Electronic Payment Channels in Nigeria: May 2020. These Guidelines apply to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) operations, Point of Sale (POS) card acceptance services, mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) acceptance services, and web services. They amend provisions relating to the period within which card owner complaints and PoS transactions are to be treated, among others.
4. Draft Regulatory Framework for Sandbox Operations: June 2020. This aims to create a situation where there is a sandbox that allows firms to run live tests of any new products, services, business models, or delivery channels under regulatory oversight. This initiative is to ensure financial inclusion, healthy competition, and foster regulatory engagement with fintech firms in the payment space.
5. Guidelines on Global Standing Instructions for Individuals: July 2020
According to the CBN, the objectives of the Guidelines are to reduce the volume of non-performing loans, watch-listing consistent defaulters, and fostering an improved credit repayment culture.
6. Revised Guidelines for Licensing and Regulation of Payment Service Banks in Nigeria (PSB)
These Guidelines address the scope of activities that PSBs are permitted to carry out, licensing requirements, and their internal structure.
7. Framework for the Implementation of Intervention Facility for the National Gas Expansion Programme: September 2020.
The Programme encapsulates a detailed set of objectives that are to be implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Petroleum. Some of them include improving access to finance for private sector investments in the domestic gas value chain, fast-trach the acquisition of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), provide leverage for additional private-sector gas investments,
8. Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade, and Exchange Policy Guidelines for Fiscal Years 2020/21
The CBN states its intention to continue conducting its monetary policy anchored on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) of the Federal Government. It also reviews developments in various domestic and global economies in 2019 and addresses consumer protection issues as well.
9. Guidelines for the Private Sector-Led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (P-AADS)
The P-AADS scheme was created by the CBN to complement the already-existing Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS) to engage 370,000 youth in agricultural production. The programme is also aimed at providing support to produce food and raw materials by the private sector. Thirteen agricultural commodities eligible for consideration under the scheme were also listed under the Guidelines.
10. Framework for Financing of National Mass Metering Programme
The purpose of the Framework is to set out the operational modalities for the financing of the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and local meter manufacturers within Nigeria. It also has objectives geared toward increasing the metering rate, creating of jobs in the local meter value chain, eliminating arbitrary estimated billing, among others.
11. Framework for Advancing Women's Financial Inclusion in Nigeria: September 2020
In light of statistics which mirror a high rate of female financial exclusion, the CBN partnered with Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA), Financial Inclusion Special Interventions Working Group (FISWIG), Women's World Banking, and over 50 stakeholders in the financial inclusion space to develop this framework. It contains eight strategic imperatives and related recommendations to improve usage and access to financial services for women. Its focus majorly covers women's account ownership and building a culture of usage of financial services by women across Nigeria.
12. Framework for Implementation of the Solar Connection Facility
This Framework was laid down in line with the Federal Government's initiative of expanding energy access to 25 million people across Nigeria through the provision of solar home systems or connection to a mini-grid, incentivizing job creation in the energy sector, and facilitating the growth of the local manufacturing industry.
13. Framework for the Implementation of the Family Homes Initiative
This was developed in recognition of the potential of the mass housing construction industry to rapidly create new jobs. Its initiatives are to support the federal government and are to be achieved by collaborating with Family Homes Fund Ltd. as the lead developer. Its targets include the improvement of quality of life, boost local manufacturing, and create jobs through the supply chain. The funding limit is pegged at N 200 billion.
14. Framework for the Implementation of Intervention Facility for the National Gas Expansion Programme
The CBN introduced the N 250 billion intervention facility to aid investment in the gas value chain in light of the efforts of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) which aims to make CNG and LPG the choice fuel for transportation and domestic cooking, captive power, and small industrial complexes. It delineates the activities eligible under the intervention, funding, loan type and limit for various kinds of businesses, repayment, loan tenor, etc.
15. Guidelines for Licensing and Regulation of Payment Service Banks in Nigeria (PSB)
These were released as a review of the previous Guidelines of 2018 which aimed to foster financial inclusion and enhanced access to financial services by small businesses, low-income earners, and unbanked segments of the society. The reviewed Guidelines add switching companies to the list of institutions that may promote a payment service bank while they were prohibited under the former, promoters are also now required to apply for a PSB license to the CBN Governor.
16. Healthcare Research and Development Grant Guidelines
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBN kicked off the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to strengthen the public healthcare system and finance research and development of vaccines, medicines, and like measures. The objectives of the Guidelines border upon boosting the local manufacturing of medicines, providing grants for research and development, reducing the dependence on imported drugs, and supporting the capacity of health agencies toward the attainment of WHO Maturity Level 3 which is a prerequisite for the manufacturing of vaccines. It outlines provisions relating to funding, grant limit, and modalities, among others.
17. CBN Amended Procedures for Receipt of Diaspora Remittances which vests International Money Transfer Operators with the responsibility of ensuring that all monies remitted are to be deposited in the bank account of the agent banks, the mode of payment is at the sole discretion of the beneficiaries or recipients, and agent banks are to be responsible for making final payment to beneficiaries in either foreign cash or in their domiciliary accounts.
Table 76: Regulation and Activity By The CBN In 2020
Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE)
In passing of the Finance Bill into law, the Exchange released a circular on the implementation of the legislation. Some circulars addressing key issues were also issued by the body. It additionally partnered with the Central Securities Clearing System to launch NG Clear, a central clearing counterparty. It also announced the migration of companies from the Alternative Securities Market (ASeM) to the NSE Growth Board. Several adjustments to the body's procedural requirements were also made in response to COVID-19.
Table 77: Regulation and Activity by The NSE In 2020
National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD)
The Association executed the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) at the beginning of the year at the wake of the pandemic. NASD OTC Securities also migrated to a new trading platform at the end of the year.
Table 78: Regulation and Activity by The NASD in 2020
Financial Market Dealers Quotation (FMDQ)
The FMDQ mostly admitted a considerable number of bonds and held several webinars throughout the year.
Table 79: Regulation and Activity By The FMDQ in 2020
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON)
In May 2020, AMCON proposes that the Federal Government issue bailout funds to the aviation sector in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was made just as the debt management agency disclosed that it had injected about N500 billion into the aviation sector between 2012 and 2020 to revitalize the industry. There also were reports of AMCON asserting that revenue from taxes would be used to service non-performing loans.
Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, and Fintech
With rapid digitization fundamentally affecting different facets of society, the use of cryptocurrency and digital assets have been on the rise, especially in Nigeria. A report released by Quartz showed that Nigeria is now the second-largest bitcoin market in the world after the United States. About 60,215 bitcoins valued at more than $566 million have been traded in Nigeria in the last five years on Paxful, a leading peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. This medium of trade has however been denounced by various regulatory agencies in Nigeria in the past, with the Central Bank of Nigeria issuing a Circular in 2017 that due to the inscrutability and uncertainty surrounding transactions in cryptocurrency, anyone who transacts in it does so as his or her own risk. Hence, although they were being used in Nigeria, there was virtually no regulation governing the use of cryptocurrencies in Nigeria.
Against this backdrop, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued the Statement on the Classification and Treatment of Digital Assets in September 2020. The Guidelines, which apply to all digital currencies and crypto-based businesses aim to regulate all Digital Assets Token Offerings (DATO), Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), Security Token ICOs, and blockchain-based offers in Nigeria or foreign issuers targeting Nigerian investors.
A presumption also exists that all virtual crypto assets are securities unless proven otherwise. However, the onus lies on the issuer or sponsor of the assets to show that said assets are securities or not. This burden of proof is discharged by the issuer submitting the assets for an initial assessment filing after which the Commission determines if the assets are indeed securities or not. If the Commission affirms that the assets are securities, the issuer or sponsor is mandated to register those assets. The document also grants digital offerings that existed before the Guidelines, three months to submit the initial assessment filing of documents for registration.
According to the Regulations, foreign issuers or sponsors may be required to establish an office in Nigeria. However, when there is a reciprocal agreement between the country where the foreign issuer is from and Nigeria, they will be recognized. There also will be automatic recognition where the country of the foreign issuer is a member of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). It additionally recognizes other virtual assets or instruments such as crypto assets, security tokens, utility tokens or non-security tokens, and derivatives and collective investment funds of crypto assets, security tokens, and utility tokens.
The CBN also issued an Exposure Draft of Regulatory Framework for Sandbox Operations which lays down the various regulatory provisions which guide the running of live testing on innovative products, services, and the like. This Framework is highly important because one of its objectives as stated is to provide an avenue through which the apex bank may engage with fintech firms in the payment space in order to foster economic growth. Financial institutions with fintech initiatives, local companies, telecommunication companies, and technology companies may apply under the initiative. Upon successful application, they will be granted a Letter of Approval which will enable them to test their innovation.
The Nigerian Stock Exchange also released its Exposure Draft for the Proposed Rules for Broker to Fintech Collaboration which is aimed at the regulation of any business partnership or dealings between fintech entities and dealing members of the Exchange that results in the provision of a service or platform to end-users including any clients of the dealing member. Some of the provisions of the Rules provide that Dealing Members will be required to obtain a 'no-objection' letter from the Exchange before executing any agreement for the provision of services with a Fintech entity. It also specifies the provisions which are to be included in a service-level agreement, anti-money laundering law compliance, regulatory requirements, resolution of complaints, and sanctions.
1. The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture
Organised a webinar on the pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) in partnership with the African Export-Import (AFREXIM) Bank and other MSME associations.
2. Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute announces that it will adopt remote online proctoring for its examinations which will begin in April 2021. It also recertified the National Deposit Insurance Corporation's (NDIC) status as a training service provider for various players in the banking industry.
During a webinar organized by the Centre for Financial Studies arm of the Institute, it also strongly encouraged the Nigerian government to seek to diversify national revenue and reduce overreliance on oil proceeds.
3. National Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (NICArb)
Held the annual conference virtually which was aimed at employing the services of international arbitrators, lawyers, and representatives of international agencies to review bilateral treaties which the federal government has signed. The Body also urged African countries via a communique issued following its conference to ratify the Singapore Convention on International Settlements Agreements. It also encouraged African states to build an effective dispute resolution system in order to foster the smooth implementation of AfCFTA.
4. Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers
The Institute commenced a change of name process from the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers to the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment Management (CISIM). Hence, the CISIM Bill is currently at the House of Assembly after which it will be passed and replace the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers Act of 1992. Previously, the body had attempted to amend its law under the name 'Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments' and the Bill had passed the First Reading at the National Assembly. Upon discovering that the name was borne by a foreign body, it decided to rename the Bill.
The CIS also joined the Association of Certified International Investment Analysts as a member.
1. Nigerian Stock Exchange Proposed Rules for Broker to Fintech Collaboration
This was released by the NSE to regulate business collaborations between fintech entities and dealing members of the Exchange. These Rules were discussed more thoroughly in the Section on Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, and Fintech.
2. SEC Exposure Draft for Proposed Rules on Crowdfunding
The Rules define crowdfunding as 'the process of raising funds from the public through an online platform'. The Rules apply to crowdfunding portals and intermediaries, issuers, and investors.
3. CBN Exposure Draft of the Guidelines for the Regulation and Supervision of Microfinance Banks in Nigeria
4. Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria International Public Sector Accounting Exposure Drafts
These were released in October 2020 and comprise Exposure Draft 70 (Revenue with Performance Obligations), Exposure Draft 71 (Revenue with Performance Obligations), Exposure Draft 72 (Transfer Expenses)
5. CBN Exposure Draft of Regulatory Framework for Sandbox Operations which lays down the various regulatory provisions which guide the running of live testing on innovative products and services. This was discussed more extensively in the section devoted to the regulations issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
6. CBN Exposure Draft on the Guidelines for Licensing and Regulation of Payment Service Banks in Nigeria which is aimed at improving financial access to the unbanked in society and providing a sound financial sector at large.
7. CAC Draft Companies Regulations 2020 contains ancillary provisions made under the Companies and Allied Matters Act and targeted at the regulation of the affairs of companies in Nigeria.
Downloadable PDF - The 2020 Nigerian Capital Market Report
Annual Reviews & Outlooks
Special Reports & Publications
Online Trading Reports
News Posts Referenced in the Report