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LAGOS: Nigeria's banks and financial institutions are barred from dealing in or facilitating transactions in cryptocurrencies, the central bank said in a circular on Friday, warning that banks which fail to act could face "severe regulatory sanctions".

The bank directed institutions to identify individuals and entities transacting in or operating in cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and immediately close their accounts.

In June, small cryptocurrency transfers totalled nearly $56 million, nearly 50% more than a year before. The number of transactions jumped over 55% to 120,000.

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