On Tuesday, news about the start of payments in Nigeria, Flutterwave, being “summoned” by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) made the rounds.
According to some reports, this had to do with the company’s crowdfunding efforts in support of the #EndSARS protests.
the demonstrations It began on October 4 when young people from several Nigerian cities took to the streets to protest against police brutality and call for the dissolution of a unit of the police force: the Special Anti-Theft Squad (SARS).
Since then, he has called for a police reform and the # 5for5 demands they have joined the protests.
Flutterwave employees made a donation of ₦ 2 million (~ $ 4,400) to help people who were injured right after the protests began. But on October 9, he began receiving donations from the public through a link to address the different needs that arise as protesters surge across the country.
Startups like BuyCoins, Paystack and Busha were among the first group of companies to donate to the fund.
However, a tweet now deleted by Feminist coalition, a group of Nigerian feminists fighting SARS injustice, said that the donation link used by the payment company, as well as the group’s bank account, had been deactivated.
“For demanding an end to police brutality we are now under attack! Our bank account has been deactivated and so has the Flutterwave donation link. The lives of our members are also being threatened, ”the tweet read.
Similarly, a report by Peoples Gazette claimed this was due to pressure from the CBN and other government agencies to cut off financial supplies to the protesters. He also reported that early Monday, Flutterwave had announced that an update would be made on the platform that “became suspicious when his bank account was also deactivated.”
Meanwhile, other Twitter reports suggested that the company had been summoned by CBN and was being questioned about the credibility of its fundraising efforts.
How is this allowed ?!#SARSMUSTENDNOW
– Roronoa Zoro (@LaseTawak) October 13, 2020
I just heard flutterwave was asked to prove donations are not from terrorists.
Who would say that FG could be that efficient and Boko Haram funding has not been frozen.
I think we are dealing with something bigger here.
– ✊🏿 GỌZIE ✊🏿 (@CallMeGozie) October 13, 2020
However, Flutterwave denies that this ever happened. According to a company spokesperson, neither the government nor the CBN convened Flutterwave on the matter.
“Not anything like that. The links are under maintenance. When they are back, we will announce it through the same people as before and update everyone. It is just a maintenance issue,” the spokesperson told Techpoint Africa.
– Flutterwave (@theflutterwave) October 14, 2020
Prior to this development, the company had raised more than ₦ 15 million (~ $ 33,000) from global donations, but while protesters await the reactivation of links, donations are being made using bitcoin.
More than $ 6,500 in bitcoins sent in less than 18 hours
Following up with their initial tweet, the Feminist Coalition sent a Providus Bank account number and a bitcoin address for the next set of donations.
Switched on blockchain.com, people can send any amount of bitcoins to the group. This bitcoin is then converted to naira for easy disbursement to protesters. However, considering how long it takes to convert bitcoin to naira through the platform, releasing urgently needed funds can be a laborious process.
– feminist coalition (@feminist_co) October 13, 2020
Like yesterday, the group had raised more than ₦ 37 million (~ $ 81,500) while shelling out more than ₦ 11.8 million ($ 26,000) on 90 protests across the country. And since the creation of the bitcoin link yesterday, more than $ 6,500 (₦ 2.9 million) has been made in 132 transactions.
The government or CBN cannot clamp down on non-custodial wallet platforms and peer-to-peer cryptocurrency exchanges like Sendcash. But this is not the case with Flutterwave or any centralized payment platform.
Use cases like this highlight the importance of blockchain, especially cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. As a decentralized system, the funds collected cannot be attributed to anyone or controlled by the government.
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