The Governance or Otherwise of Cryptocurrency in the Sales of Goods Act, 1893 BY A.I. FOWOWE - IReporteronline
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The Governance or Otherwise of Cryptocurrency in the Sales of Goods Act, 1893 BY A.I. FOWOWE



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The Governance or Otherwise of Cryptocurrency in the Sales of Goods Act, 1893




The significant evolvement of the world has not been limited to infrastructures and technology; its tentacles have also spread across areas like money and currency. Since the inception of countries gaining independence, there have been disparities as to the acceptable currency to be spent in each country. For instance, the acceptable Naira in Nigeria is not acceptable in the United States of Nigeria where Dollar is being spent. It is however on this premise and the need to find a globally acceptable currency that ‘cryptocurrency’ has evolved.



A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography; a method of protecting information and communications through the use of codes, so that only those for whom the information is intended can read and processes it.[1] Cryptocurrency does not exist in physical form, like the paper money, nor is it issued by a central authority. Cryptocurrencies typically uses decentralized control as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems. This incredibly renders cryptocurrency immune to government interference or manipulation. The first decentralized cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was created in 2009 by presumably pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto.[2] Ever since then, there have been numerous other currencies such as Thorium, Ripple, Litecoin, Stellar, Tron and many others.

The nature of the transaction of cryptocurrency at its initial stage involves the use of paper money for the acquisition or purchase of cryptocurrency. In other words, for individuals to purchase any cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and others, such person can only do such by buying the cryptocurrency for its current price or using another cryptocurrency of the same value. For instance, if the physical paper money worth of Ethereum is N50 000, that means 1 Ethereum can be gotten for N50 000. However, that same Ethereum can be purchased with Bitcoin if it is worth the same or a higher value.

The acceptability of cryptocurrency has spanned across diverse countries such as the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, Morocco, Canada, Finland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Mexico, South Africa and many others. Some of these countries have even gone as far as enabling cryptocurrency to be a legitimate form of payment for goods, and even services.

In light of the crux of the discussion, it is imperative to peruse the Sales of Goods Act, 1893 vis-à-vis its area of governance.



The Sales of Goods Act, 1893 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, inculcated into the laws of Nigeria via the Statues of General Application, which regulates contracts in which goods are sold and bought. The purpose of the Act is to define the rights and duties of the parties (where not expressly defined in the agreement), while specifically preserving the relevance of ordinary contractual principles.As embedded in its name, the Sales of Good Act governs solely Sales of Good Contract and other forms of contract that have been excluded from the ambit of this act. Hence, the need for the imperative need to outline the definition of a Sales of Good Contract.

A Sales of Good contract is a contract whereby the seller transfers or agrees to transfer property in goods to the buyer for a money consideration called, the price.[3] In other words, a Sale of Goods Contract is one whereby a good is exchanged for money which is the price that has been duly attached with such good. For instance, a Sale of Good Contract is a situation whereby N5 000 that has been attached to a bag as the price has been paid in exchange for such bag. Flowing from this, there can be deduced two key elements for the Sale of Goods Act to govern a transaction which are:


  • There has to be a good for sale.
  • Such good must be gotten for money which is the price required in getting such good.

Premised on the above established, it is safe to move on to the thrust of the question:



Assessing the earlier posited definition of Cryptocurrency, it can be easily asserted that cryptocurrency can be bought and can also be used to buy. Cryptocurrency at its inception has to be bought with the physical or paper money; it can be further used to buy things, especially in countries that have totally accepted and recognize cryptocurrency in its different sort. Controversially, the nature of cryptocurrency that allows it as a digital money to be bought and can be used to buy questions its applicability to be governed by the Sale of Goods Act, 1893 or be treated as a Sale of Good Contract.

Based on the previous establishment that the Sale of Goods Act only governs a Sale of Good Contract which involves the exchange of good for money called the price, the initial requirement of purchasing a cryptocurrency is titled towards this direction. In getting a cryptocurrency, buyers often get them in exchange for some money which can serve as the “price” of such good. This transaction is in fulfillment of Section 1(1) of the Sales of Goods Act, 1893; however, questions might arise as to whether cryptocurrency can be referred to as a good under its express definition in Section 62(1) of the Sales of Good Act, 1893 which states thus:

all chattels personal other than things in action and money… emblements, industrial corps, things that are attached to land that are agreed to be severed in a sales of Good contract.

Based on the provision of above, it is safe to categorize cryptocurrency as a good as it falls under chattel personal due to the fact that it is a digital asset that can be owned by a person.

On the other hand where cryptocurrency serves as money or consideration for a good to be bought, it can be safely asserted that cryptocurrency in its true function is only serving as money for the price of other goods. In other words, where cryptocurrency serve as money in getting goods, such transaction can still be governed by the Sale of goods Act, 1893.



Fungible tokens in its definition are goods or asset with values which can be equally interchanged with other individual goods or assets of equally values without any opposing quality that could add or subtract the original value.  With this definition, fungible tokens can be goods where they have no quality as a tender of transaction in them; consequently, they can be governed by the Sale of Goods Act, 1893. However where a fungible token is a tender for transaction like money and cryptocurrency then the Sales of Goods Act can not apply.



Flowing from the discussions and establishment above, it is safe to conclude that the nature of transaction in cryptocurrency can be, with the combination of provisions, governed by the Sale of Goods Act, 1893. However, laws should be made that would expressly govern and regulate the trading of cryptocurrency.


Fowowe Adetomiwa is an undergraduate in Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko where he studies Law. He can be reached via hid mail:

* Fowowe Adetomiwa Isaac, Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko,

[1]Kathleen Richards, ‘Cryptography’, <> accessed 17 March 2021.

[2] Wikipedia, ’Cryptocurrency’, <> accessed 17 March 2021.

[3]Section 1(1), Sales of Goods Act, 1893.

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