Connect with us

Bitcoin

The State of Bitcoin Regulation in Africa

Published

on

bitcoin regulation in africa

The legal status of bitcoin varies from one country to another and is mostly undefined or under review in most parts of the world. While some African central banks have explicitly banned or restricted its use, others have allowed it or have simply not issued any statement or regulations covering digital currencies.

In this guide, you will find a list of financial regulators in Africa that have made statements or issued regulations for the use of bitcoin and other decentralised cryptocurrencies within its borders.

Kenya

Kenyan Central Bank is not a Fan of Bitcoin

Buy Bitcoin in KenyaIn 2015, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) issued a public notice warning against the use of bitcoin citing the lack of regulations to govern its use. The CBK proceeded to send out a circular to local banks instructing them not to provide services to bitcoin startups.

However, the CBK’s stance seemed to have little impact on Kenyans appetite for bitcoin with the country being ranked third in Africa when it came to trading volumes at local exchanges such as Localbitcoins. Also, things seem to be looking up with a number of public and private entities now experimenting with blockchain technology.

In addition, some financial regulators seem to differ with CBK’s stance, such as the country’s financial market regulator, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA announced plans in April 2017 to organise forums for fintech and cryptocurrency players to discuss the state of regulations and challenges it poses to their activities. It is also worth noting the Kenyan government and World Bank announced their intention to partner in using blockchain technology to sell government bonds earlier this year.

South Africa

South African Reserve Bank is Open to Digital Currencies

south africaThe South African market regulator was the first to warn against the use of bitcoin in Africa saying it wasn’t a legal tender. The South African Reserve bank (SARB) argued in a December 2014 public notice that while cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies had the potential to facilitate faster transactions, efficiency and reduce payment costs, they could also, “simultaneously provide a platform for, inter alia, money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and introduce a new set of risks to consumers as DCVCs (cryptocurrencies) are susceptible to misuse and at the very worst, have the ability to disrupt the financial system.”

Having said that, in August 2016, the SARB softened its stance on digital currencies with the Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago hinting the bank was open to cryptocurrencies. In July 2017, the SARB indicated plans to test regulations related to bitcoin and other digital currencies and selected Bankymoon, a blockchain solutions provider for its first sandbox trial run.

The Reserve Bank had already announced its intention to undertake its own research about blockchain technology’s feasibility in South Africa. However, according to an ITWeb report, the deputy governor of the SARB, Francis Groepe indicated at an August 2017 conference in Johannesburg,

“For the central bank to issue virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies in an open system will be too risky for us. This is something we really need to think about.”

Nigeria

The Central Bank of Nigeria is Open to Digital Currencies

Bitcoin in NigeriaThe Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is notorious for currency controls and so it came as no surprise when it informed the public to be wary of speculating in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The January 2017 directive caused uncertainty in the local bitcoin community, which is among the largest in Africa, with trading volumes on the P2P marketplace Localbitcoins showing an average of $3.2 million worth of trades being conducted every week.

Having said that, the CBN has shifted its position and is now researching blockchain technology and its possible applications in various industries. The regulator has also allocated personnel and resources to work on a whitepaper on digital currencies and its underlying technologies.

Many people in Nigeria view bitcoin as the alternative to hedge their wealth against currency losses, brought about by the constant depreciation of the local currency, the naira.

Speaking at a recent cryptocurrency conference in Lagos, CBN deputy director, Musa Jimoh said,

“[The CBN] cannot stop the tide of waves generated by the blockchain technology and its derivatives. Currently, we have taken measures to create four departments in the institution that are looking forward to harmonising the white paper on cryptocurrency.”

Uganda

The Bank of Uganda warns against Cryptocurrencies

UgandaThe Bank of Uganda sent out a strong statement cautioning investors against MLM schemes such as OneCoin, which was promising people high returns if they invested in the scheme.

The bank also warned against the use of digital currencies indicating there was lack of consumer protections or a regulatory framework to govern their use. As of the time of writing this article, the central bank’s position remains unchanged despite a growing bitcoin presence in the country.

Namibia

The Bank of Namibia bans Bitcoin for Commercial Purposes

NamibiaIn August 2015, the Central Bank of Namibia issued a statement saying that it did not support the use of digital currencies and users did so at their own risk. Similar to Kenya and other jurisdictions, the bank cited the lack of regulatory oversight as being its biggest concern with a promise to clarify its position in the future.

In September 2017, the bank proceeded to officially ban the use of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in the country. The directive was contained in a nine-page position paper which cited risks such as money laundering, legal, credit and operational risks as threats to Namibian users.  However, recognising the potential of blockchain technology and its possible application in various sectors, the Namibian Central bank acknowledged the need for further research stating, “the current position of the Bank may be amended and/or supplemented, should a need arise.”

Cameroon

Cameroon Still Undecided on Bitcoin

CameroonPresently, bitcoin traders and startups operating in Cameroon do not fall under regulatory oversight as the Central African Central Bank is yet to release specific guidance on the use of digital currencies. This means Cameroonians can purchase, hold or use bitcoin until specific guidance by the market regulator is issued.

The government has previously tested a cryptocurrency called Trest in 2015, which shows the country could be open to cryptocurrency solutions given its largely underbanked population.

Egypt

The Central Bank of Egypt Rejects Bitcoin Use

EgyptBitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not officially recognised by the Egyptian Central Bank and trading them for fiat currencies is thus not authorised. In July 2017, the deputy governor of the Egyptian Central Bank, Mr Gamel Negm, responding to rumours that the bank was looking to officially adopt cryptocurrencies, insisted the bank only recognises official currencies and would not accept any digital currencies.

Mauritius

State Bank of Mauritius is Receptive to Cryptocurrencies

MauritiusThe island nation is aiming to become a leading hub for blockchain companies and serve as a gateway to African and Asian markets. Setting up this ‘Silicon Corridor’, which will be known as the Ethereum Island, is a collaborative effort between local authorities and blockchain-based companies.

Already, the country’s second-largest bank, State Bank of Mauritius (SBM) has partnered with Secured Automated Lending Technology (SALT) to allow its clients to use bitcoin or ether as a guarantee for loans. However, this was not always the case with recognition of cryptocurrencies in the country. Previously, in December 2013 the Bank of Mauritius warned the public about risks associated with the use of bitcoin. It appears the Bank reversed its position in light of the island nations ambitions to cement its position as a breeding ground for blockchain solutions.

Swaziland

Swaziland Central Bank is Studying Cryptocurrencies

swaziland cryptocurrenciesSwaziland is among the few African countries that is actively researching cryptocurrencies and their potential applications. Swaziland Central Bank Governor, Majozi Sithole, disclosed the bank was looking at potential case studies, at the Swaziland Economic Conference (SEC 2017). Speaking to the Swazi Observer, the Chief Banker said,

“It may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies, and as the CBS we are learning, and we want to accept and support innovation. If this is innovation, we do not want to stifle it. We want to learn more about it.”

Currently, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin remain unregulated in the country and Sithole cautioned traders on local exchanges to be careful as the Central Bank seeks opinions of experts on the issue.

Algeria

Algeria Plans to Ban Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies

AlgeriaBitcoin use, for the most part, has been undefined under the law in Algeria. However, a new 2018 Finance Bill being considered at the National’s People Congress (NPC) will make it unlawful to possess bitcoins or use it for transactions. The government aims to establish stricter control over cryptocurrencies, and its perceived dangers such as money laundering or tax evasion due to the pseudo-anonymity it guarantees its users.

Article 113 of the Finance Bill states,

“The purchase, sale, use and holding of the so-called virtual currency is prohibited. The virtual currency is the one used by Internet users through the web. It is characterized by the absence of physical support such as coins, banknotes, payments by check or bank cards. […] Any violation of this provision is punished in accordance with the laws and regulations in force.”

The document also recognises that cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have no central authority, and presently escape any regulations or control by the state. This means bitcoin users in Algeria can still go about their activities until tighter restrictions are put in place.

Zimbabwe

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Remains skeptical about Bitcoin

ZimbabweBitcoin adoption in the Southern African country is among the highest in Africa buoyed by hyperinflation, weak local currency and limited access to financial services. This has resulted in Zimbabweans moving to local exchanges to trade for bitcoins, which are immune from inflation, and thus allow them to protect their savings.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has not officially permitted the use of bitcoin. In July 2016, the RBZ’s Director of National Payments, Josephat Mutepfa, warned Zimbabweans about the risks associated with bitcoin while speaking at a conference. He asserted that while they were a number of bitcoin initiatives in the country offering specific services, the central bank was yet to devise regulations for use of cryptocurrencies.

Recently, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe director and registrar of banking institutions, Norman Mataruka, stated that the use of bitcoin is illegal in Zimbabwe. However, no actual regulations have been issued by the RBZ and no laws have been passed covering digital currencies in Zimbabwe.

Morocco

Regulators in Morocco Declare Bitcoin to be Illegal

moroccoThe central bank of Morocco, Bank Al-Maghrib and the country’s Foreign exchange office, issued a joint statement on November 20, 2017, informing the public that transacting in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin is now considered illegal. According to the statement, transactions in digital currencies such as bitcoin, ether and others will constitute a violation of the country’s exchange regulations.

The two regulators point to the risks involved in using digital currencies for transactions as their reason for the directive. They further state,

“As a hidden payment system that is not backed by a financial institution, the use of virtual currencies entails significant risks for their users.”

This comes at a time when the demand for bitcoin in Morocco has been growing steadily for the past one and half years evident from trading volumes on the bitcoin exchange, Localbitcoins. But while the ban is a blow to bitcoin adoption in the country, it will be hard to control the cryptocurrency given its pseudo-anonymous and censorship-resistant nature.

Rest of Africa

Bitcoin regulation in the rest of Africa is essentially uncharted territory as regulators are still coming to terms with how best they can assimilate decentralised digital currencies into their economic structures without potentially destabilising their economies.

Ultimately, the challenge will be to come up with a regulatory framework that protects consumers against harmful activities and promotes cryptocurrency-based innovation. For now, bitcoin is largely unregulated and, therefore, de facto legal to use in the majority of African countries.

Bitcoin

Paxful’s #BuiltwithBitcoin Initiative to Fund Rwanda Water Project and Afghan Scholarships

Published

on

Paxful Fund Rwanda Water Project

Peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange Paxful has announced a new development in its #BuiltWithBitcoin charitable initiative. The company is launching a Rwandan water tank project that will be spearheaded by AnthemGold, their new initiative member; additional classroom resources for the Rwandan nursery school that was built as the first #BuiltwithBitcoin project, and award more than $15,000 scholarships for female Afghan refugees to pursue their careers in the United States.

Paxful’s scholarship beneficiaries include Susan Naseri who is interested in non-profit work and law; Dunia Azizi, who will pursue a mathematics degree; and Farzana Nawabi, who is working towards a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The beneficiaries were chosen by Zam Zam – a non-profit organization partner for the program – based on the personal essays they wrote describing the hardships encountered while getting an education, migrating to the U.S. and blending into the American society while pursuing their careers and raising families.

Susan Naseri, one of the beneficiaries, said: “As a recipient of the Zam Zam Water scholarship, I’d like to express endless gratitude and appreciation to Paxful and everyone involved in the donation process. Receiving this scholarship is not only an immense honor and privilege; it also eases my financial stress significantly. I’m beyond humbled and thankful for this scholarship; thank you eternally for helping me expand my education and fulfill my dreams.”

Paxful Expansion and Partnership

Paxful Fund Rwanda Water ProjectFor the initial scholarship, winners were given $5,000 paid in two installments each of $2,500. Zam Zam Water will continue running the scholarship as an annual program. In addition, both Paxful and Zam Zam welcomed AnthemGold to the #BuiltwithBitcoin initiative after the virtual currency provider contributed enough bitcoin to construct a 35,000-liter water tank as well as fund the cultivation of more than 80 sustainable community gardens and 30 goats for two villages in Rwanda.

Speaking of the initiative, AnthemGold’s CEO, Anthem Hayek Blanchard said: “I am grateful to participate in a project that builds sustainable and essential projects for communities in need. We hope to use Zam Zam’s knowledge to provide people with the building blocks needed to foster and grow.”

Paxful’s announcement comes after its May announcement regarding its investment expansion in Africa by electing a new African Regional Director and building an incubation hub for blockchain technology in Lagos, Nigeria. The hub is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018 and will be a co-working space that will provide services such as mentorship, advice on ICOs, and individual and corporate blockchain training. Paxful will also be sponsoring various crypto-focused events in Nigeria and plans to hold talks with similar events in Kenya, Ghana, and Cameroon.

Continue Reading

Bitcoin

Crypto-Finance Platform Nebeus Enters the Africa Market

Published

on

Nebeus
Image by Nebeus

Cryptocurrency users in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana now have full access to the suite of Nebeus services. The “crypto bank” Nebeus enables users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, enjoy remittance services, and access crypto-collateral loans, among many other services related to crypto-finance.

Opening access to Crypto-Finance services in Africa

Nebeus is a London-based fintech startup that runs a P2P exchange platform, offers crypto-collateral loans and incorporates a user-friendly bitcoin wallet. Nebeus was founded in 2014 with the aim of delivering a cheap, convenient and highly efficient service that catered to the demands and challenges of the evolving cryptocurrency landscape.

The crypto-finance platform will take advantage of local telcos and mobile money to penetrate these new markets, according to a company press release. Mobile banking has enabled African countries to leapfrog many developed nations by tapping into a previously unbanked segment of the population. The success of mobile money platforms, such as MPESA in Kenya, has attracted a number of fintech and blockchain companies to the African market.

The pay-in and pay-out corridors for the trading service include MPESA in Kenya, Airtel mobile money in Uganda, mobile money (Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo) for Tanzania, mobile money (MTN) Cameroon, Mobile Money (MTN) for Nigeria and MasterCard, Verve (Cards) and online banking for Nigeria. The established network of local payment partners will provide access to crypto-services for a population of over 400 million people.

Nebeus also aims to play a greater role in serving the African remittance market, which is estimated to receive billions of dollars annually. The company’s objective is to become the focal provider for this section of the African economy.

Alex Lempka, Nebeus’ Director of Communications, said: “Cryptocurrencies have a potential to make a significant impact on developing countries in many ways by providing a bridge into the global economy. Nebeus is looking forward to playing a major role in that by providing necessary infrastructure for all participants”.

Continue Reading

Bitcoin

Golix Relaunches ICO and Expands Into Kenya, Uganda and South Africa

Published

on

Golix Launches ICO

Zimbabwe’s digital currency exchange, Golix is relaunching its token sale, which was planned for mid-May but abandoned after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a cryptocurrency ban which was later overturned by the Harare High Court.

The exchange, which has been operational for three years, has also announced that it has launched its services in Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda as from Friday 1 June 2018.

“As part of our strategy starting from Friday 1 June, people in Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda will be able to start trading from Golix. This is one of our plans to be the leading exchange in Africa, which inspired by the vision to provide financial autonomy in the continent, ” said Golix’s Head of Growth, Panashe Tapera.

Out of 54 countries in Africa, only three have local cryptocurrency exchanges while the rest are still to realise the potential held by the blockchain technology.

Golix has set its target to avail its services across the entire African continent to address the cryptocurrency infrastructure shortage which has slowed down the adoption of digital currencies.

Golix Lead of Special Projects, William Chui, stated that the token sale was an initiative they set afoot to enable instant remittances and international payments through cryptocurrencies.

The Token Sale

“Since from onset our main agenda is to provide financial autonomy in Africa. The GLX token is going to be used to facilitate and realise this agenda. People from respective different countries will be able to buy the GLX token from the exchange using their fiat currencies. The GLX token will be used to buy other Altcoins in the exchange, all this will be done at zero transactions fee.

“The GLX token will also be used to facilitate remittances and international payments at lesser fees, compared to current banking methods. This cascade immensely towards contribution of GDP growth in African countries,” said Chui.

The GLX token, an Ethereum ERC20 token, will be available for purchase from Friday 1 June 2018 10 AM UTM/GMT on the Golix token sale website, tokensale.golix.com.

Potential buyers can use bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) to buy the GLX token, which has been priced at $0.05612.

1,274,240, 097 tokens will be availed but only 637,120,049 are going to be sold during the token sale and the public will only be able to buy half of the tokens.

*Disclaimer: This post is informational only. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned company, product or service. BitcoinAfrica.io is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product or service mentioned in this article.*

Continue Reading

Popular Posts