Kenya’s Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Kenya), the expert group that plays an important role in the formation of public policies in Kenya, has organized a free-for-all forum to examine existing cryptocurrency regulation in the country.
Kenya’s Blockchain Push
The forum will study the potential opportunities awaiting individual consumers and financial organizations from cryptocurrency adoption and use.
The public forum which will be held on Thursday, September 6, 2018, at Nairobi’s Sarova Stanley from 8:00 am and to 11: am will also seek to demystify cryptocurrencies. Over ten years since the emergence in 2007 of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a thick fog of mystery still surrounds the subject, and this has held Kenyans back from actively taking part in the trending wealth distribution.
Pundits globally have created billions of dollars in this developing alternative financial system. In Kenya, anyone can buy, trade, hold or exchange cryptocurrencies as long as they don’t break any known laws.
In July, the Kenyan parliament gave the Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich two weeks to decide the fate of cryptocurrencies. The Parliament’s committee in charge of Finance and National Planning interrogated Rotich on the use of cryptocurrencies in the country wondering how the treasury and the country’s Central Bank had allowed citizens to venture an “unregulated and unlicensed” business.
The committee’s chair, Joseph Limo wondered:
“We are surprised to hear that even the CBK is not aware that there is a lounge at Kenyatta University, an ATM in town, and a hotel in Nyeri which trade in bitcoins. There is a bigger problem in Kenya since people are trading billions in virtual space yet the Treasury has not licensed and taxed it like trade in M-Pesa and bank transactions.”
The Crypto FUD
The regulatory debate between governments on one side and cryptocurrency enthusiasts on the other side came to the fore in April 2018 when the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor, Patrick Njoroge, appeared to discourage citizens against what he called a “risky venture.”
The CBK governor had told legislators he had sent a warning letter to all banks cautioning them against dealing or transacting with institutions engaged in cryptocurrency trading.
Kenya’s financial sector has experienced tremendous growth buoyed by technological developments. As cryptocurrencies gain traction in daily business transactions, devoid of a regulatory environment, it is important to examine what digital currencies portend for Kenya. The Treasury Secretary said in July:
“I am not aware of people operating locally […] but I will endeavor to find out whether we have local exchangers.”