For a long time, the Kenya government has been skeptical of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies especially Bitcoin, calling it a pyramid scheme on many occasions. These sentiments have not been a reserve of the Kenya government as Nigeria, Tanzania, and Egypt have also shared similar sentiments. The mobile telecoms giant in Kenya, Safaricom, has not been soft on this technology either. It terminated Bitcoin trading platform, Kapochi, from using its mobile money platform, M-pesa.
Last week, the government seemed to change its attitude and appointed an 11-member taskforce mandated to study the benefits and challenges associated with blockchain technologies. The president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said the technology could open opportunities in areas such as the land sector, where creating foolproof digital registries could forestall malpractice and parallel ownership.
It is also likely that the technology could be used to boost the country’s mobile money services. As a mobile money global leader, the country will seek to create a framework that will help integrate bitcoin trading with M-Pesa will allow millions of people to swap funds and send money home or abroad.
This announcement excited blockchain enthusiast in the country, who hope that this will accelerate the momentum of Bitcoin uptake among individuals and startups for online payments, cross-border transfers, or remittances. With this top-level recognition and the likelihood of developing a legislative, regulatory framework could spur interest and trust among the general population regarding the digital currencies.
Kenya’s Minister for ICT, Joe Mucheru, has been consistent in urging the Central Bank of Kenya to introduce laws regulating the companies trading on bitcoin, guide users on social saving and investment, and introduce frameworks for ministries to use blockchain technology for efficiency and transparency. He also thinks that the decentralization concept of the technology has put off the government from indulging in it but insists banning it won’t solve the problem as it will grow the informal market.