Zambia is the latest African country to kick against cryptocurrencies

“Be wary”
“Be wary”
Image: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Cryptocurrencies might be enduring tech rave of the moment—but not for Zambia’s apex bank.

The central bank has warned against using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as they are not recognized by the country’s financial system. As such, trading in or using cryptocurrencies, it says, will be at users’ risk as there is no legal recourse with all cryptocurrencies still unregulated in Zambia.

As far as continent-wide trends on stances on cryptocurrency regulation go, Zambia could still soften its outlook as other countries have despite initial tough stances. Nigeria and Kenya, two of the continent’s largest economies, have gone from warning banks against trading or doing business in cryptocurrencies and comparing them to pyramid schemes to reportedly researching policy proposals and studying benefits of cryptocurrencies’ underlying blockchain technology.

Even as local cryptocurrency use and trade rises in countries like Zimbabwe and Nigeria with home-grown exchanges emerging, most African governments appear to be playing a waiting game on regulation.

In a recent report by Ecobank on the state of cryptocurrency regulation in sub-Saharan Africa, only South Africa and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) were noted to have “permissive” stances on cryptocurrencies and only Namibia had an outright ban in place. In the 36 other countries analyzed, crytpocurrency regulation remains largely inconclusive.  Zambia in particular, according to the report, has advised “extreme caution” in dealing with cryptocurrencies but has also noted that blockchain technology could “prove to be positively disruptive, transformative and efficiency enhancing.”

The big-picture theory, Ecobank claims, is governments on the continent are “looking to their neighbors to regulate and innovate first, and learn from their mistakes.”

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