Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi has stirred a debate on the future of cryptocurrency in Africa with comments he made at Bloomberg’s Invest: Focus on Africa Conference.
Mwangi asserted that cryptocurrencies could complement mobile money in Africa. Kenya is among African countries where mobile money has taken root – although challenges including transaction fees remain a concern.
Mwangi, however, emphasized the need for regulators to come on board if crypto were to make an impact on the continent.
“Africa will benefit substantially from leapfrogging on the fourth industrial technologies, and cryptocurrency is one of them,” he stated.
“Cryptocurrency can as well complement the mobile money wallet, but essentially, we need to talk to the regulators.”
In its National Payments Strategy 2021 – 2025, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) highlighted the need for “caution and regulatory vigilance” vigilance on crypto.
“Even though DLT and blockchain has led to immense changes in the evolution of digital assets over the years, major risks and regulatory concerns remain. Regulators are assessing how to mitigate the inherent risks, and fine-tuning their toolkits in order to swiftly address vulnerabilities and risks of various cryptoassets when integrated in payment systems,” the strategy paper reads in part.
Mwangi explained his desire for new technologies to enable growth of Africa’s economies.
“We are hoping that the use of technology, particularly data and artificial intelligence, will be a major basis of leapfrogging because we are not talking about existing manufacturing capacity, we are starting afresh,” he stated.
Mwangi’s comments fueled debate among Kenyans online on cryptocurrency;
Been waiting for such thought piece. James is always ready to take up new tech. I remember his acknowledgement of paypal and its further integration has made e-commerce quite though it has its fair of challenges including the bank security systems.
— Bitcoin_Simba🦁🇰🇪 (@Morray_Morris) May 18, 2022
The Crypto ecosystem is fraught with huge risks because of the extreme volatility of its assets. It’s a haven for tech savvy gamblers. Crypto thrives on decentralized systems which are not easily regulated. It’s like trying to regulate the internet. Africa ain’t ready yet
— @tonyjazz73 (@tonyjazz73) May 18, 2022
Bad idea to involve these guys, in simple terms he wants to tax crypto Transactions
— Rodney (@El_Chapo_Jnr) May 18, 2022