Home GENERAL NEWS Is Bitcoin Legal in Kenya? Here is The Whole Truth

Is Bitcoin Legal in Kenya? Here is The Whole Truth

by Victor Matara

Many people have been asking me if Bitcoin is acceptable in Kenya over the past months. Let’s start with knowing what is bitcoin exactly. Bitcoin is a new digital currency that was created in 2009 by an unknown person using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. There are no transaction fees and no need to give your real name hence anonymous transactions.

Currently in Kenya there are less than five merchants accepting bitcoin, all of them are based in Nairobi.Surprisingly, only a few online travel booking companies and small tech companies accept Bitcoin transactions. Statistics say that Bitcoin trading volumes have been very slow to grow in Kenya from 2013 to the end of 2016. However, 2017  has seen a substantial increase in peer-to-peer bitcoin trading in the country. (https://coin.dance/volume/localbitcoins/KES)

Back to our main topic, Bitcoin Legal in Kenya?  It’s illegal in Kenya. Late 2015, the Central Bank of Kenya warned the use of Bitcoin reasons being that it was used to fund terrorism, its insecurity and being used in money laundering activities.  This was the statement from the Central Bank of Kenya regarding to the use of Bitcoins;

This is to inform the public that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are not legal
tender in Kenya and therefore no protection exists in the event that the platform that
exchanges or holds the virtual currency fails or goes out of business. Some of the
risks associated with buying, holding or trading virtual currencies include the
following:

  • Transactions in virtual currencies such as bitcoin are largely untraceable and
    anonymous making them susceptible to abuse by criminals in money laundering
    and financing of terrorism.
  • Virtual currencies are traded in exchange platforms that tend to be unregulated
    all over the world. Consumers may therefore lose their money without having
    any legal redress in the event these exchanges collapse or close business.
  • There is no underlying or backing of assets and the value of virtual currencies is
    speculative in nature. This may result in high volatility in value of virtual
    currencies thus exposing users to potential losses.

CBK reiterates that Bitcoin and similar products are not legal tender nor are they
regulated in Kenya. The public should therefore desist from transacting in Bitcoin
and similar products.
CENTRAL BANK OF KENYA
DECEMBER 2015

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