National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich on Tuesday addressed the national assembly on the existence of cryptocurrencies in Kenya particularly Bitcoin.
In his request for a statement, Molo MP Kimani Kuria had asked Rotich to appear before the Finance and Trade Committee to explain on the regulations the government has put in place for crypto-currencies and the risks associated.
While addressing the MPs, Rotich said that cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. He argues that the price of Bitcoin is entirely a matter of speculation.
“The fall of the bitcoin from a peak of $19,300 in February 2017 to $8,500 in February 2018 demonstrated its instability…… The issue of cryptocurrencies is evolving and we can take a position as a country. This is a delicate balance between supporting innovation and killing it.” He said.
The committee then gave Rotich two weeks to decide on whether to legalize cryptocurrencies as a means of payment in the country.
This comes just after a restaurant in Nyeri dubbed Betty’s Place started accepting bitcoin payments saying they are a means of payment just like cash or M-Pesa.
CBK Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge has in the past said crypto currencies are risky and consumers may not be protected. In 2015, the regulator issued a similar warning on digital currencies. Despite the numerous warnings digital currencies are becoming more popular in Kenya. The First East African Bitcoin ATM was installed in Nairobi mid last month to enable users to purchase crypto-currencies using both dollars and Kenyan shillingS.
The first Bitcoin ATM Machine in East and Central Africa is now installed in Westlands Nairobi!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/RPe99GpkUo
— Kenyanwallstreet (@kenyanwalstreet) May 11, 2018
ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru quit the board of Bitcoin dealer BitPesa in 2016 and begun offloading his shares in the digital currency platform to avoid a possible conflict of interest.
CBK governor Patrick Njoroge had in the past alluded to the potential future for block chain.
“We are working with our peers around the world on things that could lead to using this technology in particular ways,” Njoroge said.