The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says trade and usage of bitcoin for transactions in the country have not been legalized despite a surge in prices and values for the popular crypto-currency.
Bitcoin trade values on the only crypto-currency exchange platform, Golix had surged to $1 million for the month of October. On Tuesday, bitcoin prices on the Zimbabwean bitcoin exchange peaked at $14490 in morning trade on Tuesday against world averages of around $8000.
Regional news blog TechZim reported Tuesday that Zimbabwe’s central bank declared that bitcoin isn’t yet legal in the country. The central bank justified this position, saying it was still carrying out studies into the crypto-currency.
“In terms of the bitcoins, as far as we are concerned, it’s not actually legal. In Southern Africa, what we have done as regulators, we have said that we will not allow this in our markets. Research is currently on, being undertaken to ascertain the challenges and risks associated with these particular products,” said Norman Mataruka, director and registrar of banking institutions at the RBZ in Zimbabwe.
He said until the Zimbabwean central bank had “actually established and come up with a legal and regulatory framework for them” bitcoins “will not be allowed” in the country. Trade facilitators at Golix had already started to tighten oversight on large volume transactions. Officials said the higher value transactions would require verification of identifications for the traders.
Zimbabwe has also had a massive surge in the price of bitcoin after the country’s military chiefs intervened and restricted President Robert Mugabe to his private residence in Harare last week.
Experts say Bitcoin is now being used to send money out of Zimbabwe as well as to buy goods such as softwares. However, usage of the crypto currency has not yet fully been developed to enable payments for other services such as paying for hotels, travel, and to purchase equities among other services, analysts said.
The political turmoil in Zimbabwe, sparked by Mugabe’s firing of his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa nearly a month ago, has seen investors start to ditch the country’s equities market. Others say this has come at a time bitcoin trade in the country is surging on the back of the political upheavals.
Zimbabwe has also continued to suffer liquidity challenges and foreign currency shortages emanating from a low production abase in the country. Bad policies adopted by Mugabe have also been blamed for crippled foreign direct investment inflows.
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