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.
Addressing the parliamentary committee, Rotich said cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. He argued 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.” ~ CS, Henry Rotich.
The committee then gave Rotich two weeks to decide on whether to legalize cryptocurrencies as a means of payment in the country.
Growth of Crypto a Concern
This development comes just days after a restaurant in Nyeri started accepting bitcoin payments saying they are a means of payment just like cash or M-Pesa.
CBK Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge has previously in the past warned of the risks associated with cryptos. In 2015, the regulator issued a similar warning on digital currencies and another warning followed in 2018 cautioning all commercial banks in Kenya from dealing in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Despite the numerous warnings, digital currencies are becoming more popular in Kenya with the first East African Bitcoin ATM installed in Nairobi back in May 2018 to enable users to purchase crypto-currencies using Kenyan shillings.