THE Government of Zimbabwe is weighing options of adopting cryptocurrency as a legal payment service and is consulting various stakeholders on the merits of the virtual currency.
Speaking at a Computer Society of Zimbabwe (CSZ) information communication technologies (ICT) Summit that ended in Victoria Falls yesterday, Permanent Secretary and Head of e-government Technology Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet Brigadier General (Retired) Charles Wekwete said consultations with the private sector are underway.
Some countries are already using cryptocurrency like blockchains as a payment method while others such as Zimbabwe are skeptical of the facility due to possibilities of it facilitating cross border movement and externalisation of funds, money laundering and illicit flow of funds to fund illegal activities.
A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange, such as the US dollar, but is digital and uses encryption techniques to control the creation of monetary units and to verify the transfer of funds, for example Bitcoin.
CSZ members asked what Government was doing to adopt cryptocurrency in light on new global trends where transactions are done online. Brig Gen Wekwete said cryptocurrencies are something that a lot of Governments around the world are still not very clear on.
“Governments are still trying to understand and properly trying to create policies on how to deal with it. In our case, initially we were trying to understand their implication because they are a fundamental departure from previously known financial instruments and there are a lot of fears about cross border movement of funds, money laundering, externalization of funds and illicit flow of funds to fund illicit issues.
“So Government has put in place mechanism to try and gather views from various sectors of society in order to eventually formulate policies. There have been pronouncements by Minister of Finance and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and it’s such as complex area. Sooner or later Government will make statements but we have not gotten there yet, the consultative process is already underway,” said Brig Gen Wekwete.
He invited private sector players who have ideas on how best the facility can be handled to make representations to Government. He said the will was there in Government to consider the cryptocurrency as is evidenced by pronouncement by the Minister of Finance which shows that “Government is aware of the issue and is looking into it.”
The currency has been in use in the private sector. Brig Gen Wekwete said Government adopted the digital economy framework under National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) as a way of coordinating efforts across the public and private sectors in dealing with the emerging concept of the digital economy, and cryptocurrency cannot be ignored.
CSZ president Mr Allen Saruchera said there were many opportunities that are in the cryptocurrency like blockchain and delivery of services.
“It brings into play all the necessary players and within our sector we have people who are knowledgeable. We have to put security in place and its is our responsibility to share and showcase what can be done,” he said.
The summit was held under the theme: “Digital Innovations For Post Pandemic Recovery.”