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Locals sceptical of crypto-currency


The Bitcoin Seminar held in Harare over the weekend was poorly-attended, apparently signalling the locals’ scepticism over the use of the crypto-currency as awareness on its uses remains low.


Some of the people that attended the bitcoin seminar in Harare on Saturday
Some of the people that attended the bitcoin seminar in Harare on Saturday

Crypto-currency is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds that operates independently of a central bank.

The low-key event was organised by Zimbabwe’s small, but growing bitcoin community, largely operating secretly as the first public attempt to grow membership.

Founder of South Africa-based Liquid Crypto-Money Shireen Ramjoo told NewsDay in an interview on Saturday just before the seminar that they were not trying to force the government or the people to accept crypto-currency, but rather to educate them on its merits.

“Crypto-currency is the fastest growing currency in the world compared to fiat currency. Bitcoin is an appreciating currency,” Ramjoo said.

“What is driving people and what we have seen worldwide with the bitcoin trend is that people are putting money in bitcoin because they feel that bitcoin is an appreciating currency. Now you know traditionally with our fiat currencies it is affected by the economic climate in the country, political issues and all those type of things.”

She added: “But with bitcoin, because it is the world’s first decentralised currency, it is not affected by any of those things so whatever is happening with the currency does not change the price of bitcoin. The price of bitcoin is driven by the people who use it. The fact is the price of bitcoin is one as to $1 600 (as of Saturday), the highest currency for the fourth consecutive year now.”

Ramjoo said low awareness or interest in crypto-currency could be attributed to government not fully understanding the technology while people do not get the full context of it. The low-key seminar was done in two parts, a morning and afternoon session.

The seminar had a seating capacity of 50, but only drew 18 persons for the morning session and close to 10 in the afternoon session despite being an open seminar.

Attendees of the morning session told NewsDay that they saw bitcoin as a future investment vehicle.

One woman in her 40s told the paper that even if the central bank put limitations in place, crypto-currency would still grow.

“Tell the governor that we will find ways around whatever controls they put in place. How can you compete with technology?” she said.

Bitcoin is the most common crypto-currency and is part of the 800 different types that are there.

According to XE Currency Charts, looking at a review of the currency from June 2016 to date, the currency grew slightly over 100% to $769, 99 United States dollar per bitcoin.

Yesterday, the value of one bitcoin was $1 604.

Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya was on record before the seminar saying the central bank feared a spike in externalisation and cybercrime if crypto-currency was adopted locally.

Financial expert Persistence Gwanyanya said over time cryptocurrency would gain traction due to globalisation.

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