Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are being pegged as the single most disruptive technology since the Internet, with potential to unseat traditional paper fiat currency as a global means of exchange and store of value. Banks and other financial institutions, rightfully, feel threatened, and have responded by blocking cryptocurrency transactions via credit cards and more. Some countries, such as India have taken an even harder stance, outright banning all banks in the region from completing any cryptocurrency related transactions.
The country of Zimbabwe is following suit, with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe banning all financial institutions in the country from processing any transactions related to cryptocurrency.
In a circular sent around to banks in the region late last week, the Zimbabwean central bank said:
“In order to safeguard the integrity, safety and soundness of the country’s financial system, and to protect the public in general, all financial institutions are hereby required to ensure that they do not use, trade, hold and/or transact in any way in virtual currencies.”
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has also directed banks in the South African country to terminate any existing relationships with exchanges, and liquidate any existing account balances within sixty days of the official notice.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s governor John Mangudya warned the public via a separate statement:
“Any person who buys, sells, or otherwise transacts in cryptocurrencies, whether online, or otherwise, does so at their own risk and will have no recourse to the Reserve Bank or to any regulatory authority in the country.”
The move from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe comes despite growing interest from investors in the country. Golix, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Zimbabwe says that bitcoin trade is growing in the country as it helps plug financial shortages. Golix offers both an exchange as well as bitcoin ATM locations at its Harare offices.