Cryptocurrency can supplement mobile money in Africa if regulators can be convinced of its benefits, according to James Mwangi, the CEO of Equity Group Holdings, Kenya’s biggest lender by market value.
Many central banks on the continent have warned against trading cryptocurrency, while some have made it outright illegal. The Central African Republic is the only African nation to have adopted the digital assets and the South African Reserve Bank is formulating rules to protect investors.
“Africa will benefit substantially from leapfrogging on the Fourth Industrial technologies, and cryptocurrency is one of them,” James Mwangi said at the Bloomberg Invest: Focus on Africa conference. “Cryptocurrency can as well complement the mobile money wallet, but essentially, we need to talk to the regulators.”
In Kenya, mobile money transactions — which were only made possible through the willingness of the regulator to try out new technology — have surpassed the use of hard currency, Mwangi said. In the same way, the use of new technology can help increase Africa’s competitiveness because the continent lacks legacy systems, he said.
“We are hoping that the use of technology, particularly data and artificial intelligence, will be a major basis of leapfrogging because we are not talking about existing manufacturing capacity, we are starting afresh,” he said.