Zimbabwe is looking at adopting cryptocurrency as legal payment, top government official says

Zimbabwe is looking at adopting cryptocurrency as legal payment, top government official says
A pile of bitcoin cryptocurrencies is seen. Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • A top official said Zimbabwe is looking to allow cryptocurrency as legal payment, according to a local report Sunday.
  • The government is talking to businesses for their views as it tries to develop policies around crypto.
  • Zimbabwe's finance minister recently said crypto is unstoppable, and adoption in Africa has soared 1,200% in the last year.

The Zimbabwean government is looking into how cryptocurrencies could be used in legal payment services, a top official has said, according to a local news report.

It has begun gathering views from businesses and will talk to citizens as part of its research, retired Brigadier Colonel Charles Wekwete said Saturday at a Computer Society of Zimbabwe summit.

Wekwete, a permanent secretary and head of the e-government technology unit, said authorities around the world are still trying to develop policies for crypto assets. But the implications of adopting digital currency are still not clear.

This is in part because crypto assets are a "fundamental departure from previously known financial instruments," he noted.

There are also a lot of concerns around the cross-border movement of funds, Wekwete said. Money laundering and illicit flow of funds are among the factors that have spurred Zimbabwean regulators, along with many others around the world, to think carefully about opening up to crypto.


"So government has put in place mechanism to try and gather views from various sectors of society in order to eventually formulate policies," he said.

"Sooner or later, (the) government will make statements, but we have not gotten there yet. The consultative process is already underway," he added.

Crypto adoption in Africa surged 1,200% in the 12 months to September, according to Chainalysis. It is the third-fastest growing crypto economy in the world, as people favour the digital coins because they help them avoid bank and exchange restrictions.

Zimbabwe ranked 61st for crypto adoption, the Chainalysis 2021 report found. In 2016, the country's central bank told institutions to halt processing of transactions in digital currencies, citing the risks around illicit activity.

But in late October, Zimbabwe's finance minister Mthuli Ncube said crypto was "unstoppable," noting 30% of the country's youth had invested in digital assets, the Herald reported. But he also said regulation was essential, and he noted the country was working with investors to develop crypto-based exchange-traded funds.


The developments come after El Salvador, another developing nation, adopted bitcoin as legal tender in September with the hope of bettering its economy.

El Salvador's president Nayib Bukele announced last week that its bitcoin profits were helping develop a pet veterinarian and would help build 20 schools.

Wekwete could not be reached for comment when contacted by Insider.