Many African countries advise against trading cryptocurrencies, Namibia being one of them. However, there are small efforts by startups to aid interested parties to access the digital assets. For instance, Bitcoin Trade Namibia (BTN) provides a platform for crypto trade in Namibia.
Like many other startups across the continent, BTN operates with very few customers. This is perhaps because most of the people heeded the Bank of Namibia’s (BoN) advice. Late last year, BoN published a position paper warning Namibians against involving themselves in crypto activities.
In the paper, the regulator recognises cryptocurrencies as “a type of digital currency that is unregulated with no legal tender status or relations to any central bank or public authority of a particular jurisdiction.”
Further, it goes on to note that the crypto’s value derives from common acceptance. This implies that according to BoN, cryptocurrencies do not have intrinsic value. In addition, the bank does not recognise cryptocurrencies as legal tender nor payment instruments.
For this reason, the position paper ends in the recommendation that “users should be aware and cautious of the risks involved.”
Crypto trade in Namibia not really banned
Tshuutheni Emvula, co-founder and chief executive officer of BTN interprets the position paper differently. According to Emvula, nowhere in the bank’s position paper does it ban trades in virtual currency.
“The myth that cryptocurrency is banned in Namibia is perpetuated by bad research and FUD. A look at the position papers released by the Bank of Namibia will correctly inform the reader that the bank warns Namibian nationals of the dangers of cryptocurrency due to their non-regulation,” Emvula says in an interview.
It is against this belief and compliance to financial regulations that BTN offers its clients access to Bitcoin. Interestingly, the platform does not operate like a traditional cryptocurrency exchange. Instead, it just pairs traders and enables them to exchange Bitcoin for fiat and vice versa.
This implies that the platform does not offer custody for virtual currency. Interestingly, the idea is to provide a safe and secure access to crypto for Namibians. Therefore, the little efforts will hopefully catapult crypto trade in Namibia to higher levels.
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