Viewpoint: Cryptocurrencies: Africa’s New ‘Blood Diamonds’
The Central African Republic (CAR) has become the latest country to adopt bitcoin as a national currency. The move follows last year’s adoption by El Salvador. But CAR’s sudden embrace of crypto is confusing. Afterall, El Salvador’s bitcoin adoption isn’t going well. Besides warnings by the International Monetary Fund and fears of default, a recent survey found 86% of Salvadoran businesses have never carried out a bitcoin transaction.
CAR, the world’s second-poorest country, is nowhere near ready for payments via cryptocurrencies. Yet CAR’s authorities threaten significant fines and other penalties on vendors who refuse to accept bitcoin for payments.
Some analysts say the adoption of crypto in CAR is meant to tick off the IMF and foreign-owned money transmitters. But unlike El Salvador, CAR doesn’t have a large pool of diaspora working overseas getting stung with remittance fees when sending money home.
Photo courtesy of Roger Brown.