Bitcoin coins on Kenya's Flag

Equity Bank Kenya CEO: Digital currencies can complement mobile money

Digital currencies can complement the mobile money system in Kenya and enable the country to leapfrog many developed countries, the CEO of the country’s biggest commercial bank has claimed.

James Mwangi, the CEO of Equity Group Holdings Plc, shared his thoughts on the future of digital currencies in the East African country at the Bloomberg Invest: Focus on Africa conference recently. Mwangi’s bank is the largest in Kenya, with over $10 billion in assets and with nine million customers. It’s the largest in terms of customer base in Africa.

The banker believes that the continent is in a prime position to take advantage of emerging technology at a higher pace than the developed nations, and in time, it could even leapfrog them on fourth industrial technologies.

“Africa will benefit substantially from leapfrogging on the fourth industrial technologies, and cryptocurrency is one of them. Cryptocurrency can as well complement the mobile money wallet, but essentially, we need to talk to the regulators,” Mwangi told the audience.

In Kenya, mobile money payments have surpassed cash transactions as the East African continues to set the pace with M-Pesa. This was achieved because regulators proved they were willing to try out new technology. With digital currencies, regulators should also keep the same open mind and be willing to work with stakeholders to make Bitcoin payments a possibility, Mwangi said.

However, he believes the burden lies with the banks as they must convince regulators to get on board the digital currency bandwagon.

Digital currencies and blockchain will be part of the fourth industrial technologies that will propel Africa to a new level, along with other emerging tech like AI, he added.

“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,” the CEO remarked.

The Central African Republic made headlines recently after it became the first country in Africa, and the second in the world, to make BTC legal tender. However, while the intention was noble, BTC is provably unable to fulfill payment needs for the masses with its 1MB blocks and exorbitant fees. Only Bitcoin SV’s massively scaling blockchain with real-time transactions and low fees can fill the gap in Africa’s payments ecosystem.

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