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Zimbabwe bans banks from dealing in Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies

Harare (dpa) – Zimbabwe’s Central Bank has banned local banks from trading or processing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin until there is “proper legislation in place,” its governor said on Wednesday.

Cryptocurrencies are popular in Zimbabwe due to the country’s notoriously unstable economy and recurrent cash shortages.

“We have received calls from a number of people asking for the ban to be lifted,” Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya told dpa, when asked about the reaction to his organization’s directive.

“But that (use of virtual money) will only happen when … there is proper legislation in place,” he added.

The directive, originally issued on Monday, gave local banks 60 days to mop up Bitcoin processing.

“The Reserve Bank has directed all banking institutions not to provide banking services to facilitate any person or entity in dealing with or settling virtual currencies. The nature of cryptocurrency transactions make them the currency of choice for money launderers and other criminals,” the statement said.

However, University of Zimbabwe lecturer and constitutional law expert Fadzai Mahere said the legality of the move was questionable.

“The ban appears not to be based on any law or regulation, not to mention that it seems not to be reasonable, proportionate or fair,” Mahere said on her Twitter account.

Golix, Zimbabwe’s first and largest cryptocurrency exchange, said on their website that trading was continuing as usual.

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