Bitcoin in Kenya

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This is pretty interesting short film about the potential for Bitcoin to rise in Kenya. The film describes some problems for business use of the currently widely accepted M-PESA digital currency, a situation where bitcoin and the use of the blockchain have some real potential advantages.

M-PESA, is the micro-financing service offered by Kenya’s largest mobile phone network, Safaricom. It is considered by many analysts to be the most advanced and widely adopted mobile payment system in the world. M-PESA transactions account for 43 percent of Kenya’s GDP. And M-PESA has been in use for nearly a decade with over 17,000,000 active users.

Bitcoin may be antidote for the problems of high fees, “lost” and fraudulent transactions, and other limitations that are widespread with M-PESA. And yet, today, bitcoin is not widely accepted or understood in Kenya the first nation to widely accept and employ digital mobile transactions. One reason is simply inertia. FOr many people M-PESA works and is much better than what they had before. Another issue is of course government regulation and the potential for the Kenyan government to intervene and limit use of other payment mechanisms including bitcoin.

“The Central Bank has been contacted by some entities that are proposing to use bitcoin. The entities have been informed of the laws, regulations and procedures required to offer remittance services in Kenya. However, no applications have been received by the Central Bank for approval to transact in bitcoin….The operators have been advised of the process to undertake in order to comply with remittance regulations, including compliance with anti-money laundering laws and combating the financing of terrorism laws and regulations.”


So it seems that bitcoin based transactions may not be immediately replacing M-PESA despite advantages in the underlying system from a consumer standpoint.

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Bitcoin In Kenya – A Film By Tomer Kantor
An IamSatoshi Production – 2014