I caught the study from Citi Bank that made a bold claim on the level of exposure we as a nation are subject to, with approximately 2.3 per cent of our gross domestic product apparently held in Bitcoin holdings worth an estimated Sh 163 billion. While the figures could be argued out, the spirit of their interpretation cannot be lost on us. That our ICT Cabinet Secretary, who divested from a company whose core product was built on bitcoin, was on national television and said ‘even as we look into the future, (we must ensure) we are not left behind in certain areas, for instance on the blockchain technology or the hash graphs. We missed out on the internet, blockchain…we must” and that one cannot regulate the technology, only what the companies that are involved in it do, speaks volumes as to the direction we should truly be looking towards.
At the start of this year, I suggested that 2018 should be a year of experiments and the right environment and goodwill seems to be brewing in the cryptocurrency space. There are certain cities in the world that are recognized as financial centers, powerhouses that attract capital inflows whether for management or investment. These podium positions did not come about as a matter of luck but deliberate planning to grant them an unfair advantage over others. I feel that this is our moment.
Mpesa thrived and got global acclaim from a number of free passes that allowed it to find its place and even cease being about the technology but more of life changing and impactful innovations that are now embedded in our daily lives.
The Central Bank of Kenya with its measured and risk averse stance should be leading the charge, roping in the banks, microfinance institutions, telco’s and innovators to try find the best fit and possible use cases which have the potential to scale, become sustainable and benefit most from the properties and features that blockchain technology presents.
If they can dare make this call, others will rally quickly behind them. Capital and talent is really available. There are many proof of concepts that have already been developed but continue in stealth for fear of getting shut down or getting into the dead pool courtesy of an under-educated and underexposed market.