Embracing Cryptocurrency in Malawi

February 26, 2021

Money is evolving and cryptocurrency is the future of money. As a technology, Malawians should fully embrace cryptocurrency, because it makes it easier for them to participate in the digital economy, which has so many opportunities. People can use cryptocurrencies to store value, pay for goods, store data and write immutable contracts in a trustless way. It’s undeniable that digital currencies are the future. The world, especially developing nations, are waking up to it. The best thing we can do is to embrace cryptocurrency and find ways to use it to our advantage. 

Central Banks of Europe, America and China are considering launching their own digital currency, which is an indication to how big the cryptocurrency space will become. By the writing of this blog, PayPal, a major payment gateway, just announced that it will be allowing its users to buy/sell cryptocurrencies within their PayPal ecosystem. This is good news for cryptocurrency because more users will now have access to it. Most countries are starting to open up to the idea of cryptocurrencies and we see a lot of regulators discussing and exploring how they will regulate these assets. We have seen international exchanges open up shop in countries like Zambia, and others. But Malawi is the only country with Khodo App, its own locally founded cryptocurrency App for buying and selling Crypto. Khodo App is a major achievement for the Malawi tech industry, regulators, and every Malawian who is interested in acquiring some Bitcoin. One can simply download the App from BuyBitcoinMalawi.com or Playstore and get themselves some Bitcoin. For those who want to learn, they can like our Buy Bitcoin Malawi Facebook page or website where we post educational content and updates about the state of cryptocurrency in the country.

Buy Bitcoin Malawi started out of real need. I had an interview on Cruise 5 with Joab Chakhaza talking about my story and cryptocurrency. Right after that interview aired, I was bombarded by messages on social media from Malawians wanting to learn about and buy Bitcoin. The next day, I built a website, created a Facebook page, and the business was launched. There is a strong community of cryptocurrency enthusiasts in Malawi from all backgrounds, and it’s growing at a rapid rate. The challenge has been education and a trusted company to provide crypto services. But with the launch of Khodo App, access to cryptocurrency will be much easier and that will accelerate adoption even more.

Crypto is still not legal and the state does not plan to recognise crypto investments in the country. RBM also says there is no crypto that is registered in Malawi. It was soothing to hear the RBM talk about Cryptocurrency again. Besides, we’ve heard and seen their relentless efforts to regulate this new technology. The recent newspaper article was very confusing to us at Buy Bitcoin Malawi, but also to the Malawian Cryptocurrency community in general. We are aware that in 2019, the RBM made it clear that Cryptocurrencies are “not legal tender” in Malawi and citizens should deal with it at their own risk. You can still find this document on RBM’s website. This is a general position for most tech friendly reserve banks in the world. It’s important to note that “not legal tender” does not mean “illegal”. Legal tender is anything recognized by law as a means to settle a public or private debt or meet a financial obligation, including tax payments, contracts, and legal fines or damages. But that does not mean you cannot have it. It makes sense that Cryptocurrencies are not considered because they are tricky in their nature. One would perceive them as another currency, another would consider them as a commodity like gold, but a developer might consider them as software access tokens to a Blockchain.

In the last 2 years of educating, buying, and selling cryptocurrency in Malawi. We found that most people learned about Cryptocurrency as investment opportunities; therefore, they associate them with pyramids and get rich quick schemes. This has denied most people an opportunity to actually discover or experiment with the real Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. If we widen our perspective and look at Cryptocurrency and Blockchain as technologies and not currency or investments, we’ll quickly realise that they offer infinite opportunities for innovation and solving some of our everyday problems across multiple sectors. Most forward thinking countries and organizations (including IMF) are already adopting these technologies to address some issues. 

My fear is that creating a negative narrative around this technology will only discourage Malawians from learning and experimenting with it. This will result in having no talent pool that specialize in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain in the country which is extremely bad for the public and private sector. It’s also discouraging to startups like ourselves that are investing time and resources in building solutions in that domain. As a Malawian Cryptocurrency startup that’s very young in a very fast moving industry,  we are thankful that our Reserve Bank is open minded and tech friendly. However, we would appreciate hands-on help, mentorship and guidance from our relevant authorities to make sure we are taking the right steps in the future we’re trying to build. Our goal is to be a Malawian regulated cryptocurrency service provider and want to see our country being among the leading nations in the crypto space.  

You’ll see that people who got scammed in the name of Cryptocurrencies were dealing with foreign companies and platforms which had little to no established base here. In fact, they had nothing to do with Cryptocurrency itself, they just used the term to confuse and steal from people. This is why we created our own Malawian Bitcoin App called Khodo. You can find it on Playstore. This App allows you to buy Bitcoin with Malawi Kwacha through Bank transfer or Mobile Money. This is not an investment scheme. It’s simply an easy way for you to Buy or Sell Bitcoin.

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