Equity Bank Kenya CEO: Digital currencies can complement mobile money

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

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

The banker believes that the continent is in a privileged position to take advantage of emerging technologies at a higher rate than developed countries, and in time, it could even overtake them on the fourth industrial technologies.

“Africa will benefit significantly from a leap forward in fourth industrial technologies, and cryptocurrency is one of them. Cryptocurrency can also complement the mobile money wallet, but essentially we need to talk to regulators” , Mwangi told the audience.

In Kenya, mobile money payments have overtaken cash transactions as East Africa continues to set the pace with M-Pesa. This was achieved because regulators proved they were willing to try new technologies. With digital currencies, regulators must also keep the same open mind and be willing to work with stakeholders to make bitcoin payments possible, Mwangi said.

However, he thinks the onus is on the banks as they have to convince regulators to jump on board the digital currency bandwagon.

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

“We hope that the use of technology, especially data and artificial intelligence, will be a major leapfrog basis because we are not talking about existing manufacturing capacity, we are starting from scratch,” said the CEO.

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

Watch: CoinGeek Zurich Panel, Blockchain and the Future of Africa

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