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Crypto Currencies – Kenya Acts Fast; Namibia Recognises Cryptocurrencies; and SA Requires Licences

Kenya’s data privacy regulator is warning the public about the use of “sensitive personal data” by WorldCoin, a cryptocurrency company founded in 2019 by Open AI’s co-founder Sam Altman. Worldcoin, which launched in July, is now being investigated by the Kenyan Office of the Data Protection Commissioner “to ensure compliance with the law.” In a statement the commissioner urged Kenyans to ensure that they received proper information before disclosing personal sensitive data. Since its launch last week, thousands of Kenyans have been lining up to have their eye’s iris scanned at supermarkets and malls where WorldCoin has stationed its “orbs” (scanning machines) to collect biometric data, in exchange of free WorldCoin tokens (WLD) worth about US$55. These tokens can be cashed out by buying other cryptocurrencies from official exchange platforms such as Binance and converted to local currency. [Note:- in SA any processing (collection, use and storage) of biometric data is considered as sensitive data under the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), to which citizens must opt in.]

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has also just approved a QR Code service as a way to boost digital payments. The CBK wants to eliminate a problem that has been caused by in-house payments solutions, which requires customers only use a channel that has been implemented by a vendor. This QR Code service will allow customers a seamless solution for all in-house payment services.

Namibia has joined other African nations in recognising cryptocurrencies and digital assets by approving a bill in the National Assembly. The legislation aims to establish a framework for licensing and regulating VASPs. It also seeks to appoint a regulatory authority responsible for supervising these providers and their activities.

Meanwhile, next door, SA’s Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) will require that crypto exchanges in the country operate with licenses by the end of the year. The FSCA has set a November 30 deadline for license applications. So far the regulator has received about 20 applications since the commencement of the exercise, with further plans for ‘enforcement action’ that could see firms fined or closed down if they operate without a license past the November 30 deadline.



Alastair Tempest

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