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Zimbabwe’s new finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, wants to put into practice the country’s plan to better understand crypto currencies like Bitcoin and to be more open about the possibilities of this currency. The hope is that crypto currencies will help Zimbabwe to economic recovery. How likely is this wish – and are there any case studies where this has worked?

A better future with Bitcoin and Co.

Mthuli Ncube was recently appointed Minister of Finance, but his project could already make him unpopular with the country’s major banks. Zimbabwe has faced severe liquidity shortages in the last two years, with local banks setting a ceiling on withdrawable amounts and dollarising the market. Ncube has high hopes that proper use and investment in crypto currencies could help or at least support the country out of the liquidity crisis.

As a first step, the Finance Minister promised to set up a crypto currency department at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, one of South Africa’s largest inland banks. The first step towards a better financial future would be to better understand digital currencies such as Bitcoin – and Zimbabwe’s banks would play a major role.

Switzerland as an example

As an example of the success of such a project, Mthuli Ncube cites Switzerland, where the central bank has been adopting a more open attitude towards Bitcoin and other crypto currencies for years. Ideally, the Minister of Finance would like to open up possibilities such as paying for holiday trips with Bitcoin, as has recently been possible in Switzerland. He sees stopping this innovative technology as counterproductive for the country’s growth and youth, as it offers an alternative to the classic currency that was previously unavailable – an alternative that could give Zimbabwe a new boost, even if the Bitcoin exchange rate itself is subject to strong fluctuations.

Great ambitions and confidence for the crypto market

According to the new finance minister, the current strong restrictions on investors in Zimbabwe are putting the economy in a tight spot. Zimbabweans currently prefer to put their money under the metaphorical (or literal) mattress rather than entrust it to the banks, and the progressive restrictions and bottlenecks are dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

Mthuli Ncube hopes that the possibilities and alternatives offered by crypto currencies will open up new avenues for economic creation and resolve these bottlenecks. In the successful first step of his own crypto currency department, he sees the possibility of enabling Zimbabwe’s economy to turn 180 degrees. Opponents of this project fear, however, that an open cryptographic market could lead to increased illegal activities such as tax evasion and money laundering.

It remains to be seen how the Minister of Finance’s plans will affect the country’s economy. A first step has already been taken by allowing the country’s banks to officially process transactions with Bitcoin and other crypto currencies.