The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has issued a hardline order to domestic banks, banning them from transacting in cryptocurrencies or providing services to businesses that do.
The official circular on the central bank's mandate to safeguard a fundamentally sound financial system and "protect the public in general" states that all financial institutions within Zimbabwe must now:
- "Ensure that they do not use, trade, hold, and/or transact in any way in virtual currencies."
- "Ensure that they do not provide banking services to facilitate any person or entity in dealing with or settling virtual currencies."
- "Exit any existing relationships with virtual currency exchanges within sixty days of the date of this Circular and proceed to liquidate and restitute existing account balances."
"The Reserve Bank has directed all banking institutions not to provide banking services to facilitate any person or entity in dealing with or settling virtual currencies," said the bank's governor, John Mangudya, earlier today. "The nature of cryptocurrency transactions [makes] them the currency of choice for money launderers and other criminals."
Notably, Zimbabwe doesn't use its own national currency. Leading up to 2009, the central bank printed the Zimbabwean dollar excessively to fund a budget deficit, causing it to hyperinflate into oblivion. The Botswana pula, South African rand, Chinese renminbi, Indian rupee, Australian dollar, Japanese yen, and (predominantly) the US dollar have all since been accepted as legal tender in the country.
At time of press, Golix, one of Zimbabwe's leading cryptocurrency exchanges, was trading bitcoin at about $12,500.