The National Bank of Ethiopia, the African country’s central bank released a statement yesterday declaring Bitcoin “illegal,” and prohibiting the use of any other currency except the Birr for all transactions.
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“Ethiopia’s national currency is the Ethiopian Birr, with any financial transaction in Ethiopia to be paid in Birrs, according to the law,” the bank said in a statement to state-affiliated news outlet Fana Broadcasting Corporate.
While the bank recognizes the growth of bitcoin use in the East African country, it is adamant that it has never granted permission for citizens to use the currency for transactions and payments, warning about negative consequences for those who do. It has adopted this stance because it believes that virtual currency is being used to conduct informal financial activities and money-laundering in the country.
The announcement comes as Octagon Networks, a cybersecurity firm offering services from the country’s capital Addis Ababa, recently converted all of its liquid assets to bitcoin.
In April 2021, the Ethiopian government pioneered an initiative with Input-Output Global, the company responsible for the Cardano blockchain, to create decentralized digital student and teacher IDs. Three weeks ago, IOG announced that it was ready for the implementation phase that would initially see 1 to 2 million students and teachers benefitting en route to the target of 5 million students, and 750,000 teachers.