Among the many Kenyans who know close to nothing about cryptocurrencies and blockchain is President Uhuru Kenyatta. The President displayed his ignorance when at a forum in the United Kingdom he said Kenya was putting in place measures to regulate blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The ignorance displayed by our President is so predominant amongst Kenyans including financial experts, forcing ICIFA (Institute of Investment and Financial Analysts) to organise a 3 days workshop meant to finally deal with the confusion surrounding cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
“Despite the media frenzy on cryptocurrency and forex online trading, an overwhelming majority of practitioners in the financial sector who should guide investors often fail to appreciate essential concepts like what is cryptocurrency, what are the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies, what potential disruptions blockchain technology portends for the banking and the financial markets,” said Job Kihumba, the chairman of ICIFA who is also the executive director of Standard Investment Bank and a former chief executive of Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). “It is important that we have a clear industry guideline on these issues so that our members can be better able to advise investors and also offer a lead in legislation and policy formulation in these subjects”, he added.
The ICIFA workshop has been scheduled for May 22nd to May 24th, 2018, and will take place at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS). Other than offering simple and clear explanations on what cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are, the workshop will also deliberate on the potential disruptions the new blockchain technology and associated digital currencies are like to bring to the banking sector. The workshop will also explore other ramifications that will accompany alternative investment avenues that have been growing in currency over the last couple of months.
The issue of cryptocurrency (blockchain) and forex online trading has been a subject under discussion since a revelation that Kenyan investors are the most active traders in bitcoins and forex online trading in Africa.
While that has been the case, there is currently no guideline or legislation on how trading in forex online or dealing in cryptocurrencies should be done. The Central Bank of Kenya has time and again warned on the risks of investing in such alternative investment avenues, as digital currency is not a legal tender in the country.
A recent report by Citibank stated that Kenyans have accumulated holdings of bitcoins estimated at more than Sh163 billion– 2.3 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The report ranked Kenya as the fifth highest bitcoins holder per capita in the world. Russia and Nigeria were ranked first and third respectively while South Africa took the sixth place.
Capital Markets Authority (CMA) estimates that about 50,000 people, including brokers, dealers and money managers, are in the business and are mainly using offshore platforms that are not overseen by Kenyan regulators.
In addition, online Forex traders in Kenya are participating in the global currency market through foreign registered brokers who provide the link to clearing centres in Europe, Asia and the US.
“Such loopholes pose a lot of risks to investors and the financial system and it is important that we address the concerns and find a way forward,” said Kihumba.
The three day workshop themed: “The Growing Influence of Alternative Investments; with focus on Crypto-currencies and FX Online” will host international and local subject matter experts.
Among the topics of discussions lined up include, the role of alternative investments in enhancing mobilization of financial capital for economic development, future role of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in entrenchment of alternative investments, global Forex Online Trading: principles and practise.
Other areas of deliberations will include CMA regulations on forex online trading, overview of alternative investments, challenges, REITs and other Asset Based Securities. The workshop will also cover how to build a sucessful practise generating high income and profitability for their clients as well as how to make a market.
The workshop targets investment officers, forex online traders, custodians and bankers, investment bankers and stockbrokers, fund managers, transaction advisers, real estate practitioners and policy makers among others.
The workshop is the first continuous professional development (CPD) event organized by ICIFA for the financial sector in the country and the region.