The African country of Uganda may be regulating bitcoin and other virtual currencies shortly. According to a new report from the United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) the group is giving guidance on the regulation of virtual currencies within the region.
Uganda’s Roundtable Discusses Regulating Virtual Currencies
This past July UNAFRI had its first roundtable discussion in Naguru, Kampala, concerning regulatory policies for digital currency transactions. Dr. Maureen Mapp of the University of Birmingham Law School, the Central Bank of Uganda, and UNAFRI took part in the event.
The focus of the roundtable was meant to create virtual currency awareness in Uganda and “effective ways with which to regulate this new form of cryptocurrency.”
Attendees of the Kampala event were members of academia, parliament, the insurance sector, the Chamber of Commerce, and other regulatory bodies. Panelists who spoke during the event include Bitreco Limited — a Ugandan Bitcoin exchange, UNAFRI, Uganda Police Electronic Countermeasures Department, and more.
Dr. Mapp detailed the main people in the Bitcoin space, companies, miners, and users involved with cryptocurrencies. More importantly, Dr. Mapp mentioned how blockchain technology removed third party intermediaries and could offer certain levels of financial inclusion. Furthermore, she presented the survey she conducted for the Commonwealth Secretariat back in 2015. Other topics included Darknet Markets and the Michell Espinoza’s case — believed to be one of the first bitcoin money laundering prosecutions.
UNAFRI Asks: How Should State Involvement Arise From Peer-to-Peer Frameworks?
The presentation concluded with a few questions raised about the use of virtual currencies such as:
Are virtual currencies a currency, a commodity or security; taxable property, a negotiable instrument or bill of exchange, or some other digital entity?— Should the state protect the rights and interests arising from this peer to peer transaction?— If so which rights and interests should be considered: property rights, contractual rights, economic rights, transactional or any other right?
The UNAFRI report said the next roundtable event will include a variety of stakeholders and lawmakers. Participants in the first event agreed to develop “instructive guidance underpinned by principles.” Principles will be provided by financial regulators, academia, and members of the banking community. Additionally, attendees will form a think-tank focusing on expert knowledge and to generate research about virtual currencies.
“The following draft technological; policy; legislative; investigatory, prosecutorial and adjudicatory principles associated with the regulation of virtual currencies,” says the report.
Bitcoin Use Is Increasing in Africa, and Uganda Could Be the First to Set Regulatory Guidelines
It will be interesting to see what forms out of this UNAFRI roundtable event. If Uganda prepares legislative frameworks and regulatory policy, it will be one of the first African countries to move in this direction. The report noted there is a strong popularity for decentralized currencies and transaction levels are rising in Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and others.
The report mentioned that exchanges such as Igot and the Kitiwa exchange have been seeing significantly higher volumes. With this rise in use, UNAFRI and local authorities believe it’s necessary to start regulatory discussions. The report will be hosted on the University of Birmingham Law School website and UNAFRI website to create awareness concerning these emerging technologies.
What do you think about Uganda regulating virtual currencies like Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, UNAFRI, and Pixabay.
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