On Oct. 15, Binance announced the launch of its fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda. The world’s biggest digital currency exchange said users in the East African country are now able to complete full account verification starting immediately. Deposits and withdrawals of the local fiat currency, the Ugandan shilling, start on Wednesday.
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Exchange to Initially Support Trades Between Ugandan Shilling and BTC, ETH Only
“We are extremely proud to officially launch our first fiat-crypto exchange in Uganda,” said Wei Zhou, chief financial officer at Binance, in a press statement. “We have been diligently preparing for this exchange with our local partners since our team first visited Uganda in April 2018.”
Zhou also stated that: “This is only the first step in our efforts to use blockchain technology to support sustainable economic development in Africa, and we look forward to bringing more innovations to the region.”
The exchange will initially support trading of the local shilling unit with bitcoin core (BTC) and ethereum (ETH), Binance said. More trading pairs are to be added in the coming months, it detailed, adding that “users are exempt from trading fees during the first month.” The Ugandan subsidiary is capable of processing 1.4 million transactions per second, with 24-hour client support.
Binance is the world’s biggest digital currency exchange, with 24-hour volume of about $1.97 billion worth of BTC alone, according to data from Coinmarketcap. The company has revealed plans to open fiat-capable exchanges in Liechtenstein, Malta and Singapore. Until now, the exchange had been optimized for crypto-to-crypto trades only.
In Uganda, cryptocurrency and blockchain adoption and development continue to see growth. That’s despite warnings by the Bank of Uganda against the use of unregulated currencies in the form of bitcoin and other digital coins. The country of 44 million people is home to various blockchain conferences, associations and communities, with support at Cabinet level.
African Investors Welcome Binance’s Ugandan Presence
Investors in Africa have cheered Binance’s move into Uganda. “This is great news!” Michael Kimani, a leading Kenyan crypto proponent, tweeted.
“(It) will spark a race across African countries on setting up [a] favorable environment for cryptocurrency trading against African currencies. Muhimu (vital) for cross border trade, intra-African trade, online payments, remittances, trading, investing…” he wrote.
Binance’s presence in the East African nation is expected to boost financial inclusion in a country where only 33 percent of citizens use registered financial accounts. But this is a place where bitcoin looks likely to flourish unhindered. Some shops and restaurants in Kampala – Uganda’s capital – now accept bitcoin as a means of payment.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has spoken positively about blockchain technology – but not cryptocurrencies. He told the Africa Blockchain conference organised by the Blockchain Association of Uganda in Kampala in May of the need “to look for a new technology of enabling things to move faster and new systems that go with it.”
His central bank governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile had apparently spoken to the contrary in an earlier address to the same conference. Mutebile accused blockchain technology of lacking the necessary support to sustain a currency. But Ugandans, mostly professionals, have taken a particular liking to virtual money, bitcoin especially.
What do you think about Binance’s move into Uganda? Let us know in the comments section below.
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