Zimbabwe’s Bitcoin ATM – the first and only one in the country – has been reported to be unusable, just as demand for Bitcoin there is at an all-time high.
Golix, the exchange responsible for installing the machine at their office in Harare, has been embroiled in a high courts battle since May 2018 with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The central bank had ordered all banks in the country to sever ties with Golix and other exchanges, halting the facilitation of crypto trading. Ultimately, this forced exchanges, including Golix, to cease operations, with bank accounts frozen and large amounts of money owed to customers.
The Zimbabwean Dollar was officially demonetized in 2015 and Zimbabwe no longer has a native fiat currency. This crippled the economy for a time, with people and companies losing entire life savings. At the peak of the inflation crisis, there was 98% inflation rate every day, with inflation rates annually reaching hundreds of billions of percentage increases.
Now Zimbabweans use the US dollar, euro and other major global fiat currencies. They also use some silver and gold. Bitcoin has also been in demand, with average prices in Zimbabwe frequently much higher than average global prices, likely due to its decentralization and resistance to inflation. Citizens likely find these aspects to be highly desirable, given their recent experience with fiat currency.
Golix is hoping that it will have success in Zimbabwe’s High Court and overturn the crypto banking ban, which would allow it to start exchanging crypto for fiat again, a necessary mechanism so they can channel Bitcoin into Zimbabwe. No court date has been set yet, however.
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