Cryptocurrency adoption has been growing rapidly in Kenya over the past few years. In fact, the country is one of the top markets despite the currency operating as an unregulated digital currency.
Finder’s Cryptocurrency Adoption Index has now ranked Kenya 12th for cryptocurrency ownership out of 27 countries surveyed.
It revealed that 16% of Kenyan adult internet users, an estimated 4.8 million people in Kenya own cryptocurrency.
This is slightly higher than the global average of 15%. Cryptocurrency ownership in Kenya is however behind countries like Nigeria (21%) and Ghana (17%), but ahead of countries like Argentina, Mexico, and Venezuela (15% each) and Brazil (14%).
This is based on an online survey of 52,883 people across 27 countries.
The index measured the growth of cryptocurrencies worldwide through an ongoing survey of Internet users in the 27 countries.
Bitcoin is still the most popular coin to have at 9%, followed by Ethereum and Dogecoin at 3% each.
Vietnam has the most cryptocurrency owners (29%), followed by India and Australia (23% each), and Indonesia (22%). On the other end of the spectrum, Japan and the UK have the fewest crypto owners (6% each), followed by Germany (8%).
Bitcoin is probably the best-known name in the world of cryptocurrency, which is probably why an average of 39.1% of crypto owners globally said they had BTC in their wallets. As for Kenya, BTC ownership came in above the global average, with 54.7% of crypto owners saying they held BTC.
This places Kenya as the 4th out of 27 countries. Out of the five coins asked about in the survey (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Solana and Ripple), Bitcoin ranks as 1st choice for crypto owners in Kenya. Ethereum (ETH) ranks as Kenya’s 2nd choice for crypto with 22% of crypto owners holding Ethereum, which is below the global average of 24.4%. This places Kenya 16th for ETH ownership.
Of those in Kenya who own crypto, the survey found out that 57% are men and 43% are women – meaning that men are roughly 1.3 times as likely to own crypto than women. Kenya actually has the 11th-lowest male-dominated crypto market of the countries surveyed. Globally, the survey notes that men are on average 1.5 times more likely to hold crypto than women.
Crypto and government regulations in Africa
As we mentioned earlier, cryptocurrency operates as an unregulated digital currency and a number of African governments have previously issued warnings against investing in them. Last year, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) warned budding crypto investors to beware of the risks associated with digital assets.
EFCC said Nigerians are losing money to fraudulent investment schemes. It said citizens are majorly losing money to Bitcoin trading, forex, and Ponzi schemes.
“Investment in Bitcoin is a high-risk activity as the terrain is largely unregulated and prone to fraud,” an Agency spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren said.
In Kenya, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) last year maintained that Bitcoin is a form of unregulated digital currency that is not issued or guaranteed by any government or central bank.
According to CBK, in a circular shared last year, no entity is currently licensed to offer money remittance services and products in Kenya using virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
“This is to inform the public that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are not legal tender in Kenya and therefore no protection exists in the event that the platform that exchanges or holds the virtual currency fails or goes out of business,” the CBK circular read in part.
Despite this, the crypto economy in Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries continues to experience significant milestones mostly dominated by young people, with an average 56.1% of owners aged 18 to 34, according to Finder’s Cryptocurrency Adoption Index
In Kenya, those aged 18-34 dominate crypto ownership at 75.2%, while at 16%, 35-54 year-olds are the next most likely group to say they own crypto. Those aged 55+ come in last with 8.8%.
Africa remains the most promising region for the adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Marius Reitz, Luno’s General Manager for Africa, in a column published here on TechTrendsKE notes that Africa’s current position and prospects should still provide huge optimism that it remains the most promising region for the adoption of cryptocurrencies.
This he says can only be achieved through widespread crypto education.
According to Luno’s 2021 consumer research survey, 64% of Kenyans for example don’t invest in cryptocurrencies as they don’t simply understand them
‘’..it is vital crypto firms go the extra mile to ensure the right information is readily available,’’ he says.