October 15 would be a day remembered in the history of cryptocurrencies in Uganda and Africa as Binance announced the launch of its fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda. The exchange will be the first to provide BTC and ETH pairs with local currency, the Ugandan shilling.
More cryptocurrency pairs with Ugandan shilling to be added in coming months
Binance Uganda is the first fiat-crypto exchange launched by Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by trade volume. Built on top of technology developed by Binance, Binance Uganda is capable of processing 1.4 million transactions per second and will feature 24/7 live customer support.
The exchange will initially support trading Ugandan Shillings (UGX) with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), with more trading pairs to be added. Users are exempt from trading fees during the first month.
“We are extremely proud to officially launch our first fiat-crypto exchange in Uganda,” said Wei Zhou, CFO at Binance. “We have been diligently preparing for this exchange with our local partners since our team first visited Uganda in April 2018. 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.”
Binance is the world’s biggest digital currency exchange, with the 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. The country of 44 million people is home to various blockchain conferences, associations, and communities, with support at Cabinet level.
The Binance team have also tapped the popular messaging platform of Telegram, to provide a chat group where new users can ask questions regarding registrations and other customer related issues.
Investors in Africa have cheered Binance’s move into Uganda. Michael Kimani, a leading Kenyan crypto proponent, said “This is great news!” as he tweeted,
This is great news!
Will spark a race across African countries on setting up a favorable environment for cryptocurrency trading against African currencies
muhimu for cross border trade, intra african trade, online payments, remittances, trading, investing speculation https://t.co/mjV48DwoH8
— Michael Kimani (@pesa_africa) October 15, 2018
Blockchain Africa also highlighted that this move of Binance is actually creating employment opportunities in Uganda. This is the tweet,
Great to see the world’s largest #cryptocurrency exchange, @Binance creating much needed employment opportunities for #Uganda’s youth in #blockchain! #BlockchainInAfrica #Africa https://t.co/FcQqCaVo7k pic.twitter.com/mtWWB1Ai7b
— Blockchain Africa (@BlockchainZA) August 21, 2018
Uganda, as a nation, has had a mixed view on cryptocurrencies. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has spoken positively about blockchain technology – but not cryptocurrencies. He told the Africa Blockchain conference organized 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.
Now with 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.
Will this move by Binance open doors to crypto trading in Africa? Do let us know your views on the same.