The recent change of government in Zimbabwe was greeted by wild jubilation inside the nation’s Parliament as well as on the streets of the capital – Harare. Some observers have noted that the evident joy displayed by the crowds was perhaps a bit premature (to put it softly) as the apparent palace coup that took place last week is by no means a guarantee of better things to come. To once again put it mildly, the man slated to replace the outgoing President Mugabe – Emmerson Mnangagwa – severely lacks any liberal-democratic credentials, himself being a longtime member Mugabe’s corrupt ruling elite and a well know grafter and human rights abuser. But it is precisely this confluence of political and economic turmoil that continues to make Zimbabwe one of the foremost laboratories for cryptocurrency.
Dash – the cryptocurrency focused on user experience and privacy, has recently announced the launching of KuvaCash – a $550,000 project that will be funded directly from the Dash treasury and aims to provide Zimbabwe with its first-ever localized peer-to-peer cryptocurrency payment system that is accessible to anyone with a phone-number-based messaging system. The project has declared a set of very lofty objectives for itself including managing Zimbabwe’s ballooning inflation, repairing its collapsed financial system, and reviving its moribund national economy.
Presently, Zimbabweans try to use the U.S. dollar to settle everyday transactions, but US sanctions that President Mugabe managed to get placed on his country mean that every dollar has to be smuggled into the country illegally – dramatically limiting the amount of physical dollars in circulation and creating a severe cash shortage. The bills that remain in circulation are proving unable to cope with the mechanical stress of overuse and are showing a significant amount of wear and tear. Most Zimbabweans complain that the remaining bills are physically quite dirty. People are scrubbing bills and hanging them up on clotheslines to dry, selling the cleaner bills at a 10-20% markup.
Scheduled to commence in the 2nd quarter (Q2) of 2018, KuvaCash will introduce Zimbabweans to their first, very-own, peer-to-peer cryptocurrency payment service that will allow them to exchange their digital currency into US dollars at any time, reducing transaction fees, and providing much needed liquidity. While it is too early to tell whether Dash’s aspirations for Zimbabwe’s economy can be effectively realized, the people of Zimbabwe seem keen to try anything that might have the potential to help them take a fresh breath of life, after nearly four decades of comrade Mugabe’s boot on their throat.