Zimbabwe may have taken a big leap backwards when the central bank banned banks from processing cryptocurrency transactions and payments although the country’s Golix exchange for cryptocurrencies is pressing ahead with its ICO despite the ban which has sparked widespread debate on social media. Bitcoin traders and investors in Zimbabwe are livid over the central bank’s decision to have banks stop all cryptocurrency payments processing.

Zimbabwe is battling foreign currency shortages and Bitcoin was slowly moving into the gap, with Golix installing a Bitcoin cash machine (ATM) in Harare.

“Thus far we are yet to receive instructions from our bank as to what will happen, if at all anything. Once we do, we will update,” wrote an official from the Golix crypto exchange platform in response to queries on Telegram from virtual currency investors and traders.

"Zimbabwe is battling foreign currency shortages and Bitcoin was slowly moving into the gap."

However, this was not enough to quell the growing disgruntlement over the central bank’s directive to banks in the country. Others joked that if Zimbabwe had banned cryptocurrency transaction processing by banks it was also possible that the country could even ban Facebook.

“RBZ can go hang, they are backward. The central bank is always focused on closing down developments and platforms,” fumed subscribers to various bitcoin and cryptocurrency social media groups in Zimbabwe.

Twitter users were equally ablaze with such sentiment, with most users saying the move was not sensible as it was coming at a time when the country is grappling with cash shortages. Other Twitter users said Zimbabwe was essentially scoring an own goal by preventing the banks from processing transactions around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

“LOL Can someone please tell me exactly how they intend to implement that. Especially when people have their life savings growing at 10x per year. Even an invasive search will turn up nothing. Politicians are so behind,” tweeted Brett Hoare.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said in a circular to finance institutions on Friday that it was banning banks from transactions involving cryptocurrencies in a bid to restore the integrity and safety of the country’s financial system.

“In order to safeguard the integrity, safety and soundness of the country’s financial system, and to protect the public in general, all financial institutions are hereby required to ensure that they do not use, trade, hold and/or transact in any way in virtual currencies,” the central bank said.

Following the uproar and rising concerns, Golix is pressing ahead with its own ICO to raise $32 million as it expands its operations across Afrika. Golix has already signed a partnership with a South African company.

“The GLX token, an Ethereum ERC-20 token, will be available for purchase from Monday 14 May 2018 on the Golix token sale website, tokensale.golix.com. Potential buyers can use their bitcoin (BTC) and/or ethereum (ETH) to buy the GLX token which has been priced at $0.05612 per GLX token,” said Nhlalwenhle Ngwenya from Golix.