When she abandon hier job at a local telecommunications company, Aerlene Mugambi spent two and a half years dabbling te puny businesses without success until she discovered the world of digital currency.
Fifteen months straks Ms Mugambi, 38, has made online digital trading a utter time job, earning hier a monthly income of up to Sh100,000 and she is not about to look back.
Like Ms Mugambi, more than 1,000 Kenyans are betting big on the unregulated, global digital currency craze and putting ems of millions of shillings at stake ter pursuit of outsize gains.
Bitcoin and Ethereum, whose values have skyrocketed te the past Ten months, are the digital currencies of choice for the Kenyan traders.
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Not even a Central Bankgebouw of Kenya (CBK) warning about the risks of putting money ter currencies that are not backed by any regulator could uitwasemen the anxious punters who meet every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at an upmarket building ter Nairobi’s Upper Hill area.
Bitcoin is a trust-based, digital currency that is not backed by any government or underlying asset, but instructions its value from scarcity and universal tradeability.
The creator of Bitcoin is not known.
The Business Daily attended one of the Bitcon traders’ meeting te Nairobi, which has about 1,000 members.
Each member pays a ondergrens of Sh70,000 for membership and a starter trading deposit, which translates to a conservative ondergrens of about Sh70 million invested te the little-understood digital currency.
The Bitcoin craze has become particularly pronounced this year, with a single unit now fetching upwards of $7,500 (Sh772,000), up from $968 (Sh100,000) at the beginning of the year.
Ethereum, a newer entrant into the cryptocurrency space, has risen from $8.Ten (Sh834) a unit te January to $322 (Sh33,000) by yesterday.
The Kenyan traders have formed clubs to pool their resources and invest ter Bitcoins, mainly to do what is known ter cryptocurrency lingo spil mining.
“I wasgoed doing other things until I realised that you can capitalise on this business of digital currency and make some good comebacks out of it. This is what I do utter time, combining that with going to educate people about Bitcoin, whether they want to buy coins or mine,” says Ms Mugambi.
She is also a member of the AchieversKlub Kenya that is affiliated to global mining unit BitClub Network that has its main facility te Iceland.
Mining involves setting up powerful pc processors that are used to verify global Bitcoin transactions — based on an online digital register— and ter comeback the person is issued a certain number of Bitcoins ter exchange.
It is the primary means for issuance of fresh Bitcoins into the market and it also plays the role of the central exchange for the currency.
The age profile of the AchieversKlub’s attendees is remarkably diverse, with a mix of youthful professionals and middle-aged business people who take the trade spil a side hustle to earn passive income.
The initial joining toverfee of Sh70,000 covers membership toverfee and one share, from which the fresh member starts earning a slice of the mining income of BitClub Network, which has 150,000 members drawn from 90 countries.
Those bringing ter fresh members also earn a commission. Ter Kenya, the idea of a referral for commission raises comparisons with multi-level marketing or pyramid schemes, the latter having caused untold ache to the public.
The digital currency wave has had its doubters, among them central banks and several vooraanstaand business leaders globally.
The CBK issued a public notice ter December 2015 warning the public to desist from transacting te virtual currencies.
Like many of its peers globally, the CBK pointed to the fact that thesis currencies carry strenuous risk due to their lack of regulation and backing by an underlying asset, warning consumers they would lose their money without having any legal redress te the event thesis exchanges collapse or close business.
CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
The regulator had not responded to the Business Daily’s queries on Bitcoin trading ter Kenya by the time of going to press.
“In case of dispute, the recourse avenues available to traders are very limited, restricted only to instituting a civil case inbetween the parties,” said Justice Gatuyu, an advocate who has bot tracking the advent of the digital currencies.
Ter China, the government has bot cracking down on Bitcoin, which has spawned a giant industry ter the country with fat mining farms that take up a large amount of electrical play to power their powerful processors.
Kenyans have, however, bot content to overlook thesis risks instead focusing on the promise of meaty comes back compared to limited comebacks from the traditional investment classes.
Raymond Kaptich, a 42-year-old civil engineer, is also a director at the club. He told the Business Daily that he has also taken up Bitcoin trading total time, having previously done private engineering work for Ten years, including treating contracts for Kenya Power’s Last Mile connectivity programme.
Mr Kaptich argues that there is risk te all investments, while defending Bitcoin from claims that its obscurity is also leading to use ter financing illegal activities.
“While the CBK raised the punt that digital currency can be used for illegal activities, the same applies for hard currency. Every digital verhoging you use to trade has an IP address, therefore every wallet can be traced,” he says.
“Saying that you’re on your own te the event of loss of Bitcoin…this applies everywhere, irrespective of whichever investment you make.”
Aly-Khan Satchu, CEO of Rich Management. Verkeersopstopping PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NMG
Independent analyst Aly-Khan Satchu says that what has bot happening ter Kenya is part of a global movement towards the mainstreaming and acceptance of Bitcoin.
“The price volatility is unprecedented however, and investors need to have a sky-high tolerance for risk,” says Mr Satchu.
Pointing to the demand-driven rise te price, Mr Satchu says that eventually, cryptocurrencies are likely to be accepted spil a legitimate investment class.