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Egypt’s Central Bank Planning Its Official Cryptocurrency

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has been reported to be actively interested in setting up its own official cryptocurrency, according to local news outlet, Amwal Al Ghad.

A Hard Turn?

The Egyptian government has not been coy or shy on its harsh stance towards the concept of digital currencies and assets and has not failed to remind its citizens the country was not in support of the emerging industry.
When Bitcoin Egypt emerged in the middle of last year to provide a solution to a problem that was being faced by the majority of crypto enthusiasts in Egypt, there were concerns that the country’s strict policy could affect the crypto startup. Those doubts were aired by Ramil Kamil, the firm’s founder itself:

“We’re still waiting on the Egyptian government to set some kind of regulations […] Without any laws, Bitcoin is not legal money in Egypt. Cryptoassets are happening whether [the Egyptian government] joins in or not. And by not joining they’re missing out on a very big market.”

As of the time of writing, the firm’s website is currently offline and has ceased to be in operation in just over a year. The concerns that Kamil hoped Bitcoin Egypt would address seems to have finally nudged the Egyptian Finance Sector out of its obliviousness. The national currency, the Egyptian Pound (EGP) has lost more than 50 percent of its value in 2016, and the declines in the currency seem to be unabating. Like Venezuela, and other countries with emerging problems in their economy, Egypt has also considered digital currencies as a solution to its predicament.
Ayman Hussein, the sub-governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), would reveal on Sunday that feasibility studies were currently being carried out on the viability of the project, in a conference at Abu Dhabi. According to Hussein, the study is being done by notable international institutions deliberating the best form of execution: a digital currency exclusive to banks or meant only for access to both banks and customers.

Is the Bitcoin Haram?

One of the top clerics in Egypt had earlier labeled Bitcoin and other digital assets as not conformable with the teachings of Islam.  The government of Turkey has also shared similar sentiments, adding that the cryptocurrency’s use for terrorism funding makes it impure.
An Indonesian fintech startup has however shared similar views, concluding that the Bitcoin hard-proof concept makes it permissible under Sharia Law than normal conventional banking.

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