Reflections

Zimbabwe: Coups and Cryptocurrencies

Nov 17, 2017 | 23:30 GMT
A bitcoin exchange in Zimbabwe showed a spike of activity following the detention of President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace.

A look at how a Zimbabwean cryptocurrency exchange functioned during the recent military action against President Robert Mugabe may offer clues about how such markets will operate during future crises.

(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

As most of the world focuses on the political implications of Zimbabwe's coup, a select group of analysts and technology watchers are scrutinizing the effects of the government upset on cryptocurrencies in developing nations. Directly after the Zimbabwean military took control of Harare and placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest, the price of bitcoin on Zimbabwe's sole exchange surged as demand for the currency spiked. The dynamic shows the value of cryptocurrencies in times of extreme political instability and portends a change in how Africa's elites protect and move their assets, which could have myriad implications for the region's economy....

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