Malawians warned on cryptocurrency


Dean of Law at the University of Malawi Dr Sunduzwayo Madise has warned Malawians to tread carefully when transacting on the new form of money which has emerged in the world called cryptocurrency.

The warning comes hot on the heels of media reports in Lilongwe where a woman was nabbed by the police for defrauding fellow citizens in a cryptocurrency transaction gone bad.

FIA Director (Centre) sharing notes with Madise during the seminar

Mfundisi as Madise is fondly addressed made the remarks during a high level intellectual discussion dubbed staff-students seminar organized by the commercial law clinic at the Faculty of Law—Chancellor College— on Thursday.

The seminar, whose guest of honour was the Director of Financial and Intelligence Authority (FIA) in the country, Atuweni Juwayeyi-Agbermodji, was held under the theme: ‘Crypto currencies and financial crimes: Opportunities and Challenges.’

Making his presentation titled “Onto the Silk Road where anything and everything goes: the dark side of crypto currencies”, Madise started by explaining what cryptocurrency means.

He said it is a decentralised virtual currency, based on a mathematical formula that is protected by cryptography adding that those who are involved in these transactions do so anonymously.

Madise also pointed out that regulators, like the Reserve Bank of Malawi, like to deny that cryptocurrency is money prefer calling it crypto assets.

However, the law lecturer demonstrated that cryptocurrency has the same characteristics as fiat money saying it is a medium of exchange, it’s a store of value and also that it has unit of account.

The Dean while urging central bankers & regulatory agencies to step up their game and find a way to regulate crypto currency acknowledged that it’s a complex exercise to execute.

It is against this background that he sounded a warning to Malawians to be careful when dealing in such transactions saying there are cases where the so called crypto-currency is fraudulently lost in their computer system or indeed cases where citizens are duping one another like it happened in Lilongwe.

On her part, the FIA director, Atuweni Juwayeyi-Agbermodji, in her presentation titled “crypto-currencies and financial crimes: opportunities and challenges”, said it is important for Malawians to have such discussions as, cryptocurrency, being a global phenomenon, is already affecting us.

In an interview on condition of anonymity, one of the attendees of the seminar confessed saying “I found this crypto-currency discussion difficult to understand.”

He continued: “Of course I now have a basic idea of what it is about but honestly, I can’t properly explain to a friend how this whole thing works. Therefore, I can’t dare explore this terrain for now. As they said, the so called crypto-currency is volatile and people transact at owner’s risk. Clearly, this not safe for now.”

Earlier, third year law students Arthur Ndala and Misheck Jere jointly made their presentation titled “A critical analysis of the place of criminal compensation in financial crimes: a case study of money laundering under Malawian law.

Kingstone Chirwa and Lonjezo Banda, third year law students as well, also weighed in with their presentation titled “Cryptocurrency as a tool for tax evasion: The need for legal intervention.”

Another pair of Andrew Umali and Chimango Nyasulu also laid foundation of the topic in their presentation titled ‘Self-regulation of crypto currencies and how it can shape Malawi’s regulatory framework.”

The pair of Daniel Sato and Ryan Chipompha pair also offered another perspective in their presentation titled “Legalconomics of crypto currencies and responsiveness to global trends in Malawi.”

Students-Staff Seminars at Chancellor College especially from the Faculty of Law are the norm of the day. These are platforms where burning issues affecting our country are put under microscope for discussion from an intellectual point of view.

Story by Decenzo Banda