Egypt is to get its first cryptocurrency exchange in September when Bitcoin Egypt prepares to go live.
Offering trading in the country’s currency Egyptian pounds, the exchange is a first mover in a country which lacks any form of regulatory framework for digital currency.
Bitcoin Egypt co-founder Rami Khalil told Reuters today:
"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.”
Like multiple economies around the world, Egypt’s citizens are struggling in the face of a rapidly declining national currency. The Egyptian pound has dropped by 50 percent since Nov. 2016, a tale repeated in other politically unstable countries such as Venezuela.
Egyptian Bitcoin enthusiasts have faced significant barriers when trying to purchase digital currency. Because of the weakness of Egypt’s currency, most foreign exchanges do not offer trading pairs between Bitcoin and the Egyptian pound. Bitcoin Egypt co-founder Omar Abdelrasoul explained to local news resource Albawaba:
“We got the idea after we saw that there were lots of people in Egypt who wanted to trade cryptocurrencies but they were a hard time doing it on international exchanges as they were unable to buy coins using EGP.”
Authorities have taken a hardline stance towards the nascent technology this year, issuing a statement suggesting - somewhat ironically - that dealing in any currency other than pound would cause “instability.”