Bitcoin has become a significant issue of contention among regulators, which has led to further confusion among the general public. The question as to whether or not bitcoin is legal or illegal in your jurisdiction must have certainly crossed your mind.
In this article, we explore bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulation in Ghana.
Is Bitcoin Legal or illegal in Ghana?
Bitcoin is neither legal or illegal in Ghana. Instead, it’s an unregulated financial tool. Nevertheless, regulators have expressed negative sentiments about the technology, making it a very complicated question to answer.
So let’s get into the details, shall we!
First, we have to understand why it seems so hard for regulators to make laws on bitcoin.
Bitcoin operates in a deregulated ecosystem, which means that no central authority exists that can take full responsibility for the existence of bitcoin and action on the network.
This is because Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an unknown developer called Satoshi Nakamoto. To read about the history of bitcoin, read this article:
Further, Bitcoin was built in a way that does not usually require any personal information for creating accounts or making payments.
This is a direct contrast to the banking sector, which is heavy on personal data and tracking.
Regardless, several jurisdictions have found ways to regulate Bitcoin (cryptocurrency), making it compliant with existing financial standards.
Ghana hasn’t settled on regulation for bitcoin yet. The Bank of Ghana is the body responsible for financial control in Ghana. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also plays a supporting role.
Both regulators haven’t produced any document concerning bitcoin regulation (As of 10/01/20). They have both released statements on the technology over the years.
The Bank of Ghana (BOG) has asked the general public to be cautious about the usage of bitcoin in payments and as an investment vehicle.
The central bank said it “has taken notice of recent developments in the use, holding, and trading of virtual or digital currencies such as bitcoin” and “wishes to notify the general public that these activities in digital currency are currently not licensed under the Payments System Act 2003 (Act662).”
BOG also mentioned that it is looking at regulations for digital payments according to a report by JoyNews.
The Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) of Ghana also informed the general public that investing in bitcoin will be at their own risk.
“The SEC wishes to inform the general and investing public that none of these Cryptocurrencies is recognized as a currency or legal tender in Ghana….. Members of the general public who are investing or intend to invest in such currencies or assets may be doing so at their own risk and can in no way be protected under the Securities law regime in Ghana”.
Calls For Regulation of Bitcoin in Ghana
There have been several calls for bitcoin regulation in Ghana. The most recent and prominent request for regulation happened on the floor of parliament in 2019. Member of Parliament, Ama Pomaa Boateng, asked for regulation to decrease the number of illegitimate schemes in the industry.
“Mr. Speaker, in today’s digital economy, there’s an urgent need for members of this House to expand our knowledge and pioneer legislation that recognizes the blockchain technology and virtual currencies,” she said.
The vice president of Group Nduom, Papa-Wassa Chiefy Nduom, asked the Government of Ghana to consider bitcoin as a national investment to save the economy.
Will you get arrested for using bitcoin in Ghana?
Yes and no. There is no public record of people getting arrested in Ghana for just using bitcoin. If you should use bitcoin for an illegal activity based on the laws of the state, you will be arrested.
At this point, you are not being arrested for using bitcoin, but instead, you are being arrested for committing a criminal offense; it just happens that you used bitcoin during the process.
This is certainly not legal advice. It’s an educational piece that seeks to provide information. If you are about to embark on a venture that you aren’t sure of, you should consult a lawyer.