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Understand Namibia's Crypto Assets Bill

Namibia's Digital Assets and Cryptocurrency Regulation Bill. Namibia has joined other nations in embracing the  digital economy  and ove...

Namibia's Digital Assets and Cryptocurrency Regulation Bill.
Namibia has joined other nations in embracing the digital economy and oversight of cryptocurrencies by passing a bill in the National Assembly. The bill was initiated by the lower house of parliament on June 22, the aim is to regulate digital assets, mainly cryptocurrencies, and other virtual assets in the country.

In the absence of regulation to guide the operations of crypto service providers, digital currency adoption such as Bitcoin and others has seen an impressive surge in Africa and Namibia was no exception. Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa ranked highly according to Chainalysis’ Global Crypto Adoption Index as people flock to invest their money in the virtual asset class to hedge their wealth from galloping inflation rates. 

On the notable date of 17th September 2017, during the peak of the major cryptocurrency boom and the rise of initial coin offerings (ICOs) worldwide, the Bank of Namibia took a stand by prohibiting financial institutions from engaging in digital currency transactions. 

This move reflects the authorities' dedication to ensuring the safety and stability of the financial landscape amidst the rapidly evolving world of cryptocurrencies. The Bank of Namibia claimed that virtual currency exchanges have no place in the country, under the Exchange Control Act of 1966. The Bank of Namibia also announced that merchants in the country may not accept cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, as payment for goods and services.

"In addition to the bank not recognizing virtual currencies as legal tender in Namibia, it also does not recognize it to be a foreign currency that can be exchanged for local currency. This is because virtual currencies are neither issued nor guaranteed by a central bank nor backed by any commodity."

The Bank of Namibia mainly cited previous reports by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in its position paper. Among the familiar points that it raised, are the possible use of digital currencies in money laundering activities, the perceived shortcomings of a currency without support by a government or a commodity, and the potential benefits of the cryptocurrencies’ underlying distributed ledger technology, or Blockchain technology to the financial system. 

The Crypto Regulation Bill

The new bill will be enforced by the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) under the Amendment Act of 2023, which empowers the Namibia financial institutions including banks to oversee and supervise the activities of crypto service providers. It brings much-needed legal clarity to the previously unregulated cryptocurrency landscape in Namibia.

The legislation proposed bill intends to establish a legal framework for licensing and regulating crypto activities and combating financial crimes. It also seeks to appoint a new regulatory authority body in Namibia that will be responsible for supervising these virtual asset providers and crypto traders. The main objectives include ensuring consumer protection, preventing market abuse, and mitigating the risks of money laundering, the financing of terrorism, scams, and proliferation activities associated with digital asset markets. The law also covers incidental matters related to these monetary objectives.

According to Science Techniz's observation, the bill is now awaiting official publication before coming into effect. Iipumbu Shiimi, Namibia’s Minister of Finance and Public Enterprises, reportedly confirmed the establishment of a regulatory body to supervise and grant licenses to crypto exchanges in the country. The non-compliant providers could reportedly face penalties of up to 10 million Namibian dollars ($671,572) as a fine and 10 years in jail. However, the Bank of Namibia maintains its position that cryptocurrencies do not hold legal tender status in the country yet, upon the pending regulatory body.

This new bill aims to regulate digital assets and cryptocurrency activities in Namibia.
In a move aimed at providing clarity and a legal framework to the burgeoning crypto industry, Namibia changed its old status and now decided to regulate crypto-related activities within its borders. In the report, Kazembire Zemburuka, the Bank of Namibia’s director of strategic communications and international relations, stated the bank’s position, indicating that once the associated risks of innovations like virtual assets are better managed, the bank will assess and make a decision regarding their acceptance within the financial system. The legislation marks an important milestone in the country's efforts to balance innovation and consumer protection in the rapidly evolving world of digital finance.

Key Provisions of the Bill

Licensing and Registration: Crypto service providers, including cryptocurrency exchanges and custodial services, are required to obtain licenses from the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA). The licensing process involves meeting specific regulatory requirements related to security, governance, and financial integrity.

Establishes a regulatory body responsible for overseeing cryptocurrency activities in Namibia. Any individual or entity engaged in the issuance, trading, or exchange of digital assets must obtain appropriate licenses from this authority. The licensing process will include Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures.

Market Integrity: To ensure fair and transparent market practices, the bill introduces regulations to prevent market manipulation, insider trading, and other fraudulent activities in the crypto industry. It aims to create an environment that promotes confidence among investors and businesses engaging in cryptocurrency-related activities.

Consumer Protection: The bill focuses on safeguarding the interests of consumers by imposing obligations on crypto service providers to protect customer funds and personal data. Outlines measures to protect consumers against fraud, scams, and other unethical practices related to cryptocurrencies. This includes implementing robust security measures, adhering to anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations, and conducting customer due diligence.

Crypto Taxation: It defines the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies in Namibia and provides guidelines for reporting crypto-related income, capital gains, and other tax obligations for individuals, trading exchanges, and crypto-affiliated businesses.

AML/CFT Measures: The bill aligns with international standards by including provisions for combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Establishes a regulatory body responsible for overseeing cryptocurrency activities in Namibia. The licensing process required Crypto service providers to implement strong Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures that monitor and report suspicious transactions.

Prohibited Activities: Identifies activities that are prohibited within Namibia's cryptocurrency ecosystem, such as operating unlicensed exchanges, promoting Ponzi schemes, and engaging in fraudulent ICOs. The bill may explicitly forbid any involvement in Ponzi schemes or pyramid schemes that rely on new investors' funds to pay returns to earlier investors. Such schemes are unsustainable and often result in significant financial losses for participants. The bill may explicitly prohibit the operation of cryptocurrency exchanges without obtaining the required licenses from the regulatory authority.

The Assets Bill may address privacy concerns by prohibiting the unauthorized use or sharing of individuals' personal information without their consent, ensuring data protection and user privacy within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. The bill may outline measures to protect users from unauthorized access to their digital wallets or cryptocurrency accounts, imposing penalties on those involved in hacking or unauthorized account access.

The Assets Bill may address the dissemination of false or misleading information that could influence cryptocurrency prices or deceive investors. This measure aims to prevent market manipulation and promote transparent and fair trading practices. The bill may regulate the sale of cryptocurrency tokens that qualify as securities and require businesses to obtain appropriate authorization from relevant securities regulators.

Innovation: This section encourages blockchain development and cryptocurrency innovation within Namibia by providing incentives to startups, research institutions, and businesses working in the blockchain space, the government aims to stimulate economic growth, technological advancement, and job creation. Here are some potential incentives that could be included in this section:

  1. Research Grants: The government may offer research grants to academic institutions, research centers, and technology companies conducting studies and projects related to blockchain technology. These grants can help support cutting-edge research and development in the field.
  2. Incubation Programs: Namibia could establish incubation programs specifically tailored for blockchain and cryptocurrency startups. These programs could offer funding, mentorship, office space, and access to industry networks to nurture new ventures. To build a skilled workforce in the blockchain space, the bill could include provisions for skill development programs, workshops, and training initiatives to educate professionals about blockchain technology.
  3. Investment Funds: The government might set up investment funds dedicated to supporting blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. These funds could provide capital to promising startups and businesses in the sector. To attract blockchain companies to establish their operations in Namibia, the government may offer tax benefits such as reduced corporate taxes or tax holidays for a specified period.
  4. Public-Private Partnerships: Encouraging collaboration between the public and private sectors can facilitate knowledge transfer and resource-sharing, leading to more significant advancements in blockchain technology. The bill could mandate government agencies to explore and adopt blockchain technology in various administrative processes, promoting its mainstream use and providing a real-world use case.
  5. International Collaboration: Encouraging collaboration with international blockchain communities, organizations, and projects can foster knowledge exchange and create opportunities for Namibian innovators to participate in the global blockchain ecosystem.
The passage of this bill signifies Namibia's proactive approach to adapting to the international digital economy and recognizing the potential benefits and risks associated with cryptocurrencies and virtual assets.  By regulating the fintech industry, Namibia aims to create an environment that fosters innovation while mitigating potential threats such as fraud, money laundering, and consumer exploitation.


The introduction of clear regulations is expected to boost investor confidence and attract reputable crypto service providers to the Namibian market. It can also facilitate the integration of blockchain technology into various sectors in the country, including financial technology, supply chain management, and governance.

Furthermore, the regulated crypto industry in Namibia may pave the way for increased participation of local businesses and individuals in the global digital economy.  It could encourage startups and entrepreneurs to explore blockchain-based solutions, thereby contributing to economic growth and technological advancement in the country.

Namibia's efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies and virtual assets demonstrate the government's commitment to strike a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring consumer protection. By providing legal clarity and oversight, the country aims to create a favorable environment for the growth of the crypto industry and fintech as a whole. It is very interesting indeed to observe the development and implementation of these regulations and their impact on Namibia's economy in the coming years.