Nairobi-based bitcoin trading platform BitPesa has partnered with Airtel to offer bitcoin payments and trading services in the country, barely three months after Safaricom terminated M-Pesa links to the firm.
BitPesa indicates on its website that it is offering bitcoin payment and trading services in four African countries including Kenya (through Airtel), in Uganda (Airtel and MTN), Tanzania (Airtel and M-Pesa) and Nigeria through Quickteller and Paga.
It is not clear whether the deal with Airtel was signed with its Indian parent group or with the Kenya office.
The Business Daily could not establish the nature of the partnership between BitPesa and Airtel, with Elizabeth Rossiello, chief executive of the bitcoin trading platform, saying she could not comment on the matter at this point.CBK warned that holders of the bitcoin currency did not have any legal recourse if they lost their money.
Although the CBK advisory did not outlaw the use of digital currencies, the warning handed Safaricom grounds to severe contracts with providers that linked its M-Pesa platform to the currencies.
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore told the Business Daily in an earlier interview that the firm will not agree to have bitcoin-related transactions on its M-Pesa system unless the virtual currency is authorised by the banking sector regulator.
“We’re in a very precarious position as a successful mobile money transfer system. We cannot afford to compromise it (M-Pesa) or any other mobile money system and we have to work with CBK, which is clear in its regulations,” said Mr Collymore.