Consumer protection in Kenya in the age of decentralized virtual currency

Kibwage, Caroline Buyaki
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Strathmore University
Virtual currencies are an outcome of technological progression and the evolution of money both in form and function. The increased popularity of virtual currencies is by dint of digital confluence of markets from all over the world. The uptake and adoption of decentralized virtual currencies in Kenya continue to grow and there are significant risks associated with their uptake and adoption. This study makes the case for consumer protection regulation with respect to decentralized virtual currencies by employing a doctrinal approach. The study considers the regulatory provisions in Kenya, South Africa and Mexico and outline the risks posed to Kenyans by the regulatory gaps. The key findings are that the consumer protection regulatory framework in Kenya is insufficient with respect to decentralized virtual currencies. The legal ambiguities expose Kenyan decentralised virtual currencies users to further risks. Further, consideration of South African and Mexican regimes showed the varied approaches to consumer protection in decentralized virtual currencies: South African takes a limited approach while Mexico, though it does not recognize it as legal tender, allows transactions with approved decentralized virtual currencies therefore offering a layer of consumer protection. The main recommendation offered is the reviewing of existing consumer protection provisions and other secondary provisions in Kenya to encompass decentralised virtual currencies and ensuring extraterritorial cooperation to ensure judicial compatibility.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Laws Degree (International Financial Law and Regulation) at Strathmore University
Virtual currency, Consumer protection, Technological progression