Informal currency, Bangla Pesa, might see the light of day after the charges against its founders were dropped in Nairobi last week.
Arrested earlier this year due to possession of currency like notes and currency making materials, the Mombasa residents William Ruddick, Alfred Sigo Odhiambo, Emma Adhiambo Onyango, Paul Mwania Mwololo, Rose Auma Oloo and Caroline Dama Chirenga were released on bond of Sh50,000 each while Ruddick paid a cash bail of Sh100,000 and two sureties of Sh50,000 each.
After consultations with the Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecution Keriakor Tobiko dropped charges against them, something that pave way for the development of an informal currency which can be used across the country via mobile phones as Bangla Credits, the mobile units from Bangla Pesa.
As long as retailers accept Bangla Pesa, it wont be long when it takes over Bitcoins, which need an internet access to use and would not be most suited to pay bills in offline communities in Kenya. Bangla Pesa already had a Bangla Business Network (BBN) with over 200 members using the complementary currency to mediate trades. The community allowed its members to trade with each other without using the national currency as its local availability gave the slum community a stimulus to local business incubation and social service projects.
Users got paper-vouchers which they then passed from hand to hand as payment for goods and services. Mobile phone users would use Bangla-Pesa credits instead of Bangla Pesa notes. Bangla Credits were a kind of offline bitcoins with nothing to do with internet.
Like agency based networks, once a business is accepted into the Network through a process of finding four guarantors, it gets a Bangla-Pesa credit line.The businesses then pay a membership fee to the network in Bangla-Pesa for administration, marketing and community programs.
“By using the Bangla-Pesa to buy goods and services at fellow BBN member businesses, they also accept to sell their own goods and services for Bangla-Pesa. The amount of Bangla-Pesa in circulation is determined by the membership and targeted using baseline data, at an amount usable for daily transactions. This currency forms a buffer against fluctuations in the money supply due to remittances, weather, holidays, sending children to school, political turmoil and so on,” the non-profit writes.
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