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15 Nov, 2017 13:19

Bitcoin surges to $13,500 in Zimbabwe after military coup & shortage of hard currency

Bitcoin surges to $13,500 in Zimbabwe after military coup & shortage of hard currency

Bitcoin is trading at $13,500 in Zimbabwe, at almost double the value of the cryptocurrency on international exchanges. Demand for bitcoin has surged dramatically in the cash-strapped African country after the military seized power on Wednesday.

According to the local exchange Golix, the price of bitcoin has risen almost 10 percent in Zimbabwe on news of the coup. The country also faces serious shortages of hard currency.

Zimbabwe hasn’t had its own currency since 2009 when hyperinflation wiped out the local dollar. In 2008, the central bank printed a 100 trillion note, and inflation topped 500 billion percent. Since then, Zimbabwe has been using the US dollar and South African rand, among other currencies.

In the last month, Golix saw $1 million worth of bitcoin transactions, compared to $10,000 for the whole of 2016, Bloomberg reports.

The country’s economy is in deep crisis, as GDP has halved since 2000. Ninety-five percent of Zimbabweans don’t have a job.

Inflation has curbed in the recent years, but there are signs hyperinflation is returning. In October, Steve Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, who has written a book about the country's 2008 crisis, warned of hyperinflation returning to Zimbabwe.

Real inflation in Zimbabwe was 313 percent annually and 112 percent on a monthly basis despite the official 0.78 percent in September. Hanke called the statistics a "truly fantastical piece of artwork."

"Zimbabwe, welcome back to the record books! You have once again entered the inglorious world of hyperinflation. It is a world of economic chaos, wrenching poverty and death," said Hanke.

Zimbabwe's army seized power on Wednesday in a military coup. The army has confirmed the arrest of 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has been ruling the country for 37 years.