Is forex trading legal in Kenya? What you must know

The Republic of Kenya is a lower to middle-income developing country with a population of more than 55 million people and a nominal GDP of $116 billion as of April 2022, but it is also the largest economy in eastern and central Africa.

Retail FX and CFD trading in Kenya has grown significantly in tandem with the country’s economic stability and prosperity. Younger demographics, more accessible and consistent internet connection, a larger mobile footprint, and tighter regulations have all contributed.

When the CMA built a legal regulatory framework to incorporate online forex trading in August 2017, Kenya became the second government in Africa to fully authorise currency trading. As a result, forex trading is permitted in Kenya.

Understanding Forex trading regulations in Kenya

When compared to equities and commodities, these new Forex regulations have gone a long way towards building trust in this relatively new trading market.

Kenya now ranks third in terms of trading volumes, trailing only South Africa and Nigeria. One positive consequence of the COVID-19 outbreak was that many people who stayed at home quickly learnt how to trade forex. According to estimates, the forex trading community will grow by 80% in 2020 alone.

However, forex trading in Kenya is still in its early phases, a time when fraud can prey on many newbies to the trade.

Although telecommunications networks have improved and the internet has become more affordable, traders must remain aware of the risks involved, be vigilant of pyramid marketing schemes and blatant scams, and learn to use leverage properly. The CMA has currently permitted leverage of 1:400 from Forex Brokers in Kenya.

Institutes that regulate Forex trading in Kenya

The CMA oversees the Kenyan capital markets, including equities and foreign exchange transactions. The Central Bank of Kenya is in charge of the country’s currency, the KES, as well as financial institutions in the country’s banking system. On occasion, the two government agencies have collaborated to combat fraud in Kenya.

The CMA took action against 40 unauthorised forex trading businesses in July 2021. Kenyans are able to deal with offshore forex brokers, and many have been lured to transmit money to unregulated online forex operators.

Fraud has been widespread. Kenyans, according to observers, send money to these brokers, trade, and then wait for withdrawals, but the monies never arrive. During the raid, the two agencies issued a joint statement warning residents against these fraudulent practises in foreign locales.

To its credit, Kenya’s Central Bank and government abolished existing currency regulations in 1993. The Kenyan shilling floats on the worldwide forex market, and people, both citizens and non-residents, are permitted to acquire or sell foreign exchange when handled with an authorised dealer, and only up to $10,000.

Amounts in excess of this amount are permissible, but only when documentation revealing the transaction’s purpose is provided.

This rule is administrative in nature in order to comply with the reporting requirements of Anti-Money Laundering rules, which went into effect in 2009.

Kenya had been a transit place for illicit money transfers before to this day, but the new restrictions were a step forward by banks and financial organisations to eliminate past money laundering activities.

The CMA has also set capital requirements for online forex brokers, which range between 30 and 50 million shillings depending on whether the firm is a non-dealer or a market maker.

The regulator does not prohibit the trading of contracts for difference (CFDs), but it has established a leverage restriction of 1:400 for licenced forex firms.

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