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Where to Open Dollar Accounts in Kenya (5 Places)
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Where to Open Dollar Accounts in Kenya (5 Places)

The Kenyan Shilling has been fluctuating and volatile against the USD for the last two years. Following this, you might have contemplated opening a dollar account to protect yourself from the volatility.

A dollar account, also known as a USD account, is a type of bank foreign currency account denominated in United States dollars (USD). It allows individuals and businesses to hold, transact, trade, and invest in/with US dollars.

A dollar account in Kenya has become increasingly crucial for individuals and businesses. The significance stems from various factors that underscore the importance of diversifying one's currency holdings beyond the local Kenyan shilling.  

The US dollar is known for its stability, making it a preferred choice for preserving wealth and mitigating currency-related uncertainties. Holding funds in a dollar account provides a hedge against currency volatility, helps you diversify your cash holdings, and reduces depreciation risks associated with the local currency. The USD global acceptance also makes it ideal for international transactions, investing, and traveling.

This article will explore five places you can open a dollar account in Kenya and the pros and cons to help decide which option is best. 

Read Also: 5 Things to Know Before Opening a Dollar Account in Kenya

1. USD Bank Account

USD bank accounts are savings and current accounts denominated in United States dollars (USD). These accounts allow individuals and businesses in Kenya to hold, transact, and save in USD, providing access to international financial markets and facilitating cross-border transactions.

USD bank accounts function similarly to traditional local currency accounts. They enable account holders to deposit funds in USD, withdraw cash, transfer money domestically and internationally, and conduct various banking transactions. Additionally, Interest may be earned on USD savings accounts.

In Kenya, individuals and businesses are legally allowed to hold dollar-denominated accounts at both local commercial banks and international banks operating in Kenya. 

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) regulates foreign exchange transactions and oversees the operation of foreign currency accounts within the country. Kenyan residents can open and operate dollar accounts with authorized financial institutions, subject to compliance with regulatory requirements and documentation.

Requirements for Opening:

  • Valid identification documents (e.g., national ID, KRA PIN, etc.)
  • Minimum initial deposit (varies depending on the bank)
  • Proof of income or employment
  • Source of funds declaration for larger transactions
  • For businesses: incorporation documents, KRA PIN, and business licenses may be required


  • Diversification of currency holdings
  • Access to global financial markets
  • Facilitation of international trade and transactions
  • Convenient for individuals with USD income or expenses
  • Option to earn interest on savings accounts


  • Higher fees compared to local currency accounts
  • Exchange rate fluctuations may impact account value
  • Limited availability of USD-denominated banking services, such as USD ATMs in some regions
  • Regulatory restrictions on certain types of transactions may apply
  • May require maintaining a minimum balance or incurring account maintenance fees

Read Also: Starting Smart: Selecting the Ideal Savings Account for Your Early Career

2. USD Money Market Fund (MMF)

USD Money Market Funds are investment vehicles that pool funds from multiple investors to invest in short-term, low-risk securities such as treasury bills, commercial paper, and fixed deposits. Unlike traditional MMFs, you are required to invest using dollars as the account is denominated in USD.

USD Money Market Funds invest in short-term debt instruments with maturities typically ranging from one day to one year. Returns are generated from interest income earned on the underlying securities. Investors can buy and sell shares of the fund at the prevailing net asset value (NAV), providing liquidity and flexibility.

USD Money Market Funds can be accessed through various financial institutions, including local banks, asset management firms, and online investment platforms.

Requirements for Opening:

  • Completion of account opening forms
  • KYC (Know Your Customer) documentation, including valid ID and proof of address
  • Minimum initial investment amount (varies by fund)
  • Signed investment agreement or mandate form


  • Potential for higher returns compared to traditional savings accounts
  • Diversification of investment portfolio
  • Liquidity and flexibility in accessing funds
  • Professional management of investment portfolio


  • Market risk associated with fluctuations in interest rates and credit quality of underlying securities
  • Potential for lower returns during periods of economic downturn or market volatility
  • Management fees and expenses may reduce overall returns
  • Regulatory restrictions on withdrawal frequency 
  • Higher minimum investment amounts compared to traditional Kenyan Shillings MMF

Read Also: Money Markets Funds in Kenya: Features and Key Considerations

3. USD Fixed Deposit (FD)

USD Fixed Deposit accounts are investment products offered by commercial banks, microfinance banks, and other deposit-taking financial institutions that allow customers to deposit funds for a fixed period at a predetermined interest rate. These accounts offer higher interest rates compared to savings accounts and provide a guaranteed return upon maturity.

Customers deposit a lump sum of USD into a fixed deposit account for a specified term, ranging from a few months to several years. The bank pays interest on the deposit at a predetermined rate, which remains fixed for the duration of the investment period. At maturity, the principal amount plus accrued interest is returned to the depositor.

Requirements for Opening:

  • Valid identification documents (e.g., passport, national ID)
  • Proof of residence/address verification
  • Minimum deposit amount (varies by bank and term)
  • Completion of account opening forms
  • Signed fixed deposit agreement or contract


  • Higher interest rates compared to savings accounts
  • Guaranteed returns upon maturity
  • Fixed interest rates provide certainty and predictability
  • Option to choose an investment period based on individual financial goals


  • Funds are locked in for the duration of the investment term
  • Early withdrawal may incur penalties or forfeiture of interest
  • Limited liquidity compared to other investment options
  • Exchange rate fluctuations may impact returns for customers seeking to convert funds back to local currency upon maturity

Read Also: How to Build Passive Income Using Fixed Deposits in Kenya

4. USD Stable Coin Crypto Wallet

USD Stable Coin Crypto Wallets are digital wallets that enable users to store, send, and receive USD-backed stablecoins, which are cryptocurrencies pegged to the value of the US dollar. These wallets provide a digital alternative to traditional bank accounts and offer instant, borderless transactions with minimal fees.

Users can deposit USD-backed stablecoins, such as Tether (USDT) or USD Coin (USDC), into their crypto wallet, which are issued on blockchain platforms like Ethereum or Binance Smart Chain. The value of stablecoins is pegged to the US dollar on a 1:1 basis, providing price stability and liquidity. Transactions are executed peer-to-peer on the blockchain network, enabling fast, secure, and low-cost transfers.

USD Stable Coin Crypto Wallets can be opened through cryptocurrency exchanges and online platforms supporting USD-backed stablecoins. Examples include Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken. You can also buy stable coins and opt for self-storage. 

Requirements for Opening:

  • Creation of an account on the chosen cryptocurrency exchange or platform
  • KYC (Know Your Customer) verification, including submission of identification documents
  • Secure storage of private keys or mnemonic phrases to access the wallet
  • Deposit of funds in USD-backed stablecoins to the wallet address


  • Borderless transactions with global reach
  • Instant settlement and confirmation of transactions
  • Lower transaction fees compared to traditional banking channels
  • Decentralized and censorship-resistant nature of blockchain technology


  • Volatility and market risk associated with cryptocurrencies. Even stablecoins have a history of losing some or all of their value, as in the case of  Terra (UST stablecoin) in 2022.
  • Potential for loss of funds due to security breaches, hacking attacks, or losing your private keys.
  • Regulatory uncertainty and lack of oversight in the cryptocurrency market
  • Limited acceptance and adoption of stablecoins for mainstream financial transactions

5. Online Financial Platforms (e.g., Paypal, Wise & Payoneer)

Online Financial Platforms with USD accounts, such as Paypal, Wise (formerly TransferWise), and Payoneer, offer digital payment solutions that enable users to send, receive, and hold funds in USD. These platforms provide convenient, cost-effective alternatives to traditional banking services for international money transfers, freelancers, and e-commerce businesses.

Users can create accounts on the online platform of their choice and link their USD accounts to their bank accounts or debit/credit/prepaid cards. Funds can be loaded into the USD account via bank transfers, card payments, or received from other users. 

Transactions can be initiated online or through mobile applications, with options for currency conversion, invoice management, and cross-border payments.

Requirements for Opening:

  • Registration on the platform's website or mobile app
  • Verification of identity and contact information (KYC)
  • Linking of bank account or debit/credit/prepaid card for funding and withdrawals
  • Compliance with platform-specific terms and conditions


  • Convenient and user-friendly interface for managing USD transactions
  • Fast and secure payments with built-in fraud protection measures
  • Competitive exchange rates for currency conversion
  • Integration with e-commerce platforms and freelance marketplaces


  • Transaction fees may apply for certain services and transactions
  • Withdrawal limits and restrictions on account usage may apply
  • Dependency on third-party platforms for fund management and security
  • Compared to traditional banking methods, there is limited availability, support, and acceptance for everyday physical transactions.

Read Also: Investment and Risk-Taking Lessons from The Crypto Crisis


While holding a USD account in Kenya offers convenience and access to global markets, it also presents risks. Due to exchange rate fluctuations,  if the shilling strengthens against the dollar, the value of funds held in a USD account may decrease when converted back to local currency.

Additionally, USD accounts may have limited liquidity compared to local currency accounts. As a result, accessing physical USD cash or conducting USD-denominated transactions outside of banking hours or in remote areas can be challenging, and the transaction costs can be expensive.  

Individuals and businesses should carefully evaluate these risks and weigh them against the potential benefits before opting for USD accounts as part of their financial strategy. Diversification across multiple currencies is a prudent risk management strategy to ensure you mitigate any dangers of holding USD accounts.

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Farah Nurow is an experienced Content Writer who enjoys writing creative and educative articles meant to provoke readers' thoughts. He loves sunny weather and thick books. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.

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