Cryptocurrency Regulation battle Intense In Africa, Regulators Pin Down Suspicious Cryptocurrency Projects

Cryptocurrency craze among African audience is at its peak but 2019 might see many African countries imposing cryptocurrency regulations. The latest report released on January 03, 2019 indicates the initiative of ‘Africa’s new regulatory working group’ created to find out the potentials of blockchain and cryptocurrencies within the nation.

Regulators keen to impose cryptocurrency regulations in Africa

Consequently, on January 07, 2019, an African local media ‘IT Web Africa’ unveiled the upcoming plans of ‘Capital Markets Authority of Kenya (CMA). According to the reports, CMA cautioned public over ‘KeniCoin crypto tokens and crypto trading in Kenya’. KeniCoin is a digital token launched in July 2018 and has promised to provide 10 percent monthly returns on investment to the users.

CMA warns crypto enthusiasts in Kenya ‘to be caution in dealing with such firm’ and as such, the regulatory body is investigating ‘Wiseman Talent Ventures’, the ‘company behind the KeniCoin crypto tokens’. After the viable investigation, Wiseman Talent Ventures is quiet and has not discussed anything on the claims.

Also called as Capital Markets Authority, the CMA is an independent governmental body, supervising, licensing and monitoring the market activities. Addressing KeniCoin trade nature, CMA counseled that;

Further, the Capital Markets Authority has noted discrepancies in the information provided in the website and the information given to the authority during interviews of Wiseman Talent Ventures leadership in relation to the total number of Kenicoin sold and the total funds raised. CMA is currently investigating the operations of Wiseman Talent Ventures.

Many African countries including South Africa are part of Financial Action Task Force(FATF), a group of 37 countries, which is planning to formulate governing rules and guidelines to govern cryptocurrency exchanges. It will principally make sure effective countermeasures are in place to prevent activities such as money laundering and terrorist funding, according to a Japanese government official familiar with the matter.

Status of Cryptocurrency regulations in Africa

  • March 2018 – Central Bank of Kenya warned general public over-investment in Bitcoin and other cryptos
  • May 2018 – South African Reserve Bank called digital currencies as ‘cyber –tokens’
  • CMA sent out ‘caution notice’ to all crypto investors’ citing global market volatility
  • January 2019 – South Africa’s revenue service urged to amend ‘tax return forms’ to add cryptocurrencies as a better approach to impose cryptocurrency regulations
  • Africa’s government announces the initiation of ‘unified inter-governmental regulatory framework’
  • January 2019 – Capital Markets Authority (CMA) cautions public over KeniCoin and subsequent crypto trading in Kenya

Finance minister Tito Mboweni responded to the question of local African media that the cryptocurrency regulations in South Africa are likely to subject under tax consideration. He said that’

“Taxpayers who have made some form of declarations regarding cryptocurrency trades have captured such trade as a form of ‘other trade income’ or ‘other trade loss’, and have made reference to a description of digital/cryptocurrency trading (e.g. Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), Zcash (ZEC) to name a few).”

Africa is bird’s nest for many successful cryptocurrency projects and the future of cryptocurrency depends on the nature of regulations that will be imposed on cryptocurrency project by African countries.

Author: Tabassum
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Flash Crypto Offering New “Human ATM” Feature

Scrypt-based crypto asset Flash is releasing a new “human ATM” functionality in regions of Africa and South America that have seen their national fiat currencies fall victim to inflation. The function will provide peer-to-peer trading in countries like Venezuela that have little to no access to traditional banking services and must instead rely on cryptocurrencies to provide for their people.

Human ATM is available through Flash’s mobile wallet. In addition, Flash offers applications that allow customers to house multiple cryptocurrencies from bitcoin and Litecoin to Dash and Ethereum. At press time, as many as 800 different merchants throughout Africa will adopt Flash in the coming months, according to the company’s marketing director James Hinton.

Providing Crypto to Everyone Who Needs It

The human ATM feature allows customers to load maps of individuals offering in-person trades via their mobile phones. People can purchase or sell their cryptocurrencies in person, then have the units transferred to phone-specific wallets. The service will allegedly give all users in countries like Venezuela 24-7 access to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.

At the time of writing, Flash is supported by several small cryptocurrency exchanges, though it has garnered the attention of larger ventures like the Einstein Exchange in Canada. The currency also boasts over 600,000 active addresses around the world.

Flash was built with the unbanked in mind, though other applications offer similar features. As Flash allows one to keep multiple forms of crypto, Coindex allows users to keep track of their full crypto portfolios. The platform provides mobile users with a dashboard that combines all their wallets into one space, so they can see the progress of their crypto investments and better understand their financial gains. Users can also pre-select specific coins they’re potentially interested in to see how their prices are performing.

Lastly, the application also informs users of any forthcoming or ongoing initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Connecting Crypto to the World

In a related story, Flash has also announced a recent partnership with Crowdforce, based in the African nation of Seychelles.

Crowdforce provides cryptocurrency-based payment options to over 8,000 separate vendors, meaning all registered companies have the option of providing Flashcoin payments to their employees.

Author: Nick Marinoff
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IBM Helps Kenyan Agriculture Flourish On Twiga Blockchain

Blockchain tech helps farmers and vendors access financing.

It’s eight in the morning in Kinangop, a small rural town 55 miles north of Nairobi. For Joseph Kimani, a small-scale farmer, today is a big day. Kimani has been a farmer for two decades, but finding a market for his products has been a constant thorn in his side. There have been plenty of middle men to facilitate selling farm products, but they are all out to exploit the farmers.

Today, Kimani is having his vegetables picked by Twiga Foods, an agricultural marketplace that is changing many farmers’ lives. The startup buys food from farmers and then distributes it to thousands of vendors across the country.

The convenience alone is a godsend to farmers, but there’s more. Twiga buys at a higher price than local middle men and pays instantly via M-Pesa, the globally renowned mobile payment network. It also makes it possible for its clients to secure loans for their businesses, using blockchain technology.

The Informal Sector Continues To Be Marginalized
For most people, blockchain is the technology that powers Bitcoin. Beyond that, they don’t know much. However, in Kenya, blockchain is doing much more. It has given the thousands of farmers an immutable and real-time measure of their creditworthiness.

Twiga employs blockchain technology to keep track of the transactions carried out by its clients. Using its data, the clients can also assess their ability to access loans and other financial products. While in most developed countries such data is easy to acquire, the narrative is quite different in Kenya, and Africa as a whole.

Agriculture in Kenya accounts for over 50 percent of the GDP and provides the livelihood for 80 percent of the population. However, those involved in this sector continue to be marginalized by financial institutions, which deem them un-creditworthy. With most of the trading being done informally, data is difficult to collect.

Blockchain Changing Lives
Twiga is not only changing the lives of farmers but the vendors as well. The 5000+ vendors who use the platform get to request the products they require, which are then delivered at a day’s notice. Before, they had to go to the market, where the quality isn’t assured and where they had to haggle over the prices. After making the purchase, they then had to transport the products to their stalls. This consumed both time and resources.

The vendors also get the benefit of having their data collected and stored on the immutable distributed ledger. For vendors, the data is even more crucial than for the farmers as they require constant financing to grow their businesses.

According to the World Bank, the lack of an established credit bureau is one of the biggest challenges facing small enterprises. These enterprises face a $330 billion lending gap, with Kenya –East Africa’s largest economy- accounting for $7 billion.

The IBM Partnership
Twiga -which is Swahili for giraffe- was founded in 2014 and has grown by leaps and bounds since. It was last year’s partnership with IBM, however, that has transformed it into a multi-million dollar company and one of Africa’s most promising startups.

IBM used its expertise in distributed ledger technology, machine learning and data processing to develop Twiga’s blockchain platform. Now, the users can get the loan application process done entirely on the blockchain, making it easier, faster and more transparent.

Isaac Markus, a researcher with IBM, explained:

We analyzed purchase records from a mobile device and then apply machine learning algorithms to predict credit worthiness, in turn giving lenders the confidence they need to provide microloans to small businesses. Once the credit score is determined, we used a blockchain, based on the Hyperledger Fabric, to manage the entire lending process from application to receiving offers to accepting the terms to repayment.

Providing Real Solutions
Blockchain technology has been hailed as revolutionary, and rightly so. In the future, even the internet could be decentralized. However, it’s the solutions that are available right now that matter.

For the 15,000 farmers and vendors, blockchain is not just a hype word that people are using to attract funding. It’s a real solution to a real problem that has plagued them for decades.


Author: Steve Kaaru
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Bill Gates: Digital Currency Will Help the Poor

Microsoft’s Bill Gates is one known in the past for expressing admiration for cryptocurrencies and in a recent video, he has done just that claiming that digital technology has the means to empower the world’s poorest.

Although the Microsoft principal founder has cooled to Bitcoin in recent years, there was a time he would express more upbeat remarks. In 2014, he commented to Bloomberg that: “Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.”

Recently, Gates has been talking about the extreme end of the financial equation, sharing thoughts on the financial system, digital currency, human resources and poverty. Referring to what the cryptocurrency sector is calling the world’s “unbanked”, he suggested that the world’s poor may not have financial tools to go about their lives but that their labor and intellect shouldn’t be underestimated. An inefficient cash economy risks dragging them further into poverty.

Gates maintains that the transformation of underlying economics behind the status quo through the digitalization of money and related financial systems has the potential to directly help those currently living in poverty. It can also help to develop essential areas such as health and agriculture as it is already doing in some parts of Africa through various schemes such as Sun Exchange through their SUNEX reward tokens. Sun Exchange founder and CEO Abraham Cambridge made it clear that these schemes are a crucial springboard for those living in poverty or without banking:

“Together, we are working towards a world where no one is forced to cook with unsafe kerosene or wood-burning stoves, no child has to worry about how they will study after dark, and lack of energy access ceases to propel cycles of poverty.”

Gates restated earlier claims that transactions can be made up to 90% cheaper through digitization making innovative financial products and services available. He commented on what he sees as the next essential step in this process:

“I see two priorities for the immediate future. First, we need to drive the policy changes to make sure the poor can get engaged at this level and second, we need a measurement system that tracks the progress towards drawing people in not just have accounts but to really benefit from financial activity.”

Author: Harold Vandelay
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Crypto Business Growing in Africa as Demand Surges

Cryptocurrency trading is on the rise in Africa, with young, South African university graduates leading the charge.

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Paxful, a leading South African peer-to-peer P2P cryptocurrency marketplace has claimed that half of its customers are under 30, and that the majority are university-educated males.

Per South African media outlet Business Report, the platform says that its customers are conducting over USD 38 million worth of transactions per month on its network. 70% of the company’s clientele have a tertiary qualification or are studying for a post-school qualification, it says, while there is a 65:35 male to female split.

Paxful also claims that cryptocurrencies are mainly purchased by bank transfers or gift cards in African countries.

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According to Forbes contributor Rakesh Sharma, some 15 cryptocurrency-related operations began in Africa in the past year. And Rwanda’s New Times points out that the South Africa-based Luno Exchange, which was established in 2013 and now has 1.5 million customers in over 40 countries worldwide, was the first major exchange platform to be based on the continent.

Last month, South African investment management firm Sygnia announced that it intends to launch a cryptocurrency exchange in the third quarter of 2018, responding to an increased demand for crypto in the country.

The New Times also quotes an official at as stating that Zimbabweans and citizens of other African countries are choosing to trade in cryptocurrencies “as opposed to their local currencies, which are plagued with hyperinflation.”

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Author: Tim Alper
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