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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 7th to 13th September 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Africa

Reserve bank bags award for best distributed ledger initiative: The South African Reserve Bank (SARS) has bagged the award for the best DLT initiative at the Fintech RegTech Global Awards 2018.

The project called Khokha saw seven banks conduct gross settlements of the native currency rand on the Quorum blockchain from JP Morgan’s Byznatine fault-tolerant system. The system is designed as a high-throughput blockchain-based interbank payment system that adheres to the country’s principles for Financial Market Infrastructures.

While the initiative is good, the bank overall has been reluctant to adopt blockchain and said:

“This is only the starting point… Key considerations that need to be addressed include the evaluation of supporting frameworks and other systems that integrate with the RTGS system, as well as the legal, regulatory and compliance factors.”

Blockchain technology is seen by many as a solution to overcome South Africa’s financial woes.

Egypt

Blockchain startup Elkrem receives $75,000 for blockchain development: Egypt’s blockchain startup Elkrem has managed to secure crucial funding of USD 75,000 from the ConsenSys Tachyon blockchain accelerator to create a smart kit for blockchain Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Elkrem hopes to launch its products across the globe soon.

The company started back in January 2018 and got a seed investment of USD 250,000 from Endure Capital. The company also won the competition at EthDenver Hackathon that featured over 100 teams from around the world.

Nigeria

US company aims to bring blockchain banking to Nigeria: US blockchain development company HashCash is looking to engage financial institutions in Nigeria to set up potential blockchain solutions in the banking industry.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency’s popularity is increasing in the country and HashCash is aiming to profit from it. The case of financial exclusion of millions of Nigerians is a big point of concern for many and the government is keen on solving it. The company aims to use the wide accessibility of mobile devices to implement a blockchain-based banking solution. The move will be especially important for far remote areas and their mainstreaming.

Kenya

Blockbank purchases stake in local Bank to provide blockchain banking: Blockbank, a cryptocurrency banking startup, has purchased a stake in local Kenyan bank Spire. This strategic acquisition will allow the startup to provide global blockchain and cryptocurrency payments and other banking services to the customers of the bank.

The bank’s aim to is to provide users with a platform for faster transactions and increased transparency.

Turkey

Currency crisis forces Turkey to focus on blockchain and crypto: Turkey’s lira has been suffering from a crisis in recent weeks due to sanctions imposed by the US after a diplomatic row. To counter these effects and move towards a crypto future that is free from US intervention and sanctions, Turkey is working to adopt blockchain and cryptocurrencies into its fintech space.

The Turkish Borsa Stock Exchange has announced the development of a first blockchain-powered customer database for the exchange services and a result, the Istanbul Gold Exchange and the Turkish Derivatives Exchange (TurkDex) will both move forward to a blockchain-based future.

Cryptocurrency trading is also becoming more and more popular in the country as people look to circumnavigate the effects of lira depreciation.

United Arab Emirates

Market watchdog recognizes crypto as securities: The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority has unveiled new regulation to give cryptocurrencies the status of a security.

According to the regulator’s statement:

“In light of the rapid development of the digital tokens market and the response thereto by the regulators in a number of countries worldwide towards regulating the initial coin offerings (ICOs), the SCA Board of Directors has approved the SCA plan to regulate the ICOs and recognize them as securities.”

UAE has become one of the crypto hubs of the region, allowing more and more blockchain companies to grow under its umbrella.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 31st August to 6th September 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Africa

South Africa

Gold-backed interest-free crypto launched in South Africa: A gold-backed interest-free cryptocurrency was launched in South Africa recently called the OneGram and is Sharia-compliant, primarily to attract investment from the Muslim community.

The move was started a year back by a local company that aimed to bridge the gap between cryptocurrencies and precious commodities markets. Muslims and other members of the public who believe that currency should be backed by gold or any other asset of value may be interested in the commodity. It is worth mentioning that the Muslim community is divided on the matter.

Ibrahim Mohammed, the founder of the project said:

“Our approach to OneGram was to create a bridge between commodities and crypto using physical gold and package it together using innovative blockchain technology. This way we are able to give our users the best of both worlds and provide a degree of certainty around the notoriously fickle cryptocurrency market.”

OneGram was founded in Dubai, UAE last year and completed a successful coin offering but it remains to be seen whether the company can deliver on its promise because asset-backed cryptocurrencies are still in their infancy.

Nigeria

Financial exclusion being tackled through blockchain technology: US-based software development company HashCash has announced that it is collaborating with Nigerian banks to solve the lingering issue of financial exclusion.

Financial exclusion is a chronic problem present in many parts of the world including Europe and the Americas. It is a problem through which a sizeable chunk of the population remains unbanked and devoid of electronic means of payment and bank accounts.

HashCash is looking to use the power of the blockchain technology to solve the problem that has plagued the development of many countries and hampered growth.

Zimbabwe

Bitcoin ATM inoperational despite sky-high demand for Bitcoin: Despite high demand for Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies, Zimbabwe’s only Bitcoin ATM is not in operational condition.

Back-breaking inflation has reportedly motivated many Zimbabweans to look to cryptocurrencies as a way to circumnavigate the whole situation. Increased activity on Golix, a popular local crypto exchange, is proof of that but the only ATM installed in Harare by the company is inoperational, as a result of its ongoing legal tussles with the banks.

Still, Golix hopes that the crypto trading ban will be reversed and the ATM will start working again.

Kenya

Economic institute to hold public forum for crypto: The Institute of Economic Affairs of Kenya (IEA-Kenya) has announced that it will hold a series of public hearings, forums and other activities regarding cryptocurrencies to devise public policy proposals in the country.

While the growth of cryptocurrencies is being witnessed in the country, a lack of regulations and resulting regulatory unclarity has made things difficult. Since blockchain and cryptocurrencies are complex issues, the private think tank IEA-Kenya believes public forums could further discussion around them.

The Middle East

Turkey

Turkish stock exchange develops blockchain-based customer database: Turkey’s Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange has announced the development of a blockchain-powered customer database and resource center.

The stock exchange became operational back in 2013 after a merger of Istanbul Gold Exchange and Turkish Derivatives Exchange (TurkDex) and has a total market cap of USD 133 billion. The recent development was done in customer databases of Borsa Istanbul, Istanbul Clearing, Settlement and Custody Bank (Takasbank), and the Central Securities Depository of Turkey (MKK).

Turkey has demonstrated overall positivity to adopt blockchain technology in recent years.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 24th to 30th August 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Africa

South Africa

Bitcoin’s biggest use case in Khayelitsha township: Despite being one of the largest and poorest townships in the country, Khayelitsha is becoming one of the best-known use cases of Bitcoin in the country and the continent.

As people are becoming more and more aware of cryptocurrencies and their power of transferring money from one place to another, the adoption of Bitcoin is increasing in this part of the world.

Nigeria

Reserve bank looking to regulate crypto: The Central Bank of Nigeria is looking to regulate cryptocurrencies in the country and has set up a committee comprising of blockchain experts from around the world to look into it.

The move has been positively received in Nigerian crypto circles as regulations have been missing. While the Central Bank has warned about using cryptocurrencies before, this unprecedented move to involve blockchain professionals in the legislation matters are expected to bring the positive change needed to reinvigorate the country’s economy.

Kenya

Blockchain-based crypto to be launched: Kenya is preparing to welcome the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency platform in the country in the form of the TMX Global coin. This is the first attempt at developing an indigenous cryptocurrency in the country.

According to the CEO of TMX Anthony Njoroge:

“We are using blockchain technology to enhance cargo logistics business to have more open, transparent and democratic process using a decentralized system, where all the users are able to talk to each other on an open platform.”

The platform is expected to increase transparency in ordering goods online.

Zimbabwe

Microsoft to boost construction sector with blockchain apps: Microsoft is getting in the blockchain side of things as the big IT company has announced projects in Zimbabwe.

The company is partnering with Zimbabwe firm Africa-IDG to create cutting-edge blockchain applications to revolutionize the construction industry. According to CEO Tatenda Chifamba:

“The blockchain movement is one that we must join in its early phase if we are to be relevant as a country not only internally but both regionally and internationally.”

Middle East

United Arab Emirates

First Shariah-compliant exchange to be launched in Dubai: The United Arab Emirates are now going to be the home of the first Islamic cryptocurrency exchange in the world that is fully compliant with non-interest-based Shariah law.

UAE-based fintech company ADAB solutions came forward with the idea and announced plans to launch the first shariah-compliant exchange in the country. The world is its main target, with the 1.8 billion Muslims and other investors who believe in the non-interest-based exchange operations.

According to their official website:

“Many cryptocurrencies, due to their characteristics, are haram (forbidden in Islam). Today, no one can guarantee that the coins and projects listed on conventional cryptocurrency exchanges comply with the norms of Islam.”

The exchange expects a turnover of USD 4.4 billion in the first 18 months in operation.

Iran

Government planning national crypto to avoid US sanctions: The Iranian government has announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency in response to the impending US sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

The Central Bank of Iran has finalized details regarding an indigenous cryptocurrency according to official Iranian news channel Ibena which will be backed by the Iranian rial. The state cryptocurrency will be similar to Bitcoin regarding transfers using blockchain technology.

This is not the first time a national cryptocurrency has been launched. Venezuela launched its Petro cryptocurrency but it has had minimal success.

 

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Africa and Middle East Cryptocurrency News Roundup 17-24 August 2018

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news, continent by continent and country by country. Next up is Africa and the Middle East.

Africa

South Africa

Cryptocurrency Mining Still Popular Despite Price Tank: Bitcoin may not be profitable to mine in many places but cryptocurrency mining equipment is still seeing popular demand in South Africa as people continue to buy a wide range of mining rigs in the country.

According to the BitSmart CEO Jacques Serfontein, crypto miners still have a strong appeal in the South African mining community because of a decent return on investment over there.

He said:

“People are still buying miners, a 7%-30% ROI per month based on the different cryptocurrencies out there is still a great ROI,”

While both ASIC miners and GPUs were popular in the country, the focus has now shifted towards ASIC chips rather than gaming chips, much to the relief of the gaming community because it resulted in expensive gaming equipment for them.

Government Targeting Cryptocurrency Traders: The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is researching ways through which they can track down cryptocurrency traders in the country who are not paying taxes.

According to the acting commissioner Mark Kingon:

“The key thing is identifying people who are trading because it’s easy to say cryptocurrency gains must be deductible, but there are also those who lose. That’s why it’s important to identify the trader,”

The expected tax dodgers are likely to be identified by tracking credit cards that they use for purchasing cryptocurrencies with fiat for trading purposes. There are other ways under deliberation as well.

Nigeria

Nigerian Bitcoin Stake Drops Down to N1.3 Billion: The Nigerian crypto investors are feeling the brunt of a bearish coin market as the total unofficial holding of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency is down to N1.3 billion. 

The total bitcoin holdings are on a downward trend overall, partly because of falling prices in the Bitcoin market as the currency has reached the $8,000 figure twice, only to disappointingly return to the $6,000 mark. The total holdings in the country are down from N1.6 billion earlier this month to N1.3 billion currently.

Middle East

Turkey

Bitcoin Being Promoted as the Answer to Turkey’s Financial Crisis: Turkey’s recent spat with the USA has resulted in its national currency lira crashing in the currency market in anticipation of sanctions. But, while the situation is becoming worse, it is proving to be a fertile ground for cryptocurrency adoption in the country that can help Turkish citizens circumnavigate the issues in the currency market.

Bitcoin P2P trading platforms like LocalBitcoins.com have experienced a flood of activity in recent times as soon as the lira started to spiral out of control. While the government made appeals to the Turks to liquidate their dollar reserves, many are paying as much as 25% premium to buy Bitcoin through lira.

United Arab Emirates

Realtors Looking to Add Cryptocurrency Options: UAE realtors are looking to add cryptocurrency payment options to boost investment in the sector. The country is already a real estate haven in the world but it is facing increased competition from other areas and now the sector sees cryptocurrencies as a game changer.

Dubai-based IMKAN Properties is considering a cryptocurrency payment alternative for home buyers in the business. Imkan is among other realtors who are looking to add the cryptocurrency feature.

CEO Walid El-Hindi said:

Imkan is looking into new ways of approaching financials… We’re looking into cryptocurrencies and new technologies when it comes to putting together financial packages in relation to real estate,”

Bitcoin is regulated fiercely in the region, but in UAE it has some legal protection.

Saudi Arabia

Government Puts Blanket Ban on Cryptocurrency Trading: The Saudi Arabian government, after banning the use of cryptocurrencies in the country has now put a blanket ban on their trading as well and tasked competent authority to limit cryptocurrency market dealings.

A statement released by the government said:

“The committee warns all citizens” against investing in cryptocurrencies or digital currencies for their high-risk consequences. One should not give the illusion of getting rich quick, there are risks in terms of regulation, security, and volatility”

The kingdom’s attitude towards cryptocurrencies follows a regional trend but many citizens are reportedly involved in cryptocurrencies.

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 10th to 16th August 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Africa

Crypto regulation needed to settle inheritance, divorce cases: The South African government is moved to attend to the issues arising from the ambiguity of cryptocurrencies in the country when it comes to settling inheritance claims and divorce cases.

Cryptocurrency has been around for a decade now and South African Revenue Service (SARS) designated them as an asset of intangible nature as far back as 2009. While it may have granted Bitcoin some legality, issues remain as legality of cryptocurrencies are unclear in comparison with other assets like shares and bonds and that can complicate things.

VAT may not be applied to Bitcoin in South Africa under new regulation: According to a draft being prepared by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), cryptocurrencies in the country will not be liable for Value Added Tax (VAT) but other regular tax laws will be applicable.

SARS has been deliberating on cryptocurrency regulation for some time and according to it, transactions of cryptocurrencies are seen as a service and thus it will be exempt from a VAT for now, something that is often a damaging perspective for cryptocurrencies in a country. All crypto dealers, however, will have to declare their gains and losses in crypto transactions and trades and pay relevant taxes.

Nigeria

Crypto exchange Luno educating users on identifying scams: Cryptocurrency exchange Luno is trying to educate the masses to help them avoid scams in the cryptosphere.

Luno’s country manager while speaking in a conference in Lagos said:

“The Central Bank of Nigeria while presently studying the market to enable it come up with a regulatory framework that will protect every player, Luno will not hesitate to guide present investors against scams.”

The exchange is advocating for self-regulation right now but welcomes regulation from the government in the future to help secure a better future for crypto.

Government launches blockchain hub: The Nigerian government’s blockchain innovation KAD ICT Hub, in collaboration with UK Blockchain company Coinfirm, has announced a new blockchain hub in the country called Africa Blockchain Lab.

The initiative is to launch a program to help bring together Blockchain companies across the continent to bring solutions to various problems in the continent and Nigeria itself. Some startups like Kora, a blockchain marketplace and digital payment system, have already signed on the new project.

Middle East

Turkey

Bitcoin popularity soars as lira freefalls: The recent freefall of Turkish lira has resulted in cryptocurrencies becoming more and more popular in the country as Koinim, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the country, recorded more than 63% increase in trades last week alone.

Turkey is currently embroiled in a diplomatic tussle with the United States as the latter recently imposed sanctions on the country that followed up with a sharp decrease in demand for lira, the national currency. More and more Turks used platforms like Localbitcoins.com to save themselves from inflation. However, with the recent USD 15 billion loan from Qatar on the cards, it is yet to be seen how the future of cryptocurrency trading will look like in the short term as lira might bounce back.

12,000 investors affected in TurCoin scam: Turcoin, self-styled national cryptocurrency of Turkey has been revealed as a Ponzi scheme and more than 12,000 investors have been affected.

TurCoin offered swift dividends and even claimed backing of the Turkish government,resulting in excitement in Turkish crypto circles. Many investors invested some money in it only to be left out in the cold as it was eventually revealed to be a scam. Investigators have frozen company founder’s assets and he is now awaiting trial.

United Arab Emirates

Investor takes $140K loan and loses 85% in crypto trading: The risks of cryptocurrency investment are evident after the recent case of an Emirati investor borrowing USD 140,000 to invest in cryptocurrencies and lost most of it.

The amateur currency investor based in Abu Dhabi is 85% down from his USD 139,500 bank loan that he took a while ago. The investor goes by the name of Cryptohomie on Reddit and he shared documents regarding the loan online which he used to fund his cryptocurrency trading at the height of the 2017 bull run that brought Bitcoin to as high as USD 20,000. He is currently giving monthly payments of USD 3,381 that run till 14 December 2021.

Saudi Arabia

Government warns against use of crypto: The Saudi government has warned against the use of cryptocurrencies, describing them as illegal due to their perceived role in fraud and unauthorized payments.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) gave the statement that included (cryptocurrencies) as “illegal in the kingdom and no parties or individuals are licensed for such practices”.

While the cryptocurrency use is currently deemed illegal, it is unclear to see what kind of authority the SAMA has to enforce a full ban in the country.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 3rd to 9th August 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Africa

South Africa

Government pondering over crypto tax: The South African government is considering crypto taxation and regulations in the country including trading and operations.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is studying the current trends in cryptocurrency trading and is going to propose crypto regulations. The idea has been overall well-received by the crypto community as regulation is the need of the hour in the country.

Cryptocurrencies still remain popular in South Africa despite threat of scams: Cryptocurrency trading is still pumping out great numbers despite numerous incidents of scams and frauds in the country according to latest figures.

A recent poll suggested that more than 38% of South Africans wished they had invested in cryptocurrency back last year when the price increased several folds. But loose regulations mean that South Africans are enjoying unchecked growth in the sector but that can have consequences in the form of scams and frauds. That is why the South African Revenue Service is working on a new set of regulations for the industry.

Nigeria

Blockchain to help combat corruption in Nigeria: The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is working on a blockchain project to help eradicate corruption in its operations.

The NCS is working with ERP company Oracle’s Blockchain Cloud Service that will help the agency in the management of its own affairs in a corruption-free environment. The organization is aiming to increase its revenue collection by as much as 50% with the help of this new decentralized approach.

The technology will also reportedly help new businesses, local and international trade communities to get their affairs done in a transparent manner.

Sierra Leone and Republic of Congo

The curse of blood diamonds to be cured through blockchain: Blockchain technology by a new startup called Everledger Technology is reportedly being used to solve the chronic social issue of blood diamonds in Africa.

A blood diamond is a diamond that is mined in an illegal manner, often through bonded labor or semi-slavery status workers working in inhumane conditions. The United Nations classifies blood diamonds as illegal but the accountability process is weak due to the lack of technology and transparency in the system in addition to massive lobbying by the diamond companies.

Blockchain technology can help an industry that has been taken advantage of for centuries. Countries like Sierra Leone and Republic of Congo are the one of the worst when it comes to diamond mining.

Middle East

Israel

Blockchain entrepreneur looking to buy football club: Israeli blockchain entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg is looking to buy Beitar football club based in the Holy City of Jerusalem according to Ynet News. The man is reportedly offering USD 6.5 million to the club’s current owner Eli Tabib but Tabib has countered with an additional USD 1.1 million offer.

Hogeg made his fortune in a blockchain-based company called Sirin Labs back in 2013. He has also worked to get a blockchain phone on the market that cost USD 14,000. He also announced an ICO back in December that raised USD 157.8 million to develop a new blockchain technology phone.

Saudi Arabia

Government looking to move forward in blockchain era: After the first blockchain moot in Saudi Arabia, Translating Blockchain KSA 2018, the kingdom is appearing to incorporate new blockchain technologies in its set up and diminish dependence on oil.

Blockchain technology is seen as a pivotal technology that can alter the course of the future for the Arab country. Internet of things (IoT), blockchain and other aspects of new technology are now being given priority in the country. The capital city of Riyadh itself is looking to enhance and digitize its records for using DLT in partnership with computerized arrangements supplier Elm.

Turkey

First blockchain center established in Turkey: Turkey is seeing the development of the first blockchain center at university level. The Istanbul Blockchain and Innovation Center (Blockchain IST Center) was inaugurated at the Bahçeşehir University (BAU) this week.

It aims to be “the most important center of research and development and innovation in Turkey in which scientific studies and publications are made in blockchain technologies.”

Blockchain centers are becoming more and more common around the world and Turkey is also gearing up for a blockchain future.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th July to 2nd August 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Africa

Nigeria

Public stake in Bitcoin drops: Amid to a price slump in recent week, the Nigerian market’s share dropped significantly from NGN 1.733 billion to NGN 1.51 billion since the beginning of last month.

The drop in market share of Nigeria was due to a row of negative news and developments coming from the cryptocurrency circles in addition to the overall drop in price, according to an analyst at FXTM Lukman Otunuga. The maximum capitalization was back in December 2016 with NGN 2 billion invested in the cryptocurrency.

ICOs are becoming increasingly commonplace but investor confidence in them is taking serious hits. According to researchers, Hugo Benedetti and Leonard Kostovetsky:

“People often look at returns and say this is a great deal, but we teach in finance that return is a compensation for risk. These are stakes in platforms that have not yet been built, that have no participants yet. There’s a lot of risk. The majority of ICOs do fail.”

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean exchange Golix’s token sale ends: Popular cryptocurrency exchange Golix announced that its token sale had ended and the numbers are finally coming in what seems to be an overall moderately successful public funding campaign.

Golix almost went out of business at one point due to regulatory hurdles but then it set its eyes on nearby countries and their markets and has been planning to expand aggressively ever since. The token generation event was a move to raise money through an ICO and help propel the exchange to markets outside the country.

However, the ambitious USD 32 million funding target was not met and Golix is yet to release official figures. But, analysts predict that the exchange raised around USD 10 to 12 million overall even though the central bank was against the raising of the capital by the exchange. It is yet to be seen if Golix can execute its plans to expand based on the performance of the ICO.

Middle East

Egypt

Egypt crypto coin launched: A new crypto token and ICO called Egypt CryptoCoin is launched in Egypt. It is a gold-backed decentralized payment network that is in its advanced stages of development. An ICO has been launched for the project but it is yet to be seen how practical and disruptive this new coin and its tech can be in the future.

One of the reasons why there is skepticism is that the Egyptian government and banks have historically cracked down on cryptocurrencies and declared cryptocurrencies illegal. The Egypt CryptoCoin is designed to be used by the vibrant Egyptian coin community but it is yet to be seen how the local government will react to it.

Israel

Largest cannabis market to accept cryptocurrencies: The largest cannabis market in Israel, Telegrass, has announced that it will start charging its customers for services with special discounts for Bitcoin payments.

Telegrass is a 100,000-strong community in Israel that promotes recreational use of marijuana. The new fees are meant to pay the Telegrass staff that have been working as volunteers until now. Bitcoin payments are discounted to encourage decentralized payment approach to an industry that is constantly under threat by the Israeli government regarding regulations.

United Arab Emirates

Blockchain court announced in Dubai: The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has announced a partnership to jointly develop a Court of Blockchain for improving the judicial system, according to local news outlet Arabian Business.

The partnership has been signed with Smart Dubai and together, the two organizations will see how the technology can be used to aid verification of court judgments and cross-border enforcement.

According to Dr Aisha Butti Bin Bushr, the Director General of Smart Dubai:

“An invention of this calibre and potential requires an equally disruptive set of rules and an empowered institution to uphold them. This is where our partnership with DIFC Courts comes in.”

UAE continues to be the center of excellence in the region in blockchain development and adoption.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 5th to 12th July 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

African Union

Single digital currency discussed in Transform Africa summit: The latest summit Transform Africa once again discussed the idea of a single African digital currency, according to CNBC Africa.

This year’s event in Kigali attracted political, economic and industry leaders from across the continent and many topics were in discussion. However, much of the conversation revolved around the use of blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and a possible African economic union that would enhance connectivity.

South Africa

South Africans still believe in crypto despite major price decline: According to a recent survey by Savings and Investment Monitor 2018, many South Africans interested in cryptocurrencies still believe that investing in cryptocurrencies will reap benefits and profits for them.

The report involved more than 1,000 face-to-face interactions lasting one month from 26 April to 26 May 2018. While a majority of the respondents were not knowledgeable about cryptocurrencies, the 4% who knew about the cryptocurrency space were optimistic about the future growth of the cryptocurrency space.

More than 71% of the respondents said that it was possible to make money from cryptocurrencies despite major price tanks since the start of the calendar year.

Bitcoin ransom rumors arise in kidnapping case: Rumors regarding cryptocurrency-based ransom have started circulating around a recent kidnapping in Cape Town according to latest reports from local TV sources.

News24 reported that a local man Liyaqat Parker was kidnapped from his business in Parow and rumors have started circulating in the neighborhood that there was a cryptocurrency-based ransom involved. The police have declined to comment on the matter.

A spokesperson for the Cape Town Police said:

“This case is also investigated by our provincial detectives. Please bear with us as we cannot divulge details of the investigation that has yet to be presented before a court of law.”

Nigeria

Entrepreneurs choosing crypto over national currency: An increasing number of Nigerian entrepreneurs are using cryptocurrencies rather than the national currency Naira.

Cryptocurrencies are increasingly drawing battle lines with local fiat currencies in a battle for relevance as they present P2P transactions, lower fees, an alternative to inflation and fast transaction times. The Naira has been losing its value for some time just like many other local currencies across the continent. To offset this huge inflation issue, Nigerians are increasingly turning towards cryptocurrencies as a safer bet. Retailers, importers and engineers are using cryptocurrencies to make and receive payments.

Dash continues expansion in Nigeria: Use of cryptocurrency Dash is growing rapidly in Nigeria. Dash Africa’s mobile refill project called Bitrefill.com has released mobile data showing that an increasing number of Nigerian users are using cryptocurrencies like Dash to buy mobile minutes across the country.

Nigeria, the biggest economy in Africa, was obviously the forerunner in the stats as the Dash’s service got 111 orders from 59 unique numbers with a total purchase of over EUR 191. Nigeria had even bigger purchase limits than Germany. Dash is now working to increase the wider appeal of cryptocurrencies and is offering a 10% discount if users use the Dash-based service.

Zimbabwe

Reserve bank studying blockchain implementation: The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is pursuing its acquired interest in blockchain technology according to local media outlet NewsDay.

The current RBZ governor John Mangudya said that the bank is looking to embrace the technology citing similar moves by banks in China, US, UK and South Africa who have been studying blockchain technology and its uses.

He said:

“I did not say cryptocurrencies because it is lower than blockchain. Blockchain encompasses all the cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin… and we are saying we are putting in motion studies, ways and means of investigating that blockchain technology.”

Israel

Crypto platform hacked, resulting in $24 million losses: Bancor, an Israeli crypto company, saw the biggest hack in the past several weeks as more than USD 23.5 million worth of cryptocurrencies were stolen from its wallets.

The combined Swiss-Israeli company raised over USD 150 million last year in an ICO and the services it was offering included a built-in exchange service. The company said in a statement that “a wallet used to upgrade some smart contracts was compromised”.

Bancor has subsequently frozen its native BNT token and is communicating with a number of exchanges to stop the liquidation of the stolen coins.

 

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The post Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 5th to 12th July 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 22nd to 28th June 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Africa

Senegal

Akon to launch own crypto: Senegalese-American singer Akon has announced that he is creating a new cryptocurrency called “Akoin” and it will serve as the native currency for a yet-to-be-developed city in the country named Akon Crypto City.

The singer is not the first celebrity to float the idea of a personal cryptocurrency as Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquaio and even footballer Michael Owen have also announced crypto projects and initial coin offerings.

The currency will be a part of the “Akoin ecosystem” that will empower youth all over the world according to Akoin sources. It will through a “suite of blockchain-powered apps” allow young entrepreneurs to “buy, hold and spend cryptocurrency right from their smartphone”.

Akon is massively popular in Africa and he has had success with public projects before, notably Akon Lighting Africa that provides access to electricity in the continent. It has gone on to install 100,000 solar street lights in over 480 rural communities in 15 different African countries. But there are considerable question marks regarding the new cryptocurrency.

South Africa

First Bitcoin ATM installed in South Africa: South Africans can now utilize their first ever cryptocurrency ATM in the country as the first machine was set up in Johannesburg.

South Africa follows Zimbabwe and Djibouti as only the third African country to have a Bitcoin ATM. The machine was installed by Northwood Spar, one of the biggest names in the Bitcoin ATM business. According to Northwood Spar General Manager George Neophytou:

“It is all awfully exciting. It will take away much the frustration of buying and selling cryptocurrency, and hopefully help make cryptocurrencies mainstream.”

According to latest figures, as many as 300,000 people are involved in cryptocurrencies in the country.

Blockchain company aims to provide internet solutions for entire continent: Blockchain technology is being used for wide-ranging innovations in African countries. Recently, BlockMesh, a South African crypto startup, is starting an ambitious project to provide free mobile data to people across the continent.

Data rates are extremely high in South Africa and the region overall and BlockMesh aims to increase connectivity throughout the land for free.

“We harness the power of the Internet of Things to provide interpersonal communication which isn’t just free to use, but actually rewards users in cryptocurrency to use it. Our network will be made up of the excess bandwidth that exists across the world,” said Bjorn Guido, BlockMesh founder.

BlockMesh is also working on a telecommunications system that works outside the range of a normal cellular tower system.

Nigeria

Bitcoin seen as a way to hedge against Naira: The Nigerian public and entrepreneurs are turning to Bitcoin as a way to hedge against the native fiat currency Naira.

Nigeria is often a victim of wild monetary devaluations that cause significant problems for the public. Bitcoin serves as a useful hedge against the local currency. Nigerian entrepreneurs, shopkeepers and other professionals are now dealing a lot in cryptocurrencies to avoid inflation.

The local Naira fell as much as 15% last year and businesses start to struggle when the native currency becomes so inflated. Normal bank fees are also increasing a lot in the country and once again Bitcoin proves a safer alternative.

Zimbabwe

Dash CEO reveals crypto changing lives in Zimbabwe: Dash, a popular cryptocurrency that excels in privacy is working to introduce efficient money transfer systems in Zimbabwe.

Dash is a coin that offers fast transactions under one second and fees are only a few cents per transaction which is much better than the 30 minute time for Bitcoin transactions and higher fees involved. In Zimbabwe, a Dash-powered money transfer system called Kuvacash is in place that is the country’s first P2P localized digital currency payment system. It enables users to transfer cash with just a mobile number and that makes things a lot easier for traders and buyers.

A mistrust of the centralized financial system and crushing hyperinflation is said to be the reason behind the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies in the country.

Kenya

Indigenous crypto ATM launched: Kenya has launched its own indigenous cryptocurrency ATM. The ATM was developed by Kenyan startup BitClub and it can dispense cash and cryptocurrencies. The ATM is the fourth official bitcoin ATM in the continent after Djibouti, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Middle East

Israel

Crypto-related crimes set to increase in 2018: An Israeli cyber expert has said that cryptocurrency-related crimes will exceed all other cyber attacks in the near future, according to news from Times of Israel.

The expert named Lotem Finkelstein from Check Point Software Technologies said, “Not a day goes by without our hearing about a new ICO scam or mining attack.”

Finkelstein also said that blockchain was suffering reputational damage because of it being associated with ICOs and cryptocurrencies.

United Arab Emirates

ADGM to regulate crypto and digital assets: UAE-based Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the country’s financial hub, has said that it is launching a new framework to regulate the crypto assets in the country according to an announcement last Monday.

The framework is designed to address the “full range of risks associated with crypto asset activities, including risks relating to money laundering and financial crime, consumer protection, technology governance, custody and exchange operations”.

The move comes after an extensive public consultation by the country’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA).

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 8th to 14th June 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Africa

African Union

Africa to become next frontier for crypto: Interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is increasing in Africa as the sprawling continent continues to advance in the new tech according to latest reports fueling the notion that the continent could become the next frontier in the development of the crypto world.

High inflation figures and rampant exploitation by big companies are some of the factors that will actually help the development of blockchain technology in the continent to bring social justice, transparency and better utilization of resources.

According to gobitcoin.io, the main countries where the blockchain revolution is happening include Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Many of these countries have high inflation rates, thus encouraging the use of cryptocurrencies.

DR Congo

Cobalt mining to be accountable, less controversial through blockchain: According to latest reports from DR Congo, blockchain startup Dorae is working to trace various raw materials produced in the country including cobalt, to hold miners accountable.

Cobalt mining is often seen as one of the most controversial businesses in a country dogged by controversies involving child labor and corruption. According to the Dorae initiative:

“Through adoption of the Dorae system, government and industry can combat issues such as child labor, regional conflict and environmental abuse, as well as increasing tax compliance and recalibrating the economics of supply chains to reward producers observing proper standards.”

Kenya

Blockchain tech to help verify Kenya’s land records: Kenya’s problematic and disputed land management process is a constant headache for the public but blockchain-based startup LayBy is working on using the incorruptible nature of the blockchain to verify land transactions and help create a fraud-proof land registry.

According to the company’s official statement: “The platform, which shall be accessed using a special digital utility key called the Harambee token, will transform the way we buy and sell real estate by doing away with the hidden costs, unnecessary intermediaries, and reduce transaction time significantly. It will enhance data security and eliminate manual errors and duplication of verification processes.”

LayBy has offices in other parts of the world and is working to create transparent land records across the world.

South Africa

70% of crypto investors under age of 30: More than 70% of cryptocurrency investors in South Africa are below the age of 30, according to latest findings by Paxful, an African cryptocurrency marketplace.

With over SAR 500 million worth of monthly transactions happening in the cryptocurrency exchange on Paxful alone, the future of cryptocurrencies in bright in the country but the demographics point to a more younger investor audience, of which 65% are male.

The main driving force behind the South Africans’ entry into cryptocurrency investment includes low fees, secure and speedy transactions, relative stability and international acceptance of the currency.

Women crypto owners rising: Women cryptocurrency owners are increasing in numbers, according to recent findings by AltcoinTrader, a leading crypto exchange operating in the country.

While there is still a huge disparity in the investor statistics as men dominate the field, women are catching up, the survey concludes. The age group that is the most interested in investing in the cryptocurrency is between 18-40 years. Women are becoming more involved in cryptocurrencies because of a safer and more secure investment opportunity for them.

Nigeria

Small businesses to leverage Bitcoin and blockchain: Bitcoin is gaining popularity in the biggest African economy, such that many small and medium enterprises are looking to get into the space, according to latest reports from Nigeria.

While only one in ten small-scale proprietors currently say that they use cryptocurrency payments, the demand is increasing as cryptocurrencies remove geographical, cultural and ethnic borders.

Zimbabwe

Central bank to appeal overturning of crypto ban: In response to the country’s top court overturning a sweeping crypto ban, the central bank is re-engaging in the regulatory tussle.

The bank is arguing that banning currencies and exchanges from operating falls under its jurisdiction and, therefore, the ban was lawful and should be upheld. The tussle between the bank and the cryptocurrency exchanges will determine the future legal outlook for cryptocurrencies in the African nation.

Middle East

Israel

Israeli firm seeking permission to pay employees in Bitcoin: An Israeli firm Spot.IM is asking to pay its employees in Bitcoin, according to Israeli paper Calcalist.

While there is increased regulatory confusion and uncertainty regarding the future of cryptocurrencies in the country, the company is aiming to break the cryptocurrency ice in the country by engaging more and more people in the cryptocurrency debate.

 

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