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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 20th to 26th 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.

Africa

South Africa

Startup lets South Africans invest in crypto for as little as 70 Rands: SAFCOIN, a digital currency startup, is giving South Africans the opportunity to invest in their latest coin project with a minimum investment of 70 rands (SAR) per token valued at USD 18.6.

Neil Ferreira, the co-founder of the coin project said:

“We want to make cryptocurrency trading as accessible as possible, to as many Africans as possible. So it was crucial that our platform was easy to use, secure, and that the tokens were affordable. For the price of a takeaway meal, South Africans can be part of the growing cryptocurrency movement.”

However, South Africans are more interested in investing in Bitcoin rather than other ICOs and cryptocurrencies at the moment, according to latest surveys.

South African community launches own crypto: A small white community living in a remote town of South Africa of Orania and notorious for its closed population consisting of Afrikaners is considering launching its own cryptocurrency according to their Twitter, one of the few communication sources within the community.

The community living in remote area Northern Cape, a province in South Africa, includes just about 1,600 people and almost everybody knows each other. The Town’s Chamber of Commerce published a post on Twitter that it has decided to launch its own cryptocurrency which will present itself as an alternative option to the local Ora currency that may be subject to inflation in the future.

Now, the E-Ora as the new cryptocurrency is called is not an alternative to a cryptocurrency but just fiat currency in digital form under the security and transparency of a blockchain. Daniel James, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce said:

“If the rand became so weak that one were to decide to walk away from it, one could perhaps couple (the E-Ora) to something else, such as a basket of currencies out there. Or something inside Orania. Something comparable that has value.”

The digital currency is currently being tested out but there are no concrete plans of its full adoption presented by the Chamber.

The largest city of South Africa gets a crypto ATM: The city of Johannesburg, the most populous one in South Africa, is now home to its first cryptocurrency ATM.

The ATM has been installed in the North Western Part of the city’s metro area and is compatible with all major coins. Customers can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin with fiat cash using this ATM. The ATM was installed by the Spar store manager, George Neophytou who said:

“I asked permission to use this location because I work here. What better place to set it up, so that if a user required help, I’d be on site to help.”

Cryptocurrencies are becoming popular in South Africa and more and more stores are now accepting direct cryptocurrency payments as well.

Kenya

DASH looking to expand to Kenya and East Africa: Dash Hub Africa, a project of Dash’s Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is looking to establish a Dash ecosystem in Kenya and work towards other areas of East Africa according to the project’s coordinator, Abduallah Adeleke.

The project aims at increased adoption of Dash around the world and Africa, in particular where businesses and consumers can use the cryptocurrency on a daily basis. Adeleke is also trying to form an enthusiastic Dash community in the region that will accept it.

Dash Hub Africa is also active in 17 other members including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Togo.

Ethiopia

Blockchain and crypto being used to help refugees: Ethiopia, one of the largest homes of refugees in the world (almost 750,000 from Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea) is trying to use blockchain to help organizations cater for the needs of the displaced people.

Humanitarian organizations are now finding new ways to use blockchain in providing support for African refugees in Ethiopia. The new uses include using the technology as a means of identification that could help solve the issue of refugees being stranded between borders.

Middle East

Israel

Bank of Israel studying crypto adoption: The Central Bank of Israel’s Deputy Governor Dr Bodo-Trachtenberg has said that the bank is optimistic about adopting cryptocurrencies in the central bank’s operations, according to Finance Magnates.

The move comes after increasing tussles between financial institutions and cryptocurrency circles due to lack of regulations had created an environment of hostility in the country. The words of the deputy governor who spoke at the Bit2C Coin Conference in the country have largely been received positively by the crypto community.

United Arab Emirates

Crypto regulations discussed in judicial review: Dubai’s top Judicial Institute in its annual judicial review has addressed the rise of cryptocurrencies and regulations in the country.

According to the ‘Emirates Law, Business & Practice’, the magazine in question, it will dedicate some space for the future of cryptocurrencies in the country and discuss the necessary regulations that need to be passed by the government from a legal perspective.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 25th to 31st May 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.

Nigeria

Nigerian diaspora considering Bitcoin for sending remittances: The Nigerian diaspora around the world is using Bitcoin to send remittance money in more and more cases, according to latest reports from the African nation. Nigerians sent a staggering amount of USD 22 billion in remittances back to the country and Bitcoin is now being increasingly seen as a viable alternative to the expensive SWIFT transfer.

Requiring no bank account or previous history, many blockchain startups have now started in the country to address this issue and ensure flawless remittance transfers from around the world irrespective of location.

Blockchain conference by local blockchain group organized in Lagos: A local blockchain user group has successfully organized a blockchain conference in the capital city of Lagos. The conference was a step to make the Nigerians realize the immense potential of cryptocurrencies in the present and future.

According to Chimezie Chuta, founder of the user group, “Blockchain technology will transform our lives, governments. And how we run organizations, structure them and interact with people across the world.”

South Africa

$14.5 billion investment firm Sygnia launches crypto exchange: A big South African Investment firm has launched its own cryptocurrency exchange according to latest reports coming from the African country. Sygnia Asset Management, a big investment firm worth SAR 180 billion (USD 14.5 billion) has announced that it will launch a cryptocurrency exchange this year according to BusinessTech.

CEO of Sygnia was of the opinion:

“The cryptocurrency market is evolving at a rapid pace internationally and domestically, and is attracting both domestic and international flows. With its fintech focus, Sygnia is well-positioned to become the first major financial services institution to embrace cryptocurrencies and to offer investors a secure trading and execution platform backed by an international infrastructure, well-designed custody and integration with standard savings products.”

Crypto scam leaves thousands of investors defrauded: Defunct South South African cryptocurrency scam Bitcaw Trading Company (BTC) is now under investigation by the South African authorities.

Several investors complained to the authorities that they invested in a fraudulent scheme that turned out to be Bitcaw. Bitcaw operators conned tens of millions of dollars from the investors.

Central bank terms crypto “cyber-tokens” and not currency: In a recent move this week, the South African central bank has termed cryptocurrencies “cyber tokens” and not currencies according to latest reports from Bloomberg.

Francois Groepe, the deputy head of the Reserve Bank said:

“We don’t use the term “cryptocurrency” because it doesn’t meet the requirements of money in the economic sense of the stable means of exchange, a unit of measure and a stable unit of value. We prefer to use the word ‘cyber-token’.”

Zimbabwe

Court lifts ban on crypto by national bank: Latest news emerging from Zimbabwe states that the country’s Harare High court has lifted a ban on cryptocurrencies operating in the country following last week’s move by the state bank.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had earlier placed a blanket ban on banks and other financial institutions on cryptocurrency trading. The move was challenged in the court by Golix, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country and the verdict came in the exchange’s favor.

Despite the ban being overturned in court, the restoration of the accounts of the cryptocurrency exchange will take some time following finalization of regulatory issues by the government.

Middle East

Israel

Crypto regulation delayed: The Israeli government has postponed regulation on the cryptocurrency market.

The government is looking for increased discussions on the topic with the public but the move also leaves blockchain startups practically stuck in limbo with no legal cover.

United Arab Emirates

50% of fiat banking to shift to blockchain: According to latest reports from the Middle East, the government of the UAE is going to shift over 50% of banking operations to blockchain-based systems by 2021.

According to the ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Muhammad Al Maktoum, the move will save the country USD 3 billion a year and will bring revolutionary changes to the country’s banking system.

 

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Africa: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 6th to 13th April 2018

Africa

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

Cryptocurrencies can be Africa’s solution to payment issues: Africa is one of the most resourceful continents in the world but its constant issues with money and financial systems leave much to be desired. Double-digit inflation in some parts of the continent has weakened national currencies so much that there are always monetary issues. Digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum can be a genuine solution to Africa’s currency woes. Small loans and digital payments are needed in the country where many people are not considered “bankable” and are denied useful financial services such as bank loans.

South Africa

South Africa’s central bank to oversee cryptocurrency: The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has announced that it is moving towards overseeing of cryptocurrency and fintech startups in the country. SARB said that it is taking measures to add investors and eliminating risk on the platform.

The bank has constituted an investigative unit that is promoting growth and innovation while at the same time proposing useful regulations to help people secure their cryptocurrencies and decentralized companies. The Self Regulatory Organization (SRO) will be a non-state regulatory body that aims at further developments in the industry and not just regulations for the sake of regulations.

“The objective of the bank is to gain a practical understanding of DLTs (distributed ledger technologies) through the development of a PoC in collaboration with banking industry… to replicate interbank clearing and settlement on a DLT which will allow the SARB and industry to jointly assess the potential benefits and risks of DLTs”, it said.

Taxpayers told to declare capital gains or losses on cryptocurrencies: South African Revenue Service has called on taxpayers to declare earnings in cryptocurrencies because they are liable for capital gains taxes. The agency said that the onus is entirely on them to declare these gains as part of their taxable income. Crypto-related losses or gains can occur through mining and trading, which is worrisome for the former because Bitcoin’s profitability has already taken a hit in recent times.

South African campuses embrace cryptocurrencies: Despite the recent Bitcoin price slump, campuses in South Africa are welcoming cryptocurrency investments and technology. In response to surging demand, Vega, an independent education institute has introduced a comprehensive cryptocurrency short course at the tertiary level in South Africa.

The move by Vega follows an international trend in universities where cryptocurrency and blockchain courses are oversubscribed at universities including Berkeley, Cornell and MIT.

Shevon Lurie, managing director at Vega said, “The course will run over three weeks with two highly engaging sessions per week at Vega’s Johannesburg campus only, covering everything from the history of some of the world’s leading cryptocurrencies to buying, trading and using Bitcoin.”

Nigeria

Nigeria urged to stop crackdown on cryptocurrencies: The biggest African economy is in the midst of a crackdown on cryptocurrencies across the spectrum. The Central Bank of Nigeria has warned that cryptocurrency traders and investors are not protected by the law in the country and not regulated by the government either. Futurist Thomas Fry has urged the Nigerian government to soften its stance because digital currencies are more “efficient” and transparent.

Nigerian central bank claims no country will submit its legal tender to cryptocurrencies: The Nigerian government and central bank have said that no country in the world is going to issue legal tender to cryptocurrencies. Strangely, the move comes after the Nigerian Central Bank inaugurated the Association of Financial Services Innovators (FSI), a regulatory sandbox that will be used to test and deploy financial technologies in the country.

 

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