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Second Crypto Funded School to Be Built in Rwanda

An NGO and a cryptocurrency platform are planning to construct a school in Rwanda using cryptocurrency funding.

The non-profit organization, Zam Zam Water, in a cooperative project with Peer-to-Peer finance platform provider Paxful is aiming to raise $100,000 for an education center. The project will be implemented in Rwanda’s Bugesera District, complete with full-time teaching staff.

The school building project in Rwanda is not the first of its kind in the region. It follows a similar project which saw the opening of a school for children aged three to six. The new school will be built to complement the first school by catering for children aged six to 15.

The raising of estimated building costs of up $100,000 has been started for the new project with a donation of $20,000 from Paxful. The remaining funds will be raised through online crowdfunding. Cryptocurrency donations via Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dash will be matched by the crypto platform’s BuiltWithBitcoin initiative until the necessary funds have been raised. Ray Youseff, CEO at Paxful commented:

“The BuiltWithBitcoin initiative is a testament to the growing power of cryptocurrency…We firmly believe in its capacity to improve lives and make the world a better place.”

The second of the two schools will be larger, almost double the size of the first with six classrooms and six full-time teachers. The school will have its own cafeteria, potable well, and sustainable solar panel power system

Yusuf A. Nessary, Founder and President at Zam Zam Water sees education as fundamental in moving countries like Rwanda forward, suggesting:

“Education is a crucial tool for helping those in developing nations increase their standard of living, so we are very pleased to partner with Paxful to serve these bright young students”, adding, “This is only a small glimpse into what we can and will continue to do with the power of cryptocurrency.”

Cryptocurrency is increasingly being used to fund humanitarian projects in developing countries around the world, particularly on the African continent. Global micro-leasing marketplace Powerhive announced a partnership this year to offer decentralized solar power to poorer nations.

AfricaPowerhive will be the beneficiary of funds generated from the sale of Sun Exchange’s SUNEX rewards tokens through public sale. The money will then be spent on developing solar-powered mini-grid projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. The project will allow for the solar panels used to be sold later to Sun Exchange members who will, in turn, own the cells used in the projects and subsequently profit from a sustained period of “solar-powered money”

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Indonesia Knowledge-Sharing Blockchain Hub Launches in Jakarta

The Indonesia Blockchain Hub was launched in Jakarta this week, described as a center for the sharing of industry knowledge, both locally and internationally.

The centee was opened in partnership with the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), Indonesia Blockchain Association (ABI), BEKRAF and HARA, an agritech startup.

The ABI has become instrumental in promoting blockchain in the South East Asian country through accelerating understanding, utilization, advancement and technological inventiveness in relation to the fourth industrial revolution. South East Asia’s largest economy is seeing both public and private sectors investing in applying blockchain technology to address issues surrounding the storage and application of data within the country in a number of sectors.

Banks for one, are looking at DLT with more interest, as discovered by a survey published last year indicating that about 80% of financial institution executives see blockchain impacting future markets. Rico Ustahavia Frans, director of digital banking and technology at Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s second-biggest bank by assets, said it was currently looking at applying blockchain, once regulators had formulated guidelines for banking and financial institutions.

The launch of the new hub has to be a feather in Indonesia’s cap and signals its intent to become a significant player on the world stage in adopting the new technology. HARA CEO and co-founder of the hub, Regi Wahyu, sees blockchain being integrated into a range of areas of Indonesian society:

“We believe that data transparency as enabled by blockchain technology will help the bottom of the societal pyramid to improve their welfare… [which] will lead to improvement in business and economic performance. Based on HARA’s experience… there remain challenges in explaining the socio-economic impact of blockchain for business, regulators, and the society in general.”

Wahyu added that there is a need in the country for a platform which can extend blockchain knowledge in the community, one of the aims of the new hub. The Indonesia Blockchain Hub along with the IBA is now one of a growing number of bodies set up to support the dissemination of blockchain awareness in the country and share information. Another is the blockchain-focused coworking space Blockchain Space.

A number of government institutions, including the postal service, now utilize blockchain solutions across the country as its deployment spreads to different sectors of society.

 

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Nigeria to Launch State-Backed Blockchain Hub in African Crypto Surge

A new Nigerian blockchain hub is being launched by the government in conjunction with a UK blockchain firm.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow, enabled by the presence of a greater number of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership that are unique to the continent of Africa, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Google searches reveal that , Nigeria and South Africa are frantically searching online when it comes down to cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. Many nationals fall foul of inflation and hyperinflation, resulting in weak and unstable financial systems.

Recently, countries such as Zimbabwe, South Sudan, and oil-rich Nigeria have all suffered, many of these countries with inflation rates well into the hundreds of percentages. In these situations, it is hardly surprising that the people look to a more stable form of a monetary solution in their daily lives.

Lady Victoria Walker, CEO of the United Digital Currency Reserve Foundation and UK based fintech entrepreneur feels that new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency are essential factors in empowering African leaders to inject growth and financial inclusivity into their economies. She argues:

“Bitcoin is a reality. We have all major world governments scrambling to make sense of it and world leaders sharing their views on the currency. For the past 700 years, our world has relied on the European legacy banking system for means of payments and transactions. Bitcoin is definitely challenging the traditional way when it comes to the transfer of value. Just like the internet changed how we shop, bank, date and find information.”

Nigeria is looking to this kind of future with its new Africa Blockchain Lab in the Kaduna area, designed to create blockchain growth through crypto solutions across the region. The state-backed blockchain hub project between KAD ICT Hub and the British crypto firm Coinfirm wants to stake its claim as a societal changer with latter’s AMLT network offering rewards to Nigerians reporting Cyber Crime and other illegal activity online.

The Africa Blockchain Lab, launched last week has promised to offer financial inclusion to many Nigerians who are excluded from the country’s financial system and also attract new startups as part of the country’s drive to support the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies in the continent.

As Lady Walker suggested, an understanding and deployment of bitcoin can kickstart the financial growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

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Survey: 50% of Americans Would Give Bitcoin a Try

A poll by analytics firm Harris Insights and cryptocurrency startup Gem has come up with some interesting results, one of which indicates that out of 2000 who participated in the survey,  50% of Americans would like to try out Bitcoin.

Another suggested that Americans with lower incomes are more likely to buy the flagship currency. Millennials came high up on the list of investors as numerous surveys conducted over the past year have already shown. Micah Winkelspecht of Gem commented on the “millennial factor”:

“We find that younger people with less income are more willing to put money in crypto. […] My guess is that crypto is of the digital age. And the younger generation is of the digital age and used to doing everything on the internet.”

The number of investors from lower incomes almost doubled that buying in the higher income bracket. Those Americans owning some cryptocurrencies earning between $50,000 and $74,900 per year was 11 percent, dropping to just six percent amongst higher earners of over $100,000 per year.

Bitcoin News has published a number of reports this year which illustrate the tendency of Millennials to withdraw from traditional finance options towards digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Kari Paul of MarketWatch commented recently:

“Over 82% of millennials say their investment decisions were influenced by the Great Recession when $14 trillion in wealth was lost…Millennials regard the stock market with skepticism. People between the ages of 18 and 39 are less likely to invest money in the stock market than are other generations, studies show.”

Across the Atlantic, in the UK, another recent survey suggested that far more education was needed about cryptocurrencies. The survey revealed that although up to 3 million people have invested in Bitcoin in the country through online trading platforms, many went in with virtually no knowledge about virtual currencies citing 2.5 million investors making commitments without fully understanding cryptocurrency.

An interesting survey finding has suggested that in the UK, in fact, as many as 31% would be happy to have at least some portion of their earnings paid in Bitcoin. Of the 1,000 respondents, 37% said that they would go for between 1-20% in digital pay and the rest in fiat.

The polls alone are not the whole picture, but when examined together do begin to show current cryptocurrency trends, most of which are favourable for the industry at this time of crypto volatility, given that they have all been conducted in recent months.

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South Korea Plans Blockchain Youth Development Program

South Korea has announced plans to launch a blockchain-focused training initiative targeted at emerging talent from the country’s younger demographic.

The young participants will benefit from a six-month blockchain and technology training course covering a variety of emerging sectors, with the primary goal being stated at decreasing youth unemployment while matching individuals with job opportunities well suited to them.

The students will be trained in a total of 40 courses including blockchain development, as well as software, hardware, autonomous vehicle and drone modules. Each unit was carefully configured to match the employment personnel needed for the various industries local to South Korea.

A key objective of the plan involves building direct relationships between educational institutions and companies to coordinate an advantageous cooperation of building the skill sets that employers need from prospective employees.

In a press release on Thursday, the ministry called for a demand of future employees to participate from the beginning of the project so that the most effective outcome is reached.

Software policy officer at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, Young-Kyung Won, noted that while unemployment of the younger generation is becoming a social problem, job mismatch is also becoming a serious issue in the country.

Through an innovative approach to fostering talent, Young-Kyung hopes that companies’ level of vision can be matched by the youths alongside developing better support networks to match them with and offer them job opportunities.

The government-led 2018 Innovative Growing Youth Talent Concentration Project has been organized collaboratively by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Institute for Information and Communications Technology Promotion. Recruitment and selection events were held by local governments between 11 June and 10 July.

Individual trainees will be chosen through the month of August via self-selection criteria at each educational facility. The course is scheduled to begin mid-September.

 

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Turkey Joins Current Swell of Global Blockchain Educators with New Centre

Turkey is opening a centre in Istanbul which will run a course aimed at teaching the public about blockchain technology.

The opening of yet another centre aimed at either informing the public or offering further training for blockchain and cryptocurrency professionals may not be surprising given current educational trends, but it is the first in Turkey.

There are now many opportunities for blockchain developers, but clearly not enough skilled technicians to fill these gaps. Toptal, a marketplace for hiring tech talent, recorded a 700% increase in demand for blockchain developers since January 2017. These positions can be well paid. According to Jerry Cuomo, VP of IBM’s Blockchain Technologies division, the best blockchain developers can command a salary above USD 250,000.

There are have been some early starters; institutions offering courses in digital information systems, the blockchain, and cryptocurrency. In the US, the Northeastern University College of Engineering in Boston and George Mason University in Virginia run courses in blockchain technology as part of other Advanced Educational Postgraduate Science programs.  The University of Cape Town now offers a cryptocurrency and fintech elective module as part of its wider Data Science Masters program as well.

In Scotland, the University of Sterling – as part of its Financial Technology Masters program, offers participants a primer to blockchain technology, which includes cryptocurrencies, decentralized applications, smart contracts, their applications and case studies.

This latest centre in Turkey, The Istanbul Blockchain and Innovation Center, or BlockchainIST Center for short, has been created to fill what is regarded as a gap in Turkey’s knowledge of blockchain technology and will be taught at University level. The centre has already been inaugurated at the Bahçeşehir University (BAU) at an opening last week.

Bora Erdamar, the centre’s director has suggested that it will be staffed by highly competent blockchain experts from around the world. She stated:

“…the purpose of the Blockchain IST project is to be the most important centre of research and development and innovation in Turkey in which scientific studies and publications are made in blockchain technologies”.

Turkey is another country that has recently stated its intention to become a blockchain hub.

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Walton College at University of Arkansas Joins Growing List of Blockchain Educators

The University of Arkansas (UA) is the latest addition to the growing list of blockchain education proponents having now established a Blockchain Center of Excellence at its Sam M Walton College of Business.

Proactive approach

UA is seeking to study the nascent technology and prepare its students for a future of blockchain, a technology that is experiencing incredible growth and applicable to almost every sector and industry.

In the sprouting adoption of blockchain into the mainstream consciousness, the desire to prepare the future generations is escalating. The technology is expected to disrupt many other global technologies and UA is taking the bullish approach.

Walton College Dean, Matt Waller said, “We will develop and establish research partnerships by conducting collaborative industry-university research, we will promote and enable dissemination of knowledge about blockchains, and we will accelerate industry adoption of blockchain technology.”

The new center is funded by an executive set of partners which will be limited to ten. Five have already been selected, most notably Walmart and IBM, who have deeply invested their time and funds into blockchain projects and patents.

Mary C Lacity, Department of Information Systems Professor at the Walton College and the new director of the Blockchain Center of Excellence said, “The technology is immature. Enterprises need to overcome significant obstacles to transition more blockchains out of innovation labs into live production.”

The center will be collaborating with Arkansas-based companies. It is taking a proactive approach to the study of blockchain with the intention of utilizing these relationships for practical research and business integration.

Other efforts

Educational institutions in the United States are mounting an academic response to the emerging industry, which, due to the cautious public and skeptical governmental approach to cryptocurrencies and blockchain may come as a surprise. However, now that the markets have cooled off, the monetary value of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies comes second to the value of the underpinning tech.

Stanford University, New York University, as well as others are tackling different facets of the industry. Stanford is shooting for the business approach, much like AU who is apprehending an innovative enterprising future with blockchain.

New York University is offering a course that educates students in cryptocurrencies, which is similar to that of Berkley; DePaul University is providing smart contract and fintech-focused classes.

Other global efforts are taking place, Brazil, Denmark, Russia, and prestigious academic institutions in the United Kingdom are making hefty bids to provide blockchain educations.

If industry-wide adoption has brought blockchain to the forefront of governmental discussion, then the inroads created by academic institutions may truly be the way to break blockchain into the mainstream permanently.

 

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Another Blockchain Party, This Time at Sea with 2,500 Cryptolites

A third floating blockchain conference is planned for September of this year with an entire ship reserved for a potential 2,500 cryptocurrency enthusiasts sailing the Mediterranean Sea.

The cruise is organized by cryptocurrency exchange CoinsBank taking in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Ibiza as 100 speakers deliver presentations on current developments in the industry.

Those at sea will include a mixed bag of pioneers and experts from the industry including John McAfee, founder of McAfee security and Bobby Lee, the founder of BTCC and a crypto expert. Others on board will include venture capitalist and philanthropist Brock Pierce and CEO of Bitcoin.com, Roger Ver. Apart from speeches, the main speakers plan to also run workshops and one-on-one consultations.

Lectures and workshops covered will cover managing crypto investments, understanding regulations and all things blockchain. Other aspects within this main framework will be cybersecurity, trading and scalability issues.

Blockchain and crypto-conferences are becoming fashionable in the new digital world, dressed for fun but with business lurking in the background ready to pounce. It’s not surprising then that CoinsBank has dressed up three conferences to date as parties, given recent history.

In this year’s Dubai Futurama summit, the conference to surpass all others in terms of razzmatazz, the actual blockchain discussions were basically molded around networking events and basically, having fun. However, these events don’t come cheap, with admission prices running into the thousands of dollars; many happy to pay these after striking up a rewarding business relationship or tapping into yet another good idea. A cruise would be no cheaper.

As has been said elsewhere, possibly at Brock Pierce’s highly-publicized recent desert conference, information is great but having a good time in the process of acquiring it makes it even better. Of course, what he actually said was “…the most likely way to get me to attend your conference is to throw really good parties”.

 

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NEM Strengthens Regional Foothold with Two New Blockchain Hubs in Australasia

Creators of the XEM digital currency NEM have announced that the company is to open two blockchain hubs in Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian hub will be located in Brisbane at Fortitude Valley and its New Zealand counterpart will be established in Westport. NEM Foundation’s director for Australia and NZ, Jason Lee, said that both hubs will be represented by a NEM staff member in place with a role to “educate and inform the general public and businesses about the benefits and applications of blockchain”.

The Australian hub is hosted by TravelByBit which promotes the use of cryptocurrencies in Australia’s tourism industry and has become a supporter of numerous businesses which accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies for food, services and travel around the country.

Caleb Yeoh of TravelByBit, who is also a board member of Blockchain Australia, welcomes the NEM connections and sees it as another positive move towards Australia’s wider cryptocurrency “education and adoption”.

The New Zealand hub in Westport, just a 45-minute flight from New Zealand’s capital Wellington, will also include a co-working space and will provide regular educational and engagement activities as well as a NEM incubation platform.

New Zealand’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Damien O’Connor is positive that such hubs demonstrate the country’s desire to be in the vanguard of promoting new technologies in the region. He stated:

“Blockchain development represents an exciting new frontier for startups in New Zealand and it’s great to see that going on in our regions with such strong international support.”

The XEM Foundation is now a feature of 47 countries around the world and the two regional hubs see themselves as key in being able to encourage local startups and to promote NEM’s Global Community Fund which currently has $ 300 million allocated to it annually.

Asian markets, primarily Japan and South Korea, will be encouraged by XEM’s new presence in Australia and New Zealand, giving the company a real foothold in Australasia.

 

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La Bitcoineta: Argentine Non-Profit Tackles Lack of Knowledge in Local Communities, Push for Crypto-Driven Change

As Bitcoin’s popularity and user base continue to grow, companies involved with the cryptocurrency are progressing from merely providing the infrastructure needed such as wallets and exchanges, to providing sophisticated services such as healthcare or gaming applications. With an innovative fintech sector emerging to service the cryptocurrency market, financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs have begun turning their heads, offering Bitcoin ventures such as futures trading or cryptocurrency hedgefund management.

The Bitcoin market cap at the time of press stands at USD one hundred seven billion; this significant sector still lacks international understanding, trust, and mainstream accessibility. A group of individuals based in Argentina have taken it upon themselves to liberate and educate the population of their country on Bitcoin, with the hopes of aiding sustainable economic growth via the possibilities of Bitcoin and the ensuing fintech sector.

The group has managed to create a fun, unique way of spreading the message. Pictured below is La Bitcoineta, their stylised Bitcoin education van that has taken them across the cities and towns of Argentina.

They described their objective to Bitcoin News as an ”initiative to generate bridges between those who are developing the technologies that will change the world and the different productive, social, cultural, and economic ecosystems.” The individuals in the team shared their understanding that firsthand projects can inspire new solutions, or benefit from existing technologies.

Smaller communities lacked general Bitcoin awareness

Speaking to Bitcoin News, a spokesperson for La Bitcoineta described a striking lack of awareness surrounding Bitcoin and blockchain technology in the smaller communities that they visited. Consequently, this meant that much time in these locations was spent devoted to explaining these concepts to the locals from scratch, basic education being the first step for these individuals to enter the market. Their efforts were welcomingly received; the spokesperson said ”everybody is open to the new concept and enjoys us going there.”

Bitcoin has started to make its mark in Argentina

As the spokesperson described it as surprising to some, nearly all of the smaller cities that were visited had some individuals who were knowledgeable on the subject, indicating the vast reach of Bitcoin internationally. These knowledgeable ”bitcoiners,” as they described them, shared enormous gratitude towards the team for taking the time to visit and share their knowledge with their hometown.

Is local media the answer?

The team told Bitcoin News that they have received an exponential amount of national media traction during their journey so far, with feedback for their work largely positive. They noted local media as a powerful tool in aiding their cause. Frequently La Bitcoineta would make headlines in the local newspapers and their online outlets, helping develop the regional conversation around Bitcoin and blockchain. The irony was not lost that such a traditional, established media form would come to aid this reformist cause.

Challenges and successes

The team behind La Bitcoineta see the greatest possible results of their tour as driving crypto-related change in communities that would benefit this the most, particularly in areas where individual’s efforts could be monetized or reach international markets. Through their talks, they hope to create an impact on the local fintech sector, inspiring projects, changes and pushing for a less bureaucratic government.
The biggest challenge they have faced in reaching this goal has been their ability to reach and connect with the right people. While the team has been considerably active in pushing their agenda, reaching government decision makers themselves and identifying the communities that they could positively impact the most has presented the greatest test.
Despite La Bitcoineta’s Bitcoin positivity, those behind the objective do not see it as likely, nor are they pushing for Bitcoin to be adopted as a regular payment system. This is only considered by themselves as a likely option if merchant outlets themselves incentivize cryptocurrency spending through a discounted alternative to fiat.
Instead, the biggest fruitful challenge they see is pursuing Bitcoin to be a globally recognized store of value and a better alternative medium of exchange. The impending fight against banks and governments is their biggest concerns for reaching this, but they are confident the cryptocurrency driven change they envision will be achieved.
La Bitcoineta’s journey can be followed on both Twitter and Facebook.
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