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Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia is having to reinvent itself after being the hub of Australia’s massive gold mining industry for years, and blockchain and cryptocurrency are beckoning.

Mining in Western Australia, together with the petroleum industry in the state, accounted for 92% of the State’s and 41% of Australia’s income from total merchandise exports in 2015-16. The state hosted 111 principal mining projects and hundreds of smaller quarries and mines.

Over the past few years mining has taken a hit, but this is nothing new to West Australians who have lived in a boom-bust economy for years. Experts say it is on the brink of another mining boom with new projects and tens of thousands of jobs to be created in the next year. FMG, Rio Tinto and BHP are set to invest billions of dollars to recruiters struggling already to keep up with demand for workers.

New game in town

The state’s capital, Perth, on the banks of the meandering Swan River, has been both the beneficiary and the victim of the state’s boom-bust economic roller coaster, most recently affected by China’s own economy and its need for minerals. A new game in town which local business has taken to is the city’s Blockchain Center, a project created in order to push new technologies such as blockchain into business and public consciousnesses. Investors in Perth have been moving away from the state’s backbone traditional investments such as real estate and mining over the past 18 months towards developing technologies.

Australia itself is becoming a blockchain and cryptocurrency trendsetter, with the newly-elected government showing a great interest in leveraging blockchain into government department systems in a number of sectors. Crypto towns have appeared, and in some areas travelling without a Bitcoin payment facility could cause problems for the keen traveller as locals try to create bitcoin communities to boost tourism.

Perth Blockchain Center will allow startups to share resources and ideas with like-minded business personnel and entrepreneurs. Sam Lee is the brains behind the venture, which he hopes will encourage business to stay in the city by offering every resource that a blockchain startup might need. He points out:

“Whether it’s a retail investor or a developer interested in implementing the technology, a blockchain center as the knowledge hub has the access required to upskill the local ecosystem to ensure better outcomes through higher quality projects.”

Lee maintains that a problem for new startups in this field is frequently that such companies are unable to access capital, often driving them overseas for a more supportive business environment. The center plans to change this situation, encouraging these young start-ups to stay in town through its knowledgeable local support.

Also in Western Australia’s capital, Perth Mint announced earlier this year that it had plans to win back investors who lost funds at the end of 2017 by creating the Mint’s own cryptocurrency backed by gold. Perth Mint is Australia’s largest exporter of gold, with about USD 18 billion in revenue from exported metals. Richard Hayes, Director of the Perth Mint commented:

“…you see this massive influx of capital and funds into Bitcoin and its derivatives because people are looking for something other than traditional forms of investment… [our own crypto] would have all the beneficial aspects of a distributed networks, namely very fast transactions which will facilitate trade. However, it will be backed and supported by precious metals. So, there is a non-virtual aspect of it that will ensure its value.”


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Bill Gates: Digital Currency Will Help the Poor

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.”


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Crypto Needs to Welcome Women Professionals, Draw on Proven Successes

Crypto Needs to Welcome Women Professionals, Draw on Proven Successes

A well-worn topic is the gender disparity at cryptocurrency events with young male attendees being the predominant industry representatives at fintech conferences, particularly those that relate to cryptocurrency.

Writer Caroline Preece recently asked the question “why are cryptocurrency events still ignoring women”, illustrated by the blanked-out face of a female conference attendee above her piece. Bitcoin News wrote a similar such piece earlier this year reflecting the problem of gender equality in the industry, which focused on women who were becoming movers and shakers in this male-dominated industry.

That the industry accepts it “as the norm”, as Preece suggests, is perhaps oversimplifying the issue of gender equality in new technology development such as cryptocurrency. What is perhaps more relevant is how to encourage women into the sector, which is the only factor which will influence those conference numbers she refers to.

The success stories for women at top levels of the industry are already piling up. Civic Ledger‘s Katrina Donaghy saw her company named as emerging fintech organization of the year at this year’s annual Fintech Industry Awards. She managed to secure a blockchain deal with the Queensland government, launching the startup which uses smart contract and blockchain technology to build tools for people to engage with government. She commented:

“If you just look at the companies that have done ICOs, there are very few women, but if you look at the ones that have been built based on customer validation and actually have sales, well most of the good blockchain companies that are still around were co-founded by women in the early days.”

Cryptocurrency adoption statistics don’t augur well for women though and this should become a focus for the industry; how to encourage women to see cryptocurrency as a viable option for them in the future. Blockchain Women Ireland (BWI) is one such organization which has been fired up in the Irish Republic to further advance awareness of the blockchain sector in the country by selecting women already in the industry to make decisions on its future.

BWI members draw from a wide scope of financial representatives in the country including the Department of Finance, BNY Mellon and the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Adapt research center for digital content technology. BWI includes two prominent women from the business sector: Mai Santamaria, a senior financial director at the Department of Finance, and Joyce O’Connor, founding president of the National College of Ireland and chairwoman of the Institute of International and European Affairs digital future working group.

The idea behind the new group is to promote blockchain as a potential career for women and also keep the community up to date with educational opportunities in the industry.

However, the numbers of women adopting cryptocurrency as a form of investment, or simply as a way of managing their financial assets, is on the rise according to recent surveys with numbers jumping from 6% to 13% over the course of this year. London Block Exchange senior business analyst Agnes de Roeyer believes women have recently become keener to join the crypto market, explaining:

“There’s still a common misconception that cryptocurrency is a game for men, but we’ve seen hundreds of women sign up for our exchange in the last few months and some of the most inspiring and knowledgeable investors, leading the way in the industry are female.”

Back to the conference event. These numbers can’t swell until first women begin to take a more from the top of the industry as many have already demonstrated and as Mysterium Network‘s CMO Sharmini Ravindran observes: It’s about making the industry more open to women, and this needs to come from men understanding the social complexities of doing business in an industry where you are vastly outnumbered.”

This also means dumping the “booth babes” and scantily-clad models that are often used to advertise ICOs and crypto projects, a daunting problem on its own for female speakers where the models at such events often represent the predominant female gender representation in the room. Marion Vogel, director at aeternity put the case well:

“The crypto scene started off as a male-dominated space and probably will be this way for a while. That’s okay, but let’s also put an emphasis on not only welcoming women to the space but also on having them prove and demonstrate their skills. I believe every talented person will find a home in crypto, regardless of gender.”

Gracie Wong, who co-founded Liven alongside her brother William Wong, perhaps puts it best when she suggests that blockchain needs as much expertise as it can get, particularly as it’s still in its infancy. Reflecting that diversity is the key, she argues:

“While blockchain might be a newly-named technology, the reality is it’s a combination of existing technical competencies. We need people that are great data scientists, who understand governance, who are cryptographers… and AI experts. When you combine this together in a novel way, it becomes enlivened.”


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Second Rwandan School Completed with Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin

Second Rwandan School Completed with Paxful's #BuiltWithBitcoin

Recently, Bitcoin News featured as part of its Humanitarian Blockchain series news that an education complex was being constructed as part of Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin program in Rwanda. The story is now revisited to see how much progress has been made.

Paxful Inc operates a peer-to-peer payment logistics platform which focuses on buying and selling of Bitcoin. After a fact-finding trip to South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, it found that Africans were turning to Bitcoin in ever increasing numbers with Paxful’s transactions alone standing at SAR 948 million (USD 66 million) per month. Over the past year, Paxful transactions from South Africa increased by 25%, by 60% in Nigeria and by up to 100% in other parts of the continent. For Africa as a whole, Paxful has seen a 225% increase in users in the last 12 months.

NGO Zam Zam Water, in a cooperative project with Paxful, had planned to raise USD 100,000 for an education center in Rwanda’s Bugesera District comprising two schools back in August. This followed on from the construction of the first primary school earlier in the year using Paxful’s #BuiltWithBitcoin initiative and a donation of USD 50,000 in Bitcoin.

The second, much larger, project has now been fundraised for and completed in the space of just a few short months, providing the region with its second school double the size of the first, with six classrooms and six full-time teachers. The school also has its own cafeteria, potable well, and sustainable solar panel power system.

Paxful has a busy 2019 ahead with numerous projects already in the pipeline. The company announced it wasn’t prepared to stop at its first BTC donation but now had plans to expand on the two completed schools in Rwanda to fund and build a further 100 schools across the African continent. With Bitcoin donations and academic scholarships the prize for socially supportive projects, Paxful is fast becoming a humanitarian face of blockchain. Summarizing these recent events, Paxful’s CEO Ray Youseff commented:

“We encourage the cryptocurrency sector to contribute more to humanitarian projects. The #BuiltWithBitcoin initiative is an example of bitcoin being used as more than a speculative tool, but a testament to the usefulness of cryptocurrency… To date, we have built two schools — a nursery and a primary school in Rwanda, Africa — and provided scholarships to Afghan refugees, and plan to continue these philanthropic ventures.”

There are many reasons why Africans are beginning to turn to cryptocurrencies rather than traditional currencies. 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 populations look to a more stable form of monetary solution in their daily lives.


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Crypto Reading Catch Up? Now Could Be the Perfect Time

Crypto Reading Catch Up? Now Could Be the Perfect Time

With cryptocurrencies currently languishing ahead their next step major step forward as international interest continues to grow, now might be the time to grab something to read, do some research, fill a few educational gaps, and prepare for the future as the industry gathers new momentum.

Whether it be a fiction or a non-fiction read, there is plenty out there on bookshelves for the discerning reader looking to expand their crypto knowledge. Even screenplays are becoming more frequent, often attracting familiar names from stage and screen. So where to begin then?

If it’s blockchain that holds a fascination, there are two books which have undeniable popularity: “The Internet of Money” by Andreas Antonopoulos and Nathaniel Popper‘s “Digital Gold”. These two promise an insightful read examining blockchain and Bitcoin from two entirely different angles and two very different writing styles.

Antonopoulos takes the reader into the world of blockchain, examining every detail and every aspect of what the technology can offer and how it functions, including advice that an enthusiastic reader might soon find themselves passing on to others. His quote, “First they ignore us, then they laugh at us, then they fight us, then we win”, has already become an industry catchall quote among enthusiasts for explaining how blockchain technology has forged new ground, often against the predictions of detractors and the actions of legislators, to become one of this century’s more notable and significant new technologies.

Popper’s “Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money” is simply a good read. Described by many as a “page-turner” and certainly written like a novel, the book examines the origins of Bitcoin and the mysteries surrounding its anonymous founder and its adherents, through the eyes of some of its central characters such as the Winklevoss twins, with the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto taking on the book’s pivotal role.

Another book, this time promising an all-you-need-to-know guide to crypto trading and investment, is Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar’s “Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond”. Although it a may lack the flair of Digital Gold, Cryptoassets is classed as a masterpiece in crypto writing and an all-encompassing guide for the serious investor. The book covers a framework for investigating and valuing crypto assets, practical guides to exchanges, wallets, capital market vehicles, and ICOs, and portfolio management techniques, complete with comprehensive references, charts, and tables.

“Blockchain Basics”, Saifedean Ammous‘s “The Bitcoin Standard”, “The Truth Machine”, “Mastering Bitcoin”, Sam and Alex Tapscott’s “Blockchain Revolution” and “The Age of Cryptocurrency” by Paul Vinya and Michael J Casey are others worthy of note as Christmas approaches or even possibly for revitalizing those new year’s plans for launching an ICO or simply that long-delayed cryptocurrency portfolio.

Whatever the project, these reads will move you further down the road to a greater understanding of the world’s fastest-growing financial technology.


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Vitalik Buterin Awarded Honorary PhD

Vitalik Buterin Awarded Honorary PHD

The University of Basel has recognized the achievements of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin by awarding him an honorary Ph.D. for his contributions to the field of cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and the design of institutions.

Sharing the announcement on Twitter, the doctorate has been granted by the Faculty of Business and Economics.

.@VitalikButerin receives an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Basel. The co-founder of @ethereum has made outstanding achievements in the fields of #cryptocurrencies, smart contracts and the design of institutions.

— University of Basel (@UniBasel_en) November 30, 2018

Buterin joins the alumni alongside the likes of renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

The university praised him further in the Tweet, saying: ”he is an exceptionally creative and innovative thinker who has been instrumental in shaping the digital revolution from an early age.”

Buterin reportedly responded to the university in praise of its ”innovative blockchain research.”

„I’m honored to have received an honorary doctorate from the University of Basel the oldest
University of Switzerland. Switzerland is well known for its innovative blockchain research.”
Vitalik Buterin #DrButerin #Ethereum @cifunibas @TuurDemeester @aleksanderbere

— Aleksander Berentsen (@aleksanderbere) November 30, 2018

As the academic world catches up with tech, more institutions have been including blockchain research in their agenda and more industry experts have begun to receive accolades.

Last month Monero cryptographer Joseph Liu received the prestigious Australian Computer Society’s researcher of the year award for his contributions to digital currency.

Liu is also an associate professor at Monash University, where he was congratulated and praised for his ”legitimate way [of creating] new economic and social systems.”

A recent study by Coinbase shows how popular blockchain courses are becoming for the university prospectus, particularly in the US. Nearly half of the world’s top universities offer related modules, including eight out of the top ten.

The University of Nicosia is at the top of the game when it comes to blockchain in higher education. It was both the first university in the world to offer formal education in blockchain and digital currency and the only one of its kind to offer a dedicated Masters of Science in Digital Currency.

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Manila Residents Paid ETH for Consensys-Backed Beach Cleanup

beach cleanup

Manila residents are being paid in Ether for cleaning up the city’s plastic-ridden beaches in a new crypto for work project in the Philippine capital.

Recent research has shown that that five Asian countries — China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand — account for more than 55% of global plastic waste leaking into the ocean. Indonesia, currently participating in a number of blockchain programs, is also a significant contributor to ocean pollution.

Manila’s beaches are listed as being some of the most heavily polluted beaches among these nations. Residents now have the chance to do something about this and be rewarded with cryptocurrency in the process. Stirring this social conscience is Ethereum’s co-founder Joe Lubin, who is also CEO of blockchain software giant ConsenSys.

He commented, “In Manila, participants will be paid in ETH for spending a few hours cleaning up one of the most heavily polluted beaches in the world. Bounties Network and ConsenSys Impact are proving a new model where people fund causes directly without intermediaries.”

Beach cleaning participants will be able to use a decentralized application (Dapp) based on the Ethereum blockchain to receive their rewards in ETH. The project is part of a larger ConsenSys program called ‘Bounties for the Oceans: Philippines Pilot – Sustained, Verifiable Plastic Cleanups’. The initiative states:

“Plastic pollution costs the lives of 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals per year… With Bounties for the Ocean, we are asking people everywhere to submit verifiable proof of their direct plastic cleanup contribution as a way of fostering widespread and long-term behavioral shift. Do not depend on centralized organizations, go out there and do it yourselves.”

Manila residents are not the only ones “doing it for themselves”. There are a number of blockchain programs around the world at the moment which are making a significant contribution to fighting pollution.

US cleaning supplies firm SC Johnson has announced that it plans to launch blockchain rewards-based recycling centers in Indonesia to help solve the problem of plastic pollution. The company, which also which owns such brands as Glade, Ziploc and Mr Muscle, will open eight centers with the support of Plastic Bank using a tokens-for-waste payment system for local users.

A Norwegian startup has come up with a way of using blockchain to clean beaches via token rewards for recycling. The public, by removing plastic waste to any certified recycling station, is rewarded with waste tokens. The idea draws on a system that has been in operation for some time throughout Norway where plastic bottles can be returned to shops for between 15 and 30 cents a bottle.

The Philippines project is well placed given the country’s adoption of Bitcoin and Ethereum as legitimate forms of payment by the central bank, with local platform conducting business using partnerships with major commercial banks, remittance outlets, credit card companies, electric grid operators, and convenience stores,

Having become the largest platform in Southeast Asia, has over 5 million users.


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Russia, India Seek Common Ground in Blockchain, AI Development

India and Russia have issued a joint statement indicating that both countries are to cooperate in areas such as fintech, tourism, and AI.

Further dialogues are due to take place between Russia’s minister of economic development Maxim Oreshkin and National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) vice chairman Rajiv Kumar.

The published statement after the first India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue held in St Petersburg last week stated: “Both sides agreed to explore joint working arrangements and pilot projects in healthcare, proposed setting up of a single-window clearance.”

India has been proactive in its support of new technologies in the financial sector, despite taking a punitive stance on cryptocurrency trading largely headed by the country’s central bank. Only recently, SWIFT India and MonetaGo teamed up to form a pilot shared DLT network in order to upgrade Indian bank services, facilitating fraud prevention and security.

NITI Aayog is a policy think tank of the government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of state governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.

The country’s prime minister Narendra Modi has made his views abundantly clear that new technologies should be implemented to improve the lives of all Indians. Last month he stated:

“New emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, blockchain, big data will help India move forward, provide employment to people and improve every Indian’s life. Industry is a process and technology is a tool. However, the ultimate goal is to change the life of the last person waiting in the queue.”

Modi also sees farming as a main beneficiary of new technology, recently commenting, “The responsibility of helping our farmers rests on the shoulders of the new generation… There is one important technology in agriculture-artificial intelligence. In the coming days, blockchain technology will also play a huge role.”

Both countries are increasingly looking towards utilizing blockchain’s potential within fintech and other sectors. Recently, Russian state-owned bank Sberbank revealed details of a partnership with major state-run power company Rosseti, which includes the promotion of emerging technologies such as blockchain.

Together, the pair plan to collaborate on a number of projects with the joint aims of advancing blockchain in Russia, and developing its own internal expertise. A press release detailing the partnerships reads that they will work on educational projects and research trials with one another.


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Ireland Needs Blockchain Workers but Few are Listening

Despite some Irish universities’ push to promote blockchain technology through education, it appears the industry and general public aren’t getting the message if the results of a recent survey have any credibility. Tech PR firm Wachsman has released the results of a survey which indicates that, although the industry is crying out for manpower, three-quarters of Irish people wouldn’t consider a career in a blockchain-related industry.

Ireland currently has a forward-thinking approach to blockchain technology. Earlier this year, National University of Ireland (NUI) authors of a study on the adoption of blockchain approached the government to promote a more widespread use of the technology in the country.

One of the findings of that study showed that only 40% of companies in Ireland had embraced blockchain technology, which the researchers felt was relatively low, despite Ireland’s 13th position on Bloomberg’s 2018 Innovation Index, with high productivity scores and advanced IT infrastructure.

With the latest Waschman commissioned survey it appears that the situation isn’t changing. “People in Ireland don’t know yet how transformative a technology blockchain is and that it’s such a wide-ranging technology,” claims CEO David Wachsman, suggesting that many feel that the potential for risk is too great.

The problem of “education” has arisen previously in other survey’s illustrating that there is still a lack of industry and public knowledge about DLT and how it functions. This recent survey indicated this lack of understanding was still a prevalent factor in blockchain adoption, with over half of the 1,000 respondents citing the education gap as a barrier. 10% simply thought that they didn’t have the necessary educational backgrounds to work in the industry. Wachsman argued:

“I think there is a risk that Ireland could fall behind, even though it has so many advantages, if people aren’t even willing to consider a career in one of the fastest growing industries. The education gap is real. It’s a severe challenge considering Ireland is a tech hub and should be embracing novel technologies.”

Research leader at NUI Galway, Dr Trevor Clohessy, sees the need for a national initiative to promote the new technology, particularly in the light of, as yet undecided border rules, between Ireland and the north following Brexit:

“…Beyond business, other beneficial uses of this technology would be in voting machines and ballot boxes to address electoral fraud and potentially looking at a blockchain enabled technology-controlled border identification system that could provide a possible solution to the current North/South Brexit border challenges.”


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Head of Opposition Party in Nigeria Promises Crypto Initiatives If Elected President

The former Vice President of Nigeria and leader of the country’s main opposition has spoken out in favor of more positive legislation for the cryptocurrency.

People’s Democratic Party’s leader Atiku Abubakar has said that if he is elected to run the country in Nigeria’s next general elections, he plans to launch progressive blockchain initiatives and produce a “comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.”

A new policy would also ensure that students would be required to learn about blockchain and cryptocurrencies from an early age, beginning at the primary school level, this education would then follow through to university level.

The current situation in Nigeria has seen its central bank (CBN) warning the public against cryptocurrencies due to concerns about the unreliability of exchanges and market volatility. Under the current government, the Electronic Payment Practitioners Association of Nigeria (E-PPAN) warned about a growing possibility of fintech businesses offering blockchain services being driven overseas unless both the Nigerian government and the Central Bank of Nigeria can offer clarification on its view towards cryptocurrency.

E-PPAN is asking government regulators in the country for clearer guidelines to drive the industry forward. The Bitcoin Exchange Guide claims that the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emifele has done little to encourage the growth of cryptocurrency; investors continue to be reluctant owing to the government’s lack of guidelines.

Nigeria should be looking to overseas for regulation, according to E-PPAN member Michael Kiberu, calling for regulators to look to countries such as Uganda, Switzerland, Kenya, and Japan, where cryptocurrency guidelines are clear and operate with legal status while creating a healthy flow of capital into the financial sector.

71-year-old Abubakar says a government led by his party after the February 2019 election will change all this. He promised a favorable legislation and countrywide initiatives to promote blockchain technology. He also promises to ensure government departments take measures so that Nigeria can adapt to these new technologies.

Lady Victoria Walker, CEO of the United Digital Currency Reserve Foundation, has recently stressed that the understanding and deployment of Bitcoin can kickstart the financial growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

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