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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 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, 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, 18th to 24th 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.

South Africa

Public to face probes if they buy crypto from offshore exchanges: The South African Reserve Bank has issued latest guidance regarding buying and selling of cryptocurrencies in the country, according to latest instructions coming from the central bank. The bank doesn’t have a direct role in controlling cryptocurrencies in the country, but is issuing regulatory guidances on purchasing and selling of cryptocurrencies from foreign exchanges.

South African crypto investors are directed to purchase cryptocurrencies only from their discretionary allowance of  SAR 1 million or individual foreign investment of SAR 10 million per year. Companies are also banned from purchasing cryptocurrencies from the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dispensation in the country.

The move will create further problems for cryptocurrency trading in the country but it is yet unclear how many South Africans actually use foreign exchange for buying cryptocurrencies.

First Bitcoin ATM opens in South Africa: The first Bitcoin ATM has been opened in South Africa by Northwold Spar in Johannesburg. While there have been other cryptocurrency ATMs in the country before, this one is the first fully functioning crypto ATM currently functional in the country.

George Neophytou, the GM of Northwold Spar said: “It is all awfully exciting. It will take away much the frustration of buying and selling cryptocurrency, and hopefully help make cryptocurrencies mainstream… It’s a different world there. Walking around in the streets of Germany you see signs with ‘Bitcoins accepted here’.”

Recent surveys in South Africa have shown that 25% of South Africans plan to invest in cryptocurrencies in the future and 15% said they would invest in mining equipment.

Kidnappers demand ransom in Bitcoin for abducted South African child: In a first, a 13-year old boy named Katlego Marite was abducted by kidnappers in Witbank, South Africa. The kidnappers left a note with a Bitcoin address at the scene and instructions to deposit the ransom if the parents wanted to see their child alive again.

The ransom was worth around USD 120,000 and is said to be the first known case of Bitcoin ransom in the country. It is unclear why the boy was specifically targeted. The parents had no idea what Bitcoin was and the case is currently under investigation by the police. The boy was recovered on 24 May.

Zimbabwe

Exchange sues Central Bank for banning crypto trading: In reaction to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe banning cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrency exchange Golix has challenged the ban in the country’s top court citing the ban was illegal.

Golix is one of the three cryptocurrency exchanges active in the country and the lawsuit argues that the reserve bank has no authority to ban cryptocurrency since it requires legislation from the parliament to do so. The lawsuit goes on to claim that the bank has failed to manage its own currency and thus, it shouldn’t be forcing anybody else in trading.

Zimbabwe’s triple-digit inflation is believed to be caused by the currency mismanagement from the Reserve Bank and it will be interesting to see how the court responds to this request. Banks were prohibited in dealing with cryptocurrency exchange accounts although a 60-day grace period is still going on.

Ethiopia

Government signs deal with Cardano to introduce blockchain in agriculture: Ethiopia has become the latest African nation joining the blockchain revolution with the ministry of science and technology signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the CEO of Cardano Charles Hoskinson. The partnership will allow Cardano’s platform to be used for improving the domestic agriculture in the country.

While MOUs don’t have any obligatory standing, it is deemed as a positive development in the country.

Syria

WFP blockchain food vouchers reach 100,000 Syrian refugees: The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that its cryptocurrency-enabled food vouchers have served more than 100,000 Syrian refugees currently residing in Jordan, according to Rightsinfo.

WFP is currently engaged in distributing food among the refugees who have fled a bloody civil war in the country that has been raging for six years leaving hundreds of thousands dead and tens of millions refugees.

The UN is partnering with IBM through the WFP to use Blockchain for recording transactions in a safe manner.

Robert Opp, the director of Innovation at WFP said: “Blockchain technology allows us to step up the fight against hunger. Through blockchain, we aim to cut payment costs, better protect beneficiary data, control financial risks, and respond more rapidly in the wake of emergencies… using blockchain can be a qualitative leap, not only for WFP, but for the entire humanitarian community.”

In addition to this program, WFP is also using other localized blockchain projects around the world.

Israel

BTC 1,000 seized in money laundering case: Israeli Cybercrime division has arrested a local citizen Hilmi Git on Monday for using 800 credit cards in fraudulent activities numbering over 20,000 and laundering the fraudulent money through Bitcoin.

The indictment in the Tel Aviv court read that the accused had laundered over USD 8 million in ten years through Bitcoin and that the state seized a whopping BTC 1,071 from him. This is one of the biggest Bitcoin-related criminal activities reported in the world with the BTC 2,000 arrest in Finland back in February still ranked as the biggest of them all.

 

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