Category Archives: Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Poor Turn to Crypto Bounty Hunting

Bounty hunting platforms are showing that cryptocurrencies are offering a way out of poverty for some, writes Coindesk.

A bounty is a simple task or job created by a coin developer that you carry out to earn coins or tokens, usually before and during an initial coin offering (ICO). The main areas are typically Tweeting about the project, posting on Facebook, creating blog posts, designing a logo for the coin, or participating in a forum with the logo signature. These are essential jobs for the coin developer to promote their coin during the ICO stage to fund their ambitions.

As Bitcoin News reported recently, such work is offering opportunities to some that wouldn’t have considered becoming involved in the cryptocurrency industry, illustrated by women in Afghanistan now learning to write code for a bounty posting network for Ether payments.

Such sites are becoming far more visible on the net and for some, in dire circumstances, the opportunity to work for these has become a lifeline, joining companies such as Bounty0x, which now has 30,000 active bounty hunters.

Nigerian ‘Crypto Shaolin’ is one of those who has profited from the opportunity to create a new life for himself through the cryptocurrency space. He claims his life has improved, despite the recent downturn in market prices.

Shaolin’s was a soft drink seller following tourists to Africa with his box of iced soft drinks until he came upon a tourist who suggested there might be a better way of getting ahead. The rest for him is history.

Bounty0x CMO Pascal Thellmann explains:

“People in low-income countries are often excluded from global freelancing marketplaces due to a lack of formal education and banking requirements… hunters… can complete micro-tasks like retweeting a tweet or writing a review for a product, in exchange for a couple dollars in crypto.”

However, opportunities are not simply limited to working for companies such as Bounty0x, as Nigerian writer Ayobami Abiola illustrates. He claims he’s making far more money now writing by completing “bounties like article writing, posting on Reddit, Facebook like and share, Bitcoin Talk [forum] comments and joining Telegram groups for many projects”.

Crypto Shaolin is happy. He claims he’s now made USD 1,000 by collecting bounties in 2018 alone, which may not sound like a significant sum, but it’s reported to be double what most Nigerians earn in a year, with the number of Nigerians in extreme poverty increased by six people every minute.

 

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Africans Turn to Bitcoin to Beat the System

Africans are increasingly going digital as the continent undergoes a period of sustained interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, according to Finance Magnates.

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.

The increase of technology is another contributory factor of Africa’s progression towards cryptocurrency adoption, with mobile phones now widely used across the continent, and computers becoming more a part of people daily lives, making the internet totally accessible in areas which are well serviced with providers.

Government regulation has done much to aid the crypto movement in Africa. While nations around the world are embroiled in putting crypto under the microscope, searching for ways to regulate and control the space, Africa as a whole has largely been immune from such a rigorous period of investigation and rule-making around this aspect of financial control. African exchanges have been the beneficiaries of this far more laid back to approach to government regulation.

The result is emerging blockchain developers and new cryptocurrency exchanges. Kenya-based BitPesa, a payment and transfer platform, now has 60 banks working with the company and seven mobile wallets. Another platform, Paxful, claims that African customers account for almost USD 7.5 million in transactions monthly with half of their clients being educated millennials.

Ray Youssef, co-founder and CEO of Paxful, suggests Africans have been clever in dealing with financial barriers in some of these countries:

“The people of Africa were educating us. It really wasn’t just Bitcoin and Paxful–it was peer-to-peer finance. These folks were finding ways around all their barriers–whether foreign or domestic–using peer-to-peer finance… The same thing that Uber did for transportation and Airbnb did for hospitality, peer-to-peer financial marketplaces are doing for finance.”

Youssef illustrated the African enthusiasm for crypto, describing an encounter he had with a woman who wanted to spend her last USD 20 to buy Bitcoin. She had no bank, no cards, quite typical of many Africans, but was quite happy to be guided towards a gift card and a local trader.

“I walked her through the whole transaction. That was a real eye-opener for me,” Youssef explained. “You know, us crypto-geeks think ‘oh, Bitcoin is so easy… Coinbase isn’t going to help out someone like that’.”

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 1st to 7th June 2018

Africa and the Middle East

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

Africa

African Union

Africa has potential to become next frontier in crypto: According to a report by Economist Nigeria, Africa is in line to become the next cryptocurrency hub in the world. Economists believe that the technology has the ability to cause disruption in fintech circles because it is not bound by geography and records transactions in real time.

African countries with especially high inflation rates are among the places where cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly popular as they have the ability to combat the crushing inflation despite being volatile themselves.

According to Tech journalist Mukesh Sharma, “Africa is rarely mentioned among the largest markets for cryptocurrency, but it may be set to steal a march over other markets.”

Mobile phone users that will increase to around 725 million subscribers by 2020 will present more and opportunities for cryptocurrencies to succeed. African governments themselves are in favor of blockchain technology as it will attract vital foreign investment and innovative development in the region. More than 15 cryptocurrency startups have taken root in the continent since the year’s start too. Mining, trading and ICOs are becoming more and more popular as well.

Zimbabwe

High Court reverses crypto ban: In a surprise move, the central bank of Zimbabwe lost its case against banning cryptocurrency exchange trading as the local high court ruled in favor of exchange Golix that filed the application, according to latest reports.

What’s surprising is that the Central Bank’s legal team failed to show up in court and thus the court had no choice but to award the case to Golix. The move was welcomed in Zimbabwe as many people there are now investing in cryptocurrencies to elude the hyperinflation that is rampant in the country. The Reserve Bank is already one of the least popular government institutions in the country.

No one from the central bank was available for comment.

Egypt

Egyptian Grand Mufti against Bitcoin: According to latest reports from Egypt, the Grand Mufti has declared that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are against the principles of Islamic currency. The move comes after the mufti traded barbs with the imam of a local UK mosque that started accepting cryptocurrency donations.

The issue of Bitcoin is not yet resolved by the Muslim clergy but now more and more people are open to the idea of cryptocurrencies and their usefulness.

South Africa

Central Bank developing blockchain-based internal tokens payment: The South African Central Bank (SARB) is working on a proof-of-concept based interbank payment system that uses an Ethereum-based fiat token, according to latest reports from Cointelegraph.

The project Khokha as it is called has been entailed in the latest report by SARB. It says:

“The aim is to build a proof-of-concept (PoC) wholesale payment system for interbank settlement using a South African Rand token on distributed ledger technology (DLT), while also investigating interconnected issues such as the platform’s scalability, resilience, confidentiality, and finality.”

Blockchain startup ConsenSys has joined in with seven partnering banks to form a trial team for the new blockchain payment system. PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc (PwC) has also joined in as a support partner.

Crypto miners may be targeting South African computers: South African computer users could be the latest victims of crypto jacking according to latest reports of African newspaper The New Age that used visiting computers’ computing power to mine cryptocurrencies.

A shady code was unveiled by a tech-savvy visitor to the website who noticed that his system slowed down a lot upon visiting the website. Upon investigation, it was found that a crypto mining script had been inserted into the website’s code to mine Monero, a popular cryptocurrency focused on privacy.

The newspaper has denied adding the code and could face investigation.

Uganda

President promotes blockchain technology: President of Uganda Yoweria Kugata Museveni has made encouraging statements regarding the future development of blockchain technology. He made the remarks at the first Africa Blockchain Conference held in Kampala, Uganda this week.

President Museveni welcomed the technology to increase transparency in the monetary system of Africa and the world. He spoke at length about how businesses had become used to “secrets and deceit” and that blockchain provided a solution. He said he strongly believed that blockchain technology could streamline the goods and services across his country but also cautioned against complete breakdown of current infrastructure.

The Middle East

Israel

8 Israelis arrested in Philippines for crypto scam: Eight Israelis and 480 local Filipino residents have been arrested in a possible Bitcoin scam in the Philippines, according to latest reports from the Pacific nation. The group was reportedly involved in fraudulent activities amounting to millions of dollars.

The local police undertook these raids following tip-offs by people within the crypto community. According to the police, the Israelis were involved in supervision of the scam and they had defrauded citizens of New Zealand, Russia, Australia and South Africa who thought they were investing in cryptocurrencies.

Public outraged by crypto regulation crisis: A regulatory impasse is creating problems in Israel according to latest reports coming from the Middle Eastern country. The country is facing protests from the crypto community that claim they have been promised legislation.

Due to the said delay in regulating the space, the individuals and businesses operating in the country will continue to face massive issues in cashing out cryptocurrency deposits from local banks. The government cited money laundering fears as the reason behind the delay in the key legislation and has so far failed to make a breakthrough.

 

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Nigeria Can Be Empowered By Bitcoin Says Foundation CEO

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, reports Niger247News

In a recent presentation Lady Walker, who is also a blockchain and cryptocurrency speaker, as well as Principal Consultant at Cryptoria Investment Research, maintains that for Nigerian banks to deal with blockchain technologies, it first needs to understand cryptocurrencies:

“Many banks and regulators are confused and do not fully understand how Bitcoin and blockchain technology work, but I think once the Central Bank of Nigeria and other key figures get to understand the true nature of blockchain technology and what it can bring economically, I believe they may embrace the technology with open arms.”

The 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:

“Britain imposes a ‘super tax’ on remittances sent to African countries, causing a loss of £1.8bn a year from money sent home by workers. Think about it, £1.8bn is taken away from the people sending money to support their families in Nigeria.  Imagine what £1.8bn a year could do in the pockets of families depending on money sent to them from abroad? This is where blockchain technology comes in. It solves a problem like this by making it easier and cheaper to transfer and remit payments internationally.”

Nigeria has had a difficult cryptocurrency history. Early last year it was reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria was considering implementing its own cryptocurrency, but later the same year, it was advising banks to distance themselves from virtual currency, warning them, “not to use, hold or transact in any way with the technology.”

The remarks came at a time when Nigeria’s interest in cryptocurrencies was flourishing. According to data from Coindance, weekly trading volume on Localbitcoins in Nigeria surged 500 percent in 2017.  Nigeria then, was among top countries using Google to search for ‘bitcoin’, alongside South Africa, Slovenia, Holland, and Austria. Although, it was reported at this time that a Ponzi scheme may have been partly responsible for the clicking figures. The scheme reportedly cost investors UD$50 million in early March of that year.

In a press release issued in March of this year, the CBN is now reiterating its warnings of last year, suggesting that due to crypto investments being unprotected, investors will be at risk. Lady Walker maintains that it is lack of knowledge which holds back the tide of progress in the African crypto space, which in turn creates institutional and public skepticism such as the CBN’s.

“People are skeptical because that is human nature. We are natural cynics and skeptics and rarely trust what we don’t understand. This is why I urge people to truly understand the nature of the industry, asset and also yourself”

Lady Walker believes that there will come a time when all Nigerian banks will have to adopt cryptocurrencies of their own, but due to the current volatility of the crypto market, it remains a future goal of those who see cryptocurrency as the financial future. She maintains:

“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 transfer of value. Just like the internet changed how we shop, bank, date and find information.”

About 40% of Nigeria’s population is unbanked, which blocks nearly half of the population from the financial economy. To this, the fintech CEO argues “All you require is a smartphone and internet to start sending and receiving payments. No I.D required, filling out paperwork, etc… Do you know how much this could change things for the people of Nigeria?”

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Oracle to Roll Out Blockchain Products

Multinational software giant Oracle Corp has announced its plans to roll out a platform-as-a-service blockchain product this month followed by decentralized ledger-based applications in June, according to Bloomberg.

With 430 customers in 175 countries, the California-based company is one of the world’s largest software companies, in 2015 only second-largest by revenue after Microsoft. The company specializes primarily in developing and marketing database software and technology, cloud engineered systems and enterprise software products — particularly its own brands of database management systems. In 2017, the company generated USD 37.3 billion in sales.

This is not the company’s first blockchain project, as in 2017 it launched the Blockchain Cloud Service, described by Oracle as a “comprehensive distributed ledger cloud platform to provision blockchain networks, join other organizations, and deploy and run smart contracts to update and query the ledger”.

Company president, Thomas Kurian, has also revealed that the company is currently working on other blockchain projects, and plans to make a further impact using the technology with a project in Nigeria logging customs and import duties, and a collaboration with the Banco de Chile, attempting to link interbank transactions to a hyperledger.

Many large software companies are now watching the blockchain space with interest. According to Microsoft News Centre UK, in March, UK financial technology firm Nivaura that uses Microsoft Azure, successfully registered, cleared and settled two Principal Protected Notes (PPN) linked to the FTSE 100 – one through the traditional clearing infrastructure and a second using an open public blockchain. This made it the world’s first blockchain-based investment product, according to Microsoft.

Also, Bitcoin News reported recently that global credit card giant, Mastercard, announced that it was looking to expand its offices based in Dublin, Ireland, with 175 new technology developers recruited for roles such as blockchain experts, software engineers and information security specialists.

 

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Nigeria Crack Down On Crypto

Residents in Nigeria have been told to stop meddling with cryptocurrencies, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not approved the digital currency use.

This might come as a surprise to Nigerians as little more over than 12 months ago, the Nigerian government offered to support blockchain development.  The Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN) had invited the Nigerian government for a close and unique partnership, and this was set to be the most significant blockchain event in West Africa, with the national electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) offering its support to CDIN. This is contained in a letter signed by the Chairman of NeFF, Dipo Fatokun.

“Please be informed that NeFF is willing to collaborate with CDIN and will assist with technical advice and/or speakers at the proposed 2017 conference on Blockchain. Also note that as the collaboration progresses, NeFF will also count on your support,” said Fatokun.

So what happened?

Recent events have seen several government agencies in Nigeria cautioning citizens on digital currency. At the Enugu International Trade Fair, the manager in charge of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Adikwu Igoche, stated that cryptocurrencies where not legal tender and not deposits or financial instrument authorized by the CBN.

Igoche went on to warn citizens that the government did not insure them and if anyone were to lose money trading, the person would do so at their own risk: “These forms of currencies are not backed by any physical commodity, such as gold or other precious stones. They do not belong to the category of currencies or coins issued by the CBN or the central bank of any other country.”.

Additionally, Igoche insisted that the NDIC would hold its stance and would not condone the security risks faced by the patrons of ponzi schemes and digital currencies.

The NDIC even went as far to open a 24-hour national help desk with a toll-free telephone number, insisting that residents of Nigeria must only bank at places displaying the NDIC sticker bearing the inscription ‘Insured by NDIC’, which can currently be found on banking hall entrances.

In other parts of Africa, Sierra Leone’s 27 March election – which had been postponed from 7 March – marks a monumental occasion as this will be the world’s first ever blockchain-powered presidential elections.

 

 

 

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