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

47% of South Africans plan to invest in crypto: South Africa is seen as one of the most progressive countries in the continent when it comes to cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, and a recent survey confirms that more than 47% of South Africans aim to invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at some point in the future.

MyBroadband 2018 Cryptocurrency Survey was completed back in April and shows that more and more South Africans got into cryptocurrency trading. Many invested by purchasing them directly or through mining rigs set up around the country.

According to the survey:

“Of the survey respondents who do not own or who have never owned cryptocurrency, almost 50% said they plan to invest in an aspect of cryptocurrency or crypto mining in 2018.”

First Bitcoin ATM opens: The first Bitcoin ATM in South Africa was recently opened this week in North Spar, Johannesburg. The machine was imported from Portugal and is capable of processing different kinds of cryptocurrencies including major tokens like Ethereum and Bitcoin.

According to the GM of Northwood Spar George Neophytou: “Lots of people in South Africa are also in the cryptocurrency space and lots of South Africans are watching it. However, not all individuals have access to it.”

The Bitcoin ATM will help bringing in cryptocurrency outreach and help people who do not have a bank account according to company sources.

Kenya

Special unit proposed for handling ICOs and crypto: The Kenyan Capital Markets Authority (CMA) based in the capital Nairobi has tasked the regulators to create a special unit for monitoring of cryptocurrency related issues in the country. The unit will include experts from Central Bank of Canada and CMA itself, according to Standard Digital.

CMA chief Paul Muthaura said:

“There is need for regulators to devise a common approach towards handling issues revolving around cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). A joint workgroup by financial sector regulators could be put in place to tackle issues around cryptocurrencies and ICOs.”

ICOs are already banned but like many other governments, Kenya is interested in blockchain technology and wants to”embrace it cautiously”.

Nigeria

Blockchain technology’s high potential in Nigeria: Nigeria is the biggest African economy and one of the most diverse countries and that is proving to be a fertile ground for the propagation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in the resource-rich country.

Numerous blockchain companies including Bitpesa and Bitland are becoming household names in the cryptocurrency scene with useful applications in sectors like healthcare and education. Blockchain conferences are a common sight and Nigeria had the largest one up to date in Africa.

According to Nigerian innovators like Alex Alieja, the CEO of Cryptoneurng:

“I believe that blockchain can flip the charts in terms of infrastructural development for Nigeria and the African economy, if the government should embrace the blockchain technology the potential are enormous and bring numerous benefits.”

Zimbabwe

Government bans cryptocurrency trading: Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic turmoil with triple digit inflation ruining the country. The hardships are forcing the government to take extreme stances on the things they believe are creating problems for the government. According to local sources, the Zimbabwean government has issued instructions to stop all partnerships, relationships, associations and trading with cryptocurrencies with immediate effect.

The institutions, however, have been given a deadline of 60 days to cut off ties with cryptocurrencies and liquidate the accounts and their balances. The registrar of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Norman Mataruka said:

“As monetary authorities, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is the custodian of public trust and has an obligation to safeguard the integrity of payment systems… Any person who buys, sells, or otherwise transacts in cryptocurrencies, whether online, or otherwise, does so at their own risk and will have no recourse to the Reserve Bank or to any regulatory authority in the country.”

Mataruka also singled out cryptocurrency exchanges and warned people against using them because of their unregulated nature. Bitcoin is already being traded at a higher rate due to the rampant inflation in the country. The latest move is likely to drive the price even higher.

Israel

Israeli watchdog tells PM he cannot buy cryptocurrencies: State Financial watchdog Yosef Shapira has issued a guideline which categorically asks the Israeli PM and his cabinet to not buy cryptocurrencies because of their de-regulated nature. It also “raises the concerns regarding the integrity of government officials so the PM, ministers and the deputy ministers should avoid using it”, according to the statement by the regulator.

Israeli banks have largely been reluctant in handling cryptocurrency profits in the country.

UAE

Dubai becoming leader of blockchain development in Middle East: Dubai is swiftly growing in stature and exposure to become the blockchain hub in the region. The Dubai-based cryptocurrency Zilliqa became only the 28th cryptocurrency to have more than USD 1 billion valuation at one point and its rise is likely to continue in the near future.

Blockchain-based marketplaces, real estate portals and other platforms are being pursued in the country in addition to trading. The so-called Tourism Vision 2020 of Dubai will see it secure more than 20 million visitors and new businesses coming in. Blockchain Development showcases Dubai’s desire to harness the technology to facilitate its rapid development.

 

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