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.
Akon to launch own crypto: Senegalese-American singer Akon has announced that he is creating a new cryptocurrency called “Akoin” and it will serve as the native currency for a yet-to-be-developed city in the country named Akon Crypto City.
The singer is not the first celebrity to float the idea of a personal cryptocurrency as Boxer Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquaio and even footballer Michael Owen have also announced crypto projects and initial coin offerings.
The currency will be a part of the “Akoin ecosystem” that will empower youth all over the world according to Akoin sources. It will through a “suite of blockchain-powered apps” allow young entrepreneurs to “buy, hold and spend cryptocurrency right from their smartphone”.
Akon is massively popular in Africa and he has had success with public projects before, notably Akon Lighting Africa that provides access to electricity in the continent. It has gone on to install 100,000 solar street lights in over 480 rural communities in 15 different African countries. But there are considerable question marks regarding the new cryptocurrency.
First Bitcoin ATM installed in South Africa: South Africans can now utilize their first ever cryptocurrency ATM in the country as the first machine was set up in Johannesburg.
South Africa follows Zimbabwe and Djibouti as only the third African country to have a Bitcoin ATM. The machine was installed by Northwood Spar, one of the biggest names in the Bitcoin ATM business. According to Northwood Spar General Manager George Neophytou:
“It is all awfully exciting. It will take away much the frustration of buying and selling cryptocurrency, and hopefully help make cryptocurrencies mainstream.”
According to latest figures, as many as 300,000 people are involved in cryptocurrencies in the country.
Blockchain company aims to provide internet solutions for entire continent: Blockchain technology is being used for wide-ranging innovations in African countries. Recently, BlockMesh, a South African crypto startup, is starting an ambitious project to provide free mobile data to people across the continent.
Data rates are extremely high in South Africa and the region overall and BlockMesh aims to increase connectivity throughout the land for free.
“We harness the power of the Internet of Things to provide interpersonal communication which isn’t just free to use, but actually rewards users in cryptocurrency to use it. Our network will be made up of the excess bandwidth that exists across the world,” said Bjorn Guido, BlockMesh founder.
BlockMesh is also working on a telecommunications system that works outside the range of a normal cellular tower system.
Bitcoin seen as a way to hedge against Naira: The Nigerian public and entrepreneurs are turning to Bitcoin as a way to hedge against the native fiat currency Naira.
Nigeria is often a victim of wild monetary devaluations that cause significant problems for the public. Bitcoin serves as a useful hedge against the local currency. Nigerian entrepreneurs, shopkeepers and other professionals are now dealing a lot in cryptocurrencies to avoid inflation.
The local Naira fell as much as 15% last year and businesses start to struggle when the native currency becomes so inflated. Normal bank fees are also increasing a lot in the country and once again Bitcoin proves a safer alternative.
Dash CEO reveals crypto changing lives in Zimbabwe: Dash, a popular cryptocurrency that excels in privacy is working to introduce efficient money transfer systems in Zimbabwe.
Dash is a coin that offers fast transactions under one second and fees are only a few cents per transaction which is much better than the 30 minute time for Bitcoin transactions and higher fees involved. In Zimbabwe, a Dash-powered money transfer system called Kuvacash is in place that is the country’s first P2P localized digital currency payment system. It enables users to transfer cash with just a mobile number and that makes things a lot easier for traders and buyers.
A mistrust of the centralized financial system and crushing hyperinflation is said to be the reason behind the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies in the country.
Indigenous crypto ATM launched: Kenya has launched its own indigenous cryptocurrency ATM. The ATM was developed by Kenyan startup BitClub and it can dispense cash and cryptocurrencies. The ATM is the fourth official bitcoin ATM in the continent after Djibouti, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Crypto-related crimes set to increase in 2018: An Israeli cyber expert has said that cryptocurrency-related crimes will exceed all other cyber attacks in the near future, according to news from Times of Israel.
The expert named Lotem Finkelstein from Check Point Software Technologies said, “Not a day goes by without our hearing about a new ICO scam or mining attack.”
Finkelstein also said that blockchain was suffering reputational damage because of it being associated with ICOs and cryptocurrencies.
United Arab Emirates
ADGM to regulate crypto and digital assets: UAE-based Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the country’s financial hub, has said that it is launching a new framework to regulate the crypto assets in the country according to an announcement last Monday.
The framework is designed to address the “full range of risks associated with crypto asset activities, including risks relating to money laundering and financial crime, consumer protection, technology governance, custody and exchange operations”.
The move comes after an extensive public consultation by the country’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA).
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