In a Bitcoin News exclusive, Pakistani reality TV host Waqar Zaka explains how he turned his journey from national celebrity into one of Bitcoin philanthropy.
Zaka’s spot as presenter and head of content on his show gave him a huge following of fans in Pakistan. He likened his platform to Fear Factor on MTV in the US, getting famous for doing self-titled ”crazy things” like putting his head in a crocodile’s mouth and kissing a cobra.
In 2014 a start-up called bitLanders approached him to promote the project in Pakistan, offering to pay him in Bitcoin. ”Before that, I had no idea what it was,” he told Bitcoin News. He quickly came to learn that cryptocurrency could have numerous significant implications on society, thinking ”this is something that could be really amazing.”
Conquering crypto in Pakistan
His mind turned to how the concept could be applied to help disadvantaged people in regions such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Syria, which are facing enormous issues when it comes to transferring money. Zaka took it upon himself to use his platform to educate the people of Pakistan and those around the world of how the technologies can be utilized in the aid of others.
It was not always an easy task, and he faced accusations of selling a Ponzi scheme or pursuing a financially self-interested cause.
But, a lot of people had confidence in him because of his national celebrity status in Pakistan, approaching him for advice on where to invest. This had problems of its own, as there were at the time a lot of crypto-related Ponzi schemes and multi-level marketing scams in the country and he needed a better way of helping people educate themselves.
Zaka started a campaign in the country to teach people about cryptocurrency and blockchain, which caught the eye of the likes of Consensus and CoinTelegraph. They labeled him a ”crypto influencer,” but not even he likes that title much.
In Pakistan, money laundering and corruption are pervasive issues, and Zaka started to use his newfound crypto fame to pressure the government into implementing blockchain banking services aimed at clamping down on this. Anybody sending money from the country would have to be reported with the hopes this would prevent money laundering.
”I believe this technology can actually change the future of Pakistan,” he said.
Blockchain refugee work
In 2015 Zaka went to Myanmar. This was the first time any Muslim was able to get into the region. He said he got in through simply using ”jolly good tourist attitude.” Once there, he took 55 families who had no house or passport or ID and moved them to settle in Nepal.
The next step was to educate them about Bitcoin and how they could receive money to ensure their financial security and self-sufficiency.
He also visited Syria and helped move families to the neighboring and far safer nation of Turkey. People were happy to support and trust his charity because blockchain donations meant people could see exactly where their donations were going.
However, Zaka says the work he is doing with the refugees is not enough, largely because the Bitcoin market fluctuations means that refugees are losing confidence in the cryptocurrency as a store of value.
It has also proven very difficult to share a lot of his crypto knowledge: ”For people who have not had much education at all, how do you teach them about wallets’ private keys? It is very hard and in very early stages. But, they need basic blockchain knowledge so they can earn through their mobile.”
Waqar Zaca pictured with Rohingya child refugees
Zaka says that his Bitcoin philanthropic efforts are nearly unique, and he hardly sees anyone else using blockchain for good:
”I’m not saying I’m the only one, but as far as I have seen in my research, it is not often used for very good causes. Whether more people will get involved or not, it depends on social media influencers. If people with platforms start showing how it can be used for good, like with refugees, only then will we see the benefit.”
He jokingly suggests that if Oprah said something about blockchain’s charitable use cases people might listen. ”Only celebrities can make a difference otherwise it will take a lot of time,” he reasons.
Waqar Zaka pictured with Fouzia and one of her five children. Fouzia lost her husband in the Syrian war.
The TenUp project
In 2017, many people were asking him to invest in different coins. With an engineering background himself, he wanted to support local Pakistani engineers. ”They are all amazing and economical,” he said, ”meaning they work great as freelancers. But people weren’t hiring them as CTO’s or blockchain developers.”
So he came up with the idea of TenUp, ”like the double high five” he explains. Zaka has a huge, trusting following which may prove crucial for the token: ”A successful coin is always built around communities.”
TenUp’s technology is basic, ”no rocket science,” a simple payment transfer method, with the hopes to grow in the long run. Despite offering no technological breakthroughs, the token has huge goals in terms of philanthropy.
Its main aim is to provide free technical assistance to projects in countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The TenUp team headed by Zaka wants to create blockchain applications that can help people, especially working with refugee projects. One project in the works right now is managing blood donations, recording how long people are waiting and who should be receiving blood next.
The coin is not the central focus, ”It’s like a share,” as Zaka describes it. The focus is on becoming the token used in the international charity sector.
”Some people looking to invest in TenUp ask, what will I get? I can’t promise you anything,” the project is not a get rich quick scheme, but based on the solid foundation of philanthropic work.
For Zaka, it is imperative that TenUp can become a stable coin, with a stable rate on CoinMarketCap. Then, Zaka wants to use it as an example to show his friend, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, with the hopes of pushing him towards issuing a state-backed crypto.
”To become a success story, you need to become successful first,” he says in acknowledgment that there is still a long way to go.
Waqar Zaka pictured with his team from TenUp
TenUp also wants to give free services to all of Pakistan in order to help the local tech industry. Zakar explains that it will be legal to buy the token in Pakistan because investors will need to use authorized bank transactions for purchases rather than use Bitcoin or Ethereum. That means official affidavit can be issued for ownership to be authorized. This is the first time a cryptocurrency is being sold like this in Pakistan that Zaka is aware of.
The initial coin offering (ICO) is scheduled at the end of November, while the token will be listed in December on TradeSatoshi.
Could a crypto call center be the answer?
One of the perks of TenUp is that it will have its own four language call center with trained staff to directly respond to any issue.
”If something goes wrong with your credit card you can go yell at someone. If I lose my private key where can I go? Human trust should be there. If a human is not there, crypto will not boom,” Zakar shared with Bitcoin News.
Those answering the phones will be trained to offer advice not limited to TenUp: ”If you have a problem with any crypto, and you are a stakeholder in TenUp you can call through the app and they will try and help. A responsible person should be there to educate you not just about TenUp, but about the entire crypto world.”
Because of this requirement of human contact, Zakar believes that centralized exchanges will ”obviously” succeed over their decentralized counterpart.
”This entire concept of decentralization will not work for humans. People want to call and see who is on the other side. Centralization like Coinbase is very, very important.”
To learn more about TenUp you can visit the website, or follow Wakar Zaka on social media to keep up with his philanthropic efforts.
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Images Courtesy: Waqar Zaka