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.
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’.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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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