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.
SWIFT usage drops 5% from 2013-2017: The appeal of the US dollar as the currency of choice for the money transfers is decreasing in Africa as the dollar’s usage dropped from 50% in 2013 to 45.1% in 2017. The reason behind the drop in demand is attributed not to cryptocurrencies right now but more to the adaptation of local currencies and mobile payments.
The diminishing usage of SWIFT code for money transfer is opening up new possibilities in the continent and cryptocurrencies will undoubtedly play a big part in the dismantling of the current SWIFT system in the near future. Africa will have almost 725 million subscribers by the end of 2020 and thus, a mobile generation is expected to look to alternative solutions for currency transfer and management. British pound sterling and other global currencies are also showing a negative trend in the continent.
South Africa leading the way for Bitcoin ATMs: South Africa is leading the way in getting more and more Bitcoin ATMs in the African continent. The first cryptocurrency ATM opened in Johannesburg in the country that operated Bitcoin, Dash and other top cryptocurrencies. More ATMs are now being installed across the country.
It is estimated that there are 3,000 ATMs in the world but in Africa, these are limited to a handful of countries including South Africa, Kenya, Djibouti, Zimbabwe and others. There is tremendous potential for growth in the continent.
Finance minister wants Switzerland’s approach in the country: Zimbabwe’s new finance minister is known for his pro-crypto stance and has now called on the country to embrace cryptocurrencies, citing the example of Switzerland.
Mthuli Ncube is the newly appointed finance minister of the Western African country and he has recently urged the Central Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to follow the example of the Swiss Central Bank on cryptocurrencies.
“Zimbabwe should be investing in understanding innovations and often central banks are too slow in investing in these technologies. But there are other countries which are moving faster. If you look at the Swiss central bank they are investing in and understanding Bitcoin.”
He has also promised to push the central bank to establish a cryptocurrency division in the country. While Zimbabwe is already one of the most open-minded countries when it comes to cryptocurrencies, the appointment of a progressive finance minister and his new policies will help the country become a crypto hub in the continent.
Israel not keeping up with regional crypto trends: While Bitcoin continues to get more and popular, Israel is still lagging behind other tech-savvy nations in embracing cryptocurrencies.
Israel continues to be an innovative country but the lack of cryptocurrency and blockchain focus is affecting its standing as other countries are landing the initial coin offerings (ICOs) by the dozens while the Israeli government has banned them. Experts are suggesting that Israel should become more open to cryptocurrency adoption to not miss out in the latest tech trend.
Finance minister embraces ICO hype and offers possibility of adopting Petro: The finance minister of Turkey, Berat Alybayrak, has embraced the ICO hype and has said that the country is looking into the crypto world to boost the ailing economy. Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also reportedly recognized the creation of Petro cryptocurrency of Venezuela and seemed keen on using it.
While Turkey is embroiled in a foreign currency crisis, its dependence on the SWIFT system established by the US and the use of US dollar as the primary international currency is all too evident as Turkey reels off from the effect of recent US sanctions.
Many believe that the cryptocurrencies offer a way out for ending the dependency on the hegemony of the USD, but banking on unproven systems like Petro’s is largely seen as a negative.
United Arab Emirates
Dubai announces first blockchain payment settlement and reconciliation platform: Dubai has launched the first platform for payment reconciliation and settlement purposes that is based on blockchain technology.
The system will eventually be used by Dubai Police, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) according to the plan. The system is already in pilot version and is being deployed by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, or the KHDA, and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA.
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