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South African Blockchain Startup Ekasi Bucks Aims To Provide Financial Services to Townships

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South African-based blockchain startup Ekasi Bucks aims to offer financial systems to township-based enterprises operating in an economy worth 50 billion Rands ($4.7Bn).

Ekasi Bucks notes that the unbanked population has been disadvantaged and has had problems of controlling their money. Thus, the start-up wants to redistribute wealth to give them back the control over their money.

“We are […] bringing mobile banking over the blockchain to more than 300,000 unbanked clients on our database,” the company’s press release says.

Ekasi Bucks provides cryptocurrency wallets and money exchange services. The company is tapping into these services to enable local merchants to receive point of sale systems with loyalty programs. Furthermore, Ekasi Bucks’ cryptocurrency is not governed by the South African Reserve Monetary System, which means that its value shall not get affected by local economic situations or political atmosphere.

Ekasi BucksEkasi Bucks also provides a mobile wallet that is linked to the company’s Prepaid MasterCard. The transactions involved in their network are cheaper than conventional money transfer methods. With this in place, the company states that it will provide “Township P2P & B2B instant money transfer at a fractional cost currently being charged.”

The start-up is planning to raise capital through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) where it will issue a 100 million Ekasi-Bucks out of the available 200 million, at less than R7 ($0.5) per Ekasi Bucks coin. The ICO is set to begin on Friday the 7th and run for three weeks to 31st July 2017. During the ICO, the company also intends to give out bonuses for early backers. Those who make the purchase in the first 24 hours will get a 50% discount. Those who buy in the second week will get 20% and the last week buyers will have a 5% offer.

Bringing financial services to low-income areas is a not an easy feat, which is why Ekasi Bucks is reaching out to the cryptocurrency community to raise funds using an initial coin offering.

Ekasi Bucks president and co-founder Lucky Kgwadi told BitcoinAfrica.io:

“We are aiming to raise at least R50 million, which will be used to purchase POS equipment for our township clients and [any] further funds will be utilised for building container-based cashless malls for our clients.”

“We already have pre-lease agreements signed up for those interested in renting the space in four townships, Soweto, Soshanguve, Umlazi and Gugulethu. This is due to increasing number of shopping malls being built in the Townships and small businesses cannot afford rental space to operate and gain more fleet,” Khgwadi added.

* The article previously incorrectly stated that Ekasi Bucks has entered into a partnership with Lykke. Instead, Ekasi Bucks has joined the Lykke Streams programme to use the Lykke Platform to provide services to South African Businesses but there is no official partnership between the two startups. 

Blockchain Technology

Interpol and VoguePay to Launch Blockchain-based Crime Control Platform in Nigeria

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Online payments provider VoguePay and the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) are set to launch a blockchain-based crime control platform in Nigeria.

Crime Control on the Blockchain

The crime control platform, which will be called interPort, will obtain information and manage stakeholder involvement and crime reporting.

“The partnership with VoguePay will help the agency to increase the safety of Nigerians, and to protect the economy while enabling citizens and businesses to comfortably embrace available technologies to grow their businesses, increase their profits, and create more jobs,” Interpol Commissioner of Police in Nigeria, Olushola K. Subair, stated.

Thanks to its experience in payments security and blockchain implementation, VoguePay will enable Interpol to increase citizen engagement and cooperation with partner networks to curb crime in Nigeria.

“Blockchain technology is the next evolution in identity management and that by leveraging it, Interpol is now better positioned to offer cross-agency data and biometric management,” Michael Simeon, CEO VoguePay, said.

Crime in Nigeria

Criminal activities in Nigeria range from kidnappings and robberies to contract killings and terrorism.

The Nigeria 2017 Crime & Safety Report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) states: “Crime is a risk throughout the country with significant terrorism threats, especially in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram is suspected of or has claimed responsibility for most of the terrorist activity in Nigeria.”

For instance, the Lagos State and Federal Capital Territory recorded a total of 58,566 crimes in 2016. With such high crime levels, the partnership between Interpol and VoguePay could be a step in the right direction to make Nigerians feel more assured that perpetrators will be caught and charged for their crimes.

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Blockchain Technology

Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority Issued Warning Against Initial Coin Offerings

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Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority has issued a public warning against initial coin offerings (ICOs) in an attempt to warn Kenyans about the risks involved in investing in newly issued digital tokens.

“It is notified for general information that the CMA has not as of this date, approved any initial coin offering. The ongoing offerings are unregulated and speculative investments with considerable risk to the investor […] ,” the notice reads.

The risks cited by the CMA include a heightened potential for fraud, cross-border distribution risks, information asymmetry, and liquidity risks.

Currently, two Kenya-based cryptocurrency projects that are conducting ICOs include Nurucoin and UwezuCoin. Both, however, have been criticized by members of the local cryptocurrency community and it is unlikely that these projects will raise a notable amount of funds during their token sales.

It is also important to note that the current regulatory environment in Kenya is – for the most part – anti-cryptocurrencies but very much pro-blockchain. This is also reflected in the CMA’s statement, which says:

“CMA is cognisant of the importance of FinTech and the benefits that can be derived from leveraging blockchain technology and is willing to work with interested parties through the already established Sand Box model for purposes of supporting innovative FinTech products in a controlled and safe environment.”

The most prominent African token sale to date has been the SureRemit ICO, which managed raised over $7 million for the non-cash remittance platform. In 2018, several African blockchain startups are expected to launch token sales to fund their operations. Whether the Kenyan financial regulator’s warning will deter Kenyans from investing in these ICOs remains to be seen.

For investors, it is extremely important to conduct thorough research into a blockchain project before investing any funds as the barriers to entry for launching a token sale are extremely low and there are many scammers out there looking to prey on newcomers to the crypto asset investment space.

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CoinFest Nigeria Comes to Abuja on April 5, 2018

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The “decentralised convention for decentralised currency” CoinFest will take place in early April in multiple cities across the globe. One of these cities will once again be Abuja, Nigeria. CoinFest Nigeria will be held in Abuja on April 5, 2018.

The event aims to connect cryptocurrency enthusiasts, programmers, entrepreneurs, merchants, investors, entrepreneurs, traders and the general public to discuss ways on how to incentivise cryptocurrency acceptance, educate the public on the benefits of digital currencies and the blockchain.

Promoting Cryptocurrency Technologies Through Collaborative Initiatives

CoinFest Nigeria began in 2017 with support from Cryptographic Development Initiatives of Nigeria (CDIN), Humaniq, BitPesa, CryptoMart and other crypto-friendly organisations. The event attracted participants from many West African countries, particularly Liberia.

CoinFestThe event comes at a time when Nigeria boasts a vibrant bitcoin community evident from a number of successful cryptocurrency conferences and meetups held last year. The country is also becoming a fertile breeding ground for blockchain innovation with a number of successful startups and organisations taking advantage of the high number of bitcoin freelancers, traders, and miners.

The event, which is hosted in seven countries across the globe, is expecting a bigger turnout this year than the year before. The activities planned for the day include panel discussions, in-depth analysis and speeches, informative sessions, networking opportunities, and cryptocurrency and blockchain product exhibitions.

“Nigeria, being a major destination has increasingly come to realise the potentials and opportunities of Crypto and Blockchain Technology in several ways, relevant to individuals, and businesses. However, there is need to intensify more collaborative efforts in engaging interested groups, and relevant agencies on the right path of its adoption to emerging economies like Nigeria,” states CoinFest Curator, Kayode Babarinde.

Attendance is free with the event being held at Civic Hall, Civic Innovation Lab, 50 Adetokunbo Ademola Cresent, Beside H-Medix Pharmacy, Wuse II, Abuja, Nigeria, from 9 am. Speakers will be announced soon on the CoinFest website.

For registration, inquiries, sponsorships, exhibitions or speaking opportunities you can check the CoinFest Nigeria website.

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