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The South African Reserve Bank Will Offer No Protection for ICO Investors

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In light of the recent ban of initial coin offerings in China and the announcement of ICO regulations in the US, Russia and Hong Kong, the South African Reserve Bank publicly announced its views on the status of initial coin offerings (ICOs) in South Africa.

No protection for consumers who invest in ICOs

In a statement to the news outlet VentureBurn, a spokesperson for the South African central bank said:

“In South Africa, cryptocurrencies are not guaranteed by the SARB (SA Reserve Bank), hence offer no recourse or protection to consumers thereof,” which includes newly issued coins that have sprung out of initial coin offerings.

In other words, should you suffer a loss from investing in an initial coin offering (also known as crowdsale or token sale) as a South African resident there is no legal recourse that you can take to recuperate your funds as initial coin offerings are not regulated by the South African Reserve Bank.

Initial coin offerings are a new form of startup financing that involves the sale of a new digital token to early backers of the project. The new tokens are usually bought using existing cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH) during a two to four-week crowdsale period and then become tradable on digital currency exchanges such as Bittrex or Poloniex.

Good news for South African blockchain startups

While the SARB’s statement may sound daunting for investors who are interested in this hot new area of the cryptocurrency market, this is, in fact, good news for South African tech startups as it suggests that the central bank has no intentions of banning or restricting ICOs in any way.

Given the country’s flourishing bitcoin startup scene, it would not be a surprise to see several South African blockchain projects launch their own token sales in the near future.

This is also good news for South African cryptocurrency investors who are looking at the ICO market as an excellent opportunity to diversify their crypto asset holdings.

While some of the best performing ICO tokens (such as IOTA, NEO, and Stratis) have generated a return on investment of over 50,000 percent since their launch, it is important to note that there are also a lot of scams and mediocre projects issuing new digital tokens through ICOs. Hence, it is important to conduct thorough due diligence on the initial coin offerings you are considering investing in to ensure that you are making a smart investment decision. ICO investments are high risk/high return and should, therefore, only make up a small part of your overall cryptocurrency portfolio.

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Golix Plans to Launch ICO but Zimbabwean Regulator Rings Alarm Bells

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The Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SecZim) has warned investors against investing money in unregulated exchanges and securities following plans by Golix to issue a multi-million dollar initial coin offering (ICO). According to sources, the Harare-based cryptocurrency exchange is seeking to raise a minimum of $10 million. The company would be the first bitcoin startup in Zimbabwe to use this innovative way to raise funds.

The ICO Boom

An initial coin offering (ICO) is a revolutionary way to raise the capital needed for new cryptocurrency projects by issuing a percentage of the initial coins supply among early-stage investors. Similar to investing in a company’s stock, the value of the new coin linked to the digital currency project has the potential to gain in value as the project performs well. Once successfully launched, the new coins or tokens can be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Globally, ICOs have appealed to blockchain companies as the next big thing in corporate fundraising and speculative investing. In 2017 alone, over $4 billion dollars were raised through this new form of fundraising.

However, ICOs have faced hurdles in the form of financial regulators, central banks, and governments which are concerned about the disruptive nature of cryptocurrency technologies and their potential for illegal uses. Last year, both China and South Korea banned ICOs.

ICO to Fund Regional Expansion Amidst Regulatory Pressure

Golix, which traded over $1 million worth of bitcoin last month, is looking to launch its ICO by the end of March, or latest in the second quarter, according to sources. The company which recently enabled Ether and Bitcoin Gold trading on its digital currency exchange intends to raise money to fund its entry into other African markets.

However, Securities Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe (SecZim) CEO, Tafadzwa Chinamo cautioned the public against dealing with unregulated exchanges and securities as there is no legal recourse in case of mishaps.

“Investing in cryptocurrencies in Zimbabwe is a personal decision. The SecZim advises against investing in securities that are not regulated for a few obvious reasons. Investment in cryptos in Zimbabwe is not protected by any law in any way,” Chinamo stated.

According to Chinamo, unlike IPOs which are governed by strict rules that foster transparency and disclosure and ensure investors are not misled by fraudulent persons who float worthless securities, ICOs usually operate in a legal grey area, though this is largely in part due to the lack of cryptocurrency regulation in Zimbabwe.

Locally, companies launched IPOs are required to submit registration statements, financial statements dating back five years, and are also required to undergo valuation by independent financial advisors to determine the fairness of the quoted IPO share price. These disclosures are subject to review for compliance by the market regulator.

ICOs, on the other hand, operate on the fringes with little or no regulatory oversight. Usually, startups launching ICOs will release a technical whitepaper explaining their project and will market their token sale in the hope that prospective investors will buy into the project.

Having said that, many Zimbabweans may choose to ignore the warnings as the cryptocurrency mania takes root in the country. A few months ago the high demand for bitcoin on the local exchange drove the price to almost double of where it was trading at on international exchanges. The demand was buoyed by a debilitating liquidity crunch and acute cash shortage in the country that has affected individuals and businesses who want to engage in commerce and international trade. Hence, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin remain popular among Zimbabweans as an alternative currency and as an investment, which could, in turn, help Golix’s ICO funding ambitions.

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How to Buy Bitcoin in Nigeria

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Nigeria is home to one of Africa’s leading bitcoin economies and has emerged as one of the most active digital currency trading hubs on the continent. In Nigeria, you can find bitcoin startups, digital currency exchanges, meetups, conferences, and a continuously rising demand for bitcoin.

Unlike in many African countries, where bitcoin trading is often limited to Whatsapp groups and social media networks, Nigeria has a multitude of exchanges where locals can buy bitcoin with nairas.

In this article, you will discover the most active and most secure digital currency exchanges you can use to buy bitcoin in Nigeria.

NairaEx

NairaExNairaEx is one of the most reliable and longest standing bitcoin exchanges in Nigeria. The exchange was founded in 2015 and is simple and easy to navigate with an inbuilt real-time exchange rate of bitcoin to naira.

Buying bitcoin on NairaEx is very simple. All you have to do is sign up to NairaEx, get verified by uploading a valid identity card, deposit money using a bank transfer or PerfectMoney, and proceed to place a buy order. Upon confirmation of your order, the transaction will be initiated and once it has been completed your account will be funded with the bitcoin you just bought.  

ICE3X

ice3xThe South African digital currency exchange ICE3X recently opened its doors in Nigeria giving Nigerians an opportunity to buy bitcoin, litecoin, and ether using nairas through the use of the VoguePay payment processor.

To buy bitcoin from ICE3X, you will need to first create an account on ICE3X and fill out the form with your personal details. Once signed up, you will receive an email to verify your account. To fund your ICE3X account with your nairas, you will need to login to your newly created ice3X account, proceed to the DEPOSIT/WITHDRAW tab in the menu bar to make a deposit using your newly created VoguePay wallet (you can get more info here on how to set up a VoguePay wallet).

After successfully funding your account, you can proceed to place a buy order following these simple steps:

  1. To buy bitcoin, click on the naira balance in the deposit/withdraw section of your ICE3X account.
  2. Click on the trading tab in the blue menu at the top and click on the bitcoin tab.
  3. Enter how many bitcoins or fraction of bitcoin you wish to buy.
  4. Enter your buying price (the current bitcoin rate sale price is on the exchange by default, but you can enter any price you want).
  5. Your total order slip including your commission will then be shown.
  6. Review your transaction and click on the buy tab underneath to execute your order.

Remitano

RemitanoRemitano is a peer-to-peer exchange that has recently entered the African market. The platform is experiencing rapid growth in Nigeria due to its fast, safe and reliable nature.

On Remitano, users can easily buy or sell bitcoin using a range of different payment methods. As a way of protecting both the buyer and seller, Remitano offers an escrow service. This is where the seller transfers the amount of bitcoin the buyer wants to a locked Remitano account. The buyer then sends the payment to the seller with no fear of not receiving the paid for bitcoin. Similar to LocalBitcoins.com, Remitano also displays its list of sellers based on their transaction history.

In order for you to buy bitcoin, you have to create an account on Remitano.com and then proceed to the homepage and click on the buy button. After keying in your desired volume and bitcoin address, a list of top sellers will be listed below depending on the rating. You will then click on any seller you wish and proceed to make payment. After successfully making your payment, Remitano will then release the funds to the seller and you receive your bitcoin. 

LocalBitcoins

Convert Bitcoin Into Local CurrencyLocalBitcoins.com is a global peer-to-peer bitcoin trading platform. It is a marketplace that helps connect buyers or sellers from different places around the world.

The platform allows users to create buy or sell advertisement with the prices they want to trade at. The exchange platform rates sellers based on their past transactions. As a way of protecting both parties, LocalBitcoins acts as an escrow and has a customer support team ready to help in case of any issues that may arise during a transaction. 

To buy bitcoin on LocalBitcoins exchange, you need to create an account on the platform, verify your identity, click on any seller on the homepage that is willing to sell you bitcoin at a price you feel comfortable with and a payment method that works for you. 

After clicking on the ‘buy’ button, you will be given details of the transaction including the seller’s terms and conditions. You can choose whether or not to proceed with the particular buyer depending on how comfortable you are with these terms.

To execute a trade, type in the blue box how much bitcoin you want in naira and also add a message to the seller after which you click on the ‘send trade request’ button. Once the payment has been made, click on the ‘I have paid’ button and you will receive your bitcoin on your LocalBitcoins wallet within minutes.

Paxful

PaxfulPaxful is a peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace that has gained substantial popularity in Nigeria.

To buy bitcoin on paxful.com, first, you need to click on the ‘buy bitcoin’ option in the top menu bar. Then you enter the naira amount of bitcoin you intend to purchase and select the payment method you would like to use.

After selecting a way to pay, you click on the ‘search’ button to get a list of sellers who are willing to sell you the amount of bitcoin you requested and are also inclined to your payment method.

Just like on LocalBitcoins, the reputations of sellers are scored and it is highly advisable that you select buyers with high reputation to deal with. You then select a seller and begin your purchase order.The trade details will then pop-up on the left-side of the screen and a chat box on the right side of the screen where you can chat with the seller so you can both track the stages of transaction execution.

Once the trade is completed you will receive your bitcoin on your Paxful wallet.

Luno

LunoLuno, an online bitcoin exchange and wallet provider, is one of the most widely used bitcoin exchange platforms in Nigeria. Luno offers a free bitcoin wallet that comes with an inbuilt buy and sell feature that enables customers to buy or sell bitcoin directly from within their Luno wallet. It is designed in such a way that newcomers to bitcoin can easily use the wallet.

To buy bitcoin from Luno, you need to first and foremost;

  • Create an account by signing up at Luno.com
  • Verify your identity by uploading a valid identity card
  • Proceed to deposit money to your account using any of the various payment options available.

Buying bitcoin from Luno comes in two ways;

  1. Instant buy or sell (recommended for beginners), which allows users to buy or sell bitcoin either from the Luno wallet or from the website.
  2. Exchange orders (for advanced or experienced users), which is a little bit more technical as it involves placing an order on the exchange at a specific price and waiting for it to get matched.

Bitkoin.Africa

Bitkoin.Africa is a new Nigeria-based peer-to-peer exchange that allows Nigerian bitcoin users to buy and sell bitcoin from and to one another in a similar manner as on LocalBitcoins or Paxful.

The new exchange was launched in October 2017 and has since seen substantial user uptake in Nigeria.

Naira4Dollar

The exchange platform is one of the oldest e-currency platforms in the country with several shop outlets across the country. If you are looking for a place to buy bitcoin offline, then Naira4Dollar is that place. To know any of their offline shops closer to you visit Naira4Dollar.com.

However, you can also make use of their service online where you can purchase bitcoin using various payment methods.

NGExchanger

Port Harcout-based NGExchanger is another e-currency exchange that is well known in Nigeria and specialises in the buying and selling of bitcoin.

To buy bitcoin from the platform, you will need to create an account and get the account verified by uploading a valid ID card. However, you can still buy bitcoin without having a verified account. In such instances, you will need to have a funding limit of $1000 per day with the minimum buying amount being $10. Follow these simple steps to buy bitcoin on NGExchanger:

  1. After registration, login to your account and click on buy
  2. Select the e-currency account type you want to buy (in this case click on bitcoin)
  3. Input the desired volume of bitcoin you want to buy in US Dollars
  4. Enter your bitcoin wallet address
  5. After clicking on the proceed button, a payment invoice will be generated with a transaction number. Make payment to the bank details of NGExchanger that will be displayed and include the transaction number in your payment invoice.
  6. After successful payment, click on confirm to record and save the transaction. Once the payment is received, your bitcoin address will be funded and a message sent to your email confirming that.

There are also other local e-money exchange platforms that allow you to buy bitcoin such as Instant Gold Nigeria, Nigeria Gold Exchange and CryptoMart.

However, when it comes to buying bitcoin, it is advisable to use well-known established exchanges such as Paxful, LocalBitcoins, NairaEx, ICE3X, and Luno as they offer the most secure buying options.

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Fake Bitcoin Smartphone Apps Have Been Downloaded Over 10,000 Times

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Fake Bitcoin Smartphone Apps

Cryptocurrency users need to be aware of some of the dangers they face when using the Internet, and even tech-savvy bitcoin enthusiasts are not immune from harmful actions such as social engineering, phishing, and trojans. A common assumption is that apps downloaded from Google and Apple’s app stores, have been vetted by the service providers and are safe. However, nothing can be further from the truth as thousands of cryptocurrency users have come to realise.

The Case of the Fake ‘Poloniex’ App

While both Android and iOS platforms have had their share of unscrupulous developers, users on Google Play store are the most affected by fraudulent apps. An example of a fake Android app which has been downloaded by thousands of users is called Poloniex. Bearing the same name as the popular digital currency exchange it claims to be the official Poloniex app. No doubt users who only take a perfunctory glance before pressing ‘Download’ will be convinced by the familiar logo and screenshots from the real company.

However, a close examination will reveal the low user ratings of one star received from 162 user reviews. In addition, the numerous typos in the app description together with disgruntled comments from users highlighting theft of personal data and bitcoins should raise a red flag.

Surprisingly, the Poloniex exchange lacks an official mobile app and this explains why scammers have taken advantage of the void with their fake version of the app. Poloniex has done little to distance itself from third-party apps choosing to remain silent on the matter since 2016. Currently, there are five different imitations of Poloniex on Google Play alone, according to Bitcoin.com.

Fraudulent Apps a Real Problem for Internet Users

Scammy apps are not only isolated to the cryptocurrency space, it is estimated over a million people downloaded a fake version of Whatsapp from Google Play store.

Scams are evolving with new tricks being used to lure vulnerable targets; with reports of fake customer care telephone calls from digital currency exchanges Coinbase and Kraken. These hoaxes, have the potential to affect Africans using the open web to obtain and trade cryptocurrencies.

With bitcoin adoption in Africa still in its infancy stages, many users may find it hard to identify fake cryptocurrency apps. Already, the continent has had its share of digital currency scams in the form of bitcoin HYIPS and MLM schemes so it is highly advisable to take caution when downloading cryptocurrency apps to ensure they are real.

To avoid issues of fake bitcoin smartphone apps in their entirety, the safest bet would be to do all your bitcoin trading on your computer and use your phone for price updates and cryptocurrency news.

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