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South Africans Can Now Pay For Traffic Fines in Bitcoin

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Pay For Traffic Fines in Bitcoin

South Africans are now able to settle their traffic fines via a popular yet unusual payment method: bitcoin. This was announced by local fines administrator Fines4U, which has enabled bitcoin payments for those looking to clear their traffic fines. This bodes well for bitcoin adoption in South Africa as many local firms are increasingly accepting the digital currency as a mode of payment.

Fines4U Accepts Bitcoin For Traffic Fines

Fines4U is an Alberton-based company that acts as authorised agents on behalf of clients in regards to traffic-related offences. The firm manages traffic fines for about 500 companies and over 8,000 individuals across the country. The focus is on large fleets and monitoring traffic fines to ensure they are dealt with efficiently and in a timely manner.

Speaking to Moneyweb, company owner, Cornelia van Niekerk, says she has been involved in bitcoin since June and wants to offer clients the opportunity to settle their fines in the digital currency. Her idea is to calculate a client’s outstanding amount of traffic fines and offer them the opportunity to pay for it in bitcoin, valid for a limited period.

Normally, Fines4U negotiates for reductions and even withdrawal of traffic fines on behalf of its clients. Therefore, clients pay a lower rate for their fines and the company charges a 40 percent service fee on the discounts obtained for all their traffic fines. Van Niekerk believes the digital currency is faster and has lower fees when compared to making payments through normal banking channels.

All bitcoin payments are received into her own Luno wallet and are then deposited in rand into the company accounts on behalf of the clients.

Positive Responses To Bitcoin Acceptance

According to Van Niekerk, she recently started advertising the business accepts bitcoin payments and so far the response has been overwhelming.

“I deal with many clients on a daily basis, many of whom are big businesses. Suddenly everybody wants to get more information from me about bitcoin,” she stated.

However, she has noticed most inquiries are about bitcoin as an asset class, rather than a mode of payment. This is hardly surprising going with bitcoin’s 1,100 percent increase in value since the beginning of the year to reach over $13,000. Interestingly, bitcoin is being used less for payments and more as an alternative investment asset.

One reason for the relative decline is the bitcoin scalability issue. As more and more users send and receive bitcoin, the network has become clogged with transactions taking hours or even days before being confirmed and fees are becoming more expensive making it less attractive as a payment option. While debates on how to solve the problem have plagued the bitcoin community, the fact is that it is no longer viable to pay for a cup of coffee using the digital currency as the transaction fee would likely be higher than the price of the coffee.

Having said that, bitcoin still works very well for larger cross-border or B2B payments. Fines4U can expect a reduction in administration costs brought about by accepting bitcoin payments which do not require lengthy verification and paperwork processes. Clients, on the other hand, do not have to worry about parting with sensitive information as is the case with traditional payment channels like credit cards.

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Bitcoin Wallet Luno Adds SegWit Support to Lower Transaction Fees

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Luno Adds SegWit Support

Luno, one of the most popular bitcoin wallets in Africa, has announced full SegWit integration for bitcoin send and receive transactions. Previously, Luno customers could only receive BTC through a legacy wallet address, which was not integrated with the recent Bitcoin blockchain upgrade SegWit. Only send transactions were SegWit compatible.

With the full integration of SegWit, Luno users can now enjoy cheaper and faster bitcoin transactions.

“By implementing SegWit internally, Luno has managed to reduce the send fees paid by customers by over 25% already. As customers start switching over to new SegWit addresses, this will translate into a further reduction in sending fees in the coming weeks and months,” Werner van Rooyen, head of marketing and communications at Luno stated.

Luno currently operates in South Africa, Nigeria, Malaysia, UK, and in 35 other European countries.

What is SegWit?

Segregated Witness (SegWit) was an upgrade to the Bitcoin blockchain that is intended to address Bitcoin’s scalability challenges as well as fix the issue of transaction malleability. With SegWit, signature data is separated from transaction data in order to enable more transactions to fit into each block. The signature data is kept in an extended block called the witness. As a result, bitcoin transactions become faster and transaction fees become lower.

In theory, the Bitcoin network can handle seven transactions per second. However, in reality, it is around four transactions per second. With the number of bitcoin transactions increasing as bitcoin’s popularity grows, transactions take longer as the unconfirmed transactions pool increases. Therefore, bitcoin users who can afford it have been paying higher transaction fees to incentivise miners to prioritise their transactions and, thereby, increase the speed of their transactions. At the end of 2017, this has led to the average bitcoin transaction fee spiking to over 35 dollars.

However, when SegWit addresses are used, bitcoin transactions become faster and the required resources decrease as well. Consequently, the transaction fees reduce.

How Can You Add a SegWit Wallet Address on Luno?

To add a SegWit address on the Luno wallet you have to follow these steps:

  • Open your Luno account either on the mobile app or the web app
  • Choose “wallets” from the menu
  • Click on your “BTC wallet”
  • Choose “receive bitcoin”
  • Click “add address” and follow the prompt

To receive bitcoin, use your SegWit bitcoin receive address. Legacy bitcoin addresses begin with 1 while SegWit bitcoin addresses begin with 3. Even after adding a SegWit wallet address, bitcoins sent to your previous legacy bitcoin address will still work. In addition, you can still send bitcoin from a SegWit wallet to a legacy wallet and vice versa since the transactions are still taking place on the same blockchain. But if you are sending bitcoins to and from a SegWit wallet, you can benefit from reduced fees.

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Bitmart Opens Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware Store in South Africa

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Bitmart Opens Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware Store

Bitmart, South Africa’s leading supplier of mining hardware, has opened a cryptocurrency mining hardware store in South Africa. This makes Bitmart’s retail outlet the first cryptocurrency mining store in Africa.

Products and Services Offered by Bitmart

Bitmart was founded by CEO Jacques Serfontein in 2015 to offer cryptocurrency mining hardware to South Africans. Currently, Bitmart offers GPU rigs, ASIC miners, GPU rig mining software, graphics cards, international mining rig monitor app, cryptomatic watches, hardware wallets, and motherboards. Customers can find GPU mining rigs that mine cryptocurrencies such as zcash, monero, decred, bitcoin, and litecoin.

Additionally, Bitmart provides services such as bitcoin mining farm design and deployment, mining training, antminer repair tickets, mining farm management using Genesis Hive, and shepherd services.

Through its shepherd services, Bitmart helps owners of second-hand miners to find buyers. Therefore, both sellers and buyers are assured of safe and secure transactions through Bitmart’s SSL-secured online shop.

According to MyBroadband, Bitmart is an authorised distributor of Avalon Miners, Genesis Hive, Trezor, Ledger wallets, KeepKey, and UniSat (satellite mining solutions) in Africa.

The company also supplies mining hardware to countries such as Japan, Dubai, North America, Australia, and England.

What Does Bitmart Plan for the Future?

Bitmart will be holding seminars in Johannesburg and Mbombela. The seminars will focus on bitcoin basics and advanced cryptocurrency trading. In addition, Bitmart will be introducing a satellite mining connection in partnership with Uniwisp that will allow mining rigs to mine from any place in the world. Uniwisp is an Internet service provider based in Nelspruit, South Africa.

 

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Kenya’s BitPesa Acquires Spanish Money Transfer Platform TransferZero

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BitPesa Acquires TransferZero

On February 8, 2018, BitPesa announced that it has acquired TransferZero, a Madrid-based online money transfer platform, which operates in over 200 countries using more than 50 currencies.

Why Did BitPesa Acquire TransferZero?

BitPesa, which is already operating in Africa and Europe, will be able to “set deep roots to UK and European licensing, bank accounts, and integrations” through this acquisition, according to the company’s statement on its blog.

“Europe is a hub for global remittance and payments companies. Digital currencies and decentralized technology have hit critical mass in the financial services and payments space. It is no longer a question of whether this technology will have staying power [but] which specific technology and what product iteration will launch and scale first […],” Elizabeth Rosiello, founder and CEO BitPesa said.

“BitPesa has the support of top-tier, institutional investors and a network that will help to bring TransferZero’s technology to the next level. With this support, we will be able to provide even more efficient transfers and user experience,” Luis Cambronero, former TransferZero CEO and present Managing Director, BitPesa stated.

Setting Up Infrastructure Across Europe and Africa is a Priority

“Setting up infrastructure across Europe and Africa has always been a focus of ours. […] We’ve just doubled our bank accounts, our infrastructure, and it’s licensed by the Bank of Spain as a payment institution. So we are fully compliant with PSD2 regulations […],” Rosiello said.

“This is truly a partnership where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, allowing BitPesa to solidify our leadership in this space. By bringing our regional and technological expertise together, we will further accelerate our month-to-month growth,” Rossiello asserted.

TransferZero will neither change its name nor its headquarters. In addition, its employees will remain with Bitpesa.

This acquisition from an Africa-based bitcoin startup of a European fintech startup shows that leading African startups can make waves beyond the borders of the continent and create a positive impact on a global scale.

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