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The State of Bitcoin in South Africa



State of Bitcoin in South Africa

Also known as the Rainbow Nation, South Africa is not only an economic giant in Africa but also has a thriving bitcoin ecosystem and tops the list of African countries with the highest adoption of bitcoin. This is evidenced by the Google Trends charts that shows South Africa sitting at the top as well as the country’s bitcoin trading volumes and thriving local bitcoin economy.

South Africa has a well-established bitcoin ecosystem that consists of local exchanges, blockchain startups, meetups, educational programmes as well as a bitcoin-friendly regulator.

The country is also home to one of Africa’s largest blockchain technology conference, which is held every year in Johannesburg. Already in its fourth year, the Blockchain Africa Conference has continued to experience an increasing number of attendees since its establishment. The conference attracts speakers from various countries globally to speak on matters affecting the blockchain and cryptocurrencies in Africa and beyond.

Bitcoin Startups in South Africa

South Africa is home to two of the largest bitcoin exchanges in the continent, Luno (formerly known as BitX) and Ice3x. Besides the exchanges, the startup scene in South Africa is booming and has companies that are utilising the blockchain and bitcoin to help solve various societal needs.

The Sun Exchange was founded on the need to electrify remote countries in Africa as well as promote the use of clean energy. The Sun Exchange peer-to-peer marketplace enables investors to purchase solar panels for projects in Africa and pay using bitcoin. They can then lease them out to public bodies such as schools and in return, earn monthly rental income. With this, The Sun Exchange ensures both the investors benefit – by getting their investment back in form of monthly income – and the community gets access to clean energy.

Another startup, Custos Media, making use of blockchain technology to fight piracy. The South Africa-based startup aims to eliminate media piracy by adding bitcoin deposits to digital files. Known as digital bounties, Custos Media can detect and track pirated content using an invisible watermark that is embedded in the digital content. In the event, the watermarked files end up on platforms that they are not supposed to be, the person who found the file receives a bitcoin reward.

Bankymoon, a startup and blockchain consultancy firm, designed a smart energy meter for power and utility bill payments. The smart energy power meter makes it possible for South Africans to pay and top up their power meters using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Well-wishers can also help needy schools pay their utility bills using the smart energy power meters.

GeoPay is another South African startup that has leveraged the blockchain and allows individuals to send and receive money at affordable rates. GeoPay uses the blockchain to process the payments allowing for users to instantly make cross-border remittances with no barriers whatsoever.

Bitcoin Use in South Africa

Startups are not the only companies leveraging the blockchain and cryptocurrencies in South Africa. Traditionally, bitcoin has been used as a form of investment. However, this is beginning to change as more organisations are allowing for various payments of goods and services to be paid using digital currencies. South Africa has more than 30,000 merchants who accept bitcoin payments. This has been made possible by PayFast, a digital payments processing company that integrated bitcoin payments back in 2014.

Additionally, Pick n Pay, a leading South African grocery retailer, is an example of a retail chain that allows shoppers to pay for their grocery shopping using bitcoin. All that customers need to do is scan their QR code using their bitcoin wallet app on their smartphone.

Fines4U, a traffic offence assistance company, has now made it possible for South Africans to pay for their traffic fines using bitcoin. Fines4U makes it possible for individuals to make the payment by calculating all their traffic offence charges and giving them an opportunity to clear all their pending payments using bitcoin for a limited period of time.

OneDayOnly is another e-commerce store that is considering making it possible for customers to pay using bitcoin to provide their clientele with a better user experience. Other notable e-commerce platforms that accept bitcoin payments include and Checkout, among others.

South Africa has also become the first country in the African continent to conduct an equity deal using bitcoin.

South Africa’s Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework

One of the key drivers of bitcoin adoption in any country, especially in Africa, is having a bitcoin-friendly regulator. This is the case for South Africa. The SARB has recently started testing out a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in the country and has so far been very accommodating towards digital currency startups within its jurisdiction. This move comes after they had indicated earlier in February that they would carry out a research about the blockchain viability in the country.It is also worth mentioning that back in 2014, SARB released a position paper stating that they did not regulate or supervise cryptocurrencies and that all risks associated were to be borne by the end users.

On the other hand, the South African Revenue Services (SARS), is researching ways to track cryptocurrencies to ensure all digital currency investment profits are adequately taxed. The SARS is planning to work with the SARB to analyse and link the in and outflow of funds in the country vis-a-vis the movement of goods. This will enable them to have visibility on all information and ensure nothing stays hidden.

The laissez-faire approach of the South African central bank towards bitcoin has been highly beneficial for its local bitcoin economy. This should be seen as an example for other African nations, such as Kenya and Namibia, where regulators have taken an opposing stance towards decentralised cryptocurrencies.


Coindirect Now Allows You To Buy Cryptocurrencies in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya




Kenyans, Nigerians and South Africans will now be able to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on Coindirect after the exchange platform announced the launch of their services in the three African countries.

Coindirect is an exchange platform that prides itself on being one of the fastest and easiest ways to trade digital currencies online. The exchange that is now live in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, was built to make cryptocurreny trading simple. The platform offers a wide range of local-to-cryptocurrency transactions in its marketplace, with the availability of 25 distinct digital coins. Currently, in its initial launch phase, there will be additional countries where will be launching in early 2018.

“We are extremely excited to be offering our customers across the globe the ability to buy popular cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum in their local currencies,” says Basil Bielich, Director.

“By simplifying and demystifying the process of purchasing cryptocurrencies, we hope to accelerate their adoption across the globe,” he added.

While some exchanges may need cryptocurrency owners to own multiple wallet accounts, allows users to buy and sell multiple currencies using one wallet account. It provides its users with a secure trading environment coupled with full wallet support and instant transfers. Using local currencies, customers can also purchase altcoins as well as exchange them using different currencies. This has resulted in an increased daily trading volume with users converting between altcoins and bitcoin.

The exchange locks prices at the point of sale thus making transactions instant. While bitcoin purchases might be complex,’s use of the escrow system eliminates the purchase barrier for such digital coins.

Properly Regulated

While the majority of the digital currency trading platforms are unregulated, the case is different with Registered with the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority and with offices in both the Isle of Man and London, is professionally regulated having been founded by a consortium of technology investors based in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

With bitcoin having gone mainstream in 2017 and raising a global interest on digital currencies leading to rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies, there is need to have regulated exchanges that can reduce fraud and theft risk as well as loss of trade.

Commenting from the E-Business Innovation at Isle of Man Government, the Head of Operations, Brian Donegan said: “The arrival of on the Island is a further example of how our digital economy value proposition and quality regulatory framework continues to attract digital currency exchange companies of the highest caliber.”

Users will also be able to carry out random trades of up to ZAR R15,000 / NGN 400,000 / KES 100,000 without the need to upload their personal identification documents.

With Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa having very active cryptocurrency ecosystems, the move is expected to help in the adoption of digital currencies as well as give users in the named countries alternative options to buy cryptocurrencies.

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Australian Company Urges Nigeria To Put Gold Supply Chain on the Blockchain



Gold Supply Chain on Blockchain

The Australia-based company African Mutual Resources has implored Nigeria to utilise blockchain technology in the gold mining supply chain to enable the West African country to foster its diversification drive and attain a more sustainable economy.

Lee Purves, director of Africa Mutual Resources (AMR), said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that blockchain technology is a transparent and smart technology that would boost the confidence of both buyers and sellers in the gold business.

“What [blockchain technology] does is that it absorbs data from along a supply line, whether it is gold, digital location or the source and put it in the blockchain. Everybody involved in the chain will see what is there. If I am a gold seller or gold buyer, you don’t need to trust me anymore because the trust is in the system. You will see all the documentation. You can see what you have and I will see what you have,’’ he stated.

Partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria

Purves revealed that his company would be willing to collaborate with the Federal Government of Nigeria to implement the blockchain in the gold mining sector. He went on to add that a similar system had already been invented in Israel.

Dr. Ade Kukoyi, Chairman of African Mutual Resources, stressed on the need to have Nigeria utilise the technology as it belongs to part of the global community. He mentioned that research had been done on Nigeria and a lot of revenue was being lost to artisans not working mainstream.

“One thing we observed is that Nigeria government is losing a lot of revenue to activities of those that are in the “shadows’’, those not operating in the mainstream.”

“One such is in the mining sector and specifically gold. Reportedly, Nigeria is losing as much as 1.4 billion dollars in activities surrounding the illegal gold mining. The blockchain technology is reformatory; it will transform the way business is done and the underline theme of the technology is trust. Distrust activities will be brought to an end through blockchain technology if the Nigeria government will adopt it,’’ he remarked.

Furthermore, Mr. Kukoyi said that the company would partner with the Nigerian government to boost the levels of the two gold laboratories to become attractive to the global economy. He expressed his concerns over the fact that the Jos and Kaduna gold laboratories had gotten no recognition from the world market economy.

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Meet Africa’s Youngest Blockchain Entrepreneur: Token Media’s Elisha Owusu Akyaw



Youngest Blockchain Entrepreneur

In Africa, the number of entrepreneurs working on cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses is on the rise due to a growing global appetite for blockchain-based solutions and crypto-commerce. An example of this would be the story of Africa’s youngest blockchain entrepreneur, Elisha Owusu Akyaw.

Becoming a Blockchain Entrepreneur at a Young Age

Elisha is the founder and CEO of Token Media, a Ghana-based cryptocurrency marketing company. Founded in 2017, the company aims to assist new and existing blockchain projects to reach their target audience using global best practice marketing solutions.

Token MediaInterestingly, most people would agree that Elisha does not fit the profile of your typical entrepreneur. The 16-year-old is looking to carve his own niche in advertising with a particular focus on blockchain projects, at a time when his peers are mostly concerned with school or other social activities. He first came across cryptocurrencies on TV, fell in love with the technology and decided the opportunities presented in the space were too good to be ignored.

About what developed his interest in cryptocurrencies he mentioned this in an interview with,

“I got into the cryptocurrency space after I saw a news item about bitcoin on TV and then decided to check it out. The idea of financial freedom and an entire economy based on the blockchain appealed to my curiosity, which caused me to investigate about bitcoins and cryptocurrencies as a whole. After research, I then looked at how I could apply my skills in the field and later joined the DASH community and started the first DASH commercial blog.”

Establishing his Mark on Blockchain Advertising with Token Media

Elisha’s foray into digital currencies could not have been at a more opportune time when big players like Goldman Sachs and Google recognise the untapped potential of blockchain technology. Meanwhile, startups are developing other uses for blockchain technology to secure information from tampering and allow users to access the entire record of transactions.

Elisha identified the need for PR services for established companies as well as new market entrants. With this in mind, Token Media was conceived. He states his inspiration for starting the company was,

“I watched a lot of cryptocurrency related videos and I remember watching one that spoke about bringing businesses from other industries into the blockchain industry, which got me thinking about a PR solutions company. After the boom of ICO’s and the popularity of cryptocurrencies, the need for proper marketing services in the space has become very important which lead to the birth of Token Media. Our solutions are unique because we blend affordability and quality.”

Token Media offers a variety of services primarily in public relations, ICO marketing, and social media management. Under public relations the company creates, publishes and distributes press releases, working with notable partners such as BTC Manager, Merkle, and Hongico just to name a few. With ICO marketing, the core activities are public relations and investor relations. Social media management involves spreading the message about various blockchain projects on popular social media channels.

According to Elisha, the company which began operations in June last year has so far worked with several clients such as PIVX, Komodo, Local World Forwarder, and SmartCash. Token Media has helped raise over $40 million in token sales through its marketing services and has worked with cryptocurrencies with a combined market capitalisation of over $1 billion.

While this may seem impressive for a company less than a year old, for Elisha this is just the beginning,

“In the future Token Media aims to be more than a marketing solutions firm. We are working on new projects that include an initial coin offering startup platform, content distribution, and creation on the blockchain and a blockchain related content platform that integrates all media formats,” he said about his future plans.

Challenges Faced and Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

However, a journey into entrepreneurship is not without its hiccups and blockchain businesses are no exception. For Elisha, a persistent problem has been the presence of few platforms in Africa with cryptocurrency integration which makes moving money around quite hectic. Until recently he couldn’t find a decent cryptocurrency exchange in Ghana that offered excellent services with reasonable fees.

With cryptocurrency adoption in the continent still at its infancy stage, most Africans have to contend with international peer-to-peer exchanges like Localbitcoins and Remitano to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. While the exchanges support millions of dollars in trades every day, users are often faced with above market rate prices when buying bitcoin and other digital currencies. Lately, though, we are seeing more localised exchanges coming up across the continent that supports local currencies.

However, the biggest challenge according to Elisha has been unpredictable nature of market regulators. He says,

“Another problem that is getting bigger is the silence on the part of most governments on the continent on the regulation of cryptocurrencies. Regulators on the content seem not to understand the fundamental concepts of blockchain technology and may take rushed decisions that will hamper the growth of the blockchain industry in Africa. As an entrepreneur, it makes it hard for me to plan with this high level of uncertainty at play.”

The reality is the legal status of cryptocurrencies remains undefined in most African countries with regulators regularly sounding warnings against its use. The lack of a policy framework pertaining to digital currencies creates an environment of uncertainty for blockchain enterprises and hampers digital currency innovation across the continent. Hopefully, African governments which are more receptive towards blockchain technologies will involve stakeholders like Elisha in coming up with structures that can assimilate cryptocurrencies into local ecosystems.

For now, the Accra-based entrepreneur has split his time between growing Token Media and his studies. His advice to other young aspiring African cryptocurrency entrepreneurs is:

”There is a lot to be done in the blockchain space in Africa. Identify the problems around you, fix the problem and you will have a winning project or product in your hands. Let’s all work together to bridge the gaps on the continent, educate the masses and help the continent grow.”

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