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Are Kenyan Regulators Finally Changing Their Stance on Bitcoin in Kenya?



Bitcoin in Kenya

Digital currencies have a come a long way since their inception almost a decade ago. From operating on the fringe of the financial ecosystem they are now becoming an accepted medium of exchange.

Bitcoin, a decentralized virtual currency with no ties to any central bank or financial institution, is slowly making its way into the African financial ecosystem. The peer-to-peer nature of the currency and it not being susceptible to inflation and political upheavals, that have plagued fiat currencies, makes it an attractive value proposition for the continent. That being said, there are still hurdles for bitcoin adoption with Kenya being a prime example of that.

The crypto-debate in Kenya

The African country has a sizable bitcoin community with fintech companies, such as BitPesa using bitcoin for international money transfers. However, local market regulators are yet to see bitcoin as an acceptable medium for transactions. In 2015, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) joined its peers in Nigeria, and other parts of the world, in sounding warnings about the dangers of bitcoin, saying the risks far outweigh any benefits that could be gained. Furthermore, Kenya’s central bank instructed local banks in Kenya not to provide banking services to bitcoin startups.

While their position has remained unchanged, recently, another market regulator is reading from a different script. In April, the Capital Markets Authority of Kenya (CMA) announced plans to holds a forum that will give fintech players an opportunity to interrogate regulators on the current regulations as well as allow regulators to understand the unique challenges faced by these companies.

Paul Muthaura, the CEO of the authority said in a statement:

“The ultimate objective of the authority is to provide Fintechs in the capital markets such as; finance smartphone ‘apps’; equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platforms; Robo-advice for investment; blockchain technology; big data; crypto-currency and other finance focused technology products, with a conducive environment where they can test their innovations in a relaxed regulatory environment before taking them to the market.”

New Opportunities

While market regulators are sending mixed messages, the World Bank recently revealed its plan to partner with the Kenyan government in using blockchain technology to sell government bonds. The blockchain is the underlying technology on which bitcoin is built on. Blockchain technology provides a distributed ledger that can be augmented to enable limitless possibilities in terms of applicability. Examples of where blockchain technology can be used include digital identity verification, proof of ownership of assets and intellectual property just to name a few.

The CBK is one of the collaborators in this project and this has the potential to soften their stance on digital currencies in the future. According to the CEO of BitPesa, Ms. Elizabeth Rossiello the resistance by a section of market regulators is similar to other situations in Europe, Asia, and the US. But with more awareness and information, she believes things are looking up for cryptocurrency in the country.

“Internationally, all of the largest financial institutions have Bitcoin and blockchain programmes, investments and even patent applications. Visa Europe commented that working with bitcoin “is no longer a choice anymore,” proving that the technology has moved from the fringes towards the mainstream of financial innovation. Bank of America filed applications for 10 different patents using Bitcoin and blockchain technology,” Rossiello stated.

While regulatory approval for bitcoin as a legal payment method in Kenya may still be a long way off, the debate shows people are beginning to see bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as an agent of change and innovation when it comes to financial services.


Binance Launches Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange in Uganda



Binance Launches in Uganda

Global bitcoin exchange Binance has launched a new fiat-cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda. The exchange will also be offering a reward of 0.5 BNB to the first 20,000 users that register on the site as part of its promotion in Uganda.

The announcement comes nearly two months after Binance partnered with Crypto Savannah, Made in Africa initiative, and Msingi East Africa to promote economic development in the East African country.

Changpeng Zhao and Yi He founded Binance in 2017 and raised $15 million through an initial coin offering for its ERC20 token BNB in July of the same year.

The exchange plans to move its offices to the island nation of Malta after the implementation of stricter regulations in China and Japan. In January 2018, Binance was the largest crypto exchange with a market capitalisation of $1.3 billion.

Binance in Uganda

BinanceBinance will also offer its Ugandan users a month of zero trading fees when trading goes online. The exchange will announce the opening for trading at a later date.

Users can find out if they have won any rewards by logging into their accounts and accessing ‘Distribution History’ in the Account Center. In addition, users will be required to complete ID verification to be able to withdraw funds from Binance.

Ugandan users will enjoy an exchange that offers fast transactions of up to 1.4 million per second and state-of-the-art storage technology for utmost security. The exchange also provides 24/7 customer support and has a user-friendly interface.

The presence of Binance in Uganda aims to boost financial inclusion in the country, which has increased from 28 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2013 according to its national financial inclusion strategy 2017-2022.

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LINE Corp to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange BITBOX in July for Global Trading



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The developers of popular messaging app LINE and LINE Group’s cryptocurrency and blockchain company LVC Corporation have announced that they are set to launch a new cryptocurrency exchange called BITBOX in July 2018. The Japan-based firm made the announcement during the LINE Conference 2018 held in Tokyo.

The New BITBOX Exchange

BITBOXBITBOX will offer over 30 high-demand cryptocurrencies to users globally with the exception of Japan and the US. The exchange will trade coins such as bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash while charging low trading fees of 0.1 percent. BITBOX will support 15 languages, according to the company press release.

The selected cryptocurrencies for the exchange have undergone an extensive screening exercise and have been picked by an internal committee, promising users a convenient and safe trading experience. LINE will also incorporate its top security standards to the cryptocurrency exchange.

LINE Corporation CEO Takeshi Idezawa said:

“As a key part of LINE’s new financial services, BITBOX shows our commitment to fulfilling the growing demand for more diverse financial options. With BITBOX, LINE users will be able to access cryptocurrencies more easily, while also being assured of state-of-art security measures to protect their assets.”

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Nigerians Have Invested Over $5m in Cryptocurrencies Despite Regulator Warnings Says KureCoin Hub



Nigerians Invest in Cryptocurrencies

Nigerians have invested over five million US dollars in the cryptocurrency market in the last couple of years according to data from Nigerian cryptocurrency platform KureCoin Hub.

The data shows that Nigerian retail investors are investing heavily in the cryptocurrency market despite warnings from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) against investing in an unregulated market.

KureCoin Hub’s co-founder and CEO Tega Abikure has criticised the stance regulators have taken and argues that the country will lag behind as other countries enjoy the benefits of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Abikure told New Telegraph:

“It is not a matter of whether the government likes it; it is about whether they need it. I am not sure the internet was liked when it first came. […] It is not a matter of whether they are going to embrace it; it is about when they are going to do so.”

Abikure observed that other countries such as Uganda and South Africa have already taken steps towards adopting blockchain technology while Kenya is pushing forward with a functioning blockchain taskforce.

“Nigeria is being left behind,” he noted.

The Blockchain as a Source of Foreign Direct Investments

Abikure also believes that blockchain technology could be a major source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the next five to ten years. In addition, he is of the opinion that a lot of money is being made in cryptocurrencies on the continent with most of it leaving Africa’s economy.

On one of the benefits of blockchain technology, he said: “[The blockchain] is completely transparent and cannot be changed; it can be used to create a decentralised system of payment where the taxpayer had an unhindered access to the collector which is the government. It enhances revenue collection and removes the challenges of remittances.”

Blockchain technology can also improve the banking sector, the electoral process, the use of donations in charitable projects, and the supply chain, among many other use cases.

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