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Vote With Bitcoin – A New Bitcoin-Based Crowdfunding Platform

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bitcoin crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has been instrumental in opening opportunities that were previously unimaginable for entrepreneurs, startups, and innovators. Crowdfunding platforms allow people that have innovative ideas but lack the funds to raise the money they need from individual investors to turn their ideas into a reality.

A Lack of a Level Playing Field in the Crowdfunding Sector

However, not everyone has access to crowdfunding platforms. Unfortunatley, not all participants are on the same level playing field.

For example, any project can be declined by a platform operator for a number of reasons. In 2012, leading crowdfunding platform Kickstarter revamped their policy due to a couple of late and questionable projects being submitted. The tightened requirements resulted in a wave of rejected projects that needed to look elsewhere for funding opportunities. Furthermore, a crowdfunding campaign needs a marketing budget to gain traction with users and not everyone has the necessary budget. Also, there are some ideas that are not suitable for the traditional crowdfunding audience such as political projects for example.

To address these challenges Vote With Bitcoin was founded as a platform that emphasizes action over advertising.

Vote With Bitcoin – A New Bitcoin Crowdfunding Platform

On the new crowdfunding platform Vote With Bitcoin, you can publish a project and get it funded with no upfront costs through contributions in bitcoin. What is required to publish a project is a short brief on what it’s intended for, a link to its website and social media feeds. The process is free from interference by intermediaries and takes only a few minutes.

The user-driven approach ensures projects are not subject to approval by a central authority. Instead, users decide which projects they deem worthy by “upvoting” them with bitcoin contributions.

What makes the Latvia-based platform revolutionary is the use of bitcoin to upvote projects. Users who like an idea can send bitcoins directly to the project creator’s wallet, with no middlemen involved. Additionally, there are no fees involved when you upvote using bitcoin (minus the bitcoin transaction fees of course).

BitcoinAfrica.io spoke to founder Jānis Sprenne about the future of Vote With Bitcoin. He told us:

“[Vote With Bitcoin] is here to stay, and we will continue to develop it step-by-step to offer the best service for our users. We see a huge potential in what we are doing. The design, development, and monitoring of the platform takes a lot of time and resources to maintain, so the funds that we have raised up until now and those raised in the future will be used to further improve VWB functionality and user experience.”

As fiat currencies in many parts of the world continue to be plagued by inflation and economic uncertainty, adoption of bitcoin and other global digital currencies will likely continue to rise and, therefore, so will bitcoin crowdfunding.

Crowdfund For All Sorts Of Projects

VoteWithBitcoin is not only limited to commercial projects. They believe that many future projects listed on the platform will be of a political, social or charitable nature. Some of them will be so disruptive in their industries that traditional crowdfunding platforms may not be the best fit for them. The platform also aims to help shape social and political events by being a platform that can help raise funds and spread a message.

Vote With Bitcoin is a revolutionary idea that democratises crowdfunding by allowing anyone around the world to raise funds by leveraging the digital currency bitcoin. If you are running an NGO, are launching a charitable project or have an idea for a startup, try out Vote With Bitcoin to raise money for your venture.

To support the growth of this new next generation crowdfunding platform, BitcoinAfrica.io has launched its own bitcoin crowdfunding campaign on VoteWithBitcoin. We are looking to raise funds to further develop our platform and to expand our team of writers.

If you like what you are reading on BitcoinAfrica.io, please contribute to our crowdfunding campaign! 

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The Golix Controversy: Has the African Exchange “Exit Scammed” Users And Investors?

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Golix exit scam

Prior to May 2018, Zimbabwe-based bitcoin exchange Golix was bullish about its future prospects. The startup claimed it had raised $32 million from a token sale and had plans to set up operations in several other African countries. However, more than a year later, the digital asset exchange has had a reversal of fortunes and, after its forced shutdown in Zimbabwe, some of Golix’s former clients are struggling to get their funds reimbursed despite promises and frantic efforts to recover these. 

Embezzlement Allegations

Former Golix users now point to possible embezzlement of funds by Golix executives while one investor in the startup blames the hostile operating environment as the reason for the company’s general failure.

Tawanda Kembo was the chief executive officer (CEO) of Golix when it was shut down in Zimbabwe. Bitcoin Africa reached out to him to get his side of the story but he had not responded to our questions at the time of publishing.

However, Bitcoin Africa still managed to contact Taurai Chinyamakubvu, an individual who says he was an investor in the company. Chinyamakubvu claimed he is not aware if client funds had been reimbursed or not since he was not involved in the day to day affairs of the crypto startup.

“On funds, you can check with the CEO, he was doing the day to day stuff. I was just an investor,” Chinyamakubvu pushed back when asked if they had recovered client funds that were reportedly locked in banks.

In May 2018, Zimbabwe’s central bank issued a directive that forbade financial institutions from dealing with crypto exchanges. According to Golix, this led to banks blocking access to client funds and the company from using the financial system.

Central Bank Defiance And Crypto Adoption

GolixWhen asked why Golix had not resumed operations following a High Court ruling that set aside the central bank order, Chinyamakubvu suggested that Golix’s Zimbabwe operations remain hamstrung by the central bank’s reluctance to lift the order.

“They (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) did not lift the order they sent to banks. So no bank wants to defy a regulator. But that said, you muddy the water once, that’s enough to change its colour for a while,” he stated.

Chinyamakubvu is convinced that the central bank’s apparent defiance of a court ruling continues to hinder the growth of the crypto space in a country that should be embracing privately-issued cryptocurrencies.

Zimbabwe has been plagued by hyperinflation for the past two decades, which is spurred on by a volatile fiat currency. Critics point to the central bank’s penchant for unrestrained printing of money as the main cause of the country’s currency troubles.

The Golix investor called the central bank’s decision to shut down the crypto exchange ‘retrogressive’.

Ironically, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently announced the setting up of a committee to study financial technologies such as bitcoin. The regulator now says it wants to come up with what it calls a “National Fintech Strategy.”

Disappeared Client Funds

Bitcoin Africa also reached out to former Golix clients as it tried to establish what happened with their funds. Some did not respond but a few did – although they requested anonymity. One lady, in particular, expressed exasperation with the way Golix has been handling the issue.

“I do not know about others but I still have not been reimbursed. Tawanda (CEO of Golix) has made several promises to settle but nothing has happened,” claimed the lady who preferred to remain anonymous.

She further explained that currently there is nothing noteworthy happening but promised to reveal more details as and when they become known. 

Kembo on the Run?

Following the central bank decision to stifle cryptocurrency trading, some crypto traders have gone on to create informal trading platforms using social media networks like Whatsapp, Telegram, and Facebook.

Bitcoin Africa was also able to get access to one such Whatsapp chat group feed wherein clients are discussing strategies of recovering funds from Golix. In a discussion that occurred in July 2019, one member of the group asks fellow members to furnish her with information that includes Kembo’s personal identification number or even a vehicle registration number. This could then be used to help a hired tracing agent to locate him.

Tawanda Kembo

Tawanda Kembo, Golix CEO

It is apparent from the discussions that Kembo has made several promises – including re-payment plans – to reimburse but nothing has happened to date. Adding intrigue to the controversy, this client claims Tawanda told them he had lost the key to the cold storage wallet. Thus, he could not access the bitcoin.

Keys to a crypto wallet are essentially a passcode that grants access to funds and without them, the funds are lost and cannot be recovered.

In the meantime, another post on the same thread suggests that Chinyamakubvu was being disingenuous when he expressed ignorance about the status of client funds. In the post, another member insists that prior to the central bank order, Golix was asked to remove all funds before accounts were closed.

The anonymous member was referring to a part of the central bank circular to banks which states the following:

“Exit any existing relationships with virtual currency exchanges within sixty days of the date of this Circular and proceed to liquidate and restitute existing account balances.”

This central bank circular was issued on May 11, 2018, and Golix seemingly had enough time to exit from banks as well as to reimburse clients.

No Consumer Protection

The anonymous member suggests that since this did not happen, the issue should now be treated as a criminal case.

It is apparent from the rest of the discussion that members were aware of the risks involved with crypto businesses. The central bank had warned the public of risks of dealing with cryptocurrencies and associated businesses prior to Golix’s demise.

Zimbabwe does not have consumer protection laws that specifically deal cryptocurrencies and those dealing with such digital currencies do so at own risk, a point clearly articulated by the central bank circular. Perhaps it is with this in mind that some Golix clients are now pursuing fraud charges against Golix executives.

Lack of legal protection is another factor inhibiting the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies but that may yet change as the central bank is now having a change of heart.

Bitcoin Africa will continue to follow the events surrounding the alleged exit scam of Golix and update our readers when new information surfaces.

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Alleged Con Man Taken to Court in Kenya Over Fake Bitcoin Deal

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Fake Bitcoin Deal

A man is reportedly facing charges in a Nairobi court after allegedly swindling an accountant out of 375,000 Kenyan shillings (KES) in a fake bitcoin deal. The accused, Patrick Kamau, allegedly committed the fraud on several dates between December 2018 and May 2019.

Bitcoin Investment Deal Goes Sour

Kamau reportedly promised to open a forex trading account for the complainant and invest in forex bitcoin through BNB Forex. Benjamin Mugoya entered into the deal with the hope of making crypto trading profits after a friend introduced him to Kamau. The accused posed as a sales representative for BNB Forex in Kenya.

BitcoinGet

To open the forex trading account, Kamau asked Mugoya to wire KES400,000 to his bank account. However, after receiving a total payment of KES375,000 on May 22, Kamau switched off his phone.

In addition to this payment, Mugoya had sent Kamau KES50,000 in two installments in December 2018 and January 2019.

This is not the first bitcoin-related case that has been heard in a Nairobi court. In 2017, three bitcoin traders were charged with allegedly stealing KES10.2 million from I&M bank and Mpesa. The case involved a purchase of bitcoin from the traders using stolen money.

The case against Kamau has been scheduled for 22 February 2020. The accused was released on a cash bail of KES150,000 or a bond of KES200,000.

Unregulated Crypto Space

Mugoya could be one of many victims that have fallen prey to fake bitcoin investments despite the Central Bank of Kenya’s warning against investing in bitcoin.

The Bank’s Governor, Patrick Njoroge, has been vocal about the risks associated with cryptocurrencies such as fraud.  In 2018, the Governor ordered Kenyan banks to refrain from making crypto transactions or engaging with entities transacting in virtual currencies.

The unregulated crypto space in Kenya means that victims of crypto fraud are unprotected, thereby, preventing them from recovering their funds. However, with sufficient evidence, Mugoya could obtain justice from the Kenyan court system.

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UNICEF to Accept Cryptocurrency Donations Through Newly-Created Fund

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UNICEF Cryptocurrency Donations

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has rolled out a cryptocurrency fund that will enable the organisation to receive, hold, and distribute donations in bitcoin and ether. UNICEF will use cryptocurrencies to support open-source technology assisting children and young people across the globe.

The Cryptocurrency Fund

Contributions to the cryptocurrency fund will be held in the cryptocurrency of donation and will be disbursed in the same cryptocurrency.

UnicefUNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore stated: “This is a new and exciting venture for UNICEF. If digital economies and currencies have the potential to shape the lives of the coming generations, it is important that we explore the opportunities they offer. That is why the creation of our Cryptocurrency Fund is a significant and welcome step forward in humanitarian and development work.”

UNICEF is the first United Nations Organisation to establish a cryptocurrency fund. The fund is part of the organisation’s current work with blockchain technology. UNICEF and WFP are the leaders of the UN Innovation Network, a body that researches the impact of emerging technologies, such as the blockchain.

First Crypto Contributions

The first crypto contributions to the newly-created cryptocurrency fund will come from the Ethereum Foundation. The contributions will profit grantees of the UNICEF Innovation Fund and the GIGA initiative project that connects schools with the internet.

Aya Miyaguchi, Executive Director of the Ethereum Foundation said: “The Ethereum Foundation is excited to demonstrate the power of what Ethereum and blockchain technology can do for communities around the world. Together with UNICEF, we are taking action with the Crypto Fund to improve access to basic needs, rights, and resources. We aim to support the research and development of the Ethereum platform, and to grow the community of those that benefit from a technology that will better countless lives and industries in the years to come.”

The grantees of the UNICEF Innovation Fund that will receive the initial funds are Prescrypto, Utopixar, and Atix Labs. Prescrypto offers prescription tracking while Utopixar leverages blockchain technology to solve social and environmental challenges. Atix Labs is a blockchain solutions company.

The Ethereum Foundation will make the first contribution through UNICEF’s French National Committee. Other UNICEF National Committees that accept crypto are the US, New Zealand, and Australia. 

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