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Meet Africa’s Blockchain Startups: Cryptogene

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Cryptogene

Cryptogene is a Nigeria-based startup that is building a hub to bring blockchain technology to the mainstream in Africa through education and the development of blockchain tools for individuals as well as organizations.

Cryptogene was founded in mid-December 2016 by a passionate crypto-enthusiast Bashir Aminu as a telegram community where people of all nationalities were welcome to share verifiable sources of information towards building interesting cryptocurrency and blockchain-based technologies.

In an interview with BitcoinAfrica.io, founder “Bash” (as popularly called by the members of Cryptogene’s telegram group) explains how Cryptogene aims to utilize cryptocurrency and its underlying technology to improve business and social infrastructures in Nigeria and beyond.

BitcoinAfrica.io interviewed Bashir, co-founder of Cryptogene, to find out more about this new African blockchain startup.

Cryptogene Bashir Aminu

How did you come to establish Cryptogene?

Last year in December, I had an argument with the billion coin (TBC) supporter about whether TBC was a viable cryptocurrency or not. This was a telegram group that I was in. After laying down my points and convincing everyone that it wasn’t and was, in fact, a scam, I had a lot of messages from people asking me to create a group just for the cryptocurrency market, which I did on the 14th of December last year. That’s basically how Cryptogene came to be.

What makes Nigeria the right place for this kind of innovation?

The blockchain can potentially transform the way we interact with each other and our environment. It could potentially revolutionize banking, government, etc. Nigeria is ripe because we currently have a lot of youths with great ideas and wonderful visions and no one to help them accomplish their goals. A lot of things are still based on who you know. Blockchain can eliminate that.

Centralization breeds corruption and abuse of power especially when you are dealing with centralized systems controlled by humans which affect the lives of many people

Take a look at resources for example. Imagine oil and gas were equally distributed or decentralized around the world. You would not have all these senseless wars or a handful of Nigerian families controlling all the oil wealth.

The future is about putting people and humanity first. This is what Cryptogene aims to achieve. It’s meant to give everyone a fair chance. It doesn’t mean there won’t be competition or reward for hard work. It just means that everyone has a fair chance of succeeding if they put in the same amount of effort and time.

What are the areas of immediate focus for Cryptogene?

Right now, our focus is the following

1. Educate
2. Adopt
3. Implement

1. We educate citizens on what blockchain is all about. What its potential is and how it can help them in their daily lives and businesses.
2. We get into the adoption stage. After we have educated, we have to now convince them that what we’ve educated them on is actually worth it.
3. Implement. After education and adoption comes implementation. Getting things on the ground for blockchain and cryptocurrency use in real life cases.

What are some of the milestones you’ve achieved in your 6 months? And looking forward, what are you excited about?

Over the past 6 months, we’ve witnessed phenomenal growth. We’ve had upwards of a thousand sign-ups on cryptocurrency trading sites like Poloniex and Bittrex, and many of these signups come from people that came from a background of investing in HYIPs and other Ponzis. Cryptogene has been able to change their mindsets towards more use cases. The trading group has grown in leaps and bounds in just a few months. We also have the exchange. It has become a safe haven for buyers to meet sellers and conduct cryptocurrency transactions without fear of being scammed.

For the future, I look forward to a future in which Cryptogene will become a reference point for all cryptocurrency and blockchain activities in Africa and indeed the world at large. I see Africa as a hub for cryptocurrency, where the new generation of startups will spring up and take the world by storm.

It’s been suggested that blockchain may be able to help solve long-standing problems in Africa, which area is Cryptogene interested in?

The economic development of many African countries is dependent on the success of local SMEs receiving the financial support they need to grow. This is where blockchain could prove particularly beneficial. Our platform would allow entrepreneurs share their ideas and get crowdfunded. This is our major play, which is why it’s the final step in our roadmap. We intend to make sure we have enough people understand the potentials of blockchain technology so as to adopt and then finally implement it in their businesses.

What do you see as the biggest challenge to adopting blockchain technology in Nigeria?

I think the biggest challenge to adoption is regulation. The government has a huge role to play in getting this technology mainstream. Blockchain faces a hurdle in widespread adoption by pre-existing financial institutions if its government regulation status remains unsettled.

Are you optimistic about the future of blockchain technology in Nigeria and Africa in general?

Optimistic, yes. Blockchain is going to give Nigeria and indeed Africa what it lacks and has been hampering its development for too long.

1. Transparency: With more people getting to know the capability of the blockchain tech, it would not be long before the people demand such transparency in essentially everything, from the individual workplace to the affairs of the state thereby reducing corruption and eventually eliminating it.

2. Technology: It is arguably true that blockchain is the next technological revolution or fintech revolution and this means that Nigerians and Africans would have a stake in it and not be reduced to consumers but also contributors even at this early stage. We want innovative Africans that create and contribute positively to the growth of the world. An Africa that can look inward and solve its problems.

3. A Global Village: As is the aim of the internet and technology itself, Nigeria/Africa will be made into a more cohesive unit. This promotes peace as well as confidence in a stable business environment.

4. Economic advantage: With security and transparency, more entrepreneurs will seek ways to develop or invest in otherwise neglected sectors. Individuals also get to invest in sectors of their choice without being subjected to the popular corrupt oligarchy. This means an increase in economic and human value, combating poverty and promoting development.

You can find out more about Cryptogene and its activities on its website at Cryptogene.co.

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South African Online Payments Processor PayFast Drops Bitcoin

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PayFast Drops Bitcoin

South African online payment gateway PayFast will cease supporting bitcoin payments from July 20, 2019, due to high transaction fees and long confirmation times. The company expressed its frustrations through an announcement on its website.

Bitcoin’s Current Limitations

PayFastAlthough digital currency is meant to make online transactions cheaper, faster, and convenient, PayFast observed that bitcoin’s current limitations have made it difficult for the company to offer it as an alternative to traditional payment methods.

“Unfortunately, there are a number of limitations and design flaws unique to Bitcoin that make it an impractical substitute for cash, including high transaction fees and long confirmation times for buyers. We have tried various ways to mitigate these problems, but unfortunately, these issues are fundamental. The resultant poor user experience has led us to re-evaluate Bitcoin as a payment method on our platform and a decision has been taken to discontinue support for Bitcoin from midnight 20 July 2019,” PayFast explained.

The PayFast platform has a ten-minute window for the confirmation of bitcoin payments. However, the Bitcoin network has failed, in most cases, to confirm payments within this time period resulting in unsuccessful transactions. The Bitcoin network can currently not handle the volume of transactions it gets at a faster speed, PayFast noted.

Luno has been enabling bitcoin payments on the PayFast platform by acting as an intermediary. “To eliminate any risk posed by bitcoin’s price volatility, Luno locked the bitcoin to ZAR exchange rate for a ten-minute window. If the transaction was not sufficiently confirmed within ten minutes, the payment was unsuccessful and a refund would be due,” PayFast said.

The Bitcoin network can only handle seven transactions per second compared to VISA’s 24,000. This limits bitcoin’s usefulness as a means of exchange and an asset. Moreover, users making payments using bitcoin risk incurring non-refundable processing fees when the transaction fails.

Despite these challenges, the Lightning Network promises to improve bitcoin transactions by making them instant, low-cost, scalable, and acceptable across different platforms.

PayFast Remains Open to Cryptocurrency

PayFast hopes that as this space continues to grow, cryptocurrencies will be able to handle faster payments.

“We are eagerly following the developments of cryptocurrencies and the supporting technologies that are aiming to enable faster payments. As soon as these become workable alternatives, we look forward to supporting cryptocurrencies as a payment method in the future,” the South African company stated. 

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Is Egypt Finally Warming Up to Bitcoin?

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Egypt Warming Up to Bitcoin

A new banking law has given the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) the right to ban the establishment, promotion or operation of platforms issuing or trading cryptocurrencies without acquiring the required licenses. However, this move suggests that the country is softening its stance on bitcoin as it enables crypto startups to operate under an official license.

The New Banking Law

Best Cryptocurrency to Invest inAccording to an unnamed official source that spoke to MENA news agency, CBE’s Board of Directors has the right to regulate cryptocurrencies and demand for multiple licenses under the new draft bill. The draft bill acknowledges the importance of financial technology, keeping pace with global banking changes, and leveraging modern technology to provide financial and banking services.

“The new law provides legal authority for the electronic authentication of bank transactions, electronic payment orders, and transfer orders as well as for the electronic settlement of checks and the issuance and circulation of electronic checks and electronic discount orders provided that Board of Directors of CBE issue rules and procedures regulating all the aforementioned actions,” the source said.

Furthermore, these electronic means will have the same authenticity as original papers as long as they meet the set technical criteria, the source stated.

The new draft bill is not yet available for public reading.

Is Egypt Warming Up to Crypto?

In 2018, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam banned cryptocurrencies based on Islamic law that declared these currencies as potential threats to the current financial system and risky due to scams and extreme price fluctuations. Moreover, he disregarded cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, because they can be issued and used without the control of any governing authority.

The new law could be a sign that the country is warming up to cryptocurrencies as crypto firms continue to penetrate the North African market and as the CBE considers issuing a digital currency.

How easy or difficult it will be for crypto startups to register for licenses remains to be seen. However, it does signal a willingness by Egyptian authorities to talk with the industry as opposed to outright ban it as has been the case previously.

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Crypto.com Introduces Crypto Earn and Crypto Credit

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Crypto.com

Cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com has introduced Crypto Earn and Crypto Credit to enable users to earn interest on their coins and borrow by using digital currency as collateral.

Crypto Earn And Crypto Credit

Crypto Earn is a financial product that allows users to earn as much as eight percent per annum in interest on their cryptoasset holdings.

Crypto.comTo do this, users deposit digital assets into Crypto Earn through the Crypto.com app and then begin accumulating interest each day through their preferred cryptocurrency. To get started with Crypto Earn, users will have bitcoin, Paxos, and TrueUSD to choose from, according to a company press release.

Crypto.com is offering users two fixed periods namely one-month and three-month terms to earn interest on digital assets. The company will soon provide users with a flexible holding term. With Crypto Earn, you can also withdraw and deposit coins at no fees and spend what you earn.

Crypto Credit gives users instant loans with bitcoin as collateral. Users are free from fixed repayment schedules, monthly fees, payment deadlines, and late fees which financial institutions such as banks often impose. Users, therefore, enjoy a flexible repayment schedule in the twelve months from the beginning of the credit term.

Furthermore, users owning MCO tokens staked in the app receive a special rate of eight percent per annum. Users can use their loans to buy more cryptocurrencies on the app or they can spend it on the MCO Visa Card with cash back of up to five percent.

Other benefits of using Crypto Credit are that you do not require credit checks and that you can get the credit limit you want.

“Crypto Earn offers the most attractive interest rates in the market today. With the MCO Visa Card and Crypto Credit, we are uniquely positioned to do it while maintaining sustainable unit economics. MCO Visa Card, Crypto Earn, and Crypto Credit together form a powerful product suite that nobody else in the industry has today. We have never been more excited about the potential of our platform and look forward to continue scaling it globally later this year,” said Kris Marszalek, co-founder and CEO of Crypto.com.

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