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Meet Africa’s Blockchain Startups: Project UBU

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Project UBU

A team of entrepreneurs is planning to launch a blockchain-based digital currency called UBU (Universal Basic Unit) that aims to economically empower lower income South Africans. The team says that they intend to release the beta version to the public by September this year.

What is Project UBU?

The founders note that the world has close three billion people who currently have minimal significance to the economy. Basically, Project UBU is an initiative that aims at assigning economic value to every human being. This gives everyone a chance to play a role and earn in the ecosystem. UBU is built on the blockchain and aims to push users from the poverty line and assist them to earn $2.50 to $3.00 a day.

UBU has unveiled that its founders include Altech’s CTO Steven Sidley, Tuluntulu’s CCO Justin McCarthy, Dudley Baylis of Bridge Capital and former Vox Telecom chief executive Douglas Reed.

How It Works

UBU works as a secure and convenient digital payment method. It allocates an economic value to every human, regardless of how much they earn conventionally. Then, it distributes the digital units to everyone on the network. Like other digital currencies, a continuous investment builds onto the value and sustainability of the units.

This way, the project can offer a low-cost ecosystem where users can trade their goods and services. In the end, everyone on the network ends up handling money without being taxed, because the system offers a decentralised currency.

The UBUCore, the legal entity that runs the project’s ecosystem, creates value in the UBU network by remaining inviolable and thus maintaining the project’s integrity. To sustain and create value in the UBUsphere (the ecosystem), UBU offers open options for third parties.

To boost the value, UBUCore also focuses on marketing. This includes registration of a large number of people to become UBU citizens. After the creation of more UBUs, the next step is to encourage many vendors to adopt UBUs as a payment method. This way, the network grows thus boosting the value of UBU units.

How the UBU Project Plans To Generate Revenue

To fund its operations, the UBU Project intends to take 11 UBUs for every 100 units issued to its citizens. The project may also monetise the public verified information. Such data is of great use to companies who may want to use it for market research.

In a report published by MyBroadBand, UBU Project says: “While this is not one of the goals of the Ubu Project, but a by-product, it does offer another significant long-term investor benefit.”

Who Gains?

Users can easily get their UBUs from the mobile application. As from August 2017, those who register early will get a head start due to the accumulation of units before registration and activation.

Then, the project shall assign an equal number of UBU units (worth $5) to every person. The amount shall be distributed to their e-wallets on a daily basis. Thus, the poor too will have an opportunity to access the economy, which the company believes is good for economic development.

Because the currency is decentralised, it is untaxed, and thus, individuals can exchange goods and services in a secure, cheap manner. Those at the economic pyramid’s bottom stand to benefit the most, says Project UBU.

Although UBU relies on Ethereum’s private blockchain, it’s quite different from most cryptocurrencies. Unlike others, Project Ubu will not limit the circulation of the cryptocurrency. The project will issue UBUs persistently to the growing citizenship, so there will be an increasing number in circulation. The network has a decay mechanism to enable self-stabilisation and hitting of the equilibrium.

Combating the Challenges

An obvious challenge for the project is that it will likely attract a large number of low-income, undereducated citizens. The project will, therefore, use e-wallets that are simple and light. The wallet will have minimal click functionality and instead, it will be biometric and icon-driven to promote ease of use.

To avoid making citizens seek fiat exchange solutions, the UBUsphere shall integrate with API exchanges. Other integrated systems will include the point-of-sale technology. This will allow users to pay for goods and services from local stores that accept payment in UBUs.

Ubu is expected to release the beta version in September. Meanwhile, the pre-funding is done by a Norwegian technological company. Ubu Project joins a market that has several other players including Bitsoko, and Ekasi.

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Particl Launches Decentralised Marketplace With Zero Commission Fees

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Privacy-focused cryptocurrency project Particl has launched a decentralised marketplace with zero commission fees. The new e-commerce platform is leveraging blockchain technology to compete with the likes of Amazon and OpenBazaar.

Privacy and Zero Commission Fees

ParticlCryptocurrencies can be difficult to spend on a day-to-day basis and Particl wants to solve this through its private coin, PART. On the Particl marketplace, users can put the digital currency to use.

The new decentralised marketplace respects user privacy and does not require personal information from its users. The platform only requires a shipping address. Moreover, the decentralised nature of the Particl marketplace ensures that no commissions are added to sales as is the case on Amazon.

According to an article on Big Commerce, fees for sellers can be as much as 45 percent of a product’s cost on Amazon. Particl’s zero-free model, therefore, enables sellers to significantly increase their revenue and lower their prices to stay ahead of the competition while still making a profit.

“Using a combination of P2P and blockchain technologies, Particl Open Marketplace can provide a verifiable private shopping experience that ensures no user data can be created or collected by any party other than the one you are transacting with. The Particl protocol also brings the cost of buying and selling online to the bare minimum as no central entity can charge fees,” said Particl’s Project Marketing and Strategy Manager Paul Schmitzer.

How Particl’s Decentralised Marketplace Works

Particl is uniquely approaching fraud and trade insurance through the use of a double deposit escrow system without intermediaries and with zero fees. This system is based on MAD game theory where two parties deposit PART coins as collateral into a smart contract. Once the transaction between them is complete, the coins are released back to the parties and no fees are charged. This system allows users to be in control of their transactions and to eliminate fraud.

 

Since the marketplace is decentralised, the protocol generates all listing fees and redistributes them to the global network of users.

Particl is made up of three components: an untraceable multi-purpose privacy coin, a private decentralised marketplace where users can shop with cryptocurrencies, and a platform where developers can build decentralised applications.

Particl allows a wide range of cryptocurrencies and uses atomic swaps and third-party integrations to convert these coins to PART during transactions. The company will soon add more payment options to its marketplace.

In 2018, Bitcoin Africa talked to Particl’s spokesperson Desi-Rae about the project. Read the full interview here.

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South Africans Can Now Buy Ether (ETH) Using Rand on Luno

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Global cryptocurrency exchange Luno has now enabled crypto traders in South Africa to buy ether using rand on its platform.

Trading on Luno

LunoLuno offers users an easy and safe place to buy bitcoin and ether and to learn about cryptocurrencies. The exchange has more than 2.7 million customers across 40 countries.

Luno also has a dedicated Ethereum series on its learning platform to help users make informed investment decisions.

Commenting on the new launch, Luno’s General Manager in Africa, Marius Reitz, said: “The direct Ethereum/Rand pair will make it quicker, simpler, and cheaper for customers to interact with and use Ethereum on the exchange. We are working on a number of enhancements to our platform and this pairing has been introduced in response to demand from our customers. Previously, customers could buy Ethereum through our instant buy option but having this ability directly on the exchange makes it faster and cheaper for traders.”

According to Reitz, Luno makes sure that every coin listed in its exchange has undergone due diligence. “There are over 2000 cryptocurrencies. However, many of these are scams, so customers need to trust that the exchange they use has verified the track records of cryptocurrencies available on their platforms. Luno limits the currencies on offer to those on which we have completed extensive research and due diligence and we are satisfied with their credibility in terms of security and adoption. Luno will be adding additional cryptocurrencies to its platform later this year,” he explained.

Luno Report

A recent report from Luno showed that South Africa and other emerging markets would like to see a change in the current financial system.

“Individuals in these markets cannot afford to, and should no longer need to, pay high exchange rates, accept national currency devaluation or lose out when they simply transfer money. Access to a more inclusive financial system will enable people everywhere to think of new and better ways of exchanging value and technology allows this,” Reitz elaborated.

Luno plans to upgrade its platform, expand its team, and open new offices in expectation of the next surge in the value of cryptoassets.

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Emerging Markets More Likely to Adopt Cryptocurrencies from Global Brands, Luno Study Says

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A new study by digital asset exchange Luno indicates that emerging markets are more likely to adopt cryptocurrencies from global brands. This finding was collected from a survey called the ‘Future of Money’ carried out between May 17, 2019, and June 7, 2019. The survey interviewed over 7000 respondents from Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Indonesia, Italy, and Malaysia.

Emerging Markets, the Future of Money and Libra

According to the ‘Future of Money’ survey, the early adopters of cryptocurrencies are likely to come from emerging markets. The findings, therefore, show a close connection between emerging markets and the future of money confirming the view that those with “less appear to take greater financial risks.”

For instance, more respondents from Nigeria and South Africa than in the UK said a single global currency would make the current financial system better.

African man with smartphoneThese results come at a time when Facebook recently announced that it will introduce Libra, a new digital currency in 2020. The aim of Libra is to help people make financial transactions online, especially in emerging markets where banks are not servicing the population as well as they should be.

Luno’s CEO Marcus Swanepoel said: “As some of the world’s largest tech giants announce they are launching cryptocurrency coins, we believe developing markets will be the lead adopters. Our research shows that in these markets people are more financially savvy because they have to be, which means that they need and understand the benefits the new coins can offer.”

To further show why the future of money could have a greater impact on emerging markets, data from the survey indicated that 33 percent of people in Indonesia are more likely to remain within a set budget compared to 0 percent in the UK.

Additionally, the number of people that establish a monthly budget is 80 percent in Malaysia, 65 percent in Nigeria, 73 percent in South Africa, 74 percent in Indonesia, and 54 percent in the UK. Asked why money is crucial to them, the respondents said it was to secure their families’ well-being (60 percent) and to pay for education.  This answer was given by 25 percent of the respondents from Nigeria compared to 8 percent in the UK.

Luno is a global cryptocurrency company headquartered in London and with offices in South Africa.

Grassroots Adoption

Crypto adoption will probably take place at the grassroots level than at the institutional level, Swanepoel observed. He based this argument on the findings that most people from emerging markets will probably seek financial advice from family, friends, and colleagues than from government organisations.

“It is very clear that if money is not simply a ‘nice to have’ and is vital for your future, then you spend more time understanding it, managing it, preserving it and to an extent being creative with how you maximise the use of it. Therefore, if a cryptocurrency can provide a secure and cheaper means of exchanging value better than the existing system, it will be used. This is why we believe that as new cryptocurrencies linked to global brands are introduced, they will find an important audience in emerging markets,” Swanepoel added.

Luno’s study paints a clear picture of what the future of money could look like. However, certain factors such as Internet connectivity could inhibit the fast adoption of crypto in developing markets.

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