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Meet Africa’s Blockchain Startups: Bitland

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Bitland

Bitland is a Ghana-based blockchain startup that is utlitising blockchain technology to provide land registry services. The company aims to provide the basic services and infrastructure needed to give locals and organisations access to survey lands and register properties as well as assets through the Bitshares blockchain.

Furthermore, Bitland also intends to act as a liaison to help resolve disputes over ownership of land. Additionally, individuals or groups who registered their property on Bitland will be able to use their land as equity for bank loans.

The startup is working to extend their services globally within five years but for time being they are focusing on Ghana, with 28 communities selected in the southern part of the country to kick start the project.

BitcoinAfrica.io had the opportunity of interviewing Mr. Narigamba Mwinsuubo, the founder of Bitland to give us further insight into the work of Bitland.

What brought about the idea of Bitland?

Strong property rights is an important ingredient in economic development and prosperity for people. Without the protection of land use rights and reliability of transferring those rights, people have less an incentive to invest their time, energy and money into the properties that they inhabit and use.

Ghana has the problem of developing a fair, functioning, timely and efficient land administration system to get a single registry that represents a consistent ledger of land title holdings. It is plagued with multiple transfers of the same property. It takes longer times before land records are recorded, limited access of records, ongoing disputes over boundaries, and selling of land rights not owned by the seller and this is one source of the economic difficulties faced by most Ghanaians yet the courts are drowning in land disputes cases. So using the blockchain technology to create the first land title document with the help of a few friends who had in-depth knowledge about blockchain, time-stamping and mapping, I started Bitland.

So using the blockchain technology to create the first land title document with the help of a few friends who had in-depth knowledge about blockchain, time-stamping and mapping, I started Bitland.

How does Bitland intend to use blockchain technology for land registry?

The Bitland process is a next logical step for land administration, using online technology to include satellite images, GPS coordinates, landmarks, survey information and other data that make it easier to independently verify the accuracy of any plot of land. We want to simplify the process that can allow users to utilise their mobile device to enter a land survey. Whether a smart phone or tablet, the Bitland Application will allow users to plot land and submit requests directly to the government through the Bitland protocol.

How secure is the property or assets of an individual/organisation that uses Bitland?

Since the system is utilising a modified Proof of Stake (PoS) approach, the security of the system is not only distributed but more energy efficient than Proof of Work systems. By attaching a land title to the blockchain, it creates a time-stamped, immutable, transparent ledger of who owns a property. This will be much more resistant to corruption and fraudulent transactions than the current system in place. It will also serve as a method to prevent anyone within the government from corrupting the process for nepotism or to execute an illegal land grab.

What stage of development is Bitland currently working on?

We are on the verge of completing a working demo that is simple and easily accessible that organizations such as the Land administrations and Customary Land Secretariats (CLS) could use in one suite of tools.

What are the biggest challenges is Bitland organization facing to achieve her goals?

When a project of this nature is presented, many people wonder how it can be guaranteed that the information on Bitland blockchain is correct and available at all times and for this reason, we have done field tests over and over again practically with the communities to see how it works. Currently, the organisations greatest challenge is finance and we are open to donor-funded organisations who will want to support or buy into the project.

What is the long term plan of Bitland?

The communities involved in our training sessions now understand that decentralised and autonomous data archives models, such as one that is provided by the blockchain, can be an interesting alternative to centralised data storage solution and that the Bitland model will eliminate the dependency on a centralised authority and will allow distributed and trusted storage across nodes in the blockchain network. The

The organisation’s long term goal is to partner with government and administrations where Bitland serves as the liaisons between the people needing to register land titles and the officials that currently hold the access to the physical databases to effectively work through digitising the backlogs while continuing to take in new registry requests.

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Mistrust Inhibiting Crypto Adoption in South Africa, Report States

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Crypto Adoption in South Africa

A report from cyber security company Kaspersky indicates that mistrust and lack of understanding are hindering crypto adoption in South Africa.

The Findings

Kaspersky

The report titled ‘Uncharted Territory: Why Consumers Are Still Wary about Adopting Cryptocurrency’ reveals that lack of understanding could be resulting in the mistrust that cryptocurrencies can keep a consumers’ money safe.

For example, 35 percent of South Africans are of the opinion that cryptocurrencies are volatile and they can only use them once they have stabilised. In addition, other consumers believe that cryptocurrencies will not be around forever and 17 percent said that cryptocurrencies “are not worth bothering about.”

The Kaspersky report, therefore, noted that the lack of understanding of how cryptocurrencies work among most consumers is inhibiting mainstream crypto adoption. Globally, adoption is also declining in spite of celebrities and influencers endorsing cryptocurrencies, the report stated.

Vitaly Mzokov, Head of Commercialisation at Kaspersky, said: “To date, 70 percent of South Africans have never purchased cryptocurrencies, highlighting just how far away we are from it being accepted as a common form of payment or investment. It is clear that mainstream adoption and growth of cryptocurrency is being held back due to the vulnerable nature of the technology.”

Mzokov also observed that it is difficult for consumers to use their hard-earned money to use something they do not fully comprehend or trust. This is despite the fact that there is a high interest in using cryptocurrencies in the country.

According to the report, 34 percent of South Africans have some crypto knowledge, 19 percent completely understand how they work, and there is a high demand for cryptocurrency use.

Ensuring Consumer Protection

Mzokov advised cryptocurrency companies to build platforms that guarantee the protection of consumers’ investments.

Merkeleon, a partner of Kaspersky, is leading by example in this regard with legitimate marketplace platforms, crypto payment systems, crypto exchanges, and online auction platforms.

The Head of Sales and Business Development at Merkeleon, Alexey Sidorowich, said the cryptocurrency industry must be built upon trust.

“It is […] imperative that cryptocurrency businesses do all they can to protect their networks and ensure their customers’ finances are safe and secure,” he asserted.

The Kaspersky report comes at a time when findings show that emerging markets are more likely to adopt cryptocurrencies than developed markets.

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Refugee Investment Network Launches to Promote Economic Growth in Refugee Communities

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Refugee Investment Network

The Refugee Investment Network (RIN) launched on World Refugee Day to promote economic growth and stability in refugee communities.

Connecting Investors to Refugee Entrepreneurs

The Refugee Investment NetworkTo achieve its goals, the Refugee Investment Network (RIN) is connecting investors to refugee entrepreneurs, thereby supporting the over 70 million displaced people in the world. As a result, refugee communities will enjoy more job opportunities, improved livelihoods, and economic growth.

“We know well the profound contributions and immense untapped potential forcibly displaced people bring to communities that welcome them. The launch of the RIN and the growing community of investors representing the full capital continuum is an important stepping stone to helping the rest of the world see that too,” said RIN’s founder and Managing Director, John Kluge.

The RIN was established to solve the challenges refugees face from under-investment and restrictive labour laws despite their potential as entrepreneurs and employees.

Tim Docking, RIN Managing Director, explained:

“Investors are looking for a way to invest in and with refugees. The RIN is helping to bridge the gap between refugee investments and the capital they need to grow.”

Partnerships

The RIN’s founding partners include The Rockefeller Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, USA for UNHCR, and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. The RIN has also collaborated with the Economist Intelligence Unit on the Refugee Opportunity Index (ROI), a tool that incentivises governments to make policy reforms that promote inclusive economies.

“The RIN platform allows philanthropists to stand together with development agencies, private investors, and entrepreneurs to support displaced persons to realize their potential – and to support self-reliance and meaningful livelihoods for refugee populations,” said Vilas Dhar, Trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.

The RIN has also created the Refugee Lens which is “an investing framework and criteria for sourcing businesses owned by or supporting refugees or their hosts.”

The RIN launched at The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City. Some of its other partners include Village Capital, Kiva, and 17 Asset Management.

BanQu is another organisation besides the Refugee Investment Network that is improving the economic status of refugees.

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Aeternity Hub Africa to Promote Cashless Economy with Cryptocurrency Payment Platform ‘BitPal’

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BitPal
DSC00804 Bitcoin Accepted Here - Adam Dachis - Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Nairobi-based blockchain startup Aeternity Hub Africa has launched BitPal, a cryptocurrency payment platform that aims to promote a cashless economy in Africa.

Aeternity Hub Africa’s BitPal Payment Platform

Aeternity Hub Africa

BitPal enables merchants to accept payments for the sale of goods and services in Bitcoin, Aeternity, Ether, Dash, and EOS. The platform is targeting small, medium, and large businesses that operate online or physical stores.

According to Aeternity Africa’s COO Frank Deya, BitPal will take money online where most people are currently spending their time.

“To date, payments and cross-border transactions are the most popular use cases that have been explored by blockchain. However, very few businesses in Africa have integrated an on-ramp to offer their customers the cryptocurrency option to pay for goods and services. BitPal will play a crucial role in driving mass adoption, generating new markets, and enabling a seamless cash-out gateway to thousands of merchants across the continent. We envision a not too distant future where the ‘Crypto Accepted Here’ payment button on an online store or a sign at a physical store is ubiquitous to BitPal,” he said.

How BitPal Works

BitPalBitPal is an easy-to-use, zero transaction fee platform. Customers simply have to choose one of the supported cryptocurrencies to pay for a product or service. An invoice is then produced indicating a fixed exchange rate. Once the payment is settled, BitPal converts the cryptocurrency to the merchant’s preferred fiat currency. The merchant can then cash out the payment to their bank account.

Aeternity Africa wrote in an official statement:

“BitPal is a ready-to-use platform. It takes away from the merchant the headache of setting up a wallet.”

BitPal features an automated API gateway for accepting payments in crypto and the point-of-sale is accessible through a mobile or web application.

Aeternity Africa plans to add more cryptocurrencies to its platform and to include an MPesa option for merchants to cash out. In addition, the startup has already attracted four businesses that are interested in on-boarding the platform.

Kenya-based BitPal is poised to become one of the projects could drive crypto adoption and promote cashless economies across the continent.

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