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Meet Africa’s Blockchain Startups: BitFinance

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BitFinance

Harare-based BitFinance is one of the leading bitcoin startups in Zimbabwe. In 2015, BitFinance received funding to start BitFundi, Zimbabwe’s first and only local bitcoin exchange.

Inspiring Background

The founders of BitFinance include Tawanda Kembo, Tawanda Maguze and Verengai Mabika. After lengthy studies and experiments, they launched BitFinance in 2014. The trio launched the company to provide better currency solutions to the fragile Zimbabwe economy. With bitcoin as a promising new alternative currency, they believed it could revolutionise how people do business in the country.

Kembo says he was inspired by his friend William, who was living in the United States. He wanted to send money to his wife in Zimbabwe but the charges at the traditional money remittance providers were exorbitant. William decided to send the $300 in bitcoins to Kembo, who would get about five percent, who then gave fiat currency to William’s wife. This would save William more than five to ten percent in transaction fees than if was using traditional money transfer services. After noticing that transferring money was hard for millions of Zimbabweans, software Kembo developer came up with the idea for BitFinance.

Initially, it was hard for the startup to find investors to scale up their venture. The business people would turn down any investment deal in Zimbabwe due to the ailing economy. So, the three co-founders applied to multiple startup organisations around the globe. One of the addresses for their letters was the Silicon Valley-based Boost VC’s accelerator program. The organisation later turned down their application.

Initial Funding

A year after launching, they received venture funding from Nairobi-based Savannah Fund. They used the funding to build a team of ten people to help develop Zimbabwe’s first bitcoin exchange.

According to Kembo, in January 2016, they only had 62 new clients on BitcoinFundi. In that month, users only traded a volume of $759 on the platform. But in November that year, a total of $31,000 was exchanged. That was about 7,650 percent higher than the beginning of the year.

Also, in late 2016, BitFinance managed to raise additional capital from local angel investor Taurai Chinyamakobvu to improve the BitFundi platform and to expand its customer base.

How Does BitcoinFundi work?

BitFinance’s bitcoin exchange BitcoinFundi.com allows Zimbabweans to create an account and start selling or buying cryptocurrency. After a successful account registration, Zimbabweans can turn their fiat currency into bitcoin and vice versa. BitFinance only takes one percent as fees for the transactions, which is very low compared to other exchanges in Africa.

In light of Zimbabwe’s growing interest in bitcoin, BitFinance has the potential to become a big African startup success story despite coming from such a challenging environment for tech startups.

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The First African Art Collection Powered by NFTs is Here

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African Art
Photo credits: Kureng Dapel/Rich Allela

Picha Images – a digital media company powered by Artificial intelligence and Big Data – is launching the first crypto art non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in Africa. The upcoming auction will feature African art from the Kenyan-based Multiple Award-Winning Photographer and Filmmaker Rich Allela and will be held from April 26 to May 3, 2021.

The NFT auction and artwork will be hosted on OpenSea, one of the biggest non-fungible token digital marketplaces, founded in 2018.

Why is Picha Images Going Crypto?

Picha Images has a track record of being highly innovative and has been recognised as a disruptor in the Kenyan and African creative industries.

Covid Art Gallery

The Virtual Africa COVID exhibition held by Picha Images in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Create2030

The company embraces Artificial intelligence and utilises Big Data analytics to produce high-quality photo and video productions.

Furthermore, Picha Images develops products and services in Business to Business (B2B) photography; digitises hardcopy images; facilitates cloud storage of images for companies, and carries out videography. The company has in the past been credited with holding one-of-a-kind Augmented and Virtual Reality exhibitions, even during tough times. 

Pre-COVID exhibition

Bringing still images to life using Artificial Intelligence in Rich Allela’s exhibition “30 under 30”, held in 2019 (Pre-COVID)

As a company that values technological advancements, Picha Images’ approach of having NFTs for artists such as Rich Allela makes technological and financial sense. The company is currently placing the wellbeing of their creative artists first by exposing them to a way to secure their work, maintain the copyrights to their creations and earn royalties in perpetuity.

For a customer of Picha Images, purchasing these NFTs will mean that you will have hacker-resistant proof of ownership of a digital piece of art.

Why Rich Allela?

Afro-renaissance

Photo credits: Rich Allela

Rich Allela is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on culture and heritage in Africa. He has an interest in documenting cultures that are at the threat of disappearing due to modernisation.

Allela’s works are famously described as “Afro-renaissance” because they herald the rebirth of the African culture through the creation of a new generation of art aimed at rewriting the African narrative.

These unique art pieces have won numerous awards including the Africa PicFair photo awards and Kenya Photo Awards and have been used by companies such as Canon Global to launch products such as new cameras. As an influential artist, Rich Allela’s story has been featured on CNN, BBC, and other news outlets around the world.

Speaking to BitcoinAfrica.io, Rich Allela said;

“For ages, artists have been getting a raw deal when it comes to secondary sales of their work. By launching the Rich Allela’s Afro-renaissance collection on NFT, Picha Images aims to empower artists to maintain the copyright of their work and earn from secondary sales. Through this auction, the public will place their bids where the highest bidder will walk away with a piece of digital art and send a message to the world on the value of art as an investment worth making.”

Would You Like to Participate in the NFT Auction?

The auction will go live on April 26 and can be accessed via https://opensea.io/accounts/Rich_Allela.

To learn more about Rich Allela’s works, visit his Instagram account @Richallela or reach out to Picha Images by visiting their website.

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How to Buy Tether (USDT): A Step-by-Step Guide for 2021

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how to buy tether

Tether is a stablecoin backed 1:1 by the US dollar. As a result, it does not experience the same volatility as other cryptocurrencies. In this guide, you will learn how to buy tether on Africa’s leading peer-to-peer exchange, Paxful.

How to Buy Tether (USDT)

To buy USDT, you will need a cryptocurrency wallet and an account with an exchange. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Download a mobile, desktop, or hardware crypto wallet to store the USDT you will purchase.
  • Next, create an account with an exchange or a P2P marketplace that supports Tether USD. For instance, you can create an account on  Paxful. If you already have an account, log in.
  • After registering an account, verify the required credentials. Paxful requires users to verify details like phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and ID numbers.

How to Buy Tether from a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

Buy Tether on Paxful

If you created an account on Paxful, you can buy tether by using these steps.

  • Visit the website.
  • Click “Buy” and select tether.
  • Choose your preferred payment method and currency. For example, Paxful offers over 350 payment methods such as PayPal, mobile money, gift cards, crypto, and debit cards. Also, enter the amount you wish to purchase and select your country.
  • Click “Search Offers.”
  • The platform will display a list of offers based on the criteria you chose. Browse through this list paying close attention to the buy limits, prices, offer terms, and time limits.
  • Read the reviews of the sellers that catch your attention. Before choosing a seller, ensure that they are fully verified and active on the platform.
  • Once you find a suitable seller, click “Buy.” Note that you should read the seller’s terms first before starting the transaction.
  • If the platform offers a live chat feature, you and the seller can discuss the transaction details. For instance, the seller will send you the payment details through this chat feature.
  • Make the payment and follow any other instructions the seller has provided. Additional instructions that sellers might require you to undertake include sending a photo of your ID. The seller could use this document to verify that the payment sender matches the name on the ID.
  • Once you complete the payment, confirm on the website that you have paid.
  • The seller will then verify the payment and release your USDT.
  • After a few minutes, your USDT balance should reflect in your account. If you desire, transfer the crypto to another wallet.

Purchase Tether in Person

If you prefer to make a one-on-one transaction, look for local tether sellers on reputable Facebook or Telegram groups, or choose the “in-person” purchase option on a peer-to-peer exchange.

  • Contact the seller and schedule a meeting at a public place. Tell them how much you wish to buy so that they can prepare themselves in advance. They should also tell you how much it will cost.
  • Once you meet with the seller, show them the money as a sign of trust. But do not hand it over just yet. The seller should send you the USDT first.
  • Wait until the new USDT balance reflects in your wallet before paying the seller.

Buying tether is straightforward and flexible. You can use your local currency or another digital currency to acquire this stablecoin. Moreover, using a platform like Paxful gives you more than 350 methods of buying USDT, thereby providing convenience.

To buy Tether USDT in Africa, access Paxful here.

*This article was written in cooperation with Paxful, Africa’s leading peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange.

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Weekly Roundup: Bitcoin Hits over $60,000, Luno Launches ETH & USDC Interest Accounts

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin broke past the $60,000 mark on March 13, 2021, to surpass Facebook in total market value. To learn more about this and other stories, keep reading this article.

Bitcoin Hits Over $60,000 and Surpasses Facebook in Value

Bitcoin AcceptedOn March 13, 2021, bitcoin recorded a high of $61,683.86. This is yet another milestone that the cryptocurrency has achieved after recording a series of several all-time highs in the past three months.

Institutional investors continue to boost bitcoin’s price with Chinese firm Meitu being the latest company to purchase crypto. The firm bought $22.1 million in ether and $17.9 million in bitcoin.

“Beeple’s $69 million [non-fungible token] record demonstrates the true power of crypto, adding curiosity and fuel to the retail fire. Expect volatility but a landing of $100K levels by Q3,” said Jehan Chu, Managing Partner of trading firm Kenetic.

Furthermore, bitcoin’s market cap has risen to the eighth position, surpassing Facebook. Currently, bitcoin has a market capitalization of about $1.07 trillion while Facebook has a market cap of $808.76 billion.

Luno Users Can Now Earn Interest on Ether and USDC Savings

Luno users can now add ETH and USD coin (USDC) to their savings wallet where they can earn 4 percent and 7.6 percent APR, respectively. The exchange introduced the savings wallet five months ago allowing users to earn up to four percent on their bitcoin savings.

Luno Earn

“The addition of two new cryptocurrencies to the savings wallet gives customers even greater flexibility and potential to earn interest as they grow their crypto savings. A high percentage of Africans who own cryptocurrency do so for speculative investment purposes, with the majority holding their crypto for the long term. If your crypto investment strategy is holding your crypto long-term, the savings wallet earns you additional interest for what you were already doing,” said Marius Reitz, the General Manager for Africa, at Luno.

According to a Luno 2020 survey, more than a third of the respondents (35 percent) were not earning interest on their traditional cash savings. On the other hand, 54 percent were not earning interest on their current bank accounts. As a result, Luno wants to change these statistics with its crypto savings wallet.

The savings feature pays out interest monthly and users can access their savings 24/7. Moreover, 250,000 people are using the savings wallet since its launch.

South African Company Invests in Bitcoin

It is not large companies alone that are investing in bitcoin. According to an article on Tech Central, open-source software firm LSD Information Technology has purchased R2 million in bitcoin (about $135,570.70).

The company’s board agreed to invest in the digital asset on January 4, 2021. In the initial purchase, it bought R1 million in bitcoin then bought the other R1 million over the next two weeks. The firm used the crypto exchange BitFund to buy and hold the BTC.

“Our vision is to make the world more open, and bitcoin supports our philosophy on how we believe the world works best. Working in the open-source space seems to attract many crypto enthusiasts for whom the decentralised open nature of cryptocurrencies appeals,” said LSD founder and CEO Stefan Lesicnik.

The firm participates in running and maintaining bitcoin full nodes.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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