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Blockchain Technology

While Bitcoin Faces Resistance, Blockchain Adoption Soars in Kenya

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blockchain adoption kenya

While the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) continues to hamper the adoption of bitcoin, blockchain technology is increasingly gaining traction in both the public and private sectors in Kenya ranging from the transport, security, and health sector to the insurance industry.

The blockchain is a digital ledger that allows for the incorruptible exchange of data without the need for a middleman. Although the blockchain technology was originally created for bitcoin, the world’s first digital currency, the technology is now finding more uses from the tech community.

Blockchain technology has also allowed for the creation of other digital currencies such as the recently launched bitcoin cash but can also be used for much wider applications than purely financial transactions.

Kenyan Industries Are Being Revolutionised By Blockchain Technology

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) disclosed that in a month’s time it will be mandatory for Kenyan motorists to have electronic stickers for their motor vehicles. The electronic motor identification service will ensure that all drivers have the stickers on the windscreens of their cars and will be detected by use of special gadgets. This move will help in the recovery of stolen motor vehicles and rid the Kenyan roads of old cars.

The said e-service from NTSA will operate on a shared blockchain platform that will link key state agencies like the Kenya Police and the Kenya Revenue Authority. This will allow for the sharing of critical information thus alerting officers about a vehicle’s ownership, inspection, and insurance status.

The Health and Security Sectors

Kenya’s health sector is making use of the technology that will see the installation of a smart platform that will enable all the 98 public hospitals to monitor important patient data such as a patient’s health history as well as for the use of public health and hospital management.

The programme that is being streamlined by Kenya’s Seven Seas Technology in collaboration with Japan’s Toyota Shusho will eradicate the manual re-write of patients’ health history that has always been the norm in Kenyan hospitals.

Furthermore, the blockchain-driven platform will drive the creation of a professional hub for the medical practitioners. The online shared hub will serve the purpose of information sharing that will allow for nurses in remote health locations to get advice on treatment procedures from doctors based in different areas.

Specialised treatment services will undergo a complete revamp as X-rays and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) diagnostics will be performed centrally. This will help cut costs for various hospitals and health institutions as specialised doctors in certain medical fields will be able to remotely diagnose and treat different ailments using the imaging results sent to them.

The platform, built on the blockchain technology, will also allow for the scrutiny of diagnostic notes made by doctors. In return, this will help diminish the number of wrong diagnoses made.

In the security sector, the government – through the Ministry of Interior & Coordination of National Government – is working to link the database of the National Registration of Persons Bureau with that of the manned Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras by the Kenya Police that are installed in both Nairobi and Mombasa to allow for immediate face recognition using the blockchain technology.

The Insurance Sector

America Insurance Group (AIG) partnered with banking group Standard Chartered to run a pilot using blockchain technology where it ran cover offers for their policy holders across America, Kenya, and Singapore. The pilot saw the two companies attend and process real-time payments for their clients on a unified platform that linked their agents and financial institutions.

Payments were made on time and policy renewals happened automatically once premium payments had been received. The two companies stated that the use of the blockchain technology to process payments would eradicate the need for physical company set ups in the said regions thus helping cut on expenditure.

BitPesa, Kenya’s first blockchain technology startup, which to date has raised more than $10 million USD to allow for its expansion to other markets, stated that use of digital currencies in transactions was more favoured by large companies with local subsidiaries as it saves them the hefty and costly transfer fees incurred when making international payments through the local Kenyan banks.

Resistance from the Financial Industry and the Central Bank

Although the technology is getting recognition and its use is being utilised in various sectors, the financial industry in Kenya continues to resist its adoption citing fear of criminal related activities as the reason.

The CBK’s governor, Patrick Njoroge, has been on record issuing a warning in the use and adoption of the digital currency saying that bitcoins operations are done on decentralised systems that could make Kenyans an easy target for online fraudsters.

Ally-Khan Satchu, a financial markets consultant, in an interview with Daily Nation, however, suggested that the Kenyan government review its stand on bitcoin and the use of the blockchain technology as it can no longer be disregarded as a mode of transaction.

Satchu stated: “Essentially blockchain platform payments and crypto currencies are being mainstreamed and that is why we have been seeing the material share price appreciation of leading blockchain platform provider bitcoin.”

As the head of Rich Management Services, Mr. Satchu stated that Kenyans need to be made aware on the functionalities and modalities of digital currencies so that they can take part in investment opportunities that blockchain technologies provide.

He added, “The Kenyan investor has certainly internalised the cryptocurrency universe. I think we need to review our regulatory stance and seek a way to carve out ahead of the curve position commensurate with our mobile money leadership.”

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain Game Gods Unchained Secures New Game Director and Introduces Debit Card Payments

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Blockchain Game Gods Unchained
Image by godsunchained.com

Blockchain card game Gods Unchained has added Magic: The Gathering Arena Game Director Chris Clay to its team and introduced debit card payments. These two decisions aim to drive the game closer to mainstream appeal.

Experience and Achievements

Clay’s experience of more than 20 years in design and game development will be valuable to his new position as game director at Gods Unchained. His task entails prioritising visual designs, new features, and supporting community experience.

In his previous role at MTG Arena, Clay brought on-board three million active players and more than one billion games were played. According to a report by Dot Esports, MTGA – a digital collectible free-to-play card game published by Wizards of the Coast – grossed around $225 million.

Currently, Gods Unchained is the top-selling blockchain game of the year and with Clay’s help, the game could reach greater heights and attract traditional players.

“I believe blockchain represents a new frontier for game developers. Digital asset ownership on the blockchain lets developers support games and their communities in ways we have never seen before in electronic gaming. […] Blockchain is not just for digital currency; it is laying the foundation for a whole new digital economy,” Clay explained.

Game Payments

As an Ethereum-based esports game, Gods Unchained has been allowing its community to purchase booster packs using ether. Users now have an alternative payments option of debit cards. This move could help the game to reach a wider audience by appealing to traditional players.

“To date, blockchain games have provided a niche group of individuals a fun and experimental game ecosystem of NFTs. But now is the time for mainstream adoption. We need these games to show value, and we do not want ‘blockchain’ to sit as just another buzzword. Gods Unchained will become a game that any person can play, regardless of their blockchain familiarity. And the fun of the game will not be predicated on the underlying tech,” stated Gods Unchained co-founder Robbie Ferguson.

In a press release, Gods Unchained announced the rebranding of Fuel Games to Immutable. Immutable is the creator behind Gods Unchained.

Last month, Gods Unchained launched its beta version enabling more players to experience blockchain-based gaming. The game also debuted its gameplay trailer in 2018.

If you are into blockchain gaming, check out our guide to the best blockchain games in 2019.

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Kenya’s Blockchain Taskforce Releases DLT Implementation Strategy for Kenya

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Kenya Blockchain Report

Kenya’s Blockchain and AI Taskforce released its first report to the public since the ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru launched the body in 2018. The report depicts an implementation strategy for the adoption of these two emerging technologies that will steer Kenya to the fourth industrial revolution.

Implementation Strategy

Kenya Blockchain ReportThe report, titled Emerging Technologies for Kenya: Exploration & Analysis, has stipulated an implementation strategy based on blockchain technology and AI that will solve challenges such as financial exclusion, corruption, high public debt, inefficient public service delivery, food insecurity, and high transaction costs.

Furthermore, the report will guide the government in attaining the Big Four Agenda, which encompasses affordable housing, food security, manufacturing, and healthcare.

The Chairman of the taskforce, Bitange Ndemo stated: “I am confident that this report will guide policymakers in their efforts to stimulate an efficient and resilient economy with respect to the digital transformational technologies, especially with the realisation of the Big Four Agenda.”

Some of the implementation strategies are as follows:

  • Digital Asset Framework

The Blockchain and AI Taskforce has proposed a digital asset framework that will guide companies wishing to list a cryptocurrency on an exchange. According to the report, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into how to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs) by using the authority’s legal framework and the forthcoming regulatory sandbox.

The digital asset framework is meant to help small and medium-sized enterprises that are unable to raise capital through IPOs to have the alternative of using token sales.

  • Digital Currency

The taskforce had earlier announced its proposal for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which would facilitate financial inclusion and low-cost transactions.

With 90 percent of Kenyans already using mobile money, credit cards, and bank transfers to make transactions, adding a CBDC to the existing digital economy could be a seamless process.

To introduce a digital currency in Kenya, the taskforce acknowledges that the country first requires a regulatory sandbox and the tokenisation of government fiscal operations.

  • Tokenisation

Another proposed strategy is the tokenisation of the economy which could help to solve unemployment issues. The unemployment rate in Kenya is one of the highest in the world and the taskforce envisions a platform where work is exchanged for tokens to tackle this issue. Service providers will use the platform to build a work marketplace, store data, and manage transactions.

The Ajira Program, an initiative created to enable more Kenyans to work online, will adopt this proposed strategy. Using the Ethereum platform, Ajira will offer inter-person and inter-service settlements and payments. The initial stage of creating the Ajira platform is ongoing. A flagship service called Ajira Machine Learning (AML) is currently running on this platform. The AI-based service links crowd workers to digital tasks.

AML offers human language interfaces in African languages and pays people for teaching the AI to translate these languages.

The Chairman of the blockchain taskforce, Bitange Ndemo, had mentioned in an interview with BitcoinAfrica.io the need to tokenise Kenya’s economy. In addition, he had observed the importance of helping Kenyans to understand this process.

Target Implementation Areas

blockchainSome of the target implementation areas for blockchain and AI include the Ministry of Lands, Huduma Centres where important documents are issued, and the Ministry of Transport.

In the Ministry of Lands, illegally duplicated title deeds are a common issue. With blockchain technology, the land titling process will become transparent and secure.

Moreover, the blockchain will enable Kenya to build an efficient public service delivery system where digitised documents are sharable between various government offices and where Kenyans can trace the payments they make for services.

The Ministry of Transport can build a public transport model based on a sharing economy. This model is then built on a blockchain to ensure that all relevant stakeholders in the transport sector are part-owners and that everyone benefits.

“The Organisation would determine which participants would form part of the networked nodes that would run the validation software as well as the consensus mechanism. Typically, the network of participating nodes would include stakeholders with specific roles and mandates within the ministry and across the transport sector,” the report reads.

The taskforce believes that the proposed strategies and solutions in this report will propel Kenya’s economic development. Additionally, the ICT CS Joe Mucheru illustrates his commitment to have the entire contents of the report executed and to gain the backing of all stakeholders in making these recommendations a reality.

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Blockchain Technology

Pundi X Unveils New Blockchain Phone ‘XPhone’ in Kigali

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Singapore-based company Pundi X recently unveiled its blockchain phone, called XPhone, at the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa event in Kigali, Rwanda.

The XPhone

The XPhone features a blockchain-based operating system enabling users to make calls and send text messages without the need for a centralised service provider. This makes it the first phone that runs on a decentralised ecosystem while allowing users to make phone calls, send messages, and transmit data. Furthermore, users can switch between the blockchain mode, which is powered by Function X, and the Android mode.

“Telecommunications and Internet companies have derived tremendous value from controlling data. By decentralising apps, we can put this data onto a smart contract, effectively giving control back to creators and users. Much of what we call peer-to-peer or ‘decentralised’ services continue to be built upon centralised networks. We are changing that,” said Pundi X founder and CEO Zac Cheah.

PundiXAccording to Pundi X, each XPhone is “a node on the network contributing to the operation of the blockchain ecosystem. Content and connectivity are organised in a distributed, node-to-node manner.”

Pitt Huang, the co-founder and CTO of Pundi X, stated: “Scalability in blockchain is derived from the number and geographic spread of nodes. It is clear how achieving a critical mass in terms of scale will require something with a high utility for people. The XPhone, thus, has the potential to establish a large global pool of nodes.”

Pundi X aims to give back to users the control over how their data is used with Function X which keeps data secure and encrypted.

“Blockchain today is at a similar stage of development as the Internet in the early ’90s. Like the browser was to the Internet, a new kind of network and decentralised protocol like Function X will have a profound effect on blockchain, putting it in the hands of millions via a smartphone and returning control of their data to them,” Huang added.

Features

The XPhone will have a 5.65 inches screen, 6GB RAM and 128GB ROM, fingerprint sensor on the side, 16MP front camera, 48MP rear camera, 3500 mAH battery capacity, and the Qualcomm SnapdragonTM 660 Mobile Platform. The blockchain phone will retail for $599. These are, however, the minimum specifications. Both the design and specs can change.

The XPhone will also have an ‘X’ button on the side that enables users to easily access DApps when they are in blockchain mode.

“Blockchain-based calling and messaging is toggled on and off on the phone operating system, which builds upon Android 9.0,” the company explained.

Pundi X will produce and release 5,000 XPhones in late 2019. The company is open to partner with hardware and phone manufacturers that want to build their version of a blockchain phone powered by Function X.

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