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Kenyans are Cashing in as Bitcoin Trading Gains Popularity



Kenyans are cashing in on bitcoin

Kenya is experiencing a digital currency trading explosion with millions of shillings being invested by individuals who are hoping to cash in on its volatility. Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether are the top choice for local traders due to the massive price rallies they have experienced since the beginning of the year. Even the Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) bitcoin-unfriendly position has done little to dampen people’s appetites for the cryptocurrency markets.

The Rise of Bitcoin Trading Clubs

The story of one Arlene Mugambi highlights bitcoin’s potential to improve financial fortunes. After quitting her job at a local telco, Mugambi spent the next two and a half years dabbling in a small business with little success. Things changed when she discovered the world of cryptocurrencies and decided to try her luck trading digital currencies. 15 months down the line, Mugambi has become a full-time cryptocurrency trader and makes up to a 100,000 shillings ($1,000) every month.

Bitcoin is the first decentralised digital currency that operates on peer-to-peer technology and runs on an immutable open-source distributed ledger network called the blockchain. The digital currency is devoid of any intermediaries such as banks.

Mugambi is a member of a bitcoin trading club that boasts around 1,000 members. A new trend is emerging where Kenyan traders are forming clubs and pooling their resources to participate in bitcoin mining. Bitcoin mining is the process where participants in the bitcoin network (known as miners) contribute their computing power to solve complex algorithms and validate transactions on the blockchain for which they are rewarded with new bitcoins.

Speaking to Business Daily Africa, Mugambi says,

“I was doing other things until I realised that you can capitalise on this business of digital currency and make some good returns out of it. This is what I do full-time, combining that with going to educate people about Bitcoin, whether they want to buy coins or mine.”

Those involved in bitcoin trading clubs hope to gain from rising values of digital currencies being witnessed this year with bitcoin currently trading at $8,200 up from $1,000 at the start of the year. Likewise, ether has risen from about $8 at the beginning of the year to the present $367.

Bitcoin is yet to be Accepted by Market Regulators

The Central bank of Kenya (CBK) has in the past warned the public against transacting in bitcoins. The CBK has pointed out the fact that bitcoin is not recognised as a legal tender in the country and there are no proper regulatory structures governing its use. Therefore, should consumers lose their money while speculating in cryptocurrencies, there are very few avenues for legal recourse.

According to Justice Gatuyu, an advocate in the cryptocurrency space, “In case of dispute, the recourse avenues available to traders are very limited, restricted only to instituting a civil case between the parties.”

Lately, though CBK seems to be softening its stance in the face of dialogue with cryptocurrency and fintech stakeholders, and is exploring the potential for blockchain technology.

The Potential for Huge Returns Outweighs the Risks

Kenyans, however, have shrugged off the warnings and risks, and are instead focusing on the potential of huge returns. For most people, the ROI from bitcoin trading surpasses that of traditional investment classes.

According to Raymond Kaptich, a civil engineer and director at a bitcoin trading club, argues that most investments have an element of risk and claiming bitcoin is a conduit for illegal activities is far from the truth. He adds,

“While the CBK raised the issue that digital currency can be used for illegal activities, the same applies to hard currency. Every digital platform you use to trade has an IP address, therefore every wallet can be traced […] Saying that you’re on your own in the event of loss of bitcoin … this applies everywhere, irrespective of whichever investment you make.”

The local bitcoin craze even seems to be bridging the gap between tradition and technology. Last week in Naivasha, Anthony Mburu who is planning to wed Elizabeth John, decided to pay his dowry using bitcoin. Choosing to forego traditional forms of payment such as livestock, cash or mobile money, Mburu decided to offer his in-laws the digital currency which also acts as an asset. The family accepted the bitcoin payment, which has the potential to increase significantly in value in the coming months.

Kenya remains a fruitful place for bitcoin innovation with a number of financial players exploring ways to incorporate cryptocurrency technology into their business models. In addition, there are regular meetups where cryptocurrency traders, freelancers, dedicated co-working spaces, and entrepreneurs exchange views and discuss common challenges facing the bitcoin space.

While bitcoin trading remains a regulatory grey area, traders can currently still go about their business. However, it would be helpful if policymakers could come up with a legal framework that would recognise bitcoin as a legitimate investment class.

If you are based in Nairobi and you would like to learn more about bitcoin, attend the Nairobi Bitcoin Meetup on November 30 at the Marble Arch Hotel.


Binance Launches Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange in Uganda



Binance Launches in Uganda

Global bitcoin exchange Binance has launched a new fiat-cryptocurrency exchange in Uganda. The exchange will also be offering a reward of 0.5 BNB to the first 20,000 users that register on the site as part of its promotion in Uganda.

The announcement comes nearly two months after Binance partnered with Crypto Savannah, Made in Africa initiative, and Msingi East Africa to promote economic development in the East African country.

Changpeng Zhao and Yi He founded Binance in 2017 and raised $15 million through an initial coin offering for its ERC20 token BNB in July of the same year.

The exchange plans to move its offices to the island nation of Malta after the implementation of stricter regulations in China and Japan. In January 2018, Binance was the largest crypto exchange with a market capitalisation of $1.3 billion.

Binance in Uganda

BinanceBinance will also offer its Ugandan users a month of zero trading fees when trading goes online. The exchange will announce the opening for trading at a later date.

Users can find out if they have won any rewards by logging into their accounts and accessing ‘Distribution History’ in the Account Center. In addition, users will be required to complete ID verification to be able to withdraw funds from Binance.

Ugandan users will enjoy an exchange that offers fast transactions of up to 1.4 million per second and state-of-the-art storage technology for utmost security. The exchange also provides 24/7 customer support and has a user-friendly interface.

The presence of Binance in Uganda aims to boost financial inclusion in the country, which has increased from 28 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2013 according to its national financial inclusion strategy 2017-2022.

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LINE Corp to Launch Cryptocurrency Exchange BITBOX in July for Global Trading



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The developers of popular messaging app LINE and LINE Group’s cryptocurrency and blockchain company LVC Corporation have announced that they are set to launch a new cryptocurrency exchange called BITBOX in July 2018. The Japan-based firm made the announcement during the LINE Conference 2018 held in Tokyo.

The New BITBOX Exchange

BITBOXBITBOX will offer over 30 high-demand cryptocurrencies to users globally with the exception of Japan and the US. The exchange will trade coins such as bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash while charging low trading fees of 0.1 percent. BITBOX will support 15 languages, according to the company press release.

The selected cryptocurrencies for the exchange have undergone an extensive screening exercise and have been picked by an internal committee, promising users a convenient and safe trading experience. LINE will also incorporate its top security standards to the cryptocurrency exchange.

LINE Corporation CEO Takeshi Idezawa said:

“As a key part of LINE’s new financial services, BITBOX shows our commitment to fulfilling the growing demand for more diverse financial options. With BITBOX, LINE users will be able to access cryptocurrencies more easily, while also being assured of state-of-art security measures to protect their assets.”

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Nigerians Have Invested Over $5m in Cryptocurrencies Despite Regulator Warnings Says KureCoin Hub



Nigerians Invest in Cryptocurrencies

Nigerians have invested over five million US dollars in the cryptocurrency market in the last couple of years according to data from Nigerian cryptocurrency platform KureCoin Hub.

The data shows that Nigerian retail investors are investing heavily in the cryptocurrency market despite warnings from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) against investing in an unregulated market.

KureCoin Hub’s co-founder and CEO Tega Abikure has criticised the stance regulators have taken and argues that the country will lag behind as other countries enjoy the benefits of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Abikure told New Telegraph:

“It is not a matter of whether the government likes it; it is about whether they need it. I am not sure the internet was liked when it first came. […] It is not a matter of whether they are going to embrace it; it is about when they are going to do so.”

Abikure observed that other countries such as Uganda and South Africa have already taken steps towards adopting blockchain technology while Kenya is pushing forward with a functioning blockchain taskforce.

“Nigeria is being left behind,” he noted.

The Blockchain as a Source of Foreign Direct Investments

Abikure also believes that blockchain technology could be a major source of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the next five to ten years. In addition, he is of the opinion that a lot of money is being made in cryptocurrencies on the continent with most of it leaving Africa’s economy.

On one of the benefits of blockchain technology, he said: “[The blockchain] is completely transparent and cannot be changed; it can be used to create a decentralised system of payment where the taxpayer had an unhindered access to the collector which is the government. It enhances revenue collection and removes the challenges of remittances.”

Blockchain technology can also improve the banking sector, the electoral process, the use of donations in charitable projects, and the supply chain, among many other use cases.

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