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The Nairobi Bitcoin Meetup Shows Kenyan Interest in Bitcoin is Higher Than Ever

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Nairobi Bitcoin Meetup

The latest Nairobi Bitcoin Meetup took place at the Marble Arch Hotel on November 30, 2017. The aim of the event was to create awareness surrounding bitcoin, cryptocurrency mining, and blockchain technology.

The discussion panel consisted of Justus Kimasyu, Director of Belfrics Kenya, Ken Kimathi, the Kenyan Associate of Remitano, and Michael Kimani, Chairman of Blockchain Association of Kenya, among others.

“This is the best turn out to a bitcoin meetup that we have ever seen. I believe that bitcoin awareness in Kenya has grown greatly in the last four years,” Kimani stated.

Bitcoin Volatility and Regulations

The two main issues raised by attendees were bitcoin’s volatility and cryptocurrency regulation in Kenya. In light of the increasing bitcoin price, it was a general feeling that the recent spikes are worrying.

Nairobi Bitcoin Meetup“What are the possible solutions when dealing with such an unstable currency?” Someone asked. In answer to this question, Eugene Mutai, a software engineer, gave an example of the Russian government that is in the process of creating its own digital currency. Therefore, to avoid dealing with a volatile currency, governments might digitise already existing currencies which are more stable.

At the same time, the warning given by the Central Bank of Kenya against cryptocurrencies had many attendees wondering: was the CBK right in giving this notice?

Daniel Nyairo, a cryptocurrency writer, stated,

“I support the CBK warning on the basis that there are a lot of scammers using cryptocurrencies to steal from people. However, the CBK should clearly differentiate bitcoin from scams.”

The Blockchain

According to Rosemary, a Kenyan lawyer, blockchain technology is the biggest win for anyone in the crypto space. “For instance, blockchain technology can be used in maintaining land records, offering government services such as health insurance, and in conducting general elections,” she stated.

“Blockchain is currently the best technology in the world since the Internet,” Eugene Mutai added.

Blockchain technology offers a lot of opportunities that Kenyans can explore. For example, ChamaPesa is an app that uses blockchain technology with the objective of helping Chamas with record keeping.

Mining Cryptocurrencies

Mining cryptocurrencies is an expensive venture that requires cheap electricity and high computing power in order to make a profit. Eugene Mutai has braved the world of cryptocurrency mining and shared his experience at the event. He currently mines ZCash (ZEC).

“I got into mining not only because of the returns it gives but also because I support the blockchain system through my computing power,” he stated.

Eugene’s miner uses eight graphics cards and two internet support systems. He recommended Genesis and HashFlare to investors interested in cloud mining.

Opportunities in the Cryptocurrency Space

According to Frank Deya, head of business development at Bitsoko, the crypto space has many opportunities. Bitsoko is working on providing some of these opportunities to Kenyans, especially entrepreneurs. These opportunities will include initial coin offerings (ICOs) and customer loyalties.

Frank is of the opinion that there is potential for ICOs to take root in Kenya. An initial coin offering (ICO) is a new form of startup fundraising that involves the issuance of a new digital currency to investors. Any organisation that launches an ICO has to convince potential investors why their project is worth investing in.

On the other hand, loyalties are rewards that customers get for simply viewing the site of a business. Loyalties will also be given in cryptocurrencies.

Advice to Cryptocurrency Newcomers

Experts had a lot of advice to give to those new to cryptocurrencies. Attendees were warned to:

  • Avoid sites that offer monthly returns and membership fees for the purchase of bitcoins.
  • Avoid sites asking for referrals in order to purchase bitcoins.
  • Buy bitcoins from trusted sources when using peer-to-peer platforms.

Expert Recommendations

The bitcoin meetup was well attended but Eugene emphasized the need for increased enlightenment. On the other hand, Justus Kimasyu noted that there is only one cryptocurrency exchange in Kenya. He recognized the need for more exchanges to get into the scene.

Michael Kimani encouraged those present at the event to buy ether (ETH) since bitcoin is becoming more expensive as its price increases.

“There is a business opportunity in Etherum trading. Kenyans should take advantage,” he said.

What is next in the Kenyan Bitcoin Scene?

There will be a Bitcoin Baraza Meetup on December 10, 2017, at the Enkare Hotel in Nairobi. Interested persons should also check out the event called ‘How to Make Sense of the Cryptocurrency Frenzy’, which will be held on 7th December 2017 at Moringa School. Both events will be hosted by the Blockchain Association of Kenya.

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November 30, 2019: OKEX and BitcoinKE Partner for a FREE Crypto Margin Trading Class

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FREE Crypto Margin Trading Class

After a full-house event in Nairobi for the CrypTour through Africa, OKEx is back again to host its popular Genesis Trading Classe, titled “Crypto Margin Trading.”

The class will cover the following:

  • Basics of crypto trading
  • Trading tools
  • Margin trading
  • Reading of trading charts
  • Trading psychology
  • among other topics.

You don’t want to miss this exciting class!

Come and network with other crypto enthusiasts over drinks and snacks. There will be a jam-packed list of speakers who will also be joining for this class.

forex trading indicators

EVENT DETAILS:

DATE: SATURDAY, 30TH, NOVEMBER 2019

TIME: 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM

VENUE: MARBLE ARCH HOTEL, LAGOS RD, OFF TOM MBOYA STREET, NAIROBI, KENYA

REGISTER: http://bit.ly/BITCOINKEOKEX2019

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Retired NBA Player Allegedly Scammed Ghanaian Company Out of $825,000 in Bitcoin

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NBA Player

Retired NBA player, Isaac Edward Austin, has allegedly scammed a Ghanaian Company out of $825,000 in bitcoin (BTC). The money was reportedly acquired with the promise of investing it in a bitcoin automated trading programme.

Bitcoin Investment Scam

bitcoin doublerThrough the Isaac Edward Austin (IEA) and Tudor Trust, Austin reportedly masqueraded as a trustee with the ability to help a Ghanaian company make a profit on a bitcoin investment. The two parties signed a contract on July 3, 2019. This contract is among other documents that have been shared on mynewsgh.com indicating the scam took place.

The company sent to a bitcoin investment at a strike price of $11,000 per bitcoin, totaling to $825,000, to Austin expecting to receive back the original investment plus profits. However, Austin failed to make the payment at the close of trading as per the agreement.

A victim of Austin’s scam shared his experience as follows: “He will take your BTC and you will never get your investment back or your returns. On the day of payment, he will tell you story after story filled with lies of issues why the BTC could not be delivered on the day of payment. From him having a heart attack, to the coin being sent to the wrong wallet, to him being in a queue at the bank, to him waiting for the trade to conclude, to the funds being held by the bank. Week after week after week of unresolved issues even when he has confirmed the day before that all is set 1000 percent to deliver and conclude the transaction. He is a fraudster of the highest order. Stay away from him. We have all the proof – contracts, letters, and messages.”

One of the other documents mynewsgh.com obtained is a letter sent to Austin notifying him of his failure to meet the agreed terms of the contract. The Ghanaian company expected their money back on the same day they signed the contract with Austin. The funds expected should have been 75 BTC going for a strike price of $11,000.

In the letter, the company gave Austin 48 hours to pay them their money – failure to which they were going to take legal action.

Is the Scammer an Imposter?

According to the documents shared on Ghana Web, the bitcoin scammer’s date of birth and height is similar to the former NBA player, Isaac Edward “Ike” Austin as indicated on Wikipedia. So, could this be a case of a retired basketball player turning into a scammer or is someone impersonating him? The answer to this question is unclear.

This LinkedIn profile of an Isaac Austin, who has been the Finance Director and Trustee of Tudor Trust and Finance Society LLC since June 2012, does not seem authentic. Although this profile has some similarities to the former NBA player’s personal information as written on Wikipedia, the years he attended Arizona State do not coincide.

Furthermore, the profile on LinkedIn says Isaac Austin took a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences for one year which is not the usual study period for a degree course. There is also no mention of the former NBA player being a trustee of IEA and Tudor Trust.

The upturn of the crypto market experienced in mid-2019 appears to have spurred scammers into action. This scam comes after another bitcoin investment deal in Nairobi went wrong between December 2018 and May 2019.

That said, these scam stories are a lesson to potential bitcoin investors that they are better off managing their own investments as opposed to handing funds to someone to manage them. If the Ghanaian company had carried out thorough research, perhaps they would have noticed the obvious red flags.

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The Golix Controversy: Has the African Exchange “Exit Scammed” Users And Investors?

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Golix exit scam

Prior to May 2018, Zimbabwe-based bitcoin exchange Golix was bullish about its future prospects. The startup claimed it had raised $32 million from a token sale and had plans to set up operations in several other African countries. However, more than a year later, the digital asset exchange has had a reversal of fortunes and, after its forced shutdown in Zimbabwe, some of Golix’s former clients are struggling to get their funds reimbursed despite promises and frantic efforts to recover these. 

Embezzlement Allegations

Former Golix users now point to possible embezzlement of funds by Golix executives while one investor in the startup blames the hostile operating environment as the reason for the company’s general failure.

Tawanda Kembo was the chief executive officer (CEO) of Golix when it was shut down in Zimbabwe. Bitcoin Africa reached out to him to get his side of the story but he had not responded to our questions at the time of publishing.

However, Bitcoin Africa still managed to contact Taurai Chinyamakubvu, an individual who says he was an investor in the company. Chinyamakubvu claimed he is not aware if client funds had been reimbursed or not since he was not involved in the day to day affairs of the crypto startup.

“On funds, you can check with the CEO, he was doing the day to day stuff. I was just an investor,” Chinyamakubvu pushed back when asked if they had recovered client funds that were reportedly locked in banks.

In May 2018, Zimbabwe’s central bank issued a directive that forbade financial institutions from dealing with crypto exchanges. According to Golix, this led to banks blocking access to client funds and the company from using the financial system.

Central Bank Defiance And Crypto Adoption

GolixWhen asked why Golix had not resumed operations following a High Court ruling that set aside the central bank order, Chinyamakubvu suggested that Golix’s Zimbabwe operations remain hamstrung by the central bank’s reluctance to lift the order.

“They (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) did not lift the order they sent to banks. So no bank wants to defy a regulator. But that said, you muddy the water once, that’s enough to change its colour for a while,” he stated.

Chinyamakubvu is convinced that the central bank’s apparent defiance of a court ruling continues to hinder the growth of the crypto space in a country that should be embracing privately-issued cryptocurrencies.

Zimbabwe has been plagued by hyperinflation for the past two decades, which is spurred on by a volatile fiat currency. Critics point to the central bank’s penchant for unrestrained printing of money as the main cause of the country’s currency troubles.

The Golix investor called the central bank’s decision to shut down the crypto exchange ‘retrogressive’.

Ironically, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently announced the setting up of a committee to study financial technologies such as bitcoin. The regulator now says it wants to come up with what it calls a “National Fintech Strategy.”

Disappeared Client Funds

Bitcoin Africa also reached out to former Golix clients as it tried to establish what happened with their funds. Some did not respond but a few did – although they requested anonymity. One lady, in particular, expressed exasperation with the way Golix has been handling the issue.

“I do not know about others but I still have not been reimbursed. Tawanda (CEO of Golix) has made several promises to settle but nothing has happened,” claimed the lady who preferred to remain anonymous.

She further explained that currently there is nothing noteworthy happening but promised to reveal more details as and when they become known. 

Kembo on the Run?

Following the central bank decision to stifle cryptocurrency trading, some crypto traders have gone on to create informal trading platforms using social media networks like Whatsapp, Telegram, and Facebook.

Bitcoin Africa was also able to get access to one such Whatsapp chat group feed wherein clients are discussing strategies of recovering funds from Golix. In a discussion that occurred in July 2019, one member of the group asks fellow members to furnish her with information that includes Kembo’s personal identification number or even a vehicle registration number. This could then be used to help a hired tracing agent to locate him.

Tawanda Kembo

Tawanda Kembo, Golix CEO

It is apparent from the discussions that Kembo has made several promises – including re-payment plans – to reimburse but nothing has happened to date. Adding intrigue to the controversy, this client claims Tawanda told them he had lost the key to the cold storage wallet. Thus, he could not access the bitcoin.

Keys to a crypto wallet are essentially a passcode that grants access to funds and without them, the funds are lost and cannot be recovered.

In the meantime, another post on the same thread suggests that Chinyamakubvu was being disingenuous when he expressed ignorance about the status of client funds. In the post, another member insists that prior to the central bank order, Golix was asked to remove all funds before accounts were closed.

The anonymous member was referring to a part of the central bank circular to banks which states the following:

“Exit any existing relationships with virtual currency exchanges within sixty days of the date of this Circular and proceed to liquidate and restitute existing account balances.”

This central bank circular was issued on May 11, 2018, and Golix seemingly had enough time to exit from banks as well as to reimburse clients.

No Consumer Protection

The anonymous member suggests that since this did not happen, the issue should now be treated as a criminal case.

It is apparent from the rest of the discussion that members were aware of the risks involved with crypto businesses. The central bank had warned the public of risks of dealing with cryptocurrencies and associated businesses prior to Golix’s demise.

Zimbabwe does not have consumer protection laws that specifically deal cryptocurrencies and those dealing with such digital currencies do so at own risk, a point clearly articulated by the central bank circular. Perhaps it is with this in mind that some Golix clients are now pursuing fraud charges against Golix executives.

Lack of legal protection is another factor inhibiting the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies but that may yet change as the central bank is now having a change of heart.

Bitcoin Africa will continue to follow the events surrounding the alleged exit scam of Golix and update our readers when new information surfaces.

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