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Authorities Are Closing in on Alleged Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme OneCoin

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According to an official statement, OneCoin offices in Sofia were recently raided by law enforcement agencies as part of a joint operation between Germany and Bulgaria. Evidence was collected from the Sofia-based OneCoin subsidiary, One Network Services, where 50 people were questioned but no arrests were made. The Bulgarian authorities have also searched 14 other companies associated with One Network Services.

During a press briefing, Bulgarian prosecutors said,

“[…] About three million people have subscribed for the educational packages offered by OneCoin. […] While bitcoin is decentralised, the so called cryptocurrency OneCoin is centralised.”

Why is OneCoin a Scam?

The OneCoin MLM scheme operates like most Ponzi schemes. In order to make money, new users are expected to bring in new people into the network. Users reportedly earn a ten percent commission on anyone they signup. Six percent of the commission is directed to a cash account, while four percent is directed to a mandatory account. The mandatory account allows users to purchase more tokens or to upgrade packages. The more packages you purchase, the more tokens and splits you get. Additionally, withdrawing money is expensive and it is based on the number of active referrals a user has.

Suspicion further increases when you look at the OneCoin website. The website has grammatical errors and it falsely promotes OneCoin as a cryptocurrency. The “currency’s” compliance policies such as know your customer (KYC) and audit reports are also falsely promoted on the site. In other words, an already fraudulent company claims to protect its customers against criminal activities and it claims to frequently audit blockchain transactions where blockchain technology is not even being used. For a “currency” that claims to be the bitcoin killer, OneCoin does not use any of the protocols that other cryptocurrencies use. Furthermore, the website attempts to advertise the One Ecosystem as an exchange, a Forex, a charity, an e-commerce platform, an academy, a payments platform, and a business app solution all rolled into one.

The founder and “visionary” of OneCoin, Dr. Ruja Ignatova, has been arrested and taken to court by the German authorities for her involvement in the scheme. The legitimacy of her Law and Economics degree, which she supposedly earned from Oxford University in 2004, has also been put in question while TheMerkle reported that “Dr. Ruja’s employment with different companies prior to founding OneCoin remains a big mystery as well.” Other red flags include OneCoin’s centralised nature where you can only buy the “currency” from OneCoin companies.

African Central Banks Have Warned About OneCoin

In Africa, the Bank of Uganda and the Central Bank of Nigeria have warned citizens to be wary of OneCoin. Unfortunately, despite shutting down the Sofia servers, OneCoin operations are still going on through the affiliates of OneCoin Ltd, which is registered in the UAE. Therefore, OneCoin could potentially cause greater financial ruin for Africans than MMM Global already has.

Hence, it is important to stay away from these type of “multi-level marketing” cryptocurrency schemes that promise high returns but are in reality nothing more than pyramid schemes.

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Particl Launches Decentralised Marketplace With Zero Commission Fees

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Privacy-focused cryptocurrency project Particl has launched a decentralised marketplace with zero commission fees. The new e-commerce platform is leveraging blockchain technology to compete with the likes of Amazon and OpenBazaar.

Privacy and Zero Commission Fees

ParticlCryptocurrencies can be difficult to spend on a day-to-day basis and Particl wants to solve this through its private coin, PART. On the Particl marketplace, users can put the digital currency to use.

The new decentralised marketplace respects user privacy and does not require personal information from its users. The platform only requires a shipping address. Moreover, the decentralised nature of the Particl marketplace ensures that no commissions are added to sales as is the case on Amazon.

According to an article on Big Commerce, fees for sellers can be as much as 45 percent of a product’s cost on Amazon. Particl’s zero-free model, therefore, enables sellers to significantly increase their revenue and lower their prices to stay ahead of the competition while still making a profit.

“Using a combination of P2P and blockchain technologies, Particl Open Marketplace can provide a verifiable private shopping experience that ensures no user data can be created or collected by any party other than the one you are transacting with. The Particl protocol also brings the cost of buying and selling online to the bare minimum as no central entity can charge fees,” said Particl’s Project Marketing and Strategy Manager Paul Schmitzer.

How Particl’s Decentralised Marketplace Works

Particl is uniquely approaching fraud and trade insurance through the use of a double deposit escrow system without intermediaries and with zero fees. This system is based on MAD game theory where two parties deposit PART coins as collateral into a smart contract. Once the transaction between them is complete, the coins are released back to the parties and no fees are charged. This system allows users to be in control of their transactions and to eliminate fraud.

 

Since the marketplace is decentralised, the protocol generates all listing fees and redistributes them to the global network of users.

Particl is made up of three components: an untraceable multi-purpose privacy coin, a private decentralised marketplace where users can shop with cryptocurrencies, and a platform where developers can build decentralised applications.

Particl allows a wide range of cryptocurrencies and uses atomic swaps and third-party integrations to convert these coins to PART during transactions. The company will soon add more payment options to its marketplace.

In 2018, Bitcoin Africa talked to Particl’s spokesperson Desi-Rae about the project. Read the full interview here.

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South Africans Can Now Buy Ether (ETH) Using Rand on Luno

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Global cryptocurrency exchange Luno has now enabled crypto traders in South Africa to buy ether using rand on its platform.

Trading on Luno

LunoLuno offers users an easy and safe place to buy bitcoin and ether and to learn about cryptocurrencies. The exchange has more than 2.7 million customers across 40 countries.

Luno also has a dedicated Ethereum series on its learning platform to help users make informed investment decisions.

Commenting on the new launch, Luno’s General Manager in Africa, Marius Reitz, said: “The direct Ethereum/Rand pair will make it quicker, simpler, and cheaper for customers to interact with and use Ethereum on the exchange. We are working on a number of enhancements to our platform and this pairing has been introduced in response to demand from our customers. Previously, customers could buy Ethereum through our instant buy option but having this ability directly on the exchange makes it faster and cheaper for traders.”

According to Reitz, Luno makes sure that every coin listed in its exchange has undergone due diligence. “There are over 2000 cryptocurrencies. However, many of these are scams, so customers need to trust that the exchange they use has verified the track records of cryptocurrencies available on their platforms. Luno limits the currencies on offer to those on which we have completed extensive research and due diligence and we are satisfied with their credibility in terms of security and adoption. Luno will be adding additional cryptocurrencies to its platform later this year,” he explained.

Luno Report

A recent report from Luno showed that South Africa and other emerging markets would like to see a change in the current financial system.

“Individuals in these markets cannot afford to, and should no longer need to, pay high exchange rates, accept national currency devaluation or lose out when they simply transfer money. Access to a more inclusive financial system will enable people everywhere to think of new and better ways of exchanging value and technology allows this,” Reitz elaborated.

Luno plans to upgrade its platform, expand its team, and open new offices in expectation of the next surge in the value of cryptoassets.

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Emerging Markets More Likely to Adopt Cryptocurrencies from Global Brands, Luno Study Says

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A new study by digital asset exchange Luno indicates that emerging markets are more likely to adopt cryptocurrencies from global brands. This finding was collected from a survey called the ‘Future of Money’ carried out between May 17, 2019, and June 7, 2019. The survey interviewed over 7000 respondents from Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Indonesia, Italy, and Malaysia.

Emerging Markets, the Future of Money and Libra

According to the ‘Future of Money’ survey, the early adopters of cryptocurrencies are likely to come from emerging markets. The findings, therefore, show a close connection between emerging markets and the future of money confirming the view that those with “less appear to take greater financial risks.”

For instance, more respondents from Nigeria and South Africa than in the UK said a single global currency would make the current financial system better.

African man with smartphoneThese results come at a time when Facebook recently announced that it will introduce Libra, a new digital currency in 2020. The aim of Libra is to help people make financial transactions online, especially in emerging markets where banks are not servicing the population as well as they should be.

Luno’s CEO Marcus Swanepoel said: “As some of the world’s largest tech giants announce they are launching cryptocurrency coins, we believe developing markets will be the lead adopters. Our research shows that in these markets people are more financially savvy because they have to be, which means that they need and understand the benefits the new coins can offer.”

To further show why the future of money could have a greater impact on emerging markets, data from the survey indicated that 33 percent of people in Indonesia are more likely to remain within a set budget compared to 0 percent in the UK.

Additionally, the number of people that establish a monthly budget is 80 percent in Malaysia, 65 percent in Nigeria, 73 percent in South Africa, 74 percent in Indonesia, and 54 percent in the UK. Asked why money is crucial to them, the respondents said it was to secure their families’ well-being (60 percent) and to pay for education.  This answer was given by 25 percent of the respondents from Nigeria compared to 8 percent in the UK.

Luno is a global cryptocurrency company headquartered in London and with offices in South Africa.

Grassroots Adoption

Crypto adoption will probably take place at the grassroots level than at the institutional level, Swanepoel observed. He based this argument on the findings that most people from emerging markets will probably seek financial advice from family, friends, and colleagues than from government organisations.

“It is very clear that if money is not simply a ‘nice to have’ and is vital for your future, then you spend more time understanding it, managing it, preserving it and to an extent being creative with how you maximise the use of it. Therefore, if a cryptocurrency can provide a secure and cheaper means of exchanging value better than the existing system, it will be used. This is why we believe that as new cryptocurrencies linked to global brands are introduced, they will find an important audience in emerging markets,” Swanepoel added.

Luno’s study paints a clear picture of what the future of money could look like. However, certain factors such as Internet connectivity could inhibit the fast adoption of crypto in developing markets.

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