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Tanzania: the Sky is the Limit for Blockchain Projects

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Tanzania blockchain projects

It is no longer a secret that the continent with the highest potential for cryptocurrency firms and services is Africa. It is remarkable how many new tech start-up centres have recently emerged in African cities, from Lagos in the west and Nairobi in the east to Agadir in the north.

Fintech startups can carve out a niche on the continent, where the problem of unbanked people is an urgent one. Humaniq is one such promising project that it is worth paying attention to. The London-based FinTech firm released an application for unbanked last year, which is now available in five African countries, including Tanzania.

The Humaniq app can be used on low-end mobile devices and, thanks to peer-to-peer transactions and referral programme, it is connecting people who do not have access to traditional banking services while not supplanting the latter. A hundred thousand downloads of the Humaniq App in Android is an excellent illustration of Africa’s enthusiastic uptake of technology. In 2018, the company has plans to build on this and achieve one million users.

There is a reason why Tanzania is under Humaniq’s spotlight. At this point in time, the East African nation has a number of challenges that need to be overcome in order to achieve full and meaningful financial inclusion necessary for everybody to participate in the 21st Century economy. This is why Tanzania represents a good target for blockchain startups.

Make hay while the sun shines

According to the National Financial Inclusion Framework (NFIF), Tanzania’s economy is gaining more and more momentum. It is making remarkable progress in expanding opportunities for people to access and use financial services to reach the goal of economic inclusion. Humaniq proposes a shift of emphasis to achieve this: from access to usage. It is only when people and businesses derive value from financial services that they will use them regularly as a matter of choice. A responsive, deeper and sustainable financial sector is one that offers a choice for individuals, households and enterprises and can make a meaningful contribution to economic growth, Humaniq’s team believes.

The uptake of traditional financial services for transactions reached 65 percent in 2017 compared to less than 58 percent four years prior. Accessibility, measured by the proportion of the population living within five kilometres from locations where financial services are provided, has grown from 45 percent to 86 percent nationally and is already at an impressive 78 percent on average for those living in rural areas.

The growth in active mobile wallets has reached over 21 million (75 percent of the Tanzania’s adult population) while those actively using mobile financial services now stands at 16.6 million as reported by FinScope Tanzania 2017. Some of the inhabitants even have more than two mobiles per family, and 14 percent of those who have ever used a phone run their own business from the device.

Despite all these achievements, the level of financial exclusion is still high at 28 percent of the population. And this figure includes disproportionate numbers of people who live in rural areas, smallholder farmers, young people and women. It has also been observed that there is a big gap between the demand and supply of financial services in the market, whereby the majority of products do not meet users’ needs. However, such figures mean for Humaniq a promising user base and a ‘blue ocean’ for thousands of new projects to thrive, bringing ideas that can overcome the economic problems that Tanzanians face.

So what are the problems that continue to act as a brake on the progress of the nation’s citizens that make it impossible for every Tanzanian to enjoy the goods and services that are available to many others in the world?

Humaniq knows where to start

First and foremost Tanzanians do not have consistent sources of income. Typical microfinance clients have low incomes ($1.25 a day) and are often self-employed in the informal economy. These conditions together tend to deny them access to banks and other formal financial institutions. They commonly run small stores or street stalls, create and sell items they make in their homes. In rural areas, they are often microfinance clients who may be small-scale farmers and people who process or trade crops and goods.

Humaniq, for its part, enables a peer-to-peer economy. It allows banking services to be offered everywhere, including to people in areas that are not served by traditional banks, and so are able to enjoy the 21st Century economy’s opportunities. It also opens up the possibility to address the problem of unemployment, as people could directly find each other, and send money to, and receive it from, other people. This way of providing financial services is not only more democratic and accessible, it also offers better security, because there is no central server for hackers to attack, and the information on transactions cannot be tampered with.

Secondly, what cannot be ignored is the fact that a low level of general literacy and numeracy leads to a low level of financial literacy among the general population and business owners, including a lack of knowledge about financial services, institutions and the Internet.

Humaniq’s team has prepared for such a challenging scenario: through the Humaniq app Tanzanians will have the opportunity to take a course in financial literacy and to take part in a number of simulation games, after which they will be rewarded in HMQ, the Humaniq token. Every new user receives $20 worth of HMQ in their account related to these interactions with the app, the value of which bears no relation to their local currency.

Thirdly, in Tanzania, it is very difficult to obtain credit from financial institutions. One cannot avoid high-interest rates, collateral and travelling long distances to and from banks – as much as 20 to 30 km in one day. The process of taking a large loan is complicated by the fact the numerous difficulties in the registration of land ownership, frustrating the receiving of large loans from banks. Only 3 percent of citizens own land. According to VICOBA’s data, the registration of land costs as much as $100 – $ 250. Such sums of money are too high for local farmers. As a result, 44 percent of Tanzanians (12 million adults) took a loan in 2017 but the vast majority, 69 percent of them (8 million), borrowed from friends and relatives, not from traditional banks.

Humaniq facilitates and formalises the process of taking out a peer-to-peer loan. Now, thanks to the power of these people-powered transactions, one can lend and borrow more easily and quickly than before, and without relying on the financial industry and its fee-charging field representatives. And in addition, users gain HMQ cryptocurrency simply for recommending friends and making transactions.

Humaniq’s ambassadors in Tanzania pursue social, humanitarian and commercial objectives, giving isolated people the chance to improve their lives for the better and to improve their prospects in the country.

 

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A First for South Africa: Launch of Female-Centric Angel Fund ‘Dazzle Angels’

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Dazzle Angels

South Africa is set to receive its first-ever angel fund that it will be entirely focused on women-owned businesses. The new fund will be called Dazzle Angels.

Dazzles Angels is founded by an all-female team of angel investors, composed of entrepreneurs or experts in their field. The founding members include Alexandra Fraser, founder of Fraser Consulting, Adi Zuk, co-founder of JAG Method, Lee Zuk current COO of JAG Group and Charlotte Luzuka, co-founder of Oya Venture. Dazzle Angels is expected to start operating from December 2018.

Currently, it is in the process of signing up angel investors for its fund before opening up its applications for investments into female-led businesses in South Africa.

Dazzle Angels’ Goal

The fund’s primary goal is for more female-founded businesses to receive early-stage funding and to close the gender gap in the investment space. According to Dazzle Angles, they “are looking for great businesses — businesses that solve a real problem, have a business model and will be sustainable — and happen to be founded or co-founded by at least one women, because we know (and stats show) that’s just better business.”

Dazzle AngelsChris Campell, co-founder of Africa Business Angel Network and South African Business Angel Network, told VentureBurn that the fund is a “fantastic development” and he hopes to see more angel groups develop in the country over the next couple of years.

There has been growth in the number of women investors worldwide since 2004. This is a time where women recognise the skills, interests, networks, and capital to invest in ways previously not seen. Gender diversity among decision-makers improves the chances that women entrepreneurs will be funded.

With Dazzle Angels leading the way in South Africa, there is more hope for women-led businesses to rise in Africa. The goal is to create investing environments that maximise the range of experience and diverse views offered by decision-makers.

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A Blessing and a Curse: Cryptocurrency Opens Doors to Both Investments and Scams in SA

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Investments and Scams in SA

Over the past year or so, cryptocurrencies have certainly made their mark across the globe. From the spread of information to the introduction of various rules and regulations, country after country appear to be building up their own ideas on just how to handle the cryptocurrencies gracing the world today. South Africa is certainly no exception. More and more businesses within the region are starting to accept cryptocurrencies and as mass adoption seems to become more and more likely, crypto enthusiasts are starting to rejoice at the thought that SA could soon be a region ready to utilise these currencies to their fullest.

However, with all good things come the bad and for cryptocurrencies, that means scams. Here, we’re taking a look just what cryptocurrency adoption could mean for South Africa.

Cryptocurrency Capital

For those living in South Africa, the cryptocurrency revolution has certainly been leaving its mark. Most surprisingly, perhaps, is the simple fact that it isn’t just financial experts that are taking an interest in these coins here. In fact, everyday use of these digital assets has been rife.

South Africa has been following cryptocurrency adoption for quite some time now and as a result, more and more businesses are beginning to boom with improved access to funds that might otherwise not have been available in fiat form. A huge variety of businesses have been picking up on this trend. Online banking, trading, gambling, sports betting and even physical stores are capitalising on these trends. In fact, sportsbooks were some of the very first companies to start to accept bitcoin, some opting for even bitcoin-exclusive payment options, and even schools are now accepting crypto to help the fulfillment of education gaps. With tourism and South African trade also benefiting from the spread of crypto, South Africa has truly been capitalising on cryptocurrencies in a way that no other country in the world has dared try.

For this reason, it’s clear that the interest in cryptocurrency use goes far beyond the experts and instead, often emanates from the residents. As a result, the South African Treasury introduced taxation on cryptocurrency funds as a new, yet traditional form of bringing in capital for the country. From April 2018, it was made clear that any profits made by cryptocurrencies for companies and businesses operating in South Africa would have to come under taxable law and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) had even offered to provide support and advice to those who weren’t clear on what this would entail.

In July 2018, however, amendments were proposed via the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB) that would change the definition that digital assets were taxable financial instruments. They would become a financial instrument by the Income Tax Act standards and a financial service by the VAT Act standards, meaning that all crypto trades would then be exempt from VAT. These proposals, should they be successful, could encourage more and more businesses to pick up cryptocurrencies as a form of payment and further integrate these digital coins into everyday life in SA.

South African Scams

south africaHowever, while things seem to be going well, for the most part, there are of course negatives to take into consideration and unfortunately, those negatives are manifesting themselves in scams. The introduction of SAFCOIN – a cryptocurrency designed entirely to bring more and more South African’s safely into the world of crypto – has led to a high volume of investors and spenders entering the markets which, for hackers and scammers, is a new found gold mine.

One of the most recent and perhaps more terrifying scams for a low of Africans is the Nigerian Bitcoin Scam in April 2018. This scam saw thousands of people lose their entire life savings in some cases after a bitcoin trading company disappeared with practically billions of Naira. With both offices in Kenya and Nigeria both seemingly disappearing overnight, people were left confused, poor and scammed. March also saw a cryptocurrency scam, with around 28,000 virtual currency investors falling victim to BTC Global’s theft of over $80 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

These scams have opened up SA’s eyes to the potential risks associated with cryptocurrencies, though the debate is still rife as to whether this will actually make a difference as to how quickly and how eagerly they are adopting virtual currencies within the region. With further education and awareness, this could potentially become much safer but only time will truly tell.

What Do The Experts Think?

While Africa isn’t often thought to be at the forefront of any technological innovations, cryptocurrencies could be the market to change that – at least according to Rakesh Sharma, a business and technology journalist. Claiming that Africa could be the next leading frontier for cryptocurrencies, he said that SA “may be set to steal a march over other markets” namely due to the fact that Africa is suffering from such high inflation of their usual fiat currency. With an unstable economy, more and more people are likely to reach for a decentralised alternative to ensure that their funds are kept safe from the potential of corruption or disaster from central banks.

CEO of Liquid Crypto-Money, an SA cryptocurrency consulting firm, also predicted that Africa is likely to have government-issued cryptocurrencies in the near future. As a potential solution for governments seeking an answer to catastrophic inflation rates, cryptocurrencies aren’t to be ignored but with debate still suggesting that cryptocurrencies in Africa are dependent on speculation and an uncontrollable volatility, it’s difficult to determine just where things could go in the future.

As with most cryptocurrency markets, it’s undeniably complicated to determine whether or not South Africa could really be the country to adopt cryptocurrencies on a mass and stable scale. The potential they could hold, however, is promising enough for most and with government support and treasury regulation, the potential risks could, in time, be reduced.

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Almost a Quarter of High-Tech Consumers in South Africa Now Own Cryptocurrency

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High-Tech Consumers in South Africa

A new study titled “Digital Lifestyle Measure report” conducted by MBIT found that 23 percent of high-tech consumers in South Africa own at least one cryptocurrency, with bitcoin being the most common holding. 

New Report Shows High-Tech Consumers Hold Crypto

In the”Digital Lifestyle Measure report” report, each level of tech consumer (high, medium, and low) was grouped according to DM segmentation. A high-tech consumer is identified and tagged as a “DLM5 consumer”, and for the low-tech consumers, a “DLM1 consumer” was used. 

To place each of the participants in the right groups, the survey made use of a question and answer (Q&A) method. Each person was categorised according to how well they were able to answer the provided questions. The questions mostly focused on their private digital lifestyle and technological gadgets they own and can operate well.

The result of this survey shows that only six percent of the low-tech consumers (DLM 1) own crypto, while 23 percent of high tech consumers own cryptocurrencies. The remaining percentage was then shared in the order: DLM 2: seven percent, DLM 3: twelve percent, and DLM 4: eight percent.

cryptoThe report also stated that of the DML5 population, about 42 perfect of them are of the notion that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. Same goes for 30 percent of the DLM 4 consumers group.

Conversely, 41 percent of the low-tech consumers (DLM1 consumers) did not know what cryptocurrencies are all about, according to IOL

From the DLM 3 consumer group, about 34 percent of them cannot say what the future looks like for cryptocurrencies but 26 percent of them claimed cryptocurrencies to be the “future of financial transacting.”

The report has further shown that high tech consumers who are continually paying for something electronically, are more likely to buy crypto in the long run.

Based on the google trends data, South Africa currently has the highest levels of interest in bitcoin across the world. Hence, it should come as no surprise that tech-savvy South Africans are the ones investing in digital currencies and tokens. 

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