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South African Startup Vio Digital Launches Blockchain-Powered Money Transfer App

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Vio Digital

Vio Digital, a South African fintech startup, is launching an Ethereum blockchain-powered money transfer app that will go live in May 2018.

Vio Digital is offering a new form of international money transfer that enables people to transfer money from anywhere in the world with zero transfer and exchange fees. Moreover, Vio Digital has not set a foreign exchange markup, which translates to affordable money transfers for users. Vio Digital, therefore, eliminates the price barrier that Africans in the diaspora face when sending money back home.

“For people sending money home to their families, additional processing and admin costs can be crippling. Our app uses technology to give people safer and more convenient ways to move their money. Technology like the blockchain means we can take cost out of the system to give people cheaper ways to move their money,” Praga Govender, CEO and founder of Vio Digital, stated.

Vio Digital held its initial coin offering from February 19 to 2 March 2, 2018, where the startup managed to raise approximately $1.2 million in ETH.

How Does the App Work?

The startup’s app is currently available in the Google Play Store and will initially be available in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon. To use the app all you need to do is download it and register your account by completing the KYC process. You will then receive a Vio wallet address, which you will use to make money transfers.

The next step is topping up your wallet by buying Vio tokens using Visa or Mastercard. Once you have done that, you can send or receive money. To cash out, convert the Vio tokens into your local currency and then transfer the amount to your linked Visa Debit card through Visa Direct. The Vio app also features a transaction history to keep track of your transfers, exchanges, and top-ups.

Blockchain Technology

Temasek Partners with SGX to Launch Singapore’s First Security Token Offerings Platform

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Bitcoin Remain dominant

Temasek Holdings, recently partnered with the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) to launch iSTOX, a security token offerings (STO) platform. This move marks the first of such services in a country and is yet another example of the rising stock of security tokens within the general cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Raising Capital Via STOs

According to finews.asia, SGX, and Temasek recently invested in iSTOX, the country’s first STO platform. Reports indicate that iSTOX will function as a capital market, allowing entrepreneurs to raise business capital through the sale of security tokens.

Commenting on the development, Danny Toe, CEO of ICHX – the operators of iSTOX, said:

The demands of the next generation of investors and issuers will be different, and this calls for a shift in how we should approach the process of capital funding. Utilising blockchain technology, iSTOX is able to offer STOs and address needs of both investors and issuers which are not adequately met today.

STOs differ from ICOs in that the latter involves the sale of tokenized securities. Many experts believe that STOs will provide the necessary regulatory compliance needed for blockchain-based crowdfunding.

Fiat Deals Only

The iSTOX platform will deal only in fiat transactions for the sale of tokenized securities. Despite being a blockchain-based platform with associated smart contract protocols, iSTOX is technically not a cryptocurrency exchange. Thus, the platform will not list ICO tokens or popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, etc.

According to available reports, ICHX is currently pursuing licensing from the country’s Monetary Authority. Once granted, iSTOX will begin offering the issuance and trading of STOs. Also, the platform plans to provide access to liquidity in the form of a secondary trading service. Fiat currencies will be used to facilitate all the transactions on the platform.

The Emergence of Security Tokens in the Cryptocurrency Narrative

Bitwise 10 Crypto Index TokenSTO platforms are fast becoming a common feature of the evolving cryptocurrency ecosystem. While ICOs undoubtedly captured the imagination in 2017, stricter regulations in many countries coupled with numerous incidences of fraud seem to be dampening the ICO craze.

In its place, STOs present a more regulatory compliant form of blockchain-based fundraising. In places like the United States, for example, regulators say that most ICOs are selling securities in the guise of utility tokens. However, STOs, being securities, must comply with laid down rules and regulations.

In 2018, numerous STO platforms have emerged. The growing consensus is that security tokens could upstage utility tokens providing a more assured entry point for mainstream investors to come into the cryptocurrency space.

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Blockchain Technology

Mauritius Gets First Blockchain Securities Exchange And Will Award Digital Custodian Licences

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Blockchain Securities Exchange

Mauritius will soon start issuing custodian licenses to companies holding digital assets on behalf of their clients because the current licensing regime is not suited for that purpose. Moreover, Mauritius is about to receive its first blockchain securities exchange.

Digital Asset Custodian Licenses

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) of the Republic of Mauritius released the draft framework intended for the fintech companies. They define “digital assets” as electronic tokens representing the holder’s access rights to a service or ownership of an asset. The FSC is currently accepting feedback on the proposal from industry representatives, stakeholders and the public. With the discussions and consultations going on till the end of November.

The FSC considers them a digital representation of value which can be a medium of exchange, the unit of account and store of value. The tokens can also represent assets such as debt or equity in the promoter or “provide access to a blockchain-based application, service or product.”

Mauritius FlagCurrently, the two kinds of licenses for traditional financial services the FSC provides do not support the specifics of safekeeping cryptographic assets. The proposed license is, therefore, specific to address this difference and comply with the current relevant regulations and laws.

One requirement includes an obligation to “have and maintain a minimum stated unimpaired capital of not less than 500,000 Mauritian rupees ($14,409.64).” Businesses wanting to apply for the license will need to have offices set up in Mauritius and also have permanent representatives to deal with the FSC as well as maintain records of the custodian. The boards of directors will need three members and up, “at least one of whom shall be resident in Mauritius.”

Additionally, those providing the custodian service providers will be required to have insurance protection for the assets that are kept in custody. They are subject to providing evidence of such arrangements to the FSC. They must also have systems in place that ensure compliance with all reporting requirements under Mauritian law.

Mauritius Receives a Blockchain Securities Exchange

As a result of Mauritius’ openness to digital assets, Mindex, GMEX Group and Hybrid Stock Exchange Corporation Limited (HYBSE) have partnered to create Mauritius’ first blockchain securities exchange. The joint venture – called HYBSE International Marketplace – plans to “integrate blockchain solutions and technology with traditional financial industries providing a complete and governed ecosystem that digitalises assets onto the blockchain.”

“As we embark on a journey to pave a previous uncharted way forward, this will inevitably create an ideal prospect to move the evolution of all financial systems, light-years ahead. We must also maintain a conscious belief of the power of this evolutionary step, as not to disrupt current global markets, but to rather bolster a new way of thinking that encompasses a decentralised and truly free market entity,” HYBSE’s operations manager, Daniel Liu, said.

The firms claim SMEs will be able to use the marketplace for an initial blockshare offering (IBO), such as block-shares, from businesses registered on the marketplace at “special discounted rates”. IBO is a time-limited offer to purchase cryptonised equities and other cryptonised instruments.

Asset classes that will be facilitated for trade will include cryptonised shares, cryptonised currencies, commodities, indices, forex, ETCs (exchange-traded commodities), ETFs (exchange-traded funds), and CETFs (crypto exchange-traded funds).

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Microsoft Partners with Interswitch to Launch New Blockchain-Powered Supply Chain Financing Platform in Nigeria

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Interswitch

Pan-African payments and commerce company, Interswitch Group, partnered with Microsoft to launch a new blockchain-backed supply chain financing service in Nigeria.

Seamless Supply Chain Financing

This new blockchain initiative will bring together different stakeholders – such as banks and corporations – on a single platform that will provide end-to-end visibility, ensuring fast, seamless trade financing in supply chain operations.

Interswitch Blockchain Service is said to be built and hosted using the Microsoft Azure blockchain solution, which provides proven security, compliance and also a scalable cloud platform that accelerates and supports next generation blockchain applications. 

Interswitch“In our 15 years of operation, we have experienced the bottlenecks associated with the existing corporate-based financing infrastructure in Nigeria.” Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch, said.

“This is why we are happy to partner with Microsoft, by leveraging the advanced technology of the Microsoft Azure Blockchain, to prove the possibility of building a distributed ledger that is practical, viable and has the propensity to solve some of Nigeria’s most difficult financial and logistic problems,” he added.

Launching the Interswitch Blockchain Service (Supply Chain Finance Module) allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to more funding in a shorter time of up to three weeks. The participating banks include United Bank for Africa Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, and Zenith Bank Plc.

SMEs will also be able to enjoy increased sales cycles from participating corporations such as the Dangote Group.

Transaction Enquiries and Verifications

The Interswitch Blockchain Service does not deploy the use of cryptocurrency in its application. Instead, transaction inquiries and verifications will be authorised by officials from participating entities without the incentives of a cryptocurrency.

Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Azure Blockchain at Microsoft Corporation, Michael Glaros, expressed excitement about the partnership with Interswitch. Glaros said: “The blockchain technology is still in its infancy in Nigeria and we are happy to pioneer its deployment in partnership with Interswitch, an innovative and forward-thinking company which has evolved its business around financial technology.”

“This will be the first enterprise-grade blockchain service in Nigeria, and one of only a handful of production blockchain applications in use by banks and corporates globally,” Glaros added.

The Interswitch Blockchain Service, allows Nigerian lenders and suppliers to identify and build relationships with high performing entrepreneurs. Therefore, according to Mitchell, the platform allows anyone to build blockchain-based solutions easily and more cost-effectively.

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