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Humaniq Global Challenge Winners Go To Kenya

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Humaniq Global Challenge Kenya

Companies working to overcome the challenge of two-thirds of Africans not having access to banking services are acknowledging the need to draw on the needs and experiences of African communities themselves.

A global vision, set by the UN, aims to extend banking to everybody in the world without access to a financial account by 2020. There has been progress this decade, driven by mobile money accounts, especially in East Africa, where more than a third of all people have one. And yet the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, based at the World Bank, has highlighted that only half of all new financial accounts being opened worldwide are being used. This has underlined to startups seeking to accelerate progress on this financial agenda that they must meet the real needs of the unbanked if they are to succeed.

Startups working in this space aim to serve the unbanked by making accounts easier to open. Blockchain technology means financial services can be deployed to more people more quickly because it removes the need for costly intermediaries. Biometric technology, meanwhile, means that those without identification can register with financial service apps and gain a digital identity.

One startup deploying such technologies says that deploying technology alone will not in itself ensure that new accounts are used.

It is not enough for entrepreneurs to generate business ideas from afar,” says Alex Fork, CEO of Humaniq. “Proposed new solutions can be perfect on paper, but only those founded in listening to the real needs of Africans will succeed.”

This is why Humaniq runs a ‘global challenge’ to facilitate the development of new financial inclusion solutions, which invites social entrepreneurs to submit proposals for blockchain startups targeted at Africa’s unbanked. The challenge involves selected developer teams meeting the unbanked people who stand to benefit from new services in Kenya, in order to test and adapt emerging business plans.

Three projects selected for the first Humaniq expedition, which attracted a total of 450 entries, included a blockchain-based land registry project, a micro-venture capital loans system and a remote-workplace app. The challenge winners went on an expedition to Kenya as part of their efforts to build on the rapid take-up of mobile money in the East African nation. The idea was to develop further financial services that make use of smartphones which are increasingly available in Kenya. Already, more than a quarter of people own one, according to Pew Research Center survey last spring. The widespread adoption of smartphones in the nation over the next few years will mean that a wider range of solutions to be offered, beyond the transactions the mobile-based money transfer service M-Pesa makes possible.

To develop their plans, the winning entrepreneurs invited ideas for solutions to problems from communities in Kenya themselves in a more bottom-up way of developing new tech services.

For example, in places such as Nakuru, in the Great Rift Valley, Richard Beresford met business owners and farmers and heard from them that there was demand for loans, but these are not provided by traditional banks. He also heard interest in making bartering between farmers easier, and in bringing traditional goods, such as those sold by the Masai in curio shops, to a larger number of people.

“One of the things that are most important about blockchain is that it can help to create interactions between small groups of people at the bottom of the pyramid,” said Bereford.

A second winner, Chad Pasha discovered in Namanga, a town divided by the Kenya-Tanzania border, that a platform that facilitated the exchange of goods and information could help bring down barriers between people from the two nations and from different tribes and religions. “I think we have a great opportunity to do this,” he commented. The third, Grace Wong, in her meetings with Kenyans, was told that people felt that if young people had more information on new technologies and solutions, this “would create incentives for young people to create new opportunities for themselves,” she said.

Following the trip, the first winners will now refine their business propositions and move forward to initial coin offerings, the crowdfunded way of attracting investment for projects using cryptocurrency.

Humaniq concluded that the trip had deepened the understanding of the needs of businesses, young people, and others in Kenya. It has now decided to make the global challenge an annual event, with a second challenge due to be held later this year. The startup believes that this will allow it to both engage further partner developers, and also further potential users. The first trip allowed scores of organisations of thousands of people to feed in their ideas to the development of financial inclusion solutions, according to Humaniq.

As R. Beresford said on the results of the first expedition: “I’m very hopeful that all the different experiences we’ve listened to… can be analysed to produce a mobile app development plan that produces the product that can be used by the unbanked.”

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RightMesh Partners with Golix Exchange to Improve Internet Connectivity in Uganda

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RightMesh

RightMesh, a connectivity company currently developing a decentralised mobile mesh network, announced that their RMESH tokens will now be listed on Golix in Uganda.

RightMeshGolix, founded in 2014, is one of Africa’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges with its headquarters in Zimbabwe. Golix joins RightMesh’s mission of bringing online connectivity to the people of the African continent. This will be done by harnessing the combined power of a mobile mesh network, blockchain, and its own RMESH tokens within a self-forming, self-healing mesh network.

The integration of Rightmesh’s software is easy in any application without additional hardware. The hardware infrastructure powering this initially is the individual users of Android phones.

In May this year, RightMesh announced the successful completion of a $30 million token sale.

“It’s important for us to partner with like-minded companies focused on connecting the next billion users,” said John Lyotier, RightMesh’s co-founder.

In order for us to start bridging the digital divide, we need people living in areas with poor infrastructure to have access to RMESH tokens so they can start connecting with each other using their smartphones,” he added.

Lyotier said that Golix makes it easy for Ugandans to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. He also looks forward to working with them to have a real and lasting impact for people in the region.

Under the agreement, Golix users living in Uganda have access to the tokens, made available on September 10, 2018.

Uganda’s Oppressive Social Media Tax

Since July 2018, Ugandans have had to pay a daily tax on social media apps due to an oppressive taxation law passed by parliament. These high costs of taxation have played a crucial role in limiting access to these important applications for many Ugandans. However, introducing a mobile mesh networking could avoid those high fees because data does not go through a central ISP. 

Golix CEO, Tawanda Kembo, said: “Internet connectivity in Africa has an interesting juxtaposition. The many that cannot afford internet connectivity mostly jump through hoops to get connections that are slow and have restrictions as to what content can be accessed.”

“In Africa, it’s very expensive to be poor. On the hand, the privileged few who can afford good subscriptions mostly underutilise their internet subscriptions and pay for more than they actually use. By reducing the cost for the former to get connectivity, and providing a benefit for the latter for sharing their connection, RightMesh solves this problem for both demographics. We have needed a solution like this in Africa for years,” added Kembo.

Purchasing mobile data from others once the protocol goes live, will be done using RMESH tokens. They are planning to launch RightMesh Soft Mainnet and release its first commercially available app in Q1 of 2019.

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Swiss Franc-backed Cryptocurrency Will Be Issued in Switzerland

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Swiss Franc-backed Cryptocurrency

Swiss company Alprockz AG announced the development of a new financial tool, the ROCKZ stable coin, according to the official press release. The new asset will be issued on the Ethereum platform and backed by the Swiss franc.

ROCKZ has no difference from the rest of the stable cryptocurrencies: its rate does not demonstrate the volatility, unlike that of Bitcoin or Ethereum, it is stable as traditional money, and at the same time supports the speed of digital currency transactions. The most important difference of this coin is that it is backed by the Swiss franc. From now on, Swiss funds may start going into the crypto market much faster. The company’s press release also states that it will store 90 percent of reserve funds in CHF banknotes in Swiss high-security bank depositories. Another 10 percent will be placed in various Swiss banks to provide sufficient liquidity.

Swiss Franc-backed cryptocurrencyThus, ROCKZ eliminates the main drawbacks of cryptocurrencies and creates a buffer between digital assets and the traditional economy. The developers of the new coin have also considered the mistakes of Tether (a stablecoin, backed by USD).

“ROCKZ will replace Tether as the major pair used to take profits and stay in cash by crypto investors. Technically and legally superiority – this is what we have achieved. You can’t beat us there, you can only copy us,” said the ROCKZ founder, Yassine Ben Hamida.

Representatives of Alprockz AG are planning to publish monthly financial reports, which will contain all the information – from the volume of emission to the names of banks in which the fiat is stored – ensuring the stability of ROCKZ. In the fourth quarter of 2018, Alprockz AG will launch the ICO.

After receiving funding, the company will deploy the infrastructure for interacting with banks and developing new financial products – stable coins, secured by the euro and the South Korean won.

On September 10, 2018, the launch of stable coins backed by the US dollar was also reported by the Winklevoss brothers and the Paxos company.

*Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the company, product or service. BitcoinAfrica.io is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product or service mentioned in this guest post.*

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Gold-Backed Cryptocurrency OneGram to Launch in South Africa

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OneGram South Africa

Gold-backed cryptocurrency OneGram has entered the South African market to offer investors the possibility to invest in tokenised gold and to diversify away from more volatile cryptographic assets.

The cryptographic asset markets have been in a heavy bear market for most of 2018. Unsurprisingly, therefore, stablecoins and asset-backed coins have gained in popularity as they can be used by investors to store their funds during a market downtrend.

OneGram – A Gold-backed Cryptocurrency

OneGram South Africa

Most cryptocurrencies lack the backing of a tangible asset or collateral, leaving their value up to market forces. It has been debated whether solving the “volatility issue” of cryptocurrencies will increase investor confidence in digital assets, and by extension, increase adoption by the mass market. The OneGram team has embarked on the journey to create an asset-backed token that could test this thesis.

OneGram was co-founded by Ibrahim Mohammed to become the first digital coin backed by gold reserves as well as provide full compliancy with Shariah law.

OneGram uses a proof of stake consensus mechanism, whereby the token holders with a greater stake are responsible for verification and appendage of transactions to the blockchain. There is no mining on the blockchain platform. Instead, stakeholders are incentivised to act in the best interests of the network to continue earning new coins for staking.

Since its release in January 2017, it has reportedly been adopted by over 100,000 investors in 88 countries, and it has raised over $400 million in its initial coin offering. Significant interest has been shown in Africa, particularly in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria, as it offers investors a strong incentive to invest in a cryptocurrency without the risks of volatility that have marked other crypto assets.

A 1 percent fee is charged on every transaction on the platform. 70 percent of the fee goes to buying gold, thereby ensuring that there will be sufficient reserve of gold to back the cryptocurrency. 30 percent of the fee goes to the maintenance of the network, such that 2.5 percent is allocated to OneGram Foundation, a charitable organisation and another 2.5 percent to the validators; and 25 percent is the network’s profit.

Optimism

OneGram founder Ibrahim Mohammed is confident about the cryptocurrency, expressing optimism about it, its potentially increasing demand in Africa and the future of regulation for cryptocurrencies. The company chose Shariah compliance, for its strength in protecting investors’ rights. They envision setting an example for other blockchain platforms in creating optimal regulations and policies for digital assets, thereby making it easier for investors to adopt these alternative avenues of investment.

Mohammed hopes that the future will be asset-backed, in order to ease the onboarding of regulators, who have been struggling to provide guidelines and standards for cryptocurrencies.

*Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the company, product or service. BitcoinAfrica.io is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product or service mentioned in this article.*

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