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Uganda Takes One Step Forward, Two Steps Back with New Social Media Tax

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Social Media Tax Uganda

On May 23, Ugandan President Yoweri K. Museveni told attendees at the Blockchain Africa Conference in Kampala, that he is supportive of blockchain technology and that Africa was ready for the digital age. His remarks suggested that he is keen on placing Uganda on the map as a tech hub in the region, which attendees at the conference applauded and widely considered as a step in the right direction. However, only a few days later, Uganda’s took two steps back in the development of their digital economy by introducing a new social media tax.

The “Gossip Tax”

Starting July 2018 Ugandans will have to pay a daily tax on social media apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp due to a new law that was passed by parliament. Rights activists have spoken up against it saying it will be used to stifle free speech. They said it is an attempt by President Museveni to prevent opposition to his presidency.

President Museveni had written to the finance ministry in March saying, “I am not going to propose a tax on internet use for educational, research, or reference purposes…these must remain free. However, olugambo (opinions, prejudices, insults, chats) on social media and advertisements by Google and I do not know who else must pay tax because we need resources to cope with the consequences of their lugambo [gossip].”

Despite the government’s claim that it is an attempt to prevent “gossip” and fake news, what is ironic, however, is that it comes after Bobi Wine a musician turned opposition politician became a member of parliament through an online campaign. The move by the government has been viewed by opposition leaders as “diversionary, deceptive, injurious to individual freedoms, and burdensome.”

A tax of 200 shillings ($0.053) a day on users of so-called “over the top” services which publish content bypassing traditional distributors. “The government is trying not to over-rely on donor funding. It is just a redistributive tax as the government is out to look for money from those who have to finance projects,” Parliamentary spokesman Obore told CNN.

The tax was passed on May 29 and would be levied daily by mobile phone operators on each SIM card used to access any of the targeted social media platforms with over two and a half million Ugandans being active on Facebook. Unfortunately, this adds on to Ugandans’ burden as data costs in Africa are already among some of the highest in the world.

The Ugandan government has since stated that they are looking for income in order to maintain security and extend electricity in the country. The chairman of the Budget Committee of Parliament has stated that it is a wise move in order to sustain the revenue collection in the country. However, despite the law being passed and implemented in just under a month’s time, there is no clear sign as to how the tax will be collected.

In many countries across Africa, laws are being passed or waiting to be passed that aim to control the way social media is being used. Unfortunately, Uganda is not new to this. During the elections in 2016, the government blocked both Twitter and Facebook and suspended unlicensed news sites.

To what extent this law will impact Uganda’s development as a budding technology hub remains to be seen but what is clear is that charging Ugandans who are looking towards the Internet and the digital economy to earn a living, this tax is a slap in the face.

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Weekly Roundup: Binance Becomes Official Sponsor of AFCON 2021 & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Binance becoming the official sponsor of the AFCON 2021 tournament in partnership with CAF, GoldFinch, a DeFi platform has successfully raised $25 million to continue offering uncollateralised DeFi loans, and other top crypto stories.

Binance Becomes Official Sponsor of the AFCON 2021

Binance announced that it has partnered with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to become the official sponsor of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournaments 2021.

Binance AFCONThe famed football event will take place in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2022. This sponsorship marks the first time the crypto exchange will sponsor a large-scale football event.

Speaking of the partnership, CAF’s General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, said, “I am delighted to welcome Binance as an official sponsor of the AFCON tournament this year. Through this partnership with CAF, Binance will connect further with its users and the African community through football. CAF is ready to embrace blockchain-based technology and its impact on the future of African football development. I am certain that together with Binance, we can take African football to a new level.”

Besides the sponsorship, Binance will also become the official partner of the Assist of the Day / Binance Assist of the Week / Binance Assist of the Tournament, which CAF will promote across its social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, as well as across six venues in five different cities in Cameroon. Additionally, the tournament will be broadcast live in over 160 nations and is expected to have an audience of more than 300 million.

The partnership will also allow Binance to continue its mission of championing financial freedom for Africans while driving blockchain adoption.

DeFi Platform, GoldFinch, Raises $25 Million to Provide Uncollateralised DeFi Loans

GoldFinch, a decentralised credit platform that helps expand the pool of potential lenders beyond banks, has successfully secured a $25 million funding round that will help it continue to provide uncollateralised DeFi loans to businesses in emerging markets.

GoldFinch’s protocol runs as an open marketplace for loans and eliminates the need for any kind of collateral thus decentralising the loan underwriting process. Additionally, it makes off-chain sources of yield available and composable on DeFi.

The funding round was led by Andreessen Horowitz – known as a16z – a venture capital firm that invests in seed to late-stage technology companies. The funding round also saw new investors participate including Bill Ackman, Blocktower, Kingsway Capital, Helicap, YC Alumni Fund, Jinglan Wang, MSA Capital, among others.

Currently, GoldFinch’s protocol is serving more than 200,000 borrowers in 18 countries around the globe and plans to use the funds to achieve its mission of expanding financial inclusion using an open credit protocol.

82% of Small Businesses Plan to Start Accepting Digital Payments in 2022

Cash Out Bitcoin to NairaA new study done by Visa, a world leader in digital payments, dubbed ‘Visa Global Back to Business Study – 2022 SMB Outlook’ has found that 82% of small businesses plan to accept digital payment in 2022.

The study also found out that 46% of consumers surveyed want to use digital payment options more in 2022 compared to only 4% who said they would use them less. The study surveyed 2,250 small business owners and consumers across nine different markets.

Moreover, 73% of small businesses surveyed said accepting new forms of digital payments is crucial to their business growth in 2022.

24% of all businesses surveyed said they plan to accept cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for payment of goods and services.

Payments are no longer about simply completing a sale. It’s about creating a simple and secure experience that reflects one’s brand across channels and provides utility to both the business and its customer,” said Jeni Mundy, Global Head Merchant Sales & Acquiring, Visa.

Blockchain Research Institute Partners with Standard Bank to Expand its Work in Africa

The Blockchain Research Institute (BRI), a global blockchain think tank, has partnered with Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank by asset, to expand its work in the African continent.

The partnership has introduced BRI Africa, which will bring together academics, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and researchers to undertake research on blockchain technology. BRI Africa aims to bridge the gap between the real market need and the technical functionality of the blockchain.

The research institute will also work to distribute knowledge gathered across the country by providing a wide range of educational deliverables in the form of books, conferences, and webinars. The online courses will be delivered by BRI in partnership with Coursera and INSEAD. Additionally, BRI will also foster business ideas that revolve around blockchain technologies via the Africa Blockchain Program. According to BRI Africa, the program is currently open for Egypt and Zimbabwe and will provide resources for new founders to use to launch and scale a startup.

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Weekly Roundup: Quidax Joins the Bored Ape Yacht Club, African Blockchain Lab Raises $6 Million Funding to Launch Wallet & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Quidax joining the Bored Ape Yacht Club after purchasing a Bored Ape NFT worth 75.2 ETH, Nigeria-based African Blockchain Lab closing a pre-series A funding round worth $6 million to launch a crypto wallet, and other top crypto stories.

Quidax Buys NFT Worth 75.2 ETH to Join the Bored Ape Yacht Club

Quidax has become the first African crypto trading platform to join the Bored Ape Yacht Club after purchasing an NFT worth 75.2 ETH.

 

The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), which has grown to become one of the most prominent brands in the NFT space, is a collection of 10,000 ape avatars on the Ethereum blockchain and individually act as tickets to an online social club. So far, BAYC NFTs have generated over $1 billion in total sales.

The Bored Ape Yacht NFT purchased by the crypto trading platform was worth $273,252.5, an equivalent of 75.2 ETH at an exchange rate of $3,769 per 1 ETH. Additionally, owning a Bored Ape NFT will provide Quidax with access to various activities with one of them being ‘The Bathroom’, which is a collaborative graffiti board.

African Blockchain Lab Raises $6 Million Funding to Launch Crypto Wallet

Nigeria-based African Blockchain Lab has successfully raised a pre-series A funding round worth $6 million to help fund the launch of VIBRA, a crypto wallet.

As reported in Disrupt Africa, the funding round was co-led by a combination of global investors, including well-known African venture capital firms CRE Venture Capital, Lateral Frontiers VC, and Musha Ventures. Additionally, the blockchain startup also received funding from international blockchain investors Bonfire, Cadenza Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Despace, Fenbushi, Hash Global, Hashkey Capital, Head & Shoulder X, LeadBlock, Kryptial, SNZ Capital, among others.

African Blockchain Lab was founded with a singular mission – to drive the mass adoption of digital assets and blockchain technologies in Africa. With the backing from our strategic investors, we intend to bring world-class tech stacks, projects and innovation to the African continent, starting with our first product VIBRA,” said Vincent Li, the Co-founder for African Blockchain Lab.

The funding will enable African Blockchain Lab to launch VIBRA, its crypto wallet, and add new features such as VIBRA Earn, a crypto saving product that will allow users to earn interest on various crypto assets.

Speaking on the funding, Pardon Makumbe, the Managing Partner at CRE Venture Capital, said, “We believe Africa has a generational opportunity to build a more collaborative and inclusive financial ecosystem using decentralized technologies, in which all players are winners. We are excited to partner with the world-class team at Vibra to make this happen.

Airbnb Might Offer Users Crypto Payment as an Option After Crypto Payment Tops User Requests

Airbnb Inc., a home rental firm, might soon join the growing list of businesses accepting digital currencies as payment options for services.

This comes after Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO and Co-Founder, asked users on Twitter to give suggestions of anything they’d like the firm to launch in 2022. After sifting through 4,000 responses, Chesky posted the top six suggestions. The number one suggestion requested by most users was the ability to book and pay for an Airbnb accommodation using cryptocurrencies. Other recommendations included clear pricing displays, guest loyalty programme, updated cleaning fees, more long-term stays and discounts, and better customer service. Chesky went ahead to reveal that some of the suggestions were already in the pipeline and that what wasn’t already in the pipeline would be considered.

 

While Chesky did not explicitly reveal whether his company would add crypto payments, his comment could mean that either they are already looking to incorporate virtual currencies into their services or they will be considering it.

NFT Marketplace, OpenSea, Raises $300 Million in Series C Funding at a Valuation of $13.3 Billion

OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace globally, on Tuesday announced a successful Series C funding round worth $300 million.

The funding round was led by investment firms Paradigm – a crypto-focused investment firm – and Coatue Management. Following the investment and four years, after it was launched, OpenSea’s current valuation stands at $13.3 billion.

The marketplace was founded in 2017 as a place for people to buy and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs). OpenSea plans to use the funds to accelerate product development, significantly improve customer support and customer safety, meaningfully invest in the wider NFT and Web3 community, as well as grow their team.

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Weekly Roundup: Invictus Lab Launches Out of Africa NFT Collection, South Africa to Introduce New Crypto Regulations & More

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African NFT Collection

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about South Africa’s FSCA plans to introduce new crypto rules in 2022, Invictus Capital launching its first NFT collection dubbed Out of Africa, and other top crypto stories.

South Africa to Introduce New Crypto Regulations in 2022

South Africa’s financial regulator has announced plans to unveil a new regulatory framework early next year that will cover cryptocurrencies and help protect vulnerable citizens from highly risky assets.

The rules will establish how trading in digital assets like Ether, Litecoin, and XRP will be carried out. Additional issues that will be examined revolve around how the currencies will interact with traditional financial products, the risks they’ll have to bank balance sheets, and if they threaten fiscal stability.

What we want to be able to do is to intervene when we think that what is provided to potential customers are products that they don’t understand that are potentially highly risky. We must be very careful to not just legitimise them,” said Unathi Kamlana, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) Commissioner, in an interview.

The introduction of these new regulations follows two major crypto scams that led to the disappearance of billions of dollars in investment with both scams originating from the Southern African country.

Kamlana further explained that FSCA views cryptocurrencies as an asset and not as currencies. He further stated that digital currencies don’t pose a systemic risk to the stability of the financial services sector just yet and that the FSCA was monitoring the South African Reserve Bank’s plans to create its own stable coin.

I think that if I were to give advice to retail investors, I would say wait to see what comes out of the process of the work of the central bank. The best outcome in terms of stable coins is what comes out of central bank innovation, given their reliability and stability,” he said.

Invictus Lab Disrupts Fine Art With The Launch of Out of Africa NFT Collection

Invictus Capital, through the Invictus NFT Lab, has unveiled its first non-fungible token (NFT) collection that aims to launch many contemporary digital artists to a global market.

African NFT ArtThe online collection, known as the Out of Africa Collection, is made up of 100 NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain and is the first of its kind to include curated artworks in physical form from a wide range of professional artists. The collection will also see many of the artists taking part in it participating in the NFT space for the first time.

So far, the collection has received interest from close to 40 Southern African artists. The project will begin in January with the distribution of the NFT posters to interested parties and will end in an auction in February for NFT representations of the original, physical artworks.

Speaking about the project, Daniel Schwartzkopff, CEO at Invictus Capital, said, “This inaugural collection is a first of its kind for Southern African artists, and global investors. We will continue to find ways to disrupt traditional investment and financial services, and the Invictus NFT Lab is a clear demonstration of this commitment. We believe that an NFT Lab, like this one, will go a long way to bringing NFTs into mainstream investment portfolios, and appeal to traditional art collectors; modern NFT collectors and anyone in between.”

The participating artworks and artists will be announced in due course alongside the exact dates for each phase of the project.

Binance to Incorporate ‘Project Shield’ Security Audit Program to Boost User Protection

Binance has announced the implementation of ‘Project Shield’, a security audit program that will provide users with a new layer of protection.

BEP-20 and ERC-20 based projects that are listed on the Binance centralized exchange are audited in Project Shield with the audit fees being covered by Binance. This move has seen Binance become the first crypto exchange to apply this kind of protection.

Binance will utilise the security audit program to provide access to secure projects to its users, thus protecting them from projects with faulty code.

Through the program, Binance is able to carry out a thorough evaluation of potential projects against strict legal, security, and regulatory compliance standards. In addition, it’ll also carry out ongoing performance reviews for listed projects.

Binance Founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao (CZ) said: “With the increased interest in the market and the profitability of crypto investments, the number of people ‘apeing’ has increased. Investing without proper knowledge and enough research is risky, but through Project Shield, we believe that Binance can be one of the first hurdles that projects have to overcome before they approach users. Furthermore, with the increased standards of security for projects, we believe that the industry will get healthier, which will allow for greater mass adoption in the near future.”

The audits will be done in partnership with CertiK and PeckShield who will review project tokens that get listed on Binance. CertiK and PeckShield are set to audit about 150 project tokens before the end of this year.

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