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Kenyan Parliament Gives Treasury Cabinet Secretary Two Weeks to Decide Fate of Digital Currencies

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Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, Henry Rotich, has been given two weeks by the Kenyan parliament to decide whether cryptocurrencies should be made legal tender in the country. Rotich was asked to explain why the Treasury and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has allowed Kenyans to trade in cryptocurrencies, yet they are unregulated, have no proper license or taxation by the Finance and National Planning Committee.

kenyan parliamentJoseph Limo, the Committee chairman, said: “We are surprised to hear that even the CBK is not aware that there is a lounge at Kenyatta University, an ATM in town, and a hotel in Nyeri which trade in bitcoins. There is a bigger problem in Kenya since people are trading billions in virtual space yet the Treasury has not licensed and taxed it like trade in M-Pesa and bank transactions.”

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that utilise cryptography for security and are not circulated by a state authority or central government. Because they are decentralised, cryptocurrencies give people the control over their digital ‘cash’ with no control from governments or any regulatory body.

The news comes at a time when the CBK has issued several warnings to the public and local banks not to deal with cryptocurrencies.

During the session, Rotich dismissed digital currencies terming them as unstable. He used bitcoin’s price drop between 2017 and 2018 to explain the instability of cryptocurrencies. He went on to say that the government is yet to decide on whether cryptocurrency trading will be allowed in the country as it is still a developing technology and that there were ongoing discussions on how to regulate cryptocurrency trade so as to reduce risks such as money laundering globally.

According to BusinessDaily, Rotich concluded by saying:

“I am not aware of people operating locally. But I will endeavour to find out whether we have local exchangers. The issue of cryptocurrencies is evolving and we can take a position as a country. This is a delicate balance between supporting innovation and killing it.”

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Weekly Roundup: New Investigation Links Africrypt to MTI, Bitcoin Shoots Past $40k

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This week’s news roundup will reveal the new link investigators have found between Africrypt and Mirror Trading International (MTI). We will also highlight other top crypto stories.

New Investigation Links Africrypt to MTI

Crypto Investigation Bureau (CIB) has found a new link between Africrypt and MTI. These two companies have been at the centre of the recent bitcoin scams in South Africa.

“Some of the same ‘tumblers’ used by Africrypt were also used by MTI,” said Hamilton Cheong, the CEO of CIB.

Money launderers use tumblers to conceal the origin of funds before transferring them elsewhere in small quantities. Chainalysis named MTI the biggest bitcoin scam of 2020. The organisation is currently undergoing liquidation according to local reports in South Africa.

Cheong also thinks that Africrypt was not the victim of a hack as the Cajee brothers claimed. They “perhaps got mixed up with some very bad people,” he stated.

CIB has been working with law enforcement agencies across the globe to investigate the Africrypt matter. The company uses God’s View, a blockchain track and trace system, to look for missing digital assets.

Sokowatch Collaborates with FinX to Offer DeFi-Powered Services in Rwanda

SokawatchSokowatch has collaborated with FinX to offer services powered by Decentralised Finance (DeFi) to informal merchants in Kigali, Rwanda. The initiative will allow these merchants to digitise their transactions, manage cash flows, and plan for their businesses.

The project will kick off with a pilot, which has already onboarded several merchants. To scale the project to thousands of business owners, Sokowatch will get capital by leveraging deposits in the USD-backed stablecoin, Luna.

The goal of the initiative is to provide capital to small business owners that do not have access to formal credit. By helping merchants shift from cash to mobile money and prepayments for DeFi-powered inventory, the two companies believe that they can help boost profitability, resilience, and efficiency for these businesses.

Sokowatch is a company based in East Africa that helps informal retailers to make product orders through apps or SMS. On the other hand, FinX is an initiative of Mercy Corps whose goal is to speed up financial inclusion.

Bitcoin Rises Past $40,000

Bitcoin rose past $40,000 on Monday and Wednesday, creating a frenzy of excitement across the crypto community. Experts think that the recent rally could have emanated from hints that Amazon could accept bitcoin as a form of payment in the future.

According to data on Coinmarketcap, bitcoin hit a high of $40,499.68 on Monday and $40,816.07 on Wednesday. This increase brought the cryptocurrency’s market cap to above $700 billion. The digital asset has, however, dropped below $40,000. At the time of writing, bitcoin was trading at around $39,000.

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Weekly Roundup: Over 17K Kenyan Farmers Get Blockchain-Based Crop Insurance Cover & More

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In this week’s roundup, we will cover several top crypto news. From one of those stories, you will learn that thousands of Kenyan farmers have received blockchain-based crop insurance covers.

Over 17K Kenyan Farmers Get Blockchain-Based Crop Insurance Covers

A partnership between ACRE Africa and decentralised protocol Etherisc has allowed more than 17,000 small-scale farmers in Kenya to get blockchain-based crop insurance covers. The two partners have already processed insurance payouts for some of these farmers. The farmers will pay premiums as low as $0.5 to obtain insurance coverage for crops negatively affected by climate change.

“The solution that we built with our valued partners at ACRE Africa overcomes a number of challenges associated with traditional crop insurance. [Some of these challenges include] delayed payments, high premium costs, and lack of transparency,” said Michiel Berende, Etherisc’s Chief Inclusive Officer.

The project has received funds from Ethereum Foundation, the Decentralised Insurance Foundation, and the Chainlink Community Grant.

DFS Lab Partners With Stellar Development Foundation to Launch a Blockchain Bootcamp in Africa

DFS Lab has launched a call for application for its Blockchain Bootcamp that was launched in partnership with the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF). The Blockchain Bootcamp for African startups will provide early to mid-stage startups with a chance to build on the Stellar network, which is an open-source blockchain for financial products and services.

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The three-day virtual bootcamp will see participants answer key business questions while receiving hands-on guidance and support from DFS Lab and SDF. The companies with the most promising solutions will be awarded prizes between 5,000 to 20,000 USDC. Applications close on August 20, 2021.

Zimbabwe Seeks to Include VASPs in its Securities Law

The Zimbabwean government recently announced its intention to broaden the definition of securities to include Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs). VASPs refer to institutions that facilitate the transaction, administration, and safekeeping of digital currencies. Cryptocurrency exchanges in Zimbabwe will, therefore, be regulated under the amended Securities and Exchange Act.

The country’s anti-money laundering laws will also be changed to allow regulatory authorities to deal with the possible abuse of cryptoassets by bad actors. This is the first time cryptoassets are being considered under Zimbabwean law, which suggests that the government is becoming more open to cryptocurrencies as an asset class.

Upcoming Upgrade to Enable Smart Contracts on Bitcoin

legitimate bitcoin doublerAn upgrade that could enable smart contracts to run on the Bitcoin blockchain is imminent. The upgrade, named Taproot, will also improve the privacy of multi-signature transactions and reduce the cost of transacting on the Lightning Network.

Edul Patel, CEO of Mudrex, an algorithmic crypto trading platform, said: “Bitcoin’s Taproot upgrade might just be the key element that would propel it into mainstream finance. The bottom line is the kind of revolution that the Taproot upgrade might bring for Bitcoin is phenomenal.”

The Taproot upgrade received the green light from the bitcoin mining community through a vote. The implementation will take place in November 2021. This is the biggest Bitcoin network upgrade since SegWit in 2017.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

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Weekly Roundup: Kenya Asked to Consider Blockchain-Based Elections & More

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In this weekly roundup, we will highlight the call for blockchain-based elections in Kenya and other top industry news.

Kenya Asked to Consider Blockchain-Based Elections

According to local reports, a candidate vying for the electoral commission’s commissioner position has asked Kenya to consider blockchain-based elections.

The candidate, Justus Abonyo, believes that adopting blockchain technology can cut down the cost of elections by up to 300 percent. Abonyo also said that the blockchain will improve election transparency and security. In the past, the opposition political parties have accused the winners of stealing votes.

“The cost of a ballot in Kenya ranges between US$ 7-US$ 25 (Sh700-Sh2,500). If we use blockchain technology, this cost will go down to US$0.5 (Sh50). This is an area I would explore as a commissioner,” he told the selection panel.

Kenya is preparing for a general election in 2022. Currently, the government is hiring a fresh administration to run the upcoming election.

Save the Children Rwanda Partners with Cardano

CardanoSave the Children, a charity organisation, has partnered with Cardano in Rwanda to enable ADA donations.

The Cardano Foundation has developed a payments gateway to make this happen. Hours after rolling out its application, Save the Children received 22,000 ADA, which is about US$ 30,000.

“Through Cardano, Save the Children in Rwanda now has a starter pot of the cryptocurrency ADA which we can deploy to projects for children. But there are also countless possibilities through blockchain. Firstly, the blockchain can directly impact children’s lives through initiatives such as digital school records. Secondly, it can increase our efficiency and transparency as an organisation,” said the Director of Save the Children Rwanda Maggie Korde.

The payments gateway means that the charity organisation can hold and get cardano donations without the need to convert them to fiat money first. The NGO has been receiving bitcoin donations since 2013.

Africrypt Owners Remain On the Run

The brothers behind the latest alleged Africrypto bitcoin scam in South Africa remain on the run. According to an article on Cointelegraph, the Cajee brothers left South Africa in December 2020 and have been traced to various hotels in the UAE.

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is also not in a position to take any regulatory action because crypto assets are unregulated in the country.

“At this stage, we have only found evidence of crypto-asset transactions. Currently, crypto assets are [unregulated] in terms of any financial sector law in South Africa and consequently, the FSCA is not in a position to take any regulatory action,” FSCA said.

However, the authority said that it has conducted investigations that indicate Africrypt was running a Ponzi scheme. Investors have taken legal action in an attempt to recover their funds. Only time can tell whether this effort will have a positive outcome.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

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