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3 Ways Governments Could Use Blockchain Technology to Oppress its Citizens

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The blockchain has many applications for the public sector that can improve the quality of government services, safeguard property rights, prevent fraud, and cut red tape while improving transparency. However, what is not often discussed, is that malicious governments could also use blockchain technology to oppress its citizens.

This article highlights how governments could potentially misuse the blockchain to reduce the individual liberties of its citizens and suppress those with opposing views.

When a Sovereign Digital Currency Means Tracking All Financial Transactions

Blockchain-based decentralised digital currencies have the potential to enable economic, political and social freedom. Conversely, the emergence of sovereign centralized “cryptocurrencies” – issued by central banks – contradicts everything that bitcoin and the blockchain stand for and hoped to fix.

agentThe main goal of cryptocurrencies was to decentralize power, not to boost existing authorities. With centralized state-run blockchains, power is heavily concentrated as governments maintain control over the entire network.

Government-controlled cryptocurrencies could impose dangerous limitations on citizen’s civil freedoms, including pervasive anti-privacy measures.

By being able to track every single financial transaction, citizens would lose their financial sovereignty and the personal freedom that comes with spending one’s money on whatever a citizen wants.

Having every single transaction tracked would inevitably lead to mass financial data collection to determine behavioural and spending patterns of each individual in the country, which could be used against them, should they become at odds with the government or someone with close government ties.

When Blockchain-based Digital Identities Are Used to Track Digital Footprints

One of the most impactful developments in the blockchain industry has been the advancement of secure digital identities. Identification is needed for everything from voting to health care. For the over one billion people worldwide who do not have a legal form of identity, digital identities can provide a much-needed solution.

Digital identities can be stored on a blockchain, which can then be used to handle information such as a patient’s medical records, which can be easily and safely accessed by a health care provider when they are seeking care.

However, if a malicious government has full control of the digital ID system and all its citizens’ data, it could use this to track each citizen’s digital footprints. For example, if the social media accounts, financial services, mobile payment firms accounts of citizens are bound to their digital identity, the government could very easily track individuals’ movements in real-time.

This already happens to a degree in countries like the U.S and U.K. as we learned from Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. Every day, intelligence agencies collect hundreds of millions of emails, texts, and phone calls and can collect and sift through billions more. The surveillance technology for tracking and identifying people is booming as is governments’ appetite for it. Add in the current digital tracking systems with facial recognition software and digital identities, and this endangers citizen’s right to privacy.

Blockchain-based digital identity systems thus need to be implemented with care and the oversight of the network should not be limited to the government as the potential for misuse is huge.

When Digital Identities Are Used to Create a Social Credit Scoring System

surveillance

Credit scores dictate a person’s involvement in the financial system, including loan or mortgage approvals, interest rates, and insurance rates. It can impact someone’s ability to rent an apartment or secure a credit card, for example.

China’s latest surveillance efforts include a social credit system that aims to rate each citizen’s social value according to their actions.

Drawing data from government agencies, court verdicts, and even mobile payment firms, the scheme assigns each person an individual score. Failure to repay debts or smoked on a train, you could land on a blacklist posted on a public website. The plan is to rate citizens by their financial and legal histories, their online behaviour, education records, and employment activities.

If such an oppressive social credit scoring system is implemented and interlinked with blockchain technology, the data stored on the system would become immutable and easily shareable with permissioned third parties, such as corporations, who could, in turn, limit low-ranking individuals’ ability to live freely even further.

Such a system could be used by governments to oppress its citizens especially those seen as having a lesser value or those that threaten its power. The blockchain could potentially amplify the oppressive nature of such a social credit scoring system.

Keep Your Leaders in Check

While the blockchain was created to decentralize power, the unfortunate reality is that as the technology has evolved, there are now ways it could be used to make oppressive governments more powerful.

Hence, it is important to stay mindful of how the blockchain can be misused when you hear of your government implementing a new blockchain initiative and to speak up if the initiative could go turn into a tool of oppression.

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Weekly Roundup: Binance Announces Zero Bitcoin Trading Fees to Celebrate 5th Anniversary & More

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Managing Your Emotions When Trading

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Binance announcing a fee-free spot trading on various Bitcoin trading pairs, Celo launching a Web3 fund geared towards African startups looking to transition from Web2 to Web3, US commodities regulator filing a civil charge on a South African Bitcoin scam for fraud, and more.

Binance Announces Zero Bitcoin Trading Fees to Celebrate 5th Anniversary

BinanceTo celebrate its fifth anniversary, Binance has announced that it will eliminate trading fees on a variety of Bitcoin spot trading pairs.

Although Binance has always offered and maintained the lowest spot trading fees in the cryptocurrency industry, this move will see the exchange establish itself as the global leader in pricing.

Speaking about the announcement, Binance Founder and CEO “CZ” (Changpeng Zhao) said: “In line with our user-first philosophy, Binance has always strived to provide the most competitive fees in the industry. At its core, Binance is an inclusive platform with accessibility in mind. Eliminating the trading fees on selected BTC spot trading pairs is another move towards that direction.”

From July 8, Binance users will enjoy zero trading fees on 13 stablecoin and fiat combinations including BTC/USDT, BTC/BUSD, BTC/USDC, BTC/EUR, BTC/TRY, among others. The new fees will be in effect until further notice. This means that users on the crypto exchange will be able to enjoy fee-free trading beyond the two weeks planned for anniversary celebrations.

Celo Launches a Web3 Fund for African Startups Looking to Migrate to Web3 From Web2

Celo, a mobile-first blockchain ecosystem geared towards building an all-inclusive financial system, has announced the launch of its Web3 fund that will support African startups developing across payments, remittance, related financial services, savings, and virtual assets.

Through its VC partners, the Celo Africa Web3 Fund will provide financial investments to African startups. In addition, the company will offer technical assistance via the Celo Developer Guild and its technical partners such as Ape Unit and Tatum. Both the financial investments and technical assistance offered will make it possible for Web2 founders in the African continent to adopt a strategy and grow their business to achieve deeper financial inclusion, lower transaction costs, and more affordable credit.

Celo, together with its various partners, has already made an open call for Web2 founders in Africa to apply for the Celo Africa Web3 Fund by July 15, 2022, and has pledged that they will support shortlisted candidates through their transition to Web3.

The fund will include an in-person workshop across five African countries with the first in-country workshop slated for July 26, 2022. Additional workshops are expected to follow in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda between July and November 2022.

South African Company Charged by the US CFTC for Bitcoin Fraud Worth Over $1.7 Billion

The US commodities regulator, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has filed civil charges against Mirror Trading International Proprietary Limited (MTI), a South African company, and its CEO, for running a fraudulent Bitcoin commodity pool worth over $1.7 billion and over registration violations.

According to CFTC, the company and its CEO, Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, solicited Bitcoin online between May 2018 and March 2021, from thousands of people, including 23,000 Americans. Additionally, it said that the company instead of trading forex as it had registered itself as, embezzled pool funds, lied about using trading bots, faked account statements, misrepresented trading and performance, and used a fake broker in instances where the trade actually happened.

The Ponzi scheme is the largest involving bitcoin fraud the CTFC has handled. Moreover, the regulator also stated that Steynberg was a fugitive until he was recently arrested in Brazil by Interpol.

Cardano Accelerator Adaverse Funds Seso Property Marketplace to Boost Cardano’s Adoption

Adaverse Fund, a Cardano VC accelerator fund created to boost the development of Web3-based solutions in the African continent, has announced its participation in Seso Global’s fundraising.

Seso Global is an online real estate property marketplace that leverages blockchain technology to reinvent Africa’s real estate industry. The company utilizes blockchain to provide a marketplace that supports secure and risk-free digital land transactions between buyers, financial institutions, land agencies, property owners, and professionals that service the real estate value chain.

The funding round saw venture capital firms, Adaverse, Columbus Angel Network, Emurgo Africa, Kepple Africa Ventures, Moabi Group, and Rising Tide take part. In addition, Jamie Broderick, Albert Essient, and Ibrahim Sagna also took part as angel investors.

This partnership is key for Seso Global as it provides us with necessary partners and experts to expand our Web3 offerings. We are now seeing the growth of Blockchain real estate solutions and with Adaverse, Seso will be a trailblazer for the industry in Africa. We are confident that Cardano will see strong growth in Africa due to its lower energy needs and cost of the Blockchain.” says Daniel Bloch, CEO and co-founder of Seso Global.

Adaverse was established in September 2021 as a joint venture partnership between Everest Ventures and EMURGO Africa to not only identify but also provide valuable support and resources to propitious African founders developing the next wave of Web3 decentralized applications (DApps) in decentralized finance (DeFi), gaming, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the metaverse, and more on Cardano’s third-generation and environmentally-sustainable blockchain.

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

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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Amber Group Announces Q3 2022 Launch of Openverse, the Gateway Into the Metaverse

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Openverse

SINGAPORE, 11 May 2022Amber Group, the leading global digital asset platform, today announced its entry into the metaverse with the launch of Openverse, a Web3 enablement platform for creators, brands, and businesses. A culmination of Amber Group’s multi-disciplinary expertise in digital architecture and blockchain-native infrastructure, Openverse serves as a gateway to the metaverse, empowering Web2 creators, brands and businesses with tools and services to transition into Web3.

Amber GroupWith the metaverse economy projected to reach $13 trillion by 2030, Openverse marks Amber Group’s venture into Web3 community building. Due to launch in Q3 2022, Openverse is a significant milestone in Amber Group’s plans to aid businesses, industries and societies as they transition into Web3. As a one-stop platform, Openverse will create entry points into the metaverse by delivering end-to-end creative and digital infrastructures for creators, brands, and businesses.

“Digital assets are the first step in realizing a decentralized future where people are empowered to create and connect with online communities, unlocking new digital experiences. While there has been a lot of interest in the metaverse, it remains largely conceptual. With Openverse, we are taking a solid step towards creating this digital reality for all. Backed by our expertise and partnerships within the digital asset ecosystem, Openverse is at the forefront of onboarding businesses and communities into the metaverse, unlocking the true potential of decentralization,” said Amber Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Wu.

Openverse is designed to be a Web3 enablement platform, supported by leading real-time 3D rendering technology to create an experiential digital world for all users. The platform will be accessible on mobile, desktop and VR platforms, and will come equipped with features such as real-time content interaction, gameplay, customizable digital avatars and an NFT valuation system. Openverse will also leverage Amber Group’s flagship digital asset platform, WhaleFin, for its crypto financial services, creating synergies with the company’s thriving consumer business line to expand the reach of its digital asset services.

“We are excited to launch Openverse and convert the possibilities of the metaverse into reality in the next few months. As we develop a gateway for everyone to journey into the metaverse together, we are also building a strong line-up of partnerships with gaming studios, sporting brands, digital artists, and creators in an effort to bridge the gap between physical and virtual economies. Not only will this encourage more Web2 users to migrate into the metaverse, it will also herald a new era for digital assets worldwide,” said Openverse’s Chief Executive Officer, Jo Xu.

About Amber Group

Amber Group is a leading digital asset platform operating globally with offices in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The firm provides a full range of digital asset services spanning investing, financing, and trading. Amber Group is backed by prominent investors including Sequoia, Temasek, Paradigm, Tiger Global, Dragonfly, Pantera, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com.

For more information, please visit www.ambergroup.io.

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Why Crypto Casinos Are on the Rise in Africa

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Online gambling has become a rapidly evolving industry. Today, many online casinos are embracing cryptocurrencies to stay on top of the latest trends in finance and technology. 

Because of the continued evolution in the online casino space, crypto casinos in Africa have experienced and continue to experience rapid growth. But, why exactly is this the case?

Read on to learn why crypto casinos are on the rise in Africa. 

Crypto Adoption is Booming in Africa

One of the main reasons why crypto casinos are on the rise in the African continent is because of the booming crypto adoption.

Africa’s crypto adoption rate is reportedly the highest globally. For instance, between July 2020 and July 2021, African countries alone received close to $105.6 billion worth of crypto, representing a 1,200% increase in value within that period only.

Some crypto casinos have been able to benefit from Africa’s high crypto adoption rates by accepting bets in digital currencies such as bitcoin (BTC) and litecoin (LTC). 

Anyone Can Take Part 

Using cryptocurrencies, there are zero restrictions as to who can send or receive payments, alleviating all potential payment issues that can arise with traditional payments companies when you are located in certain African countries. 

Additionally, players are guaranteed privacy, which is very appealing to most online casino players. This is because players don’t have to share their names, location, or bank details to receive payments from the online casino they are using.

Fast Deposits and Withdrawals

One challenge with traditional fiat currency that most casino players experience is that it can take up to a few days for a transaction to complete. Moreover, having to change the pay-outs from fiat to crypto and vice versa in order to deposit or withdraw funds into an online casino can become costly.

However, cryptocurrency transactions typically only take a few minutes. This means that players are able to near-instantly make their deposits and withdrawals with very little wait time, thus being able to fully maximise any potential profits. Additionally, crypto transactions are also very secure.

African Gamblers Want to Win Crypto

Another reason for the rise in crypto casinos in Africa is because African gamblers want to win crypto. 

African currencies in many countries have been known to suffer from currency devaluation thanks to high inflation rates, which have resulted in citizens turning to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Besides, players also find it hard to make bets on online casinos using fiat currency as they become unable to fully maximise their profits due to high inflation.

Given that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a store of value, players can also choose to HODL their pay-outs for as long as they need in their crypto wallets and trade the same when the price of bitcoin, for example, rallies. This way, players are not only able to earn some “extra” money, but they are also able to avoid paying costly fees in transactions when converting from fiat to crypto and vice versa.

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