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Will Zambia’s Plans to Tax Online Calls Stifle the Country’s Digital Innovation?



Zambia Tax Online Calls

In the past decade, communication has been greatly eased through online platforms such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Telegram, among others. With improved Internet connectivity, it has become increasingly common to conduct free international and local calls over these platforms than over normal network service providers. However, the government of Zambia has announced plans to tax online calls in an attempt “to protect its local telecoms companies.”

Zambia’s Plan to Tax Online Calls

online calls

In the past few months, two African governments have introduced measures to increase revenue collection locally based on the use of online platforms among their citizens.

Uganda recently introduced a tax on social media, and Zambia has proposed a tax on online call platforms.

In Zambia, a tax of $0.30 will be collected daily through mobile operators and ISPs. It is targeting the 80 percent of users on WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and other platforms with the argument to protect the jobs of workers of Zamtel, MTN, and Airtel.

While online messaging and calling apps are free to use, their service providers are the main beneficiaries of revenue from the great economies of scale of their users. Governments cannot often tax the multinational organisations at the local level.

However, a tax on online calls begs the question: “Won’t these taxes hinder users from accessing the liberties and the conveniences that these platforms have to offer?”

Furthermore, will the tax be a sustainable solution to secure the future of the country’s telcos or will the telcos be forced to innovate in order to remain relevant to their clients?

What Impact Would Such a Tax Have on Innovation in Zambia?

While Zambia’s new proposed tax may help local telecom companies, its long-term impact on the quality of life of the citizens must be put into consideration. Will it cost, even more, to make simple calls because of this tax? Will people be quick to find viable, private and secure alternatives to make calls?

Furthermore, will this not set the stage for alternative methods of tax avoidance and indirect exploitation that could ultimately stifle innovation?

Just because a tax can be introduced does not mean that it should be. Innovation should be handled with regard to the end user’s satisfaction. Telcos need to refine their models in order to serve their clients in such a way as to attract their loyalty and their profits.

Innovation primarily makes life easier, more convenient and cost-effective for people. Therefore, regulations and policies should support, rather than stifle this from happening. Lower costs for calling and messaging through online platforms have made it easier to communicate and to do business. The government should support that for the improved quality of life of its citizens, rather than put it at risk through taxation.


Weekly Roundup: Luno Adds 1 Million Users in 7 Weeks, Google Finance Adds Crypto



Luno Users

In this week’s news roundup, we will highlight the growth of Luno users, among other top stories in crypto.

Luno Users Increase by One Million in Seven weeks

Luno AppIn just seven weeks, Luno users have increased by one million, bringing the total number of customers to seven million. The crypto exchange has acquired one million new users seven weeks after hitting the six million customer milestone.

Luno is attributing the swift growth to the simplicity of its mobile and online platforms, bank-grade security, its crypto education portal, and self-regulation. “[We are] actively working with regulators and banks to safely increase access to cryptocurrencies,” Luno added.

Furthermore, Luno is among the top six crypto exchanges according to the recent CryptoCompare Exchange Benchmark February 2021. The exchange received an AA rating.

Since starting operations in 2013, Luno has hired over 400 employees across offices in South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Malaysia. South Africa is one of its strongest markets.

“Reaching seven million wallets demonstrates the growing adoption of cryptocurrencies across the globe. Bitcoin’s strong rally in 2021 has fuelled greater interest in cryptocurrencies, which has translated into greater customer activity and many new app installs. New Luno customers learn about and buy cryptocurrencies every day. Volumes traded on Luno this year far exceed those recorded in 2020,” Luno said in a statement.

Electroneum Records More Than 2,000 App Downloads Daily

Electroneum has announced that it is getting more than 2,000 app downloads daily for the second week in a row. After a week of over 10,300 new registrations, Electroneum now has 4.1 million registered accounts. The total number of Electroneum ETN app users is 2.8 million.

Furthermore, Electroneum app users completed a total of 225,453 mobile top-ups worldwide as of February 24, 2020. Electroneum offers a crypto in-app data and mobile top-up service in 163 countries.

In 2020, Electroneum expanded its services to Togo, Sierra Leone, Benin, and Ivory Coast. Electroneum is behind the freelance digital platform AnyTask. This is a platform where sellers receive ETN via the blockchain for undertaking digital tasks.

Google Finance Adds a Tab for Crypto Data

google finance

Google Finance, a website that provides business news and financial information, has added a crypto data tab. Crypto is now one of the default markets, joining the US, Asia, Europe, and Currencies.

Currently, Google Finance is tracking four cryptocurrencies namely bitcoin, ether, litecoin, and bitcoin cash. The addition could be an indication that crypto is becoming more mainstream as institutions like Fidelity and MassMutual embrace bitcoin.

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Weekly Roundup: Standard Bank Group Becomes First Hedera Node Operator in Africa



Standard Bank South Africa

In this week’s news roundup, we will highlight the partnership between Standard Bank Group and Hedera Hashgraph, and more.

Standard Bank Group Becomes First Hedera Node Operator in Africa

Standard BankStandard Bank Group has become the first Hedera node operator in Africa. The South African bank has also become a member of the Hedera Governing Council.

According to the bank, the partnership is part of its goal to facilitate cross-border trade on the continent using DLT.

“As an organisation, we have established that blockchain technology can track and leapfrog legacy issues that prevent a seamless and transparent payment experience for the customer, which ultimately enables cost savings for all stakeholders,” comments Adrian Vermooten, Standard Bank’s Chief Innovation Officer.

CEO of Hedera, Mance Harmon, said there is a “strong interest from companies” in Africa to leverage DLT for use cases like healthcare, identity, and supply chain.

Pilot Stage of Akoin Wallet Deployment in Kenya Is Now Complete

Akoin LaunchThe pilot stage of the Akoin wallet implementation in Kenya is now complete. The Akoin project rolled out the pilot phase at the Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC).

“[We have used] Akoin (AKN) successfully to perform payroll, shopping, and dining transactions at MMTC. [Furthermore, we] piloted the Akoin wallet for performing payment transactions at Hamptons hospital since November 2020. We will fully implement Akoin at MMTC after the end of the current pilot program in July. By the end of 2022, Akoin will be the exclusive blockchain payment platform at MMTC,” MMTC wrote in a report.

Senegalese-American singer Akon is behind the Akoin project. The project will drive the use of the Akoin token at MMTC and Akon City, which is under construction in Senegal. At MMTC, users will utilise Akoin at retail stores, in payroll payments, and to pay for plane tickets.

The project will use lessons from the MMTC implementation as a blueprint for expanding token use across the continent, according to co-founder Lynn Liss. Moreover, the project plans to roll out a physical card linked to the Akoin wallet. The card will enable customers to transact across 40 million merchant platforms globally.

Tesla Makes More Profit on Bitcoin Than 2020 Car Sales

According to Wedbush Securities, a US research firm, Tesla has profited more from its $1.5 billion bitcoin investment than its 2020 car sales.

The firm’s analysts estimate that the electric car company has already made a profit of about $1 billion. This is in contrast with the $721 million profit Tesla reported for the 2020 fiscal year. Note that the firm is making this estimate on the assumption that Tesla has not sold its bitcoin.

Wedbush analysts believe Tesla’s bitcoin investment will have a ripple effect. More companies could also invest in bitcoin or start accepting bitcoin payments.

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Weekly Roundup: Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z Announce Blind Bitcoin Trust for Africa and India




In this week’s roundup, you will learn about Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z’s Blind Bitcoin Trust dedicated to Bitcoin development in Africa and the biggest crypto investment scam of 2020.

Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z Announce Blind Bitcoin Trust for Africa and India

The CEO of Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey, has announced a Bitcoin Trust with American Rapper Jay-Z. The two announced the initiative through a tweet that garnered over 23,000 likes.

Dorsey and Jay-Z are giving 500BTC to the trust, which will fund bitcoin development in India and Africa. Many companies and organisations commented on the tweet probably with the hopes of becoming beneficiaries of this fund. They include BitPesa, Blockchain Association of Kenya, and SpaceBox.

The announcement came hours after an anonymous source claimed that India would ban all cryptocurrencies. Moreover, the Central Bank of Nigeria recently ordered all banks in the country to stop facilitating payments for crypto exchanges.

According to the tweet, the trust needs three board members to start. Also, Dorsey and Jay-Z will not take part in the leadership of the trust.

Chainalysis Names MTI as 2020’s Biggest Crypto Investment Scam

Chainalysis has named the Mirror Trading International (MTI) scheme as 2020’s biggest crypto investment scam. The company made the declaration in a recent review of cryptocurrency-related crimes.

MTI conducted a crypto investment scheme in South Africa where users deposited a minimum of $100 in bitcoin. The company claimed to use AI trading software to grow the investments of its customers. Additionally, MTI guaranteed customers daily returns of 0.5 percent.

“Mirror Trading International is another example of why the industry must spread the word that algorithmic trading platforms promising unrealistically high returns are nearly always scams. When cryptocurrency exchanges and other services learn of these scams and receive their cryptocurrency addresses, they should discourage users from sending funds to those addresses or at least warn them that financial losses are highly likely,” said Chainalysis.

The Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA) in South Africa has been investigating the company since last year. They found that the company was using false trade statements and did not declare losses. Furthermore, the FSCA discovered that the company could not account for more than 16,000 bitcoin of claimed investors’ funds.

Bitcoin Crosses the $50,000 Mark

Project Khokha 2This week, bitcoin reached yet another milestone by crossing the $50,000 mark.

The bull-run comes at a time when Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin. Additionally, Mastercard announced that it will bring crypto to its network.

Tesla’s move could inspire other companies to consider cryptocurrencies. For instance, the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, told CNBC that the company is considering accepting bitcoin payments.

“I think bitcoin is a much more stable asset class today than it was three years ago. It used to be dominated by leveraged retail traders […] on international markets with a lot of leverage. “Starting in March of 2020, you saw institutions start to arrive, and I think in 2021 you are going to see that trend continue,” Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, told CNBC program Street Signs Asia.

Unlike the 2017 bull-run where bitcoin lost over 80 percent of its value the next year, bitcoin appears to be keeping the momentum this time around.

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

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