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Nigerian Startup Kora is Leveraging the Blockchain for Low-Cost Cross-Border Money Transfers

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Kora

Kora, a new Nigerian blockchain startup, is utilising the blockchain to enable cross-border money transfers in Africa.

Dickson Nsofor, founder and CEO of Kora, was moved to develop the network while working in the United States as it was hard for him to transfer money back to Nigeria while there. Nsofor said: “It was faster to drive cash to Ghana than to transfer money using a digital channel. And I thought to solve this problem.”

Using the blockchain, the Kora team have managed to find a better way of cutting down the time it takes to make settlements. Since March this year, the Kora remittance service has been undergoing testing and is expected to go live in September 2018. Nsofor and his team plan to add more services than their current offering in future.

Currently, Kora is targeting people who are banked and live in underserved populace. They also have plans to tailor their services for the unbanked people in Africa.

Blockchain Technology Regulation

While payments are Kora’s main focus, for now, the company believes the blockchain can be used to digitise and empower other sectors like the insurance and loan services and is, therefore, testing other ways in which they can utilise blockchain technology. Kora has also created a token system to incentivise users using their platform to make money transfers.

Kora Network

Image by Kora.Network

There has been a lot of push and pull when it comes to regulating cryptocurrencies in Africa. A recent report by Ecobank found out that most African countries are taking a “wait and see” approach towards cryptocurrency regulation. Nigeria has not been any different.

However, Nsofor believes that the blockchain has a lot of potential and that businesses and regulators alike should not fear it. Accepting and acknowledging the technology by African governments would mean that the African continent does not adopt the technology late.

In order to support the adoption of the blockchain in Nigeria, Nsofor said his company is ready to support any blockchain project done by the Central Bank of Nigeria. He believes there is a need to test the technology’s local relevance in all sectors of the Nigerian economy. Naivety or little or no knowledge of the blockchain by African governments could be the two main factors that would cause Africa to miss on the opportunity of adopting the technology. It is for that reason that Nsofor wants African governments to allow and try exploring blockchain technology.

Gideon Orovwiroro, the Head of Operations in Africa at Kora, agrees with Nsofor’s sentiments and believes the greatest hindrance to the technology besides the lack of knowledge by African governments is regulation. In an interview with Techpoint.africa, he said: “A lot of African governments would rather adopt the sit-and-look approach, as opposed to being proactive which is keeping the continent back.”

Kora is keen on working with mobile money operators, licensed mobile transfer operators, businesses in the money service industry as well as banks. Their intention is to work with them using the regulatory framework that the different organisations have developed while waiting until the blockchain gets regulated. The startup is also planning to get a Payment Solution Service Providers license.

Why Africa?

According to Nsofor, there being no African Internet billionaires was the main reason why Africans were late to catch the Internet bubble during the early days and is why he is so keen on championing for the adoption of blockchain technology.

In May 2018, the Kora Network was able to raise $12 million in an initial coin offering (ICO). Looking at the kind of money transfer infrastructure that Kora wants to build, their goal within the next five years is to become “the first $5 billion tech startup in Africa”. And that is not all. They plan “to have a major stake in the financial service market” in Africa in the near future controlling micro-insurance, microcredit and credit scoring among others.

Kora’s game plan is to ensure financial communication within Africa is easy and that there is no currency or distance barrier. Besides, there has been an increase in the number of Global Internet companies that have built payment features interested in the African market a move that is more than welcomed by Nsofor as he believes his startup will be able to compete with them or get acquired.

“The end goal is to be the leading Pan-African digital banking solution provider from Africa by 2022. We want to be controlling payments, remittance, and digital banking across the continent.”

Blockchain Technology

IBM, Ford, LG Chem and Huayou Cobalt Join Forces in Cobalt-Tracking Blockchain Project in Congo

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Technology giant IBM, carmaker Ford, China’s Huayou Cobalt, and South Korean cathode maker LG Chem have partnered in a new blockchain project that is set to monitor the supply chain of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Making Cobalt Mining “Cleaner” in the Congo

The project is meant to help manufacturers ensure that children are not involved in the mining process for cobalt that is used in lithium-ion batteries and neither does it fuel any type of conflict, according to a report by Reuters. Responsible-sourcing group RCS Group has been overseeing the pilot project since December of last year until it was officially announced on Wednesday.

cobalt blockchain congoIn the past few years, companies have been put under pressure by investors and consumers to prove that no human right abuses occur when minerals are mined. However, this has been a huge challenge given that manufacturers had no way of tracking the entire journey of the raw materials.

The project will focus on the industrially mined cobalt in Congo and monitor the supply chain process of lithium-ion batteries that are used in Ford vehicles.

DR Congo, a country that is afflicted with political tension and civil war, has a huge concentration of cobalt that is needed in high volumes for electronic devices and electric vehicles. The outcome of the elections that were held in December are still being contested to date despite being Congo’s first democratic elections to be held in six decades and were geared towards change of power.

Blockchain-based Cobalt Tracking Platform

According to RCS Group, the IBM blockchain platform may be used to incorporate other minerals as well as give artisanal miners an opportunity to be part of a blockchain-based network of authorised participants in the future.

The pilot project, which is expected to end around mid-2019, will see cobalt from the Huayou’s industrial mine be placed in secure bags, recorded onto the blockchain and tracked from the mine and smelter to the cathode and battery plant owned by LG Chem in South Korea and then to Ford’s plant in the United States.

Minerals can be difficult to track given that they are often mixed with minerals from different sources in the smelting process. To counter this, the RCS project is expected to implement best practices by making use of the guidelines developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

IBM also has plans to explore the probability of chemical analysis using artificial intelligence to identify the origin of cobalt and certify that clean cobalt was not fused with minerals that were sourced in an irresponsible manner.

Speaking to Reuters, the General Manager of IBM’s mining and industrial sector business, said: “There is no fool-proof method, but you have to keep the ball moving forward, to keep raising the level of accuracy. Blockchain has been proven to be a very effective technology in raising the bar.”

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Blockchain Technology

ConsenSys Partners With Black Girls Code to Teach Blockchain Coding to Young Women of Colour

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Black Girls Code

ConsenSys – the leading Ethereum development lab – has partnered with the non-for-profit organisation Black Girls Code to increase the number of young women of colour in the computer programming community.

ConsenSys and Black Girls Code to Teach Blockchain Coding to South African Girls

Black Girls Code

Image by BlackGirlsCode.com

With its focus centred on impacting young women with blockchain coding knowledge, ConsenSys and Black Girls Code have decided to create a comprehensive blockchain technical training curriculum that will cover topics such as cryptocurrency, the fundamentals of blockchain technology as well as solving for user experience problems. Through this, young women of colour will be provided with everything they need to make an entrance into the blockchain industry.

According to a recent report by Forbes, young women between the age 7 to 17 across Black Girls Code chapters in Oakland, New York City, Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa will be the focus of the training program.

This partnership program will represent the very first blockchain training program on a national scale for young women of colour.

The Black Girls Code Token

Using the black girls code token, these young girls will be able to practice what they have learned. They will use the token to create their own cryptocurrencies as well as their own smart contracts.

So far, about 60 students have been introduced to blockchain basics (from Solidity development to aspects of cryptocurrency philosophy) through the program.

Speaking about the effectiveness of the project, Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code’s CEO stated that:

“Our BGC tech divas have embraced blockchain technology with vigour and are excited by its potential to create equity and impact on a global scale. This partnership is an extremely important addition to an already vibrant ecosystem which will flourish by this influx of fresh ideas, perspectives, and insights.”

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CannaSOS Launches its Anonymous Cryptocurrency Wallet, PTPWallet, for Android and iOS Users

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PTPWallet

CannaSOS has completed the development of its PTPWallet – a hybrid cryptocurrency wallet that has been created to connect businesses and users in the crypto space. The mobile wallet was launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and is now available for download.

CannaSOS’ Contribution to the Cannabis Industry

CannaSOSCannaSOS is a social platform for the Cannabis industry that hopes to change the way cannabis enthusiasts interact with their peers and businesses. The company developed the PTPWallet in order to address the need for a payment processor for the cannabis industry. However, a change in the company’s long-term objectives saw CannaSOS develop a wallet that would serve all industries worldwide.

Oleg Cheine, the President and Founder of CannaSOS Corp, said in a press release: “We are very happy and proud to announce that after 11 months of development, PTPWallet is finally live on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. We see the application bridging the gap in the retail sector; something that is crucially missing in the crypto industry.”

The PTP Wallet

The team behind PTPWallet considers it a “revolution”. This is based on the fact that the cryptocurrency wallet includes a centralised and decentralised technology that seeks to ease the use of its users. Although funds that are sent or withdrawn from the PTPWallet undergo the normal decentralised way, all transactions made within the wallet undergo centralised technology. This means that all transactions done within the wallet are instantaneous, fully anonymous and that the platform can process millions of transactions each second.

The PTPWallet has an inbuilt referral program and a game called ‘Drain the Bank’ that is akin to a lottery. In addition, the wallet provides users with the ability to build a business page as well as build a loyalty program that provides users with cash back in crypto for purchases they make. The wallet also gives users the ability to send digital currencies via email and SMS making it the only wallet with such a feature.

Cheine went on to add: “After conducting many surveys, businesses, for example, don’t really care about decentralised or centralised technology. They all want to use crypto but have to deal with slow transactions speeds and for there to be too much transparency – which could lead to potential hacker attacks or robberies. So, what we did is we incorporated both centralised and decentralised technology, flopped in a bunch of cool new features and now businesses are more connected with our users. The app is free to use and setup takes only around three minutes when you include the business page and loyalty program.”

CannaSOS gave users who installed and tested the PTPWallet 1,000 crypto coins for the first six days after it launched in order to celebrate the launch of the app. Users who download the app after the first six days will get 800 crypto coins for the next six days and the coin amount will keep decreasing.

The app is currently available on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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