The blockchain-powered mobile banking platform Humaniq is now active in 21 African countries where it offers low-cost mobile banking to the underbanked and unbanked populations. Its app is currently available in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, Zambia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Guinea, DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Liberia and Equatorial Guinea.
An expansion into more markets is planned. However, expanding into new African markets is not that easy for Humaniq.
Africa’s Lack of Cryptocurrency Regulations Slows Down Humaniq’s Expansion
The main reason why Humaniq is not active in more markets yet is that the startup has to comply with the regulations in every country it operates in.
From a regulatory perspective, both the blockchain and cryptocurrencies operate in what Humaniq calls a “legal void”. Simply put, there are no laws or regulations that have been established to govern the use of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies in most countries in Africa. For most countries, digital currencies are neither legal nor illegal although there are certain governments that have issued warnings to their citizens about their use to with some countries like Namibia outrightly banning cryptocurrencies.
Another important factor that Humaniq has to put into consideration is being compliant to the privacy and user data protection laws. This is because the Humaniq app, just like any other app you use on your phone, deals with a lot of sensitive information such as biometric identities and phone numbers.
For this reason, Humaniq stated in a blog post that it “needs to be very careful to respect all existing standards for data safety. With that said, we are fully compliant with the recently enacted EU GDPR laws, which can be considered as the toughest user data protection legislation in the world”.
How Humaniq Adds New Launch Countries
Before Humaniq can allow users to use their wallet in a country, it must first whitelist that country. This means that the company has to be 100 percent sure that government of a given country will consider their activities fully legal.
Humaniq went on to explain: “Initially we created a list of 10 countries, chosen according to criteria such as large population size, low incomes, and low banking services penetration. Then, we began searching for local law firms that specialised in the financial sector, requesting a legal opinion on whether our services will be allowed in their country. As mentioned before, the most important factors were the regulations on user data protection and the legal status of cryptocurrency, taking into consideration our emission system as well.”
While this procedure was a set standard procedure for Humaniq, it meant that it had to wait for several months for each country request which slowed their launch operations in any new country. The team ended up adding more countries that they were interested in expanding in and the list grew to 40 countries. Even with more countries of interest, there were countries that the company could still not launch in because either there was no legal clarity or they faced immediate rejection.
Although the team remains hopeful and believes they will be able to solve the problem through additional work, they also acknowledge the fact that it will take more resources and time, especially in Africa. This is because, besides the legality surrounding blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, Humaniq carried out research to get a better understanding of its users in different African markets and the results revealed that some of the issues facing these markets when it comes to financial inclusion include the lack of a common language, literacy level, no trust and people in emerging markets will generally not use cryptocurrencies for paying for paying for things like goods.
Besides legal issues, there are also other non-legal factors that have to be considered when a business wants to launch into any new market. While whitelisting a country is an easy matter and can take less than a day, getting the citizens to start using your services, however, does not take a day. People will not just use your product because it is available to them. There is a need to run marketing campaigns that combine the use of traditional and digital marketing for each new market separately.
Although Humaniq has picked up the pace for whitelisting new countries and plans to continue the same way, their focus will not just be on the African continent. It is also targeting Asian and South American countries.
“It’s important to remember that Africa is not the only continent with large amounts of unbanked people, and we are excited to be making the jump soon! In fact, the expansion into Asia and America will be somewhat faster, as it’s much easier to find the required information by ourselves, compared to most African countries. We will, of course, keep developing our African presence through providing more use cases and more available countries as well: our eventual aim is to cover all of Sub-Saharan Africa,” the company stated in a blog post.
Particl Launches Decentralised Marketplace With Zero Commission Fees
Privacy-focused cryptocurrency project Particl has launched a decentralised marketplace with zero commission fees. The new e-commerce platform is leveraging blockchain technology to compete with the likes of Amazon and OpenBazaar.
Privacy and Zero Commission Fees
The new decentralised marketplace respects user privacy and does not require personal information from its users. The platform only requires a shipping address. Moreover, the decentralised nature of the Particl marketplace ensures that no commissions are added to sales as is the case on Amazon.
According to an article on Big Commerce, fees for sellers can be as much as 45 percent of a product’s cost on Amazon. Particl’s zero-free model, therefore, enables sellers to significantly increase their revenue and lower their prices to stay ahead of the competition while still making a profit.
“Using a combination of P2P and blockchain technologies, Particl Open Marketplace can provide a verifiable private shopping experience that ensures no user data can be created or collected by any party other than the one you are transacting with. The Particl protocol also brings the cost of buying and selling online to the bare minimum as no central entity can charge fees,” said Particl’s Project Marketing and Strategy Manager Paul Schmitzer.
How Particl’s Decentralised Marketplace Works
Particl is uniquely approaching fraud and trade insurance through the use of a double deposit escrow system without intermediaries and with zero fees. This system is based on MAD game theory where two parties deposit PART coins as collateral into a smart contract. Once the transaction between them is complete, the coins are released back to the parties and no fees are charged. This system allows users to be in control of their transactions and to eliminate fraud.
Since the marketplace is decentralised, the protocol generates all listing fees and redistributes them to the global network of users.
Particl is made up of three components: an untraceable multi-purpose privacy coin, a private decentralised marketplace where users can shop with cryptocurrencies, and a platform where developers can build decentralised applications.
Particl allows a wide range of cryptocurrencies and uses atomic swaps and third-party integrations to convert these coins to PART during transactions. The company will soon add more payment options to its marketplace.
In 2018, Bitcoin Africa talked to Particl’s spokesperson Desi-Rae about the project. Read the full interview here.
South Africans Can Now Buy Ether (ETH) Using Rand on Luno
Global cryptocurrency exchange Luno has now enabled crypto traders in South Africa to buy ether using rand on its platform.
Trading on Luno
Luno offers users an easy and safe place to buy bitcoin and ether and to learn about cryptocurrencies. The exchange has more than 2.7 million customers across 40 countries.
Luno also has a dedicated Ethereum series on its learning platform to help users make informed investment decisions.
Commenting on the new launch, Luno’s General Manager in Africa, Marius Reitz, said: “The direct Ethereum/Rand pair will make it quicker, simpler, and cheaper for customers to interact with and use Ethereum on the exchange. We are working on a number of enhancements to our platform and this pairing has been introduced in response to demand from our customers. Previously, customers could buy Ethereum through our instant buy option but having this ability directly on the exchange makes it faster and cheaper for traders.”
According to Reitz, Luno makes sure that every coin listed in its exchange has undergone due diligence. “There are over 2000 cryptocurrencies. However, many of these are scams, so customers need to trust that the exchange they use has verified the track records of cryptocurrencies available on their platforms. Luno limits the currencies on offer to those on which we have completed extensive research and due diligence and we are satisfied with their credibility in terms of security and adoption. Luno will be adding additional cryptocurrencies to its platform later this year,” he explained.
“Individuals in these markets cannot afford to, and should no longer need to, pay high exchange rates, accept national currency devaluation or lose out when they simply transfer money. Access to a more inclusive financial system will enable people everywhere to think of new and better ways of exchanging value and technology allows this,” Reitz elaborated.
Luno plans to upgrade its platform, expand its team, and open new offices in expectation of the next surge in the value of cryptoassets.
Emerging Markets More Likely to Adopt Cryptocurrencies from Global Brands, Luno Study Says
A new study by digital asset exchange Luno indicates that emerging markets are more likely to adopt cryptocurrencies from global brands. This finding was collected from a survey called the ‘Future of Money’ carried out between May 17, 2019, and June 7, 2019. The survey interviewed over 7000 respondents from Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, France, Indonesia, Italy, and Malaysia.
Emerging Markets, the Future of Money and Libra
According to the ‘Future of Money’ survey, the early adopters of cryptocurrencies are likely to come from emerging markets. The findings, therefore, show a close connection between emerging markets and the future of money confirming the view that those with “less appear to take greater financial risks.”
These results come at a time when Facebook recently announced that it will introduce Libra, a new digital currency in 2020. The aim of Libra is to help people make financial transactions online, especially in emerging markets where banks are not servicing the population as well as they should be.
Luno’s CEO Marcus Swanepoel said: “As some of the world’s largest tech giants announce they are launching cryptocurrency coins, we believe developing markets will be the lead adopters. Our research shows that in these markets people are more financially savvy because they have to be, which means that they need and understand the benefits the new coins can offer.”
To further show why the future of money could have a greater impact on emerging markets, data from the survey indicated that 33 percent of people in Indonesia are more likely to remain within a set budget compared to 0 percent in the UK.
Additionally, the number of people that establish a monthly budget is 80 percent in Malaysia, 65 percent in Nigeria, 73 percent in South Africa, 74 percent in Indonesia, and 54 percent in the UK. Asked why money is crucial to them, the respondents said it was to secure their families’ well-being (60 percent) and to pay for education. This answer was given by 25 percent of the respondents from Nigeria compared to 8 percent in the UK.
Luno is a global cryptocurrency company headquartered in London and with offices in South Africa.
Crypto adoption will probably take place at the grassroots level than at the institutional level, Swanepoel observed. He based this argument on the findings that most people from emerging markets will probably seek financial advice from family, friends, and colleagues than from government organisations.
“It is very clear that if money is not simply a ‘nice to have’ and is vital for your future, then you spend more time understanding it, managing it, preserving it and to an extent being creative with how you maximise the use of it. Therefore, if a cryptocurrency can provide a secure and cheaper means of exchanging value better than the existing system, it will be used. This is why we believe that as new cryptocurrencies linked to global brands are introduced, they will find an important audience in emerging markets,” Swanepoel added.
Luno’s study paints a clear picture of what the future of money could look like. However, certain factors such as Internet connectivity could inhibit the fast adoption of crypto in developing markets.
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