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What is Particl and Why Should You Know About It? – An Interview with “Crypto Ramble”

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Particl
Images by Particl.io

BitcoinAfrica.io reached out to Particl spokesperson Desi-Rae, who hosts a YouTube channel called Crypto Ramble, which focuses on cryptocurrencies, privacy, and the Particl Project to find out more about the highly innovative privacy-focused cryptocurrency project and how Africans can benefit from it.

Desi-Rae is a native Jamaican turned New Yorker who first learned about cryptocurrencies in 2013. She started to become actively involved in the cryptocurrency community in early 2018 when an advisor at Particl asked her if she would like to create digital content to spread the word about the project.

What is Particl and how does it differ from other privacy-focused cryptocurrency projects?

Particl is a privacy coin that is currently building its first decentralised application (DApp): an online marketplace. The project is unique because of how its privacy technology is built, and the impact it will have on the world.

Particl uses RINGCT, initially developed by Monero, which allows transaction amounts and sender information to be hidden. Particl also provides recipient anonymity. RINGCT provides one of the highest levels of anonymity among privacy coins, compared to Dash’s CoinJoin for example, and without some of the disadvantages of other privacy technologies, such as a trusted setup.

ParticlFurthermore, because it is built on the Bitcoin codebase, this gives a stable and well-understood environment for the development of DApps and inclusion of new developers in the future. There are other achievements of the project, such as it being the first to implement hardware cold-staking, that highlight the innovation and talent of the development team.

In terms of its impact, the privacy and selling features it offers with e-commerce are unique. The marketplace is the first of its kind, due to the privacy offered by RINGCT, and additional governance and escrow services. It means that users can transact with each other without the power imbalance and subsequent threats that come from using the platforms of private companies. It solves current e-commerce and finance issues such as higher barriers to entry for sellers, exploitation of sellers’ sales data, global payment infrastructures being exclusive, and needing middlemen to provide escrow services.

Particl is also, conspicuously, one of a few cryptocurrency projects that are well beyond its idea stage. The coin’s privacy features were recently audited, and the marketplace has a testnet build already available with a usable product coming soon. It is a stellar project, building secure technology, and with a pragmatic product on the horizon.

What is your role at the Particl project?

Desi-Rae CryptoRamble

I’m a Particl spokesperson and community member. I help bring awareness to the project by creating visual and written content that others can watch and read in order to discover what the project is about, how it works, and why they should get involved. I also introduce the project to as many people and contacts as I can.

I make content for Particl within the context of Crypto Ramble, a web series that focuses on cryptocurrencies, privacy, and Particl.

Why did you choose YouTube for your channel as opposed to some of the new video streaming alternatives out of the crypto sector?

I chose YouTube because I was already familiar with using YouTube as a platform to share my content. I also post Crypto Ramble videos on other platforms but have not done any live streaming in a solo capacity.

There will also be an audio podcast as an alternative to video content, coming soon.

How important is privacy for you and for cryptocurrency users, in general?

PrivacyPrivacy is very important to me. We are slowly allowing ourselves and future generations to be ensconced in an age of rapid technological change that is shedding basic tenets of self-sovereignty, such as privacy, due to the lure of convenience. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I would think that privacy is important for cryptocurrency users in general.

The spirit of cryptocurrency is to create a new form of institution, a decentralised one, that is not beholden to the corporate interests that dominate the status quo. Bitcoin was not just made to create a new form of money, but a trust-less form of money.

A lack of privacy equates to the same institutional powers being able to maintain that status quo. It is important to realise that privacy is not just desired by bad actors. It is a fundamental human right that is also identified by reputable institutions where these standards are established.

Particl is currently ranked 237th on CoinMarketCap and is not in the top ten largest privacy coins measured by market capitalisation. Why do you think that Particl has not managed to get more traction from investors?

Particl has an amazing development team, amazing being an appropriate word. This does not necessarily translate to the desire to generate hype while focusing on development. The project garnered a lot of attention at its start and there has been a proliferation of cryptocurrencies during and after that time. Investors and enthusiasts may not fully understand the space or may be looking for projects that they can quickly find promoted information on.

My personal assessment is that there is a lot of noise in the cryptocurrency space and that the project will make its mark again when it is ready to, with the right deliverables.

How can Africans benefit from what Particl has to offer?

Africans can benefit from what Particl has to offer by using the technology in ways that are useful to them. Cryptocurrencies allow users to take control of their personal finances and send money directly to others without the barrier of distance, and without the need to trust in companies. They can get their money across in a timely fashion and to the right people, without the stress of inefficiency or overcurious assistance.

Moreover, at this stage where cryptocurrency or blockchain as cryptocurrency is finding its feet as a new form of technology, the opportunity is there to learn how to use it and leverage the technology to deliver solutions to people in the untapped niches that make up their environment.

Particl is not just a privacy coin but a platform, with a software development kit (SDK) in the works. In a similar fashion to using a decentralised currency, Africans can use a decentralised marketplace that offers privacy, useful transaction features, and ownership of their data. They can use it in ways that are useful to themselves and their communities.

Does Particl have plans to move into the African market? Are there any existing initiatives in this regard?

Africa

As Africa is a big continent with many people self-identifying with different parts, this is an interesting question to answer. A central hub for Particl is South Africa, so Particl already has its feet firmly planted in Africa. Particl is more than open to bringing in new community members.

Particl is currently focused on the development of the project but will be focused on marketing and new projects in the future. We are open to making any new contacts. Perhaps your readers could even start thinking about potential products they would like to sell on the marketplace!

Where can people find out more about yourself and the Particl project?

People can find out more about me at http://cryptoramble.com and find out more about Particl at http://particl.io. There are links on the Particl website to various communication channels. Finally, you can follow @cryptoramble on YouTube, Twitter, and Steemit to stay up to date.

Features

4 Reasons Why Black Lives Matter Should Start Accepting Bitcoin

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Black Lives Matter

Systemic anti-black racism is prevalent across the globe. A series of events in the US have catalysed countrywide protests, bringing more eyes to one of the biggest movements against racism, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

In this piece, we explore the reasons Black Lives Matter would benefit from adopting bitcoin as a method of accepting donations.

Bitcoin Is A Peaceful Protest

black lives matter bitcoinAttempting to resist a system that oppresses you, while leveraging the tools employed by the same system, can be counterproductive and undermine. For movements like Black Lives Matter, it is imperative to utilise systems outside of traditional resources that are not tainted with the prejudice that disenfranchises BIPOC.

In the United States, the black community has long complained of unsatisfactory access to traditional financial services. While there is no shortage of research papers and statistics on race issues, given the current climate, it is important for us to contextualise and understand how traditional financial systems underserve black people in the US.

A study by McKinsey & Co published shows a direct link between weaker financial power and a lack of access to financial services like banking. For instance, predominantly white counties have an average of 41 financial service providers, while black ones have 27 of these financial firms. Further, banking in these black counties is mostly more expensive as compared to white-counties.

Moreover, despite being underserved, black people are overcharged by banks in the very few situations where services are available. 

There are several other examples mentioned in the report that paints a vivid picture of the extent to which black people are unbanked. Other examples cited in the report include requiring higher account balances and difficulty in accessing loans.

This is where bitcoin can come in.

Bitcoin knows no race and does not discriminate. Everyone anywhere can get a bitcoin wallet and purchase bitcoin online. 

By leveraging bitcoin, progressive movements like Black Lives Matter can send a powerful message, addressing the underlying racism prevalent in traditional financial services. With enough steam, it may eventually aid to break down the archaic financial systems that continue to aid in the oppression of minority groups all over the world.

If there is any single reason for Black Lives Mater to accept bitcoin donations, it is because using bitcoin is another form of protest.

Bitcoin Is Censorship-Resistant

Black Lives Matter may find favour in the eyes of regulators and payment processes like Paypal. At this point, it will be almost suicidal for anyone to consider cutting payment channels to the movement. However, if historical precedence is anything to learn from, it is all fun and games till it is not.

WikiLeaks, the famous, was banned by PayPal in 2010 for violating its policies and terms of service.

Before then, over $1 million of donations towards WikiLeaks had come through PayPal. Black Lives Matter may be different from WikiLeaks. However, any loophole that provides an avenue for censorship must be sealed moving forward to secure the future financial backing of the movement. 

Accepting bitcoin as donations would provide a viable alternative, especially given its censorship-resistant nature.

Private Donations 

Sometimes people prefer to give privately without revealing their identity.

Between bitcoin and traditional online payment methods, bitcoin allows for more private transactions. To factor in the privacy-conscious crowd who could be interested in donating to the movement, Black Lives Matter is likely to benefit from accepting bitcoin.

Even though the anonymous nature of bitcoin has been at the centre of debates, Bitcoin’s pseudonymity makes it undisputedly a more privacy-conscious financial tool than PayPal or bank payments. 

Access to a Wider Audience

Black Lives Matter

PayPal may seem like the ultimate financial tool for many, but that is not the case in many places. In some parts of the world, people are unable to use PayPal due to the unavailability of service in their region.

Bitcoin is a universal payment method that is accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world. In every corner where there is connectivity, people can use bitcoin as money. BLM will open up donations to people from all parts of the world.

While there still are people in the Bitcoin community who hold ideologies that belong to past centuries, there are also a lot of people in Bitcoin who support BLM and other movements around the world that fight against oppression. By allowing people to send donations via bitcoin, BLM opens up to bitcoiners around the world who support Black Lives Matter.

In a world where tools that aid human sovereignty have evolved to the point where there is revolutionary money, free from traditional systems, movements like BLM can harness innovations like Bitcoin to further their cause.

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Features

Zimbabwe’s New Foreign Currency Regulations Could Affect Bitcoin Trading

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Zimbabwe’s New Foreign Currency Regulations

Zimbabwe’s newly introduced foreign currency regulations threaten peer-to-peer bitcoin trading via messaging apps.

New Foreign Currency Regulations

The Zimbabwean economy – which has been hit by hyperinflation – endures an ongoing shortage of foreign currencies. Authorities blame illegal foreign currency dealers for exacerbating the situation thus hastening the fall of the local currency. Several regulations have been introduced in the past few months to arrest the situation.

A recent directive by a unit within Zimbabwe’s central bank to outlaw advertisements relating to foreign currency trading has sparked off a panic within Bitcoin trading communities.

The latest decision comes in the wake of a sharp depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar against the US dollar. Economists blame the country’s biting foreign currency shortages for the local currency’s free fall.

The central bank has pegged the exchange rate at 1 USD for every 25 Zimbabwean dollars towards the end of March. However, the black market rate is now 1:80 or higher.

Financial Intelligence Unit Onslaught

On June 15, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe circulated a document that is threatening to freeze bank and mobile money accounts of those caught putting up any advertisements relating to foreign currency trading in social media chat groups.

The FIU alleges it is aware that some WhatsApp groups have mushroomed for the specific purpose of promoting and facilitating ‘illegal’ foreign currency dealings.

Parts of the statement reads:

“The FIU, in collaboration with the police, banks, mobile money/mobile money service providers and relevant regulatory agencies, has embarked on an exercise to identify and take action against individuals who create, advertise on or participate (actively or passively) in WhatsApp groups or other platforms for illegal foreign currency trading.”

The statement goes on to list the steps authorities will take against those caught on the wrong side of these regulations.

Panic in Crypto-Related Chat Groups

ICE3X Launches Debit Card

Some within the cryptocurrency trading communities have suggested that this directive encompasses bitcoin trading as well. Bitcoin trades, just like with the so-called foreign currency black-market trades, are often initiated in social media chat groups.

Moreover, bitcoin-to-fiat trading is typically conducted in foreign currencies like US dollars. Although, there are trades where local mobile money is the preferred method of payment.

Consequently, some traders are now taking precautions by replacing their local WhatsApp phone numbers with foreign ones. The use of foreign phone numbers helps to masks the real identity of traders and their bank accounts from being targeted.

Yet others are adamant that bitcoin—which the central bank has not recognised as currency—is, in fact, a digital asset. As such, it is exempt from the FIU directive. However, the broad terms used in the FIU statement suggest authorities are trying to go after all platforms where foreign currency is exchanged.

Still, others are not overly worried insisting that FIU lacks the capacity to achieve this kind of surveillance and policing. In any case, they say Whatsapp messages are protected with end-to-end encryption. 

BitcoinAfrica.io reached out to FIU to get clarification on the some of the issues raised by bitcoin traders. However, we did not receive a response at the time of publishing.

No Crypto-Specific Regulation

Zimbabwe, just like many of its counterparts on the African continent, does not have regulations that specifically govern cryptocurrency trading. The country’s central bank has in the past issued press statements advising the public against dealing in cryptocurrencies.

At the same time, it banned financial institutions from facilitating the movement of funds between fiat to crypto and vice versa. These decisions culminated in the shutdown of Golix, a cryptocurrency exchange in 2018.

However, since then there has been an apparent rapprochement by the central bank concerning its blockchain technology. For instance, in its last monetary policy statement, monetary authorities again touted the potential of blockchain technology. They even encouraged financial institutions to adopt this.

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Features

Chainalysis and A&D Forensics Partnership to Boost Access to Cryptocurrency Investigative Technology in Africa

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A&D Forensics

Institutions in Africa can now access cryptocurrency investigative technology following a partnership between Chainalysis and A&D Forensics.

Chainalysis and A&D Forensics Partnership

From romance-related crypto scams to shady ICOs, Africa has had its share of illicit investment opportunities. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of that dark investment tunnel. With Chainalysis Reactor, financial institutions, governments, regulators, and cryptocurrency exchanges can identify and stop scam propagators from harming consumers.

“By partnering with Chainalysis, we are providing the African cryptocurrency ecosystem with the investigative technology that it needs to fully understand blockchain activity,” said Senior Partner at A&D Forensics, Adedeji Owonibi.

Chainalysis Reactor is an investigation software by New York-based blockchain analysis company Chainalysis. The software connects institutions to cryptocurrency transactions allowing them to stop criminal activity.

One of the initiatives culminating from the partnership is a plan to work with cryptocurrency training specialists. These specialists will assist regulators, compliance officers, investigators, and analysts to perform blockchain analysis to derive actionable intelligence using Chainalysis Reactor.

A&D Forensics is a Digital and Financial Forensic firm based in Nigeria. One of the services the company offers is blockchain intelligence on crypto-related criminal activities.

How Chainalysis Reactor Works

ChainalysisChainalysis Reactor has a search feature that can tell users which entities are linked to a given wallet and the related cryptocurrency addresses. Moreover, the software scans thousands of forums and darknet websites for relevant intelligence.

Chainalysis Reactor connects cryptocurrency transactions to activities taking place in the real world. Also, users can use the “watch” feature to keep tabs on the future transactions the party of interest carries out.

Another important feature that the software provides is the ability to follow the money. With powerful visualisations, users can create the path of funds under investigation. Additionally, the software can link any suspicious activity identified along that path to real-world entities.

The Chainalysis software is a powerful tool that could benefit many institutions. For example, regulators can track the funds raised during an ICO to confirm that the money was used in the right way. Institutions interested in this software can request for a demo on the Chainalysis website.

Trust is imperative in the cryptocurrency industry now more than ever. With crypto-related scams cropping up now and then, consumers are becoming jittery. Therefore, the Chainalysis and A&D Forensics collaboration could offer transparency in the African cryptocurrency space to encourage government adoption and increase consumer confidence.

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