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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

RESIST! How Activists Can Use Bitcoin

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Activists Can Use Bitcoin

As social justice movements leverage social media platforms like Twitter to make their voices heard, many have discovered a new tool: Bitcoin. The internet is the epicentre of social change, and it only makes sense that activists are now adding bitcoin to their arsenal. During the recent #EndSARS Nigerian campaign, young feminists raised $55,000 in cash and bitcoin donations, which is an example of how activists can use bitcoin to raise funds.

So, can cryptocurrencies provide the same level of impact on activism as social media platforms? This article explores how activists can use bitcoin.

The Financial Challenges of Activism

Activism

Any activist willing to protest against injustice should know how to raise money. Protesters need banners, water, food, and medical care in case they get hurt. These requirements come at a cost, necessitating movements to search for funds.

Activists can raise money out of pocket or they can reach out to well-wishers for donations. The former option is unreliable, which means that social justice movements have to fully rely on donations. Unfortunately, government censorship can make it hard for such movements to receive donations through banks and other conventional financial institutions. Moreover, they could punish the donors that support social justice campaigns.

The #EndSARS campaign, for instance, has faced challenges with receiving donations because the Flutterwave links were down for some time. According to Tweets on the Feminist Coalition account, the Central Bank of Nigeria could have been behind the Flutterwave payment issues. However, it is unclear. Flutterwave is a payment solution in Nigeria, while the Feminist Coalition is one of the organisations that has been active in raising donations for the campaign.

Furthermore, donors outside the country where a campaign is taking place will find it challenging to send donations due to the high cost of sending money. Also, online payment platforms like PayPal are not available in every country. That prevents people in these countries from making donations to campaigns happening in other parts of the world.

Speed is also important when collecting donations. Activists will often need funds immediately to keep a campaign going long enough to make an impact. Therefore, if they are not receiving cash directly, they might have to visit a bank to withdraw large amounts of money. That could waste a lot of precious time.

Can Activists Use Bitcoin to Solve Financial Problems?

BLM

Yes, they can.

Bitcoin is censorship-resistant, which means that governments cannot prevent activists from receiving donations in bitcoin. That provides the convenience that activists need to fund their campaigns when they are still “hot” enough to make a difference.

To solve the challenge of receiving donations through Flutterwave, the Feminist Coalition is now accepting bitcoin donations only.

Bitcoin is pseudonymous, which means that governments cannot easily trace bitcoin transactions to the real-world identities of the senders and recipients. That offers a sense of security to both donors and activists, especially in countries where protesting can mean beatings, jail time, or death.

It is even better when social justice movements are decentralised because there are no public leaders that law enforcement can pursue. For instance, much of the #EndSARS and #BlackLivesMatter campaigns grew organically online.

Therefore, activists can use bitcoin to receive pseudonymous and censorship-resistant donations.

Moreover, they can receive donations from anywhere at any time. That is because bitcoin is accessible 24/7 to anyone with a smartphone or computer and an internet connection. As a result, more people can financially support causes they believe in, even though they live on another continent.

Also, bitcoin transactions do not involve third parties, thereby cutting down the cost and increasing transaction speeds. Once a donor sends BTC, the activist will receive it in minutes and fund their campaign immediately.

Furthermore, buying supplies for a protest becomes easier when local businesses start accepting crypto payments. For instance, several local businesses started accepting cryptocurrencies in 2019 in support of the Hong Kong protests against Chinese influence.

Bridging the Wealth Gap

BLM activistFighting deep-rooted social injustices require bridging the wealth gap between the oppressors and the oppressed.

In a world where the wealthy influence political decisions in their favour, amassing wealth could be a possible solution that marginalised communities can adopt to fight discrimination.

Here is where bitcoin can come in.

Since marginalised communities suffer discrimination from traditional financial institutions, bitcoin becomes an attractive alternative. The censorship-resistant and easy accessibility of bitcoin means that marginalised communities can use it to create wealth and acquire financial freedom and the power to fight prejudices.

By way of illustration, activists can direct part of the bitcoin donations they receive to fund small businesses in the community. As a result, financially stronger businesses can create jobs and increase the purchasing power of other community members.

Other methods that communities can use to create wealth include buying and holding bitcoin and accessing business loans in crypto.

Money can help fight police brutality better than protesting on the streets. That is what Bitcoin and Black America author, Isaiah Jackson, believes.

“Without economic strength, you have cops coming from outside of the community […], and they do not value it [or the people]. They do not see you as a person, and that is an issue,” he told Cointelegraph.

Moreover, marginalised communities can create their tokens or community currencies to improve their financial positions.

Social media has made the world aware of the social injustices that take place in various parts of the world. Now, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are giving the world a chance to support social justice movements financially. Together, both tools are creating a world where no one has to fight injustices alone.

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Is Bitcoin “Digital Gold”?

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digital gold bitcoin

When Satoshi Nakamoto created bitcoin, he envisioned a peer-to-peer digital currency that would allow people to send money without the need for financial institutions. However, bitcoin’s use as a store of value overshadowed its original goal, and people started referring to it as “digital gold.”

But is it?

Bitcoin as Digital Gold

As you think of bitcoin as digital gold, the first thing you notice is the golden colour circling its symbol. If you go back in history in the times before bitcoin, developers were keen to create a currency that would be the digital version of gold. For instance, the inefficiencies of conventional financial systems and the use of gold as currency inspired Nick Szabo to create Bit Gold.

So, that could have been the thinking of the time: marrying the pros of digital currencies with the benefits of precious metals. That could explain why a yellowish-orangey colour circles the bitcoin symbol.  Also, bitcoin is often illustrated as a golden coin.

Nevertheless, the association between bitcoin and gold does not end with the logo.

Digital Gold vs. Physical Gold

Bitcoin and gold have several similarities.

  • They both have a limited supply, which boosts their value.
  • You can divide both assets into smaller units and they will not lose per unit value. The smallest unit of bitcoin is the satoshi. 100 million satoshis make one bitcoin.
  • Gold is stable, and so is bitcoin. Although the latter is volatile in terms of price, bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain, gives it stability.
  • They are both easily recognisable.

Bitcoin is more superior to gold because you can move it to any place of the world in minutes, it is impossible to counterfeit, and it facilitates online payments.

PaxfulFurthermore, bitcoin is more accessible and easy to hoard. Exchanges and peer-to-peer marketplaces like Paxful are making it easier for people across the globe to own cryptocurrencies. For instance, with a smartphone and an internet connection, anyone in the world can buy bitcoin.

Therefore, saying bitcoin is digital gold is an oversimplification. Bitcoin is superior than gold in terms of features and potential impact on economies. However, viewing bitcoin as digital gold is a strategy beginners can use to easily understand the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin as a Store of Value

digital goldAfter Satoshi released bitcoin to the world, the response was probably better than the unknown creator could have hoped. The cryptocurrency attracted a loyal community that started using bitcoin as a store of value because of its scarcity, safe-haven characteristics, and the fact that it is impossible to counterfeit. As a result, many people are holding bitcoin as a long-term investment because they believe in its long-term value. Moreover, the population of bitcoin supporters is continuously growing.

The debate on whether bitcoin is a store of value or not has been raging for years. While bitcoin “HODLers” believe that bitcoin will one day make them wealthy and shield them from a financial crisis, others believe that bitcoin, which is also partially money, cannot be a store of value as well.

That said, bitcoin has made several people into billionaires, proving that it is a practical store of value. Gold is a store of value as well, and it offers financial freedom and protection during economically tough times. However, governments could deny citizens from owning gold. On the other hand, governments would have a more difficult time blocking citizens from owning bitcoin.

Where Does Bitcoin Get Its Value?

The answer to this question is simple. The decentralised nature of bitcoin gives it a lot of value. As the first digital currency that is not under the control of any government or organization, bitcoin is extremely valuable. Therefore, anyone that is against conventional financial systems will find bitcoin very attractive.

Gold is also a decentralised asset. However, the fact that it is not easy to move or hoard, makes bitcoin arguably the more valuable asset.

The Money of the Internet

Although bitcoin as money was overshadowed for some time by its store of value feature, this is changing. The introduction of the lightning network and its continuous growth is facilitating bitcoin as the money of the internet.

The Lightning Network (LN) is a payment protocol that uses smart contracts to facilitate fast bitcoin transactions. LN is built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain as a second-layer application. LN is supposed to solve Bitcoin’s inability to process more transactions per second. The network promises to handle millions to billions of transactions per second compared to bitcoin’s seven. Currently, you can enjoy the speed of LN by getting wallets like Zap, Breez, and Eclair. However, these wallets are still in development and could have bugs.

LN is taking time to grow, and it has not come through on its promise yet. Also, researchers observe that LN is becoming more centralised and, therefore, more prone to attacks.

Scalability issues aside, bitcoin has the potential to change the payments sector. Major companies like Microsoft, AT&T, and Namecheap are accepting bitcoin as payment. Additionally, platforms like Paxful are enabling businesses to accept payments from anyone in the world through bitcoin.

As such companies set the stage for bitcoin as the money of the internet, it will take time for the world to uniformly accept bitcoin as a payment method. That means that its money functionality will remain underutilised for the time being.

It is clear by now that bitcoin provides more benefits than gold. Therefore, referring to it as digital gold is an understatement. Bitcoin has a lot to offer, and with time, it could become a widely accepted payment method.

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New Ethereum Wallet Argent Makes DeFi Accessible for Everyone

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Argent

The DeFi market is booming. The total amount of crypto correctly locked in DeFi protocols recently exceeded $2.4 billion. More and more crypto investors are turning to DeFi DApps to earn interest on their cryptoassets. However, DeFi is still too complicated for the average non-techy investor to get involved. London-headquartered Ethereum wallet provider, Argent, wants to change that. 

BitcoinAfrica.io reached out to Argent co-founder and CEO, Itamar Lesuisse, to learn more about Argent and the DeFi market. 

What is Argent? 

ArgentArgent is a user-friendly Ethereum wallet that enables you to store, send, and receive, borrow, earn interest, and invest. Effectively, it is a one-stop-shop for all things DeFi at your fingertips.  

Unlike most Ethereum wallets, which focus purely on storing, sending, and receiving ETH and ERC-20 tokens, Argent goes a step further and provides easy access to an array of DeFi DApps

“Argent’s mission is to empower everyone to control and prosper from their digital assets and identity. Everyone should have equal access to economic opportunity and crypto can be a critical enabler of this.” Argent CEO, Itamar Lesuisse, told BitcoinAfrica.io 

“To this end, we’ve built the first non-custodial wallet with the ease of use and security of the best new bank apps. You can earn interest and invest in a tap via DeFi DApps; protect yourself with daily transfer limits, whitelisted contacts, and easy locking; and you never need a seed phrase,” he added. 

Argent is available for Android and iOS and has a very smooth onboarding process. No mnemonic phrase to write down and no wallet.dat file to back up. You sign up a username and passcode, and you provide an email address and a phone number. That’s it. 

To fund your wallet, you can either transfer ETH or ERC20 tokens or you can purchase them in-app via Apply Pay, bank card, or a bank transfer. This is made possible through a partnership with MoonPay.

Arguably, the best feature of Argent, however, is that it provides direct access to DeFi protocols in an extremely user-friendly way. 

DeFi Made Easy

Argent enables you to use the digital assets held in the wallet to invest in DeFi protocols with the click on a button. There is no need to sign up for each platform. You simply access the “Invest” section and have immediate access to leading DeFi protocols, such as Aave, Compound, PoolTogether, and Uniswap. 

Even first-time crypto users can get involved in DeFi. All it takes it choosing the asset you want to invest, how much of it, and in which protocol you would like to place it. 

For example, you could purchase $1,000 worth of USDC and place it in Compound to earn 1.75% APY. That would likely be more than the interest any bank would pay you on US dollars. 

Moreover, Argent users can invest in TokenSets, take part in PoolTogether, or provide in a Uniswap liquidity pool. 

What’s Next for Argent?

Argent launched the public version of its app in May 2020 and has already made waves in the Etherem community. But this is only the beginning. 

“In the last few months we’ve launched our DeFi Hub (which provides one-tap access to the best DeFi DApps, like Compound, Aave and TokenSet), and also dark mode,” Lesuisse told BitcoinAfrica.io. 

“Next, we’re focused on making it easy for anyone to access a DApp, even if they don’t have a crypto wallet. Our SDK for DApp developers will mean people can onboard to a DApp without a browser extension or seed phrase. They can easily buy crypto with fiat, and they can use the DApp without having to hold ETH. We hope it significantly lowers the barriers to DApp adoption,” he added.

The Future of DeFi

Currently, the DeFi market is a playground for crypto traders and the Ethereum community. But the market is growing as it is receiving more media attention as well as an influx of funds. 

Lesuisse and his team envision that the DeFi market will become more accessible and user-friendly in the coming years. And that it will open it to non-crypto investors as well. 

“Over the next five years, we hope it becomes even easier to use, safer, and, most importantly, develops more use cases that are compelling to a wider audience. We hope by solving many of the usability issues that DApps can focus on building those use cases, taking DeFi from a niche to a mainstream topic.”   

The DeFi market is still in its infancy. Vulnerabilities and bugs in already operational protocols will likely continue to plague DeFi as part of its growing pains. But that doesn’t change the fact that DeFi has the potential to become the fintech innovation that will finally take power away from banks and into the hands of the people.

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