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7 African Blockchain Startups to Watch in 2019

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If blockchain technology was the hype last year, then this year it has moved beyond having the potential to transform industries to actually cementing its place as a formidable disruptive entity in its own right. Despite cryptocurrency markets experiencing a bear market since the start of the year, African blockchain startups are focusing on implementing distributed ledger technologies as they look to solve everyday challenges with this innovative new technology.

In this guide, you will discover seven high-profile blockchain startups that are spearheading innovation in Africa.

BitPesa

BitPesaBitPesa is a blockchain startup that focuses on cross-border business-to-business payments and bitcoin exchange services. The company was founded in 2013 by Elizabeth Rossiello, with the aim of providing an alternative payment system to consumers that would surpass legacy systems and reduce the cost of money transfers. BitPesa incorporates blockchain technology to hasten payments by utilising its peer-to-peer nature for transactions and relies on bitcoin (BTC) as a transactional currency.

BitPesa has managed to attract funding from a number of reputable venture capital firms over its history, which is a testament to the confidence investors have in its innovative business model. The company is also actively seeking out strategic partners as it seeks to roll out B2B products like trade finance and lending.

Early this year, BitPesa purchased Spanish money transfer platform TransferZero. The acquisition will enable the startup to grow its presence in European remittance and payment markets. The Nairobi-headquartered startup is now operational in seven African markets including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Ghana, Senegal, and Nigeria. There are also plans in the works to launch in South Africa soon.

Golix

GolixGolix is a Harare-based cryptocurrency exchange that was founded in 2014. Formerly known as BitFinance, the local exchange aimed to offer digital currencies as an alternative to alleviate the economic woes brought about by Zimbabwe’s failing monetary system. In 2018, Golix set its sights on the broader African market and announced a token sale.

The Golix ICO was intended to raise money for future expansion into other African markets as well as expand their portfolio of services. However, the company would have to contend with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which issued a cryptocurrency ban. After taking the matter to court, the order was rescinded and the company proceeded to relaunch its ICO. Subsequently, investors were able to purchase the Golix utility token (GLX).

Throughout 2018, the exchange expanded its operations to Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Cameroon, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Rwanda. Currently, investors can purchase a range of cryptocurrencies on the Golix platform including bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), monero (XMR), bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin gold (BTG), Dash (DASH), SureRemit (RMT), and Dala (DALA).

Wala

DalaWala is a blockchain startup that offers remittance services and payments using an Android app. Launched in 2017, the company aims to offer financial services to the un(der)banked through strategic partnerships with banks and financial institutions and at low cost. The goal is that Wala users will be able to open bank accounts, apply for credit, access remittance services, purchase value-added services and transact with retailers and merchants.

The blockchain-powered platform is underpinned by the Dala token (DALA), which is a general purpose ERC20 token that enables quick and borderless micro-payments at zero fees. The Wala app is available for download on Google Play Store for Android users in Uganda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

CentBee

centbeeCentBee is a cryptocurrency wallet provider and offers payment processing services for merchants. The South Africa-based blockchain startup was founded by Lorien Gamaroff and Angus Brown, and its vision is to allow users to make payments for products using bitcoin cash (BCH) and settle payments in digital currency at accepted retailers.

The company received a substantial equity investment from nChain in February 2018 for the development of its new mobile bitcoin cash wallet and released the Alpha version of its bitcoin cash wallet just a few months later. While the service is currently limited to South Africa, the company plans to expand to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

The Sun Exchange

Sun Exchange PowerhiveThe Sun Exchange is a peer-to-peer marketplace that allows anyone, anywhere to invest in solar panel projects using bitcoin (BTC). Founded in 2015, the South African startup enables bitcoin users to purchase solar panels and lease them to schools, factories, and communities to earn rental income. The company’s business model has been successful and attracted $1.6 million in seed funding from several investors ahead of its token sale.

The Sun Exchange launched its very own token in April 2018, known as the SUNEX token, which is being utilised for the design of a Solar Project Insurance Fund for users on the platform.

Moreover, the company announced a partnership with Powerhive to create solar-powered rural electrification mini-grid projects in rural Kenya. The platform has so far facilitated funding for six operational solar projects via its micro-leasing service and is gearing up for a seventh project. The Sun Exchange also received an additional equity investment from Alphabit bolstering its potential to create a global solar-powered economy.

Pesamill

PesamillPesamill is a cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to purchase digital currencies using payment methods like mobile money. The Nairobi-based startup was launched in September 2018 and aims to offer an alternative solution to users who find it difficult to access international cryptocurrency exchanges on account of their lengthy KYC processes.

As such, the site offers simplified registration and KYC procedures for new users to sign up and trade digital currencies. Currently, users can trade in bitcoin (BTC), litecoin (LTC), ether (ETH), ripple (XRP) and bitcoin cash (BCH). Users can make deposits on the platform using their local fiat currency making it more accessible for the mass market.

Tari Labs

TariTari Labs is the blockchain startup that runs Tari, an open source, digital assets focused blockchain protocol that is being designed as a merge minded sidechain with Monero.

Tari was launched in 2018 by South African blockchain developer and Monero founder, Riccardo Spagni. The protocol will enable consumers to utilise applications developed on top of the Tari blockchain to easily transfer their digital assets while respecting the parameters set by the issuers. The company is backed by reputable venture capital and equity firms and the development team plans to integrate payment channels and transaction cut through to make Tari scalable. In addition, the startup launched a free blockchain university, to assist in the development of blockchain developers locally and internationally.

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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Blockchain Technology

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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