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Egypt’s Central Bank is Considering Issuing a Digital Currency

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Egypt central bank digital currency

Egypt has reportedly joined the list of countries that have started studying the issuance of digital currency as an option or alternative for their fiat currencies. That makes Egypt one of the few sovereign countries in Africa to consider a national digital currency option, which is somewhat surprising given the country’s negative stance towards cryptocurrencies.

The “Egypt Coin”

egypt bitcoin exchangeThe Cairo-based news outlet, Amwal Al Ghad, reported that the sub-governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Ayman Hussein, confirmed the prospect of government-issued virtual currency in a conference in Abu Dhabi. He said the bank is conducting a study in collaboration with some international financial institutions.

However, he did not disclose details about the proposed currency and did not address whether it would be traded between banks only or issued to the general public.

Amwal Al Ghad says the bank believes the digital currency could “lower the cost of banknote issuance and use of cash.”

State-Issued Digital Currencies

Many central banks all over the world have considered issuing their own digital fiat money, rather than support cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

In July 2016, the Bank of England became one of the first institutions to analyse the possibility of state-issued virtual currency. Followed by central banks in Canada, Russia, China and Sweden among others, as well as the European Central Bank.

However, Tunisia was the first country in the world to put their national currency on a blockchain in a trial in 2015. The eDinar initiative did not receive enough backing to go beyond proof of concept but highlighted the interest of central banks in testing a blockchain-based currency system.

The following year, various news media wrongly reported that the Senegalese government issued a digital currency on the blockchain. It had issued an e-currency, the eCFA, but it was not created on a blockchain.

Making State-Issued Digital Currencies Work

The use of this progressive financial technology is a positive step forward to help unbanked people in Africa. Also, it could aid electronic payments and support a cashless society.

Still, some people have questioned the approach of these countries. Centralised blockchains with power concentrated with the central banks could impose limitations on general adoption. The allure of the blockchain technology in the first place is decentralisation, giving people freedom from the traditional centralised banking system.

The impact of a central bank issuing its own cryptocurrency is potentially disruptive, even on the business model of commercial banks. The most practical approach for most central banks, it seems, is to restrict the use of cryptocurrency within an inter-bank context.

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South Africa’s Xago Deploys RippleNet in its Gateway to Boost Financial Inclusion

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Xago, a money transfer startup that aims to increase financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa, has announced the integration of RippleNet to its gateway.

The Xago Gateway

The South Africa-based fintech company has deployed RippleNet to its gateway to enable local and international fiat currency and digital asset transfer. RippleNet is a blockchain-based global payments network that is made up of payment providers, banks, and financial institutions launched by San Francisco-based Ripple.

According to Xago, the users of its payments platform will be able to access the transfer and exchange of digital assets via the XRP ledger. Additionally, the integration of RippleNet to the Xago gateway will enable customers to exchange the South African Rand for XRP.

“Xago uses the XRP Ledger as a distributed exchange where users can exchange XRP for ZAR,” said Xago.

The Xago gateway provides an entry point to the Ripple Network where customers can enjoy low-cost cross-border payments, instant payments, frictionless transfers, and transparent transactions.

Xago’s gateway is built for businesses while Ripple’s payments network is an enterprise blockchain solution. The Xago gateway acts as a connection between market makers and customers.

How it Works

XagoTo register to use the gateway, both businesses and individuals will need to undergo a KYC process. Xago also uses a third-party service provider to ensure that the platform is compliant with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act regulations.

Xago acts as both an issuing gateway and a private exchange with the gateway offering “a way for money and other forms of value to move in and out of the XRP ledger.”

Xago’s withdrawal fees are fixed at ZAR 8.50 while transaction fees vary with market prices. All fees are quoted for customers once an order is placed.

Boosting Financial Inclusion to the Unbanked

Xago said it picked RippleNet for its gateway because the network offers low-cost, secure, transparent, and instant payments to the unbanked, according to a report by TodaysGazette. The move could boost Xago’s goal of increasing access to financial services through technologies such as mobile phones to the unbanked.

According to data from the World Bank, 66 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population does not have access to financial services. However, mobile money is driving financial inclusion in the region with the number of adults holding mobile money accounts doubling to 21 percent. That could mean that mobile phones could be the key to driving financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Commit Good Launches Charity Project in Botswana With $GOOD Cryptocurrency

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Commit Good

Commit Good, a blockchain-based charitable organisation, has launched its first proof-of-concept project with the Rentse Foundation Trust. The reward-based, charitable platform will help the foundation to build homes in Otse, Botswana using the startup’s digital currency, $GOOD.

The $GOOD Currency

Commit Good’s Currency of Good campaign allows users to grant funds in $GOOD tokens to any charity anywhere in the world. Charities post current projects on the website where users can then vote on the most impactful projects. These users are rewarded with GOOD tokens.

The recently announced project to build homes in Otse, Botswana will be one of the first of the Currency of Good campaign, which will award a $10,000 grant each month to the charitable organisation that receives the most votes from Commit Good users.

The Rentse Foundation Trust, a non-profit organisation committed to providing homes to the elderly and individuals in underdeveloped areas of Botswana, was given a grant of 58,824 $GOOD – the equivalent of $10,000 – from the Currency of Good campaign funded by the Financial Trading Group (FTG).

“The collaboration with Commit Good and FTG are opening new doors for our project. By using $GOOD as a new source of funding, we are developing low-cost homes to shelter the most poverty-stricken families in Botswana,” said Rentse Ugokwe, founder and CEO of the Rentse Foundation Trust.

The foundation will use a third of its received $GOOD to build one of 50 desired homes in a remote village of Botswana. IMATU Enterprises, a construction company, will accept $GOOD as payment, making it one of the first housing projects in the world to be funding with cryptocurrency.

Commit Good Blockchain Fundraising Platform

Commit GoodCommit Good is a reward-based, fundraising platform dedicated to creating a global charitable economy on the blockchain through the integration of marketplace features and fundraising.

The startup believes using the blockchain could bring transparency to the philanthropy industry. The organisation also helps charities locate other resources like in-kind donations and volunteers. The Commit Good organisation verifies all charities and needs before they are posted on the platform.

Launched in the second quarter of 2018, the “Currency of Good” campaign allows charitable organisations to post projects that are currently underway on the Commit Good Platform. These organisations can then make a request for funding or items that are needed to complete their projects.

There are some large charities on the platform like Habitat for Humanity, Catholic Charities, Ronald McDonald House, and Feed the Children but the organisation wants to focus on smaller charities that have limited access to funding.

Clay Braswell, the CEO of Commit Good, told TechBullion in an interview that he believes the charitable space could be one of the early success stories that will enable mainstream user adoption of the blockchain.

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BitMinutes to Reduce Cost of Money Transfer With Blockchain in Nigeria

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US-based blockchain company, BitMinutes Inc., has launched a blockchain token and an agent network in Nigeria to lower the cost of transferring money and to ease access to micro-loans.

BitMinutes Enters the Nigerian Market

In January, BitMinutes announced a partnership with BODC Trading & Investment Company in a bid to enter the Nigerian market.

BitMinutes would be offering people in the country the ability to purchase goods and services with BMTs, send them to friends and family, and convert unused mobile phone minutes into BMT which could then be turned into Naira for deposit into a bank account. Moreover, in the future, Nigerians will also receive access to micro-loans backed by BitMinutes tokens.

After just two months in the country, the CEO of BitMinutes, Tom Meredith, says adoption has been on the up, according to a report by Business Post.

“We’re ecstatic that Nigeria’s citizens have embraced the BitMinutes Nigeria program. They recognise that the economic incentives, including five percent cash back on purchases of BitMinutes and 12 percent annualised return on those BitMinutes that remain in their account, are very compelling propositions,” Mr Meredith said.

Nigeria will serve as a trial point for BitMinutes before the company expands the business model across other countries on the continent.

The BitMinutes Token

BitMinutes LogoBitMinutes token (BMT) is a prepaid airtime minute on the blockchain. The prepaid minute is a real asset that can be traded and, according to the company, is already traded informally by mobile phone owners around the world.

This token is a cryptocurrency that facilitates free peer-to-peer cash transactions to users’ bank accounts and provides the ability to extend micro-credit and nano-credit to individuals and businesses that have limited access to capital and the traditional financial system.

The blockchain enables the tracking of token ownership and transactional records to build a credit score of users. And the inter-changeability between prepaid minutes and cash makes it possible to collateralise peer-to-peer loans.

BitMinutes’ Business Model

BitMinutesBitMinutes deploys a Trusted Agent Network (TAN) model to provide a physical presence for the network. The BitMinutes Nigeria team will drive the effort to identify and manage TAN Agents, which would be mostly small businesses.

These agents sell BMTs that can be converted to phone minutes on different local carriers and also help users to convert unused cell phone minutes into BMTs, which could be used for payments of goods and services at TAN retailers. TAN agents would also facilitate the process of giving microloans to users. The TAN program already has over 100 agents.

“We have been very pleased with the interest of Nigerians, both in becoming trusted agents and BitMinutes account holders,”

said Ravi Narain, the Director of the BitMinutes Nigeria program.

With only 40 per cent of Nigerian adults having a bank account, blockchain use cases like BitMinutes could play a pivotal role in the financial inclusion programs of the Nigerian government.

Nigerians are already one of the top adopters of bitcoin on the continent, using the cryptocurrency primarily for investment and remittance purposes. According to a recent Luno survey, which sampled over 1,000 Nigerians, 70 percent buy cryptocurrency as a form of investment while only 30 percent use digital currencies for payment and remittance.

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