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Is KeniCoin Kenya’s First Homegrown Cryptocurrency Scam?

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KeniCoin is a Kenyan cryptocurrency that has been in the spotlight recently over allegations of potentially being a scam. BitcoinAfrica.io investigated KeniCoin to determine whether it is a legitimate cryptocurrency or a fraudulent operation. In this article, you will discover our findings.

What is KeniCoin?

KeniCoin claims to be a multi-utility cryptocurrency platform that is fueled by KeniCoin (KNC) tokens. According to the KeniCoin website, the cryptocurrency is backed by real businesses, which is supposed to make it a reliable and predictable payment option for vendors.

The platform claims to offer free and fast peer-to-peer online transactions. Moreover, KeniCoin investors will allegedly receive a high return on investment (ROI) on KNC tokens due to their limited supply and presence of a strong merchant network. Consumers, on the other hand, will be able to enjoy a 40 percent discount whenever they transact using KeniCoin.

Furthermore, KeniCoin claims to provide an alternative saving option to banks, which allows for micro-savings and provides interest. The website describes KeniCoin as the “Next Generation Banking Platform for the people in Kenya and Africa.”

How Does KeniCoin Work?

KeniCoin is marketed as an ERC-20 token based on the Ethereum blockchain. To purchase the cryptocurrency you have to register on the KeniCoin site and provide your name, a username, email address, and password. Once your account has been verified you can proceed to log in.

To get started, you have to fund your account using bitcoin (BTC) or fiat currency via mobile money.

Once you deposit money in your KeniCoin account, you will receive the equivalent amount of KNC in your in-platform wallet. However, during our analysis, we noticed the BTC wallet option appeared to be no longer working. It is unclear whether this is a technical problem or a shift to a fiat-only operation.

If you are looking to convert your KeniCoins to another cryptoasset, there are instructions on the site directing you to the KeniCoin Exchange. Information on the platform states users can trade KeniCoins (KNC) for bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH).

The exchange asserts that you can trade your KNC for fiat and withdraw your earnings via a direct bank transfer. Moreover, should you decide to lock away 50 or more KeniCoins in the platform, you are entitled to ten percent interest every month.

The KeniCoin ICO

KeniCoin launched an ICO in July 2018. The token sale was marketed aggressively on local radio and through KeniCoin agents. According to the site, ten million KNC tokens were provided for the ICO and retailed at KES 100 (worth around $1.00).

The site alleges $250,000 was raised from the token sale with 500,000 tokens being sold. Moreover, according to the KeniCoin whitepaper, the newly issued tokens will gain in value. Specifically, the company stated in the whitepaper:

“We are very sure that, within the first 12 month after ICO, the value of KeniCoin will have increased at least 30 folds, which is around 3000%.”

The project road map outlines that 20 percent of the funds raised will go to the founders with the bulk of the remainder being used to develop various platforms accepting KNC payments. The KeniCoin tokens were to be traded on the KeniCoin Exchange, which was launched soon thereafter.

Regulator Warns Against KeniCoin

In January 2019, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), Kenya’s market regulator issued a press release warning the public against participating in the KeniCoin token sale or trading KNC. The CMA CEO, Paul Muthaura stated,

“It is important for the general public to note that the nature and features of the Capital Raising and Coins Trading promoted by Wiseman Talent Ventures is taking the form of Regulated activities which have not yet been approved by the Authority.”

The regulator expressed its concerns about KeniCoin promising investors a ten percent monthly return on their initial investment on KNC tokens. In addition, the CMA pointed out that KeniCoin was being marketed as rising exponentially in value since its ICO which posed “substantive information asymmetry, liquidity and fraud risks.”

“The Authority is currently investigating the operations of Wiseman Talent Ventures. We have noted discrepancies in the information provided on the firm’s website www.kenicoin.com and the information given to the Authority during interviews of Wiseman Talent Ventures leadership in relation to the total number of Kenicoin sold and the total funds raised,” Muthaura added.

Obscure Founders

AnonymousOur efforts to establish the team behind KeniCoin also proved unsuccessful. According to the KeniCoin whitepaper, the founder of the cryptocurrency is Haron Muthomi Kiriba who is sometimes referred to as Haron Wiseman. We did a little digging to find out more about Wiseman.

What we managed to uncover was a Twitter account under the name Haron Wiseman, which described him as a transformational speaker and founder of Wiseman Talent Ventures. Wiseman Talent Ventures is mentioned in the CMA cautionary statement as the company behind KeniCoin. An online search for Wiseman Talent Ventures was only able to produce an office address.

Also, Haron Kiriba’s Twitter account appears to have been inactive for a while. His LinkedIn profile portrays him as the CEO of a property company. Nothing we uncovered pointed to any prior involvement in the cryptocurrency space or any other venture for that matter.

The KeniCoin whitepaper states that the cryptocurrency is supposedly developed by a number of international blockchain and AI experts. However, their names are not mentioned and their identities – if they ever actually existed – remain unknown which is standard practice in fraudulent cryptocurrency-based ventures.

Providing little to no public information about the company’s ownership structure does not help the company in its attempts to be perceived as a legitimate venture.

More Red Flags

KeniCoin

A critical examination of the information provided on the KeniCoin site and whitepaper reveals a number of inconsistencies and falsehoods. For instance, the KeniCoin whitepaper claims the project is backed by a number of companies yet we can only prove one, Wiseman Talent Ventures, and even its existence is in doubt.

Also, the amount of funds raised during the concluded KeniCoin ICO seems unclear. The site claims $250,000 worth of KNC tokens were sold during its token sale. However, when it comes to distribution of ICO funds, the amount displayed is $5.3 million.

In addition, the company claims KNC is the first local digital currency to be released in the market with a network of up to 10,000 merchants. This is an outright falsehood with research failing to turn up a single business associated with KeniCoin. You will notice most of the statements concerning stability and increasing value of KNC tokens, are tied to the assurance of many businesses in the ecosystem.

Perhaps, the obvious flaw with KNC is the de facto promise of returns for early adopters. The whitepaper states KNC holders can expect the value of the token to increase by 3,000 percent in twelve months after the ICO. At the time of writing this article, the price of KeniCoin published on the company’s website was $3.45.

Currently, there is an update on KeniCoin Exchange teasing users about the launch of a new utility, that will result in the price of KNC rising to Ksh. 10,000 (worth around $100). Strangely, KeniCoin appears immune to market volatility and according to numbers presented on the platform, has so far managed to retain an upward trajectory.

Yet, this does not resonate with what we know of the crypto markets which are highly volatile. In fact, since early 2018, the value of most digital currencies have slumped as the markets have been experiencing a “crypto winter.”

It stands to reason any investment exhibiting a continued uptrend in price over a long period could indicate price manipulation or fraud.

A summary of KeniCoin’s potential red flags include:

  • The mystery surrounding the persona of Haron Wiseman, the alleged founder of KeniCoin
  • The company gives no insight into the ownership structure
  • The alleged rise in KeniCoin price without any real use case outside of trading
  • Lack of a merchant network driving adoption as is claimed in the whitepaper
  • A claim of profits for investors, which no real investment can ever guarantee
  • The Kenyan Capital Markets Authority has issued a warning against KeniCoin
  • Very little technical details on how the cryptocurrency actually works
  • KeniCoin can only be bought and sold on the company’s own exchange

Unavailability for Comment

BitcoinAfrica.io tried to contact KeniCoin to hear the company views on the issues raised by the Kenyan financial regulator. However, this proved difficult as our attempts to engage the KeniCoin team proved unsuccessful.

Initially, we tried to contact them using the phone numbers provided on its website. We managed to get through but were twice rebuffed with the response being “ongoing consultations with management.” At the time of writing this article, no feedback has been forthcoming from KeniCoin.

Interestingly, the KeniCoin staff member who we were able to reach on the phone expressed distrust for news agencies saying, “you social media guys are tarnishing our name.” The company does not seem to want to talk to the media.

KeniCoin ScamBitcoinAfrica.io also attempted to reach out to the Nairobi-based company via social media but our attempts to get in contact with the company over Twitter, LinkedIn and Email were futile. The company’s email address does not work and the company’s Twitter account has been suspended.

Kenyan Crypto Twitter Responds to KeniCoin

Leading figures of the Kenyan cryptocurrency community responded on social media to KeniCoin advertisement on Kameme FM.

Micheal Kimani, Chairman of the Kenya Blockchain Association, tweeted:.

Ken Kimathi, Kenya’s Remitano representative, also shared his opinion about the alleged digital currency scam. He tweeted:

And they were not the only Kenyans to voice their concerns on social media. An ample amount of Twitter users highlighted the project’s unrealistic earnings potential, which makes the company look like a fraudulent operation.

Is KeniCoin a Scam?

Bitcoin ScamWhile there may be people who believe that KeniCoin is a real investment opportunity, it would be hard to ignore the evidence that suggests the opposite.

KeniCoin has several of the same characteristics as crypto scams that have previously penetrated the African market.

KeniCoin may not be different from a typical MLM operation used by pyramid schemes like OneCoin and MMM, which succeeded in defrauding hundreds of thousands of Africans.

Conversely, one may argue that KeniCoin closely resembles a pump and dump scheme where the owners are making money by pumping up the value of KNC and then selling it for a profit on the open market. Once they have made enough profits, they exit, and users are left holding worthless coins.

Moreover, since price discovery for KNC tokens only occurs on the company’s own platform, it is impossible to say how much one KeniCoin is really worth.

Given that KeniCoin makes claims such as: “KeniCoin platform allows you to grow your wealth up to x12 every year,” it is difficult to see how this could possibly be a legitimate cryptocurrency investment.

Conclusion

Investors are always advised to conduct thorough research, consult experts, and use common sense before investing in any digital asset venture.

“Investments” like KeniCoin provide a good example of the type of cryptocurrency investment “opportunity” to avoid. While no one can claim that KeniCoin is a scam until it has been declared a fraudulent operation by a court of law, the mountain of evidence against the company would suggest that it probably is.

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The History of Bitcoin, the First Cryptocurrency

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Bitcoin (BTC) has taken investors and the rest of the globe on a wild ride from its modest origins in 2008. The Bitcoin price fluctuated for over a decade, eventually reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Read on to learn about the history of Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin is a decentralized electronic trade between individuals. In layman’s terms, individuals may transfer money to one another without going through a bank or intermediary. Bitcoin was created to facilitate financial transactions without dependence on the government or large financial institutions. Bitcoin users may deal with one another through the blockchain, which tracks transactions and the bitcoin price using a “proof-of-work” technique.

Some believe Bitcoin will someday replace fiat money. Despite Bitcoin’s shortcomings, venture investors remain hopeful about the progress in the Bitcoin price achieved since the cryptocurrency’s inception. The emergence of Bitcoin has gathered a group of individuals thrilled about the advent of cryptocurrencies and the possibilities they will provide for companies and investors. Furthermore, Bitcoin has spawned dozens of alternative digital currencies.

When Did Bitcoin Start?

During the 2008 Great Recession, the role of banks in the financial sector was investigated. This was when Bitcoin was created, and a Bitcoin price was established. People claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper about the problems with centralized money management and the importance of trust when dealing with other people’s money.

Transaction costs can add up in the traditional financial system when a transaction can be undone or changed by a third party. The goal of bitcoin was to eliminate the need for a middleman in commercial transactions. Instead of depending on banks and other institutions outside the network to verify network integrity, the Bitcoin system employs cryptographic proof.

The first block was mined in 2009, marking the formal launch of the blockchain. A week on, the first test transaction was done. The only individuals who could obtain it for the first several months were miners who could check the Bitcoin price on the blockchain. Miners would exchange Bitcoins for no other purpose than to have fun. Miners are individuals who utilize very powerful computers to solve complicated mathematical problems to discover new Bitcoins and ensure that previous Bitcoin transactions are honest and accurate.

For another year, there weren’t any major transactions involving the new medium of exchange. Shortly thereafter, in 2010, a Florida resident offered some 10,000 BTC in a bid to have the priceless $25 commodity come home. His name was Pizza John. With this deal, the world had its first genuine Bitcoin prices set at some four Bitcoins for every penny. On average, this haul of Bitcoin compares to approximately $400 million in modern money. Interestingly, crypto enthusiasts have set aside May 22 to mark the groundbreaking occasion, known as “Pizza Day.”

The Price of Bitcoin in the Past

Bitcoin Millionaire

One feature that distinguishes Bitcoin price is its volatility. Because Bitcoin is a novel asset, there is a lot of speculation about it, and its value is widely discussed. Despite fluctuating prices, Bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed since its inception in 2009. Bitcoin’s history has been chiefly one of fast growth, punctuated by a few dramatic price declines here and there. Bitcoin surpassed the $1 milestone in February 2011.

Bitcoin price was less than $2 initially, but then it went up. It had its first bubble in June 2011, rising to above $31 before falling into the single-digit price range. After more than two years, Bitcoin finally reached $200 in April 2013. It was worth more than $1,000 by November of the same year. In November 2017, the fee was raised to $10,000. In November 2021, it reached a high of close to $68,990. That doesn’t mean the journey was without incident.

Bitcoin was called a bubble in 2017 because investors paid more for it than the Bitcoin price was worth. According to Furo, the 2017-2018 bubble was largely caused by an increase in initial coin offerings or ICOs. Some experienced investors compare the Bitcoin bubble to the end-of-the-century internet boom.

Everyone was talking about Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, a new network or protocol, from wealthy hedge fund investors to your neighbor. The ICO craze boosted the cryptocurrency market by billions of dollars. The beginning of 2018 saw a significant drop in the Bitcoin price due to psychological and technical issues. When the price of Bitcoin fell, a “mature market” developed around it.

Because of these changes in the Bitcoin price, the Bitcoin market has matured considerably. Established efficient and intelligent exchanges are taking the necessary steps to create a self-sustaining and viable market for investing and trading in Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and key institutional-grade participants are following suit.

Bitcoin Today

Right now, the Bitcoin price is around $37,000. It’s far away from its all-time high and post-peak low. Earle claims that no one knows the inventor- Satoshi Nakamoto. This topic can be discussed, speculated, and may lead to conspiracy theories.

One of these theories holds that Bitcoin is a “skunk work” or top-secret project of a company like Alphabet Inc. or an intelligence service. Others believe it is a “trap-door project” that will be taken over by a bad person waiting in the wings. Earle considers Bitcoin’s present to be more important than its past. He argues that the predominant evidence points to two primary, widely held ideas. The first is: Like anything else, money is actually a good. Secondly, money results from a given market process.

Cryptocurrencies have almost wholly supplanted conventional money, but the Bitcoin price is still maturing, and Bitcoin is becoming a value store and unit of account.

Bitcoin Tomorrow

So, what is the future of Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency and the Bitcoin price? Nobody knows, but Furo believes it would be lovely and intriguing.

New, low-cost, and simple investment options are becoming a reality. The Bitcoin price will make acquiring bitcoins even more accessible to many individuals. Such access would be comparable to that of well-known markets. Keep in mind that no investment is without risk. 

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Weekly Roundup: Binance Announces Zero Bitcoin Trading Fees to Celebrate 5th Anniversary & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Binance announcing a fee-free spot trading on various Bitcoin trading pairs, Celo launching a Web3 fund geared towards African startups looking to transition from Web2 to Web3, US commodities regulator filing a civil charge on a South African Bitcoin scam for fraud, and more.

Binance Announces Zero Bitcoin Trading Fees to Celebrate 5th Anniversary

BinanceTo celebrate its fifth anniversary, Binance has announced that it will eliminate trading fees on a variety of Bitcoin spot trading pairs.

Although Binance has always offered and maintained the lowest spot trading fees in the cryptocurrency industry, this move will see the exchange establish itself as the global leader in pricing.

Speaking about the announcement, Binance Founder and CEO “CZ” (Changpeng Zhao) said: “In line with our user-first philosophy, Binance has always strived to provide the most competitive fees in the industry. At its core, Binance is an inclusive platform with accessibility in mind. Eliminating the trading fees on selected BTC spot trading pairs is another move towards that direction.”

From July 8, Binance users will enjoy zero trading fees on 13 stablecoin and fiat combinations including BTC/USDT, BTC/BUSD, BTC/USDC, BTC/EUR, BTC/TRY, among others. The new fees will be in effect until further notice. This means that users on the crypto exchange will be able to enjoy fee-free trading beyond the two weeks planned for anniversary celebrations.

Celo Launches a Web3 Fund for African Startups Looking to Migrate to Web3 From Web2

Celo, a mobile-first blockchain ecosystem geared towards building an all-inclusive financial system, has announced the launch of its Web3 fund that will support African startups developing across payments, remittance, related financial services, savings, and virtual assets.

Through its VC partners, the Celo Africa Web3 Fund will provide financial investments to African startups. In addition, the company will offer technical assistance via the Celo Developer Guild and its technical partners such as Ape Unit and Tatum. Both the financial investments and technical assistance offered will make it possible for Web2 founders in the African continent to adopt a strategy and grow their business to achieve deeper financial inclusion, lower transaction costs, and more affordable credit.

Celo, together with its various partners, has already made an open call for Web2 founders in Africa to apply for the Celo Africa Web3 Fund by July 15, 2022, and has pledged that they will support shortlisted candidates through their transition to Web3.

The fund will include an in-person workshop across five African countries with the first in-country workshop slated for July 26, 2022. Additional workshops are expected to follow in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda between July and November 2022.

South African Company Charged by the US CFTC for Bitcoin Fraud Worth Over $1.7 Billion

The US commodities regulator, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has filed civil charges against Mirror Trading International Proprietary Limited (MTI), a South African company, and its CEO, for running a fraudulent Bitcoin commodity pool worth over $1.7 billion and over registration violations.

According to CFTC, the company and its CEO, Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, solicited Bitcoin online between May 2018 and March 2021, from thousands of people, including 23,000 Americans. Additionally, it said that the company instead of trading forex as it had registered itself as, embezzled pool funds, lied about using trading bots, faked account statements, misrepresented trading and performance, and used a fake broker in instances where the trade actually happened.

The Ponzi scheme is the largest involving bitcoin fraud the CTFC has handled. Moreover, the regulator also stated that Steynberg was a fugitive until he was recently arrested in Brazil by Interpol.

Cardano Accelerator Adaverse Funds Seso Property Marketplace to Boost Cardano’s Adoption

Adaverse Fund, a Cardano VC accelerator fund created to boost the development of Web3-based solutions in the African continent, has announced its participation in Seso Global’s fundraising.

Seso Global is an online real estate property marketplace that leverages blockchain technology to reinvent Africa’s real estate industry. The company utilizes blockchain to provide a marketplace that supports secure and risk-free digital land transactions between buyers, financial institutions, land agencies, property owners, and professionals that service the real estate value chain.

The funding round saw venture capital firms, Adaverse, Columbus Angel Network, Emurgo Africa, Kepple Africa Ventures, Moabi Group, and Rising Tide take part. In addition, Jamie Broderick, Albert Essient, and Ibrahim Sagna also took part as angel investors.

This partnership is key for Seso Global as it provides us with necessary partners and experts to expand our Web3 offerings. We are now seeing the growth of Blockchain real estate solutions and with Adaverse, Seso will be a trailblazer for the industry in Africa. We are confident that Cardano will see strong growth in Africa due to its lower energy needs and cost of the Blockchain.” says Daniel Bloch, CEO and co-founder of Seso Global.

Adaverse was established in September 2021 as a joint venture partnership between Everest Ventures and EMURGO Africa to not only identify but also provide valuable support and resources to propitious African founders developing the next wave of Web3 decentralized applications (DApps) in decentralized finance (DeFi), gaming, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the metaverse, and more on Cardano’s third-generation and environmentally-sustainable blockchain.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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Amber Group Announces Q3 2022 Launch of Openverse, the Gateway Into the Metaverse

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Openverse

SINGAPORE, 11 May 2022Amber Group, the leading global digital asset platform, today announced its entry into the metaverse with the launch of Openverse, a Web3 enablement platform for creators, brands, and businesses. A culmination of Amber Group’s multi-disciplinary expertise in digital architecture and blockchain-native infrastructure, Openverse serves as a gateway to the metaverse, empowering Web2 creators, brands and businesses with tools and services to transition into Web3.

Amber GroupWith the metaverse economy projected to reach $13 trillion by 2030, Openverse marks Amber Group’s venture into Web3 community building. Due to launch in Q3 2022, Openverse is a significant milestone in Amber Group’s plans to aid businesses, industries and societies as they transition into Web3. As a one-stop platform, Openverse will create entry points into the metaverse by delivering end-to-end creative and digital infrastructures for creators, brands, and businesses.

“Digital assets are the first step in realizing a decentralized future where people are empowered to create and connect with online communities, unlocking new digital experiences. While there has been a lot of interest in the metaverse, it remains largely conceptual. With Openverse, we are taking a solid step towards creating this digital reality for all. Backed by our expertise and partnerships within the digital asset ecosystem, Openverse is at the forefront of onboarding businesses and communities into the metaverse, unlocking the true potential of decentralization,” said Amber Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Wu.

Openverse is designed to be a Web3 enablement platform, supported by leading real-time 3D rendering technology to create an experiential digital world for all users. The platform will be accessible on mobile, desktop and VR platforms, and will come equipped with features such as real-time content interaction, gameplay, customizable digital avatars and an NFT valuation system. Openverse will also leverage Amber Group’s flagship digital asset platform, WhaleFin, for its crypto financial services, creating synergies with the company’s thriving consumer business line to expand the reach of its digital asset services.

“We are excited to launch Openverse and convert the possibilities of the metaverse into reality in the next few months. As we develop a gateway for everyone to journey into the metaverse together, we are also building a strong line-up of partnerships with gaming studios, sporting brands, digital artists, and creators in an effort to bridge the gap between physical and virtual economies. Not only will this encourage more Web2 users to migrate into the metaverse, it will also herald a new era for digital assets worldwide,” said Openverse’s Chief Executive Officer, Jo Xu.

About Amber Group

Amber Group is a leading digital asset platform operating globally with offices in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The firm provides a full range of digital asset services spanning investing, financing, and trading. Amber Group is backed by prominent investors including Sequoia, Temasek, Paradigm, Tiger Global, Dragonfly, Pantera, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com.

For more information, please visit www.ambergroup.io.

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