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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.

Features

46 Companies Join Binance Charity to Launch Stablecoin in Support of Feminine Health

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Binance Charity

An alliance of blockchain companies has joined forces to support a philanthropic project focused on the African continent. Led by Binance Charity Foundation (BCF), the charitable arm of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, the initiative will involve the issuance of Pink Care Token (PCAT), a stablecoin that will operate on Binance Chain.

BinanceThe project will help channel funds to Uganda for the purchase of sanitary products, which many women lack access to. The first batch of Pink Care Token and sanitary pads is scheduled for delivery in the country in mid-July in Uganda, with the aid of government ministers.

“Pink Care Token is the first social-impact stablecoin issued on Binance Chain. A part of our mission is to promote cryptocurrency adoption, and I think charity is one of the most efficient ways to bring cryptocurrency value to more people,” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ).

Leading blockchain and financial companies that have pledged their support for the initiative include Ripple, Tron, Vechain, Matic, Arrington Capital, and Celer. As the size of the cryptoconomy has grown, delivering outsized returns to its early believers, many supporters within the ecosystem have sought to share their success with the world through altruistic means.

Despite their global nature, crypto assets have yet to permeate many of the world’s most underdeveloped nations, where access to food, shelter, and medicine remain challenges that must be overcome in addition to realising full financial access. Initiatives such as Pink Care Token provide an effective way of helping communities in some of the world’s most impoverished regions while capitalising on the transparency that is one of the hallmarks of the blockchain technology that underpins the industry. All of the funds that are contributed to the project and delivered in Uganda can be tracked on-chain.

Contributors are encouraged to join the campaign by donating at:
https://www.binance.charity/period-poverty

Funds will go towards ending ‘period poverty’ through providing sanitary products for Ugandan women, improving their quality of life and providing a clear demonstration of what the crypto industry can achieve through multilateral philanthropic efforts such as BCF’s Pink Care Token.

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Luno Survey Shows Low Consumer Confidence in Current Financial System

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Low Consumer Confidence

As the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference celebrated its 75th anniversary on July 1, Luno released findings indicating that consumers from emerging markets have low confidence in the current financial system. The conference, also known as the Bretton Woods Conference, established the financial system we use today in 1944.

The Future of Money Survey

LunoLuno’s Future of Money survey discovered that security is one of the areas of concern in the current financial system. These views were given by 36 percent of respondents from South Africa, 35 percent from Nigeria, and 24 percent from the UK. The other areas of main concern are transparency and economic benefit.

Marcus Swanepoel, CEO of Luno, said: “The survey results show that emerging markets are seeking a change to the financial system which was created 75 years ago. The increase in population, changes to the distribution and inequality of wealth, at a time of tremendous steps forward in technology means that the current financial systems need to undergo another Bretton Woods moment.”

Furthermore, the survey showed that consumers from emerging markets have a more developed understanding, protection, and knowledge of money compared to those from developed markets. This is because they do not have direct access to wealth, the report explained.

Struggling Economies

Although our current financial system was established 75 years ago, many countries are still struggling economically. According to the survey, 27 percent of South Africans and 23 percent of Nigerians felt that their economies were performing poorly. This view was held in rural areas more than in urban areas because the former has inadequate financial systems.

Moreover, 23 percent of respondents in Nigeria and 22 percent of respondents in South Africa said it was challenging for them to send money overseas.

“We have seen little change to the global monetary system over the last 75 years, particularly amongst developed economies where financial institutions have built a system around the transfer of currencies, assets, and commodities which benefit a stable and strong economy. As technology advances, it is important that institutions globally find a way of adopting these advancements, enabling emerging markets to have the same access to money and transfer of assets,” Swanepoel stated.

The survey further revealed that 91 percent of South Africans pay for a personal bank account while 75 percent use mobile banking. Additionally, South Africa had the second highest percentage of respondents that said they invest in products such as mutual funds and stocks.

Luno is a global crypto company that carried out the Future of Money survey to understand the world’s view of the current financial system. The survey questioned more than 7,000 people from South Africa, Nigeria, Italy, Malaysia, the UK, France, and Indonesia.

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Youngest Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur in Africa Leads Education Drive in Ghana

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BlockXAfrica

Ghana and the rest of Africa continue to lack behind in bitcoin usage and adoption. Despite the fact that Ghana led the Google Trends chart for the keyword “bitcoin” recently and continues to be part of the top three on the same chart, the West African nation has recorded very low patronage of blockchain technology.

BlockXAfricaIn light of this, the ​Youngest Bitcoin Entrepreneur in Africa​, Elisha Owusu Akyaw, who started his journey of innovation in the blockchain space at the age of 16 seeks to promote bitcoin and blockchain adoption in Ghana through an education campaign.

The young Ghanaian has made headlines with his work in the industry, being described as the youngest “Bitcoin Entrepreneur” and was listed as part of the ​Top 20 Blockchain Influencers in Africa​ by BitcoinAfrica.io.

Elisha’s education drive will be done under the BlockXAfrica brand. BlockXAfrica is a Ghanaian based blockchain startup that seeks to bridge the blockchain and cryptocurrency education gap through advocacy, collaboration, and innovation.

BlockXAfrica believes that blockchain has a lot of potential in accelerating the development of Ghana, including fixing our financial woes through cryptocurrency usage, checking corruption through blockchain backed record systems, fixing our birth and death registry with blockchain solutions and more.

BlockXAfrica is made up of a group of young people from Ghana with the aim of teaching, advocating and spreading the gospel of cryptocurrencies. The aspiring blockchain advocacy powerhouse intends to do this through strategic educational campaigns and social intervention programs & projects.

BlockXAfrica’s education campaigns seek to enlighten people on the importance of cryptocurrency and its various use cases across the continent while addressing the various cryptocurrency scams that have invaded the industry in Africa which is one of the highest contributing factors to distrust in the technology by promoting tested industry standards.

Aside from education, ​BlockXAfrica​ will also be partnering with local developers to create innovations backed by blockchain technology to solve various social issues in Ghana. What’s more, the company will be donating some of its proceeds to charities across the country, as a way to show the masses how blockchain can change lives.’

BlockXAfrica organised its first meetup during the last weekend and plans to embark on a tour across the country.

The guest post was contributed by BlockXAfrica. 

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