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Is KeniCoin Kenya’s First Homegrown Cryptocurrency Scam?

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Caution

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 2021 Lagos Blockchain & Crypto Conference Will Take Place on September 11-12

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Lagos Blockchain & Crypto Conference

We are delighted to announce that Nigeria’s premium hybrid blockchain conference, the Lagos Blockchain & Crypto Conference, organized and curated by Blockchain Nigeria User Group is back and bigger!

Covid-19 pandemic did not permit us to hold the event in 2020, but thankfully things are looking better now as we are poised to adhere strictly to the guidelines required for in-person events.

This year’s conference-themed “Blockchain, Crypto-Arts and the Future of Money” will be held at the Civic Center event facility along Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island Lagos, from 11th to 12th September 2021.

The conference will be chaired by Dr. Chuka Agbu, SAN, Lead Counsel at Lexavier Partners, and Chairman Blockchain & Virtual Financial Assets Regulations Working Group set up by SEC Nigeria.

Mr. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi — Director-General/CEO National Agency for Technology Development (NITDA) will be the Special Guest of Honor while Prof Olayinka David-West, Academic Director and Professor of Information Systems at the Lagos Business School will be the Lead Keynote Speaker.

Ian Putter, Managing Director at Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) and Digital Innovation/ DLT & Blockchain Executive at Standard Bank Group SA, as well as Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, Managing Director at Sterling Bank PLC, is expected to grace the conference as the Keynote Speakers.

Other high profile industry experts, senior-level executives and thought leaders already confirmed as speakers include Dr. Sarah Alade, SA to President on Finance and economy, Yusuf Rakiya Opemi, Assistant Director PSMD, Central Bank of Nigeria, Agama Emomotimi, Deputy Director exchange licensing/ registration SEC Nigeria, Ernest Mbenkum, Founder/CEO Bantu Foundation. Erikan Obotetukudo, Founder Audacity Fund, Adedeji Owonibi, COO Convexity Technologies, Shaun E. Johnson, co-director Tachyon, Babatunde Obrimah, COO Fintech Association of Nigeria Nigeria

Date: 11–12th September 2021 | Venue: Civic Center VI, Lagos | Time: 10.00 AM

At the upcoming #LagosBlockchain2021, attendees will discover how Blockchain, DeFi, and NFTs together with, IoT, AI and Virtual Financial Assets are altering and disrupting incumbents and creating new opportunities for forward-thinking individuals, nations, and organizations. We shall also be drawing attention to the concept of creator economy, digital ownership & Intergenerational wealth creation using DeFi and NFTs.

One of Africa’s largest and most untapped markets is the creator economy. Using NFTs and Crypto Arts, creators across art, film, gaming, sports, etc can monetize their followers and intellectual property (i.e. ideas, copyright). They can have royalties and revenue streams across multiple assets. They can leverage their work to earn interest or borrow capital to create even more value.

The conference has several tracks consisting of Panel discussions, Innovative tech product exhibitions, NFT workshops, and Startup Investor Round-Table.

The event will be both virtual and physical and is being organized in partnership with the Fintech Association of Nigeria and will be both virtual and physical.

Our previous conferences have attracted key figures like Prof Kingsley Muoghalu, Dr. Mrs. Oby Ozekwesili, Dr. Andrew Nevin, Dr. Segun Aina and several eminent personalities favorably disposed to the positive impact of Blockchain Technology in our polity.

This year’s conference sponsors include Tezos Foundation, Convexity, Quidax, Bantu Blockchain, Audacity, Muna.Africa and Xend.Finance.

More information about the event is available at the event website: https://blockchainnigeria.group/

About BNUG

Blockchain Nigeria User GroupBlockchain Nigeria User Group (BNUG) is a vibrant group of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency developers, enthusiasts, and investors helping to drive adoption and awareness of the Blockchain industry in Nigeria and across Africa since 2016. The objective of BNUG is primarily to create a pro-innovation environment for the industry, meeting the growing global demand for accessible, transparent and democratic financial and collaborative systems. Blockchain Nigeria User Group, now transitioning into a DAO, is a sub-set of Organization of Blockchain Technology Users (OBTU), http://blockchainusers.org, a duly incorporated Trust with CAC, and an association desiring Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) status for the Blockchain Technology Industry in Nigeria and across Africa.

BNUG is a strong advocate for Blockchain Technology and works with all levels of government policymakers and regulators such as SEC Nigeria, NITDA, NDIC, CBN, and other stakeholders to support businesses, develop talents and drive career opportunities in Blockchain Technology. Thus promoting a sustainable community that enhances consumer safety and industry competitiveness.

Disclaimer: This is a press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to any company, product, or service mentioned in this article. BitcoinAfrica.io is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product, or service mentioned in this post. 

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The First African Art Collection Powered by NFTs is Here

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African Art
Photo credits: Kureng Dapel/Rich Allela

Picha Images – a digital media company powered by Artificial intelligence and Big Data – is launching the first crypto art non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in Africa. The upcoming auction will feature African art from the Kenyan-based Multiple Award-Winning Photographer and Filmmaker Rich Allela and will be held from April 26 to May 3, 2021.

The NFT auction and artwork will be hosted on OpenSea, one of the biggest non-fungible token digital marketplaces, founded in 2018.

Why is Picha Images Going Crypto?

Picha Images has a track record of being highly innovative and has been recognised as a disruptor in the Kenyan and African creative industries.

Covid Art Gallery

The Virtual Africa COVID exhibition held by Picha Images in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Create2030

The company embraces Artificial intelligence and utilises Big Data analytics to produce high-quality photo and video productions.

Furthermore, Picha Images develops products and services in Business to Business (B2B) photography; digitises hardcopy images; facilitates cloud storage of images for companies, and carries out videography. The company has in the past been credited with holding one-of-a-kind Augmented and Virtual Reality exhibitions, even during tough times. 

Pre-COVID exhibition

Bringing still images to life using Artificial Intelligence in Rich Allela’s exhibition “30 under 30”, held in 2019 (Pre-COVID)

As a company that values technological advancements, Picha Images’ approach of having NFTs for artists such as Rich Allela makes technological and financial sense. The company is currently placing the wellbeing of their creative artists first by exposing them to a way to secure their work, maintain the copyrights to their creations and earn royalties in perpetuity.

For a customer of Picha Images, purchasing these NFTs will mean that you will have hacker-resistant proof of ownership of a digital piece of art.

Why Rich Allela?

Afro-renaissance

Photo credits: Rich Allela

Rich Allela is a multidisciplinary artist whose work focuses on culture and heritage in Africa. He has an interest in documenting cultures that are at the threat of disappearing due to modernisation.

Allela’s works are famously described as “Afro-renaissance” because they herald the rebirth of the African culture through the creation of a new generation of art aimed at rewriting the African narrative.

These unique art pieces have won numerous awards including the Africa PicFair photo awards and Kenya Photo Awards and have been used by companies such as Canon Global to launch products such as new cameras. As an influential artist, Rich Allela’s story has been featured on CNN, BBC, and other news outlets around the world.

Speaking to BitcoinAfrica.io, Rich Allela said;

“For ages, artists have been getting a raw deal when it comes to secondary sales of their work. By launching the Rich Allela’s Afro-renaissance collection on NFT, Picha Images aims to empower artists to maintain the copyright of their work and earn from secondary sales. Through this auction, the public will place their bids where the highest bidder will walk away with a piece of digital art and send a message to the world on the value of art as an investment worth making.”

Would You Like to Participate in the NFT Auction?

The auction will go live on April 26 and can be accessed via https://opensea.io/accounts/Rich_Allela.

To learn more about Rich Allela’s works, visit his Instagram account @Richallela or reach out to Picha Images by visiting their website.

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How to Buy Tether (USDT): A Step-by-Step Guide for 2021

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how to buy tether

Tether is a stablecoin backed 1:1 by the US dollar. As a result, it does not experience the same volatility as other cryptocurrencies. In this guide, you will learn how to buy tether on Africa’s leading peer-to-peer exchange, Paxful.

How to Buy Tether (USDT)

To buy USDT, you will need a cryptocurrency wallet and an account with an exchange. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Download a mobile, desktop, or hardware crypto wallet to store the USDT you will purchase.
  • Next, create an account with an exchange or a P2P marketplace that supports Tether USD. For instance, you can create an account on  Paxful. If you already have an account, log in.
  • After registering an account, verify the required credentials. Paxful requires users to verify details like phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, and ID numbers.

How to Buy Tether from a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

Buy Tether on Paxful

If you created an account on Paxful, you can buy tether by using these steps.

  • Visit the website.
  • Click “Buy” and select tether.
  • Choose your preferred payment method and currency. For example, Paxful offers over 350 payment methods such as PayPal, mobile money, gift cards, crypto, and debit cards. Also, enter the amount you wish to purchase and select your country.
  • Click “Search Offers.”
  • The platform will display a list of offers based on the criteria you chose. Browse through this list paying close attention to the buy limits, prices, offer terms, and time limits.
  • Read the reviews of the sellers that catch your attention. Before choosing a seller, ensure that they are fully verified and active on the platform.
  • Once you find a suitable seller, click “Buy.” Note that you should read the seller’s terms first before starting the transaction.
  • If the platform offers a live chat feature, you and the seller can discuss the transaction details. For instance, the seller will send you the payment details through this chat feature.
  • Make the payment and follow any other instructions the seller has provided. Additional instructions that sellers might require you to undertake include sending a photo of your ID. The seller could use this document to verify that the payment sender matches the name on the ID.
  • Once you complete the payment, confirm on the website that you have paid.
  • The seller will then verify the payment and release your USDT.
  • After a few minutes, your USDT balance should reflect in your account. If you desire, transfer the crypto to another wallet.

Purchase Tether in Person

If you prefer to make a one-on-one transaction, look for local tether sellers on reputable Facebook or Telegram groups, or choose the “in-person” purchase option on a peer-to-peer exchange.

  • Contact the seller and schedule a meeting at a public place. Tell them how much you wish to buy so that they can prepare themselves in advance. They should also tell you how much it will cost.
  • Once you meet with the seller, show them the money as a sign of trust. But do not hand it over just yet. The seller should send you the USDT first.
  • Wait until the new USDT balance reflects in your wallet before paying the seller.

Buying tether is straightforward and flexible. You can use your local currency or another digital currency to acquire this stablecoin. Moreover, using a platform like Paxful gives you more than 350 methods of buying USDT, thereby providing convenience.

To buy Tether USDT in Africa, access Paxful here.

*This article was written in cooperation with Paxful, Africa’s leading peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange.

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