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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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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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Why Crypto Casinos Are on the Rise in Africa

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crypto casinos africa

Online gambling has become a rapidly evolving industry. Today, many online casinos are embracing cryptocurrencies to stay on top of the latest trends in finance and technology. 

Because of the continued evolution in the online casino space, crypto casinos in Africa have experienced and continue to experience rapid growth. But, why exactly is this the case?

Read on to learn why crypto casinos are on the rise in Africa. 

Crypto Adoption is Booming in Africa

One of the main reasons why crypto casinos are on the rise in the African continent is because of the booming crypto adoption.

Africa’s crypto adoption rate is reportedly the highest globally. For instance, between July 2020 and July 2021, African countries alone received close to $105.6 billion worth of crypto, representing a 1,200% increase in value within that period only.

Some crypto casinos have been able to benefit from Africa’s high crypto adoption rates by accepting bets in digital currencies such as bitcoin (BTC) and litecoin (LTC). 

Anyone Can Take Part 

Using cryptocurrencies, there are zero restrictions as to who can send or receive payments, alleviating all potential payment issues that can arise with traditional payments companies when you are located in certain African countries. 

Additionally, players are guaranteed privacy, which is very appealing to most online casino players. This is because players don’t have to share their names, location, or bank details to receive payments from the online casino they are using.

Fast Deposits and Withdrawals

One challenge with traditional fiat currency that most casino players experience is that it can take up to a few days for a transaction to complete. Moreover, having to change the pay-outs from fiat to crypto and vice versa in order to deposit or withdraw funds into an online casino can become costly.

However, cryptocurrency transactions typically only take a few minutes. This means that players are able to near-instantly make their deposits and withdrawals with very little wait time, thus being able to fully maximise any potential profits. Additionally, crypto transactions are also very secure.

African Gamblers Want to Win Crypto

Another reason for the rise in crypto casinos in Africa is because African gamblers want to win crypto. 

African currencies in many countries have been known to suffer from currency devaluation thanks to high inflation rates, which have resulted in citizens turning to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Besides, players also find it hard to make bets on online casinos using fiat currency as they become unable to fully maximise their profits due to high inflation.

Given that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a store of value, players can also choose to HODL their pay-outs for as long as they need in their crypto wallets and trade the same when the price of bitcoin, for example, rallies. This way, players are not only able to earn some “extra” money, but they are also able to avoid paying costly fees in transactions when converting from fiat to crypto and vice versa.

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Weekly Roundup: African-Inspired NFT Art Collection to Launch in October & More

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African Inspired NFT Art Collection

An African-inspired NFT art collection is set to launch in October. To learn about this and other top stories this week, read on.

African-Inspired NFT Art Collection to Launch in October

Masks of EtherMasks of Ether, an NFT collection that draws inspiration from West African tribal art, will launch on October 5. Harrison Foko, the artist and creator of the NFT collection, “will release 10,000 generative images featuring pixel art masks.” Foko’s goal is to bring traditional African art to the blockchain and expose it to new audiences.

“I am excited to bring my own roots into the NFT space. Using something so tribal and traditional in this modern pixel-art form has never been done before. The community is ready and excited for something new,” he said.

Foko plans to give $100,000 of the NFT proceeds to The CryptoSavannah Foundation and Survival International. The former is a non for profit organisation using the blockchain to change African lives, while the latter is a human rights organisation that fights for the rights of indigenous people.

More and more African artists are embracing non-fungible tokens. For instance, these three Zimbabwean artists have made some income from selling their art on NFT marketplaces.

Crypto Exchange Yellow Card Secures $15M in Funding

Yellow Card, a crypto exchange operating in twelve countries, has secured $15 million in funding. According to the company, they will use the funds to scale their operations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has increased its users across Africa almost 30-fold.

Yellow Card

“Our mission has always been to make cryptocurrency accessible anywhere and everywhere across the African continent. Now, we have the backing to make that a reality, alongside an amazing team of investors who share our vision,” said Chris Maurice, the CEO.

The Series A funding round was led by Valar Ventures, Castle Island Ventures, and Third Prime with participation from Square Inc., Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, GreenHouse Capital, BlockFi, Blockchain.com, MoonPay, and more.

“We believe in Yellow Card’s vision of a Pan-African cryptocurrency platform. What cemented the deal is their multi-national team, which we believe has the local knowledge, technical expertise, and unequivocal passion to address the basic financial services needs of the continent,” stated James Fitzgerald from Valar Ventures.

eNaira Website Goes Live

Nigeria’s eNaira website is live ahead of the launch today. This could indicate that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is keen on seeing its plans for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) succeed.

The website states: “[The] eNaira serves as both a medium of exchange and a store of value, offering better payment prospects in retail transactions when compared to cash payments.”

With a CBDC in place, experts are worried that Nigeria will follow China’s steps and implement more anti-crypto policies.

“Yes, we expect the CBN to champion even more anti-crypto policies, as it is clear it sees crypto as a hindrance to its monetary policy objectives even though data confirms that as a fallacy. Every crypto company in Nigeria should innovate ways to work within a restrictive system and think about jurisdictional changes,” Chiagozie Iwu, CEO of crypto exchange Naijacrypto said.

Paxful Promotes Crypto Developers in Nigeria with Donation

Paxful has announced that it is donating to the Human Rights Foundation. The funds will go to “the Qala Fellowship, a program that will find and grow local Nigerian talent, starting with the developers who want to build a career in crypto.” The program will help the crypto developers to contribute to the open-source network, secure jobs with bitcoin companies, or start their own companies.

Paxful

Paxful CEO Ray Youssef said: “Paxful follows energy, and it is clear that the Nigerian youth will make a profound impact on the global economy through Bitcoin. They have entrepreneurship baked into their DNA, but they [do not have] the chance to showcase their talent on the global stage. First and foremost, the Qala Fellowship is a career roadmap for Nigerian developers. But it also is a way to support the local economy and a means for Bitcoin to capture more developer mindshare. We are proud to fund this project and cannot wait to see what these developers create.”

Nigerians that join this program will benefit from a six-month course that will teach them everything they need to be successful crypto developers. Moreover, Qala Fellowship will facilitate internships and full-time jobs and set up talks with seasoned professionals.

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

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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