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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Warms to Financial Innovation

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Financial Innovation

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is warming to the idea of emerging financial technologies as it joins the rest of the world in cautiously welcoming digital money. This was revealed when the RBZ governor, John Mangudya, presented the country’s monetary policy statement for the year 2020 on February 17.

The latest announcement is a continuation of the central bank’s rapprochement towards emerging financial innovations after a turbulent 2018 when it had run-ins with technology companies that sold or facilitated the sale of crypto tokens to the Zimbabwean public.

RBZ’s Change of Heart

The RBZ now agrees that technology and innovations have significantly altered the financial landscape and the way financial institutions offer services and products and that Zimbabwe needs to move with the times.

In his brief statement on the topic, the governor touched on the RBZ’s progress in establishing a regulatory sandbox that will allow innovators to connect to banks and other financial institutions.

Mangudya said:

“Further to the advice in the 2019 Mid Term Monetary Policy Statement, the Bank (RBZ) has embarked on several initiatives to establish the Fintech agenda. The Bank is in the process of finalizing a regulatory sandbox framework. The framework will outline the qualification, application and evaluation criterion for entities to be admitted into the sandbox. The operationalisation of the framework will thus promote competition and efficiencies through innovation.”

RBZ now says banking institutions must upgrade their information communication technologies (ICTs) to be system consistent with developments in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. Additionally, banks are expected to explore new technologies and business models to enable them to compete in the digital age.

Statement Vague on Critical Aspects

However, the statement does not address the question of whether fintech ventures, such as privately issued cryptocurrencies, remain banned or not. There is still confusion on whether it is cryptocurrency trading that is banned or if it is the selling of tokens to the public that is banned.

The RBZ, which lacks a consistent and coherent position on this subject, appears to be reading from the same script as many of its peers from the continent. Several African central banks have previously shown a determined opposition towards privately issued tokens and the underlying blockchain technology.

Nevertheless, as the ignorance levels concerning this innovation continue to drop, so too has been the opposition. In fact, many central banks believe they can join in this space by creating their own cryptocurrencies, called central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

Some are at very advanced stages of issuing these while others are still at the studying stage. On the African continent, the Egyptian central bank had indicated its intention to launch its own CBDC as well as Ghana and Mauritius. 

The RBZ has announced an intention to issue its own CBDC but a mere statement was enough to spark excitement among the country’s blockchain industry players.

Cautious Welcome

Cryptocurrency Token SalesBitcoinAfrica.io asked Zimbabweans involved in the country’s small blockchain space for their reaction to this latest announcement by the RBZ.

We reached out to Mike Makazhe, a young entrepreneur who says he is working to create a cryptocurrency for Zimbabweans.

Makazhe said: “I think financial institutions need to improve. It’s true most of their services are outdated and Pecunia (his crypto project) can help bring this (expected) to life.”

Another influential figure in Zimbabwe’s blockchain space, who did not wish to be identified, was less sanguine about this latest announcement.

He said: “The only thing I think about it is they are taking a dribble. They are happy with a broken system because it works in their favour.”

According to him, the RBZ is just putting on a show but lacks the will to actually implement some of the fintech proposals contained in the monetary policy.

The same sentiments were echoed by another crypto enthusiast who commented on this development in one crypto chat group on social media. The individual also noted that there was a lot of emphasis on banks and less on the private players that fall outside the RBZ’s regulatory reach.

These were also the sentiments shared by other individuals in the crypto community. They cautiously welcome this announcement but say the RBZ should be judged on implementation not the intention.

Zimbabwean institutions like the RBZ are notorious for taking their time to adopt technologies and systems that improve efficiency but are quick to implement anything that improves collection of revenues or the scarce foreign currency.

For example, it has taken the RBZ several years to capacitate a credit reference bureau, a body that can potentially end the country’s problem of high levels of non-performing loans. Some fear the same approach will be used on fintechs and the country will lag behind as the rest of the continent move ahead to adopt this innovation.

Zimbabwe’s small fintech industry expects the RBZ to issue more statements that clarify the country’s position as the year progresses. 

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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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Weekly Roundup: Bitcoin Hits over $60,000, Luno Launches ETH & USDC Interest Accounts

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin broke past the $60,000 mark on March 13, 2021, to surpass Facebook in total market value. To learn more about this and other stories, keep reading this article.

Bitcoin Hits Over $60,000 and Surpasses Facebook in Value

Bitcoin AcceptedOn March 13, 2021, bitcoin recorded a high of $61,683.86. This is yet another milestone that the cryptocurrency has achieved after recording a series of several all-time highs in the past three months.

Institutional investors continue to boost bitcoin’s price with Chinese firm Meitu being the latest company to purchase crypto. The firm bought $22.1 million in ether and $17.9 million in bitcoin.

“Beeple’s $69 million [non-fungible token] record demonstrates the true power of crypto, adding curiosity and fuel to the retail fire. Expect volatility but a landing of $100K levels by Q3,” said Jehan Chu, Managing Partner of trading firm Kenetic.

Furthermore, bitcoin’s market cap has risen to the eighth position, surpassing Facebook. Currently, bitcoin has a market capitalization of about $1.07 trillion while Facebook has a market cap of $808.76 billion.

Luno Users Can Now Earn Interest on Ether and USDC Savings

Luno users can now add ETH and USD coin (USDC) to their savings wallet where they can earn 4 percent and 7.6 percent APR, respectively. The exchange introduced the savings wallet five months ago allowing users to earn up to four percent on their bitcoin savings.

Luno Earn

“The addition of two new cryptocurrencies to the savings wallet gives customers even greater flexibility and potential to earn interest as they grow their crypto savings. A high percentage of Africans who own cryptocurrency do so for speculative investment purposes, with the majority holding their crypto for the long term. If your crypto investment strategy is holding your crypto long-term, the savings wallet earns you additional interest for what you were already doing,” said Marius Reitz, the General Manager for Africa, at Luno.

According to a Luno 2020 survey, more than a third of the respondents (35 percent) were not earning interest on their traditional cash savings. On the other hand, 54 percent were not earning interest on their current bank accounts. As a result, Luno wants to change these statistics with its crypto savings wallet.

The savings feature pays out interest monthly and users can access their savings 24/7. Moreover, 250,000 people are using the savings wallet since its launch.

South African Company Invests in Bitcoin

It is not large companies alone that are investing in bitcoin. According to an article on Tech Central, open-source software firm LSD Information Technology has purchased R2 million in bitcoin (about $135,570.70).

The company’s board agreed to invest in the digital asset on January 4, 2021. In the initial purchase, it bought R1 million in bitcoin then bought the other R1 million over the next two weeks. The firm used the crypto exchange BitFund to buy and hold the BTC.

“Our vision is to make the world more open, and bitcoin supports our philosophy on how we believe the world works best. Working in the open-source space seems to attract many crypto enthusiasts for whom the decentralised open nature of cryptocurrencies appeals,” said LSD founder and CEO Stefan Lesicnik.

The firm participates in running and maintaining bitcoin full nodes.

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

Bitcoin Beginner's Handbook

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