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Weekly Roundup: Stablecoin Begins Testing in Kenya’s Regulatory Sandbox, Construction of Fourth #BuiltWithBitcoin School Begins

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This week’s news roundup covers a stablecoin project test in Kenya’s regulatory sandbox and other stories. Keep reading to learn more.

Stablecoin Begins Testing in Kenya’s Regulatory Sandbox

The Young Entrepreneurs Network is testing a stablecoin project in Kenya’s regulatory sandbox. Initially, the entrepreneurs plan to use the Young Entrepreneurs Network Token (YENTS) within the network to pay for sporting events and training. The test will help streamline the process of acquiring regulatory approval.

According to a report on The Africa Report, the young entrepreneurs will launch the token in November. Also, they are planning to use the stablecoin to accept investments to build a golf course within 18 months.

The stablecoin is backed by the Kenyan Shilling on a ratio of 1:1 or the equivalent US dollar amount. The Network’s CEO, Kamau Nyabwengi, told The Africa Report that there is potential to use YENTS in financial services. For instance, people can use it to pool together savings at a small-scale for investment projects through blockchain technology.

Besides the Network’s project, several blockchain startups have joined Kenya’s regulatory sandbox, an initiative of the Capital Markets Authority. In 2019, the regulator said that it would not allow companies dealing with cryptocurrencies to join the sandbox.

Paxful Begins Construction of Fourth #BuiltWithBitcoin School

Young AfricansOn September 17, 2020, Paxful announced that it had broken ground for the fourth school under the #BuiltWithBitcoin initiative. The school will be located in the Ankara Nandu Community of Sanga Local in Nigeria. It will serve 100 to 120 children aged between three and six years old. Moreover, it will operate as an adult training centre in the evenings. Paxful will also include solar power, a well, and a filtration system in the project.

The community is made up of about 4,000 people and only has one school that offers both primary and secondary school education.

“We chose this particular community because of the lack of necessary resources and limited school infrastructure. They are in dire need of quality learning spaces, and this school is an honest representation of the impact bitcoin can have on societies,” Paxful CEO Ray Youssef said.

Paxful built the first two schools in Rwanda in partnership with ZamZam Water and completed them in 2017 and 2018. The crypto company constructed the third school in Kenya in 2020. Paxful aims to build 100 schools in Africa with bitcoin.

Standard Bank Explores Blockchain Application in Insurance

Standard Bank is exploring the use of blockchain technology in delivering motor vehicle insurance claims. According to Digital Head, Deepesh Thomas, blockchain will increase transparency in the insurance industry for both insurers and customers.

“The blockchain allows us to automate the process, reduce costs of claims, track previous claim behaviour, and integrate it with the service provider. Both the insurer and the customer have visibility to the entire value chain as a result,” he told ITWeb Africa in an interview.

The big four banks in South Africa have launched insurance products online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, Standard Bank Insurance recently started offering life insurance online.

Furthermore, the bank has invested in an insurance platform based on the software-as-a-service model. The platform will allow the bank to innovate and run product tests within weeks. Compared to conventional platforms, this platform will speed up the customisation and implementation process.

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Weekly Roundup: Kenyan Digital Service Tax Will Not Affect Crypto Adoption

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Digital Service Tax

In this week’s news roundup, you will learn about the new Digital Service Tax in Kenya and what it could mean to crypto companies. We have also highlighted other top crypto stories from Africa.

Kenyan Digital Service Tax Will Not Affect Crypto Adoption

The Digital Service Tax (DST) in Kenya has been in effect since January 1, 2021. The tax affects anyone that derives income “from services offered in the digital marketplace.” Some of the products that the tax authority is currently targeting are event tickets sold online, e-books, subscription-based media, and movies.

Kenyan bitcoin policyAt the moment, it is unclear whether crypto companies will be part of the 1000 firms the taxman is targeting. Even if they are, however, stakeholders do not think the tax will deter crypto adoption in the country.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, the country representative of the crypto exchange Bitzlato said:

“With regards to it having a negative impact on crypto adoption in Kenya, I do not believe so as there are so many factors that are driving the rapid growth of crypto in East Africa and the youth are on the forefront pushing this.”

Individuals and companies will pay 1.5 percent of the gross transaction value as the Digital Service Tax. According to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Digital Service Tax affects both residents and overseas companies.

“For residents and companies with a permanent establishment in Kenya, the Digital Service Tax will be an advance tax that they will offset against the income taxes due in the course of the financial year. For non-residents and companies without a permanent establishment in the country, the Digital Service tax will be a final tax,” KRA stated in a publication.

That said, crypto regulation in Kenya still seems a far way off. Nevertheless, a regulatory sandbox is in existence. It accepts blockchain companies but does not admit companies dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Binance to Hold Blockchain Week in February

Starting February 1, 2021, Binance will hold a virtual conference dubbed “Binance Blockchain Week.” The five-day event will include live panels, keynote speeches, and a hackathon.

Speakers will include Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, Chainlink Co-Founder Sergey Nazarov, and the Co-Founder of the Acala Network, Bette Chen.

You can register for this event here.

Electroneum’s Expansion Plans Face Barriers

As Electroneum expands electricity and airtime top-up services with crypto to more African countries, it has come across a significant challenge. According to the head of business development Nigel Pooley, mobile network operators and electricity companies are reluctant to embrace crypto.

“There is very little appetite for crypto amongst these two industries. […] They believe the risks have yet to outweigh the benefits,” he told Cointelegraph.

As they pursue direct partnerships with mobile network operators and electricity companies, Electroneum is working with third-party agents in Africa. These agents are crypto-friendly, hence allowing them to facilitate ETN-based airtime subscriptions and bill payments. ETN is the company’s cryptocurrency.

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Weekly Roundup: Bitcoin Hits New All-Time High at $40,000, WhatsApp Issues Ultimatum

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Bitcoin New All Time High

In our first news roundup of 2021, we highlight that bitcoin hit a new all-time high, continuing its seemingly unstoppable rally, as well as WhatsApp’s new privacy-invading rules that come with an ultimatum.

Bitcoin Hits New All-Time High at $40,000

Bitcoin has crossed the $40,000 mark after breaking $30,000 for the first time a few days ago. This extends the bull run beyond the holiday season. By the close of 2020, bitcoin had increased by over 300 percent.

Most Effective Ways to Get BitcoinsFurthermore, the total cryptocurrency market cap has risen to over $1 trillion from the $760 billion recorded during the 2017 bull run.

“The $1 trillion mark cements cryptocurrency as an investable asset class that no longer sits on the fringes of Traditional Finance as a toy for retail investors. It demonstrates that this asset class is large enough to absorb large orders like we have seen recently with the slew of institutions entering over the last few months,” Jack Purdy, a Messari decentralised finance analyst, told Coindesk.

Besides the impact from institutional investors, bitcoin could also be rallying as holders move their money from altcoins like XRP that are facing regulatory issues to BTC.

Interestingly, bitcoin is moving up in the ranks of the top currencies in the world. According to FiatMarketCap, bitcoin ranks 16 after currencies such as the US dollar, the Euro, and the Russian Ruble. However, the cryptocurrency is ranking higher than the Norwegian Krone, the Swedish Krona, and the Mexican Peso.

The value of bitcoin has also surpassed that of several publicly traded companies like Alibaba, Samsung, Walmart, Walt Disney, and Visa. According to Coinmarketcap, the total market capitalisation of bitcoin is about $716.5 billion.

Facebook Wants Your WhatsApp Data, Issues Ultimatum On New Privacy-Invading Terms & Conditions

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has updated its terms and privacy policy giving users an ultimatum to accept the new rules. If a user fails to accept the new terms by February 8, they will not have access to the app.

WhatsAppThe platform has been sending the update alert through a pop-up notification. If you receive this notification, you should read the terms and decide whether to accept them or not.

In 2016, WhatsApp users got a one-time opportunity to withdraw from the data sharing option. However, users will now have to allow the platform to share their data if they want to continue using the app.

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information with this family of companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings,” WhatsApp writes in the updated privacy policy.

The platform collects information like your phone number, the phone numbers of the people in your address book, your profile picture, and your status information. The status information includes when you were last seen online. Facebook has in the past come under fire and received fines over how it handles the privacy of its users.

What’s more, the Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra has received a lot of criticism from financial regulators since it was announced in 2019. As a result, the project has lost several partners, including PayPal and Visa. Moreover, the Libra Association rebranded to the Diem Association in December ahead of the launch this month.

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Weekly Roundup: Binance Records 5 Million Trust Wallet Users, Bitcoin Price Hits $29,000

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In the last week of our news compilation series in 2020, we feature new data from Binance and bitcoin’s latest price rally.

Binance Records Five Million Trust Wallet Users in 2020

BinanceAccording to the latest data from Binance, Trust Wallet users hit five million in 2020. Moreover, the exchange recorded more than $31 billion in total local currency trade order volumes in 2020.

With regard to P2P trading, Binance reported total order volumes of $6 billion in 2020. Also, active P2P users rose by 760 percent from 2019. The peer-to-peer service now supports 51 local currencies.

The average daily trading volume on the exchange increased by 36 percent to $3.88 billion. Additionally, over 110 exchanges, lending, and payment platforms have listed Binance USD (BUSD) in 2020 from more than 20.

Binance has also announced that it is supporting SegWit deposits for bitcoin. Users can now select the BTC (SegWit) network to transfer funds to a SegWit address. By using SegWit, you can cut down the fees you pay. Note that Binance already supports SegWit withdrawals for bitcoin. Segregated Witness (SegWit) is a bitcoin protocol upgrade that boosts the network’s transaction throughput.

Bitcoin Price Exceeds $29,000, Hits New All-Time High

Bitcoin exceeded $26,000 on Saturday as institutional investors continue to drive the present bull-run. Additionally, the US dollar inflation could also be contributing to the increasing bitcoin price as people turn to the cryptocurrency for protection.

About two weeks ago, bitcoin surpassed the $20,000 mark for the first time since 2017. Some of the institutional investors that could be behind the bull-run, according to an article on Coindesk are SkyBridge Capital, Guggenheim, and MassMutual.

Currently, the bitcoin price is above $29,000 and investors like Scaramucci from SkyBridge Capital believe this is just the beginning.

Luno CEO Predicts Rise of Institutional Investment in 2021

LunoMarcus Swanepoel, the CEO of Luno, is of the opinion that the current interest from institutional investors will continue into 2021. He also thinks that we could feel the real impact of their actions next year.

“In 2021, the success (or not) of their decisions will become clear. This could motivate a whole new wave of institutional investors to follow their lead. MicroStrategy’s $425 million investment in bitcoin, for example, has already more than doubled in value (as of 18 December 2020). These are numbers that will interest any business or investor,” he writes.

Bitcoin news coverage on mainstream media could rise if the price continues increasing beyond $30,000, he says. Although the coverage this year has not been as huge as it was in 2017, it has been positive.

Furthermore, Swanepoel thinks the bitcoin price could rise to new highs if it follows the 2017 halving pattern. Since the May 2020 halving, the bitcoin price has grown steadily. The same trend could persist into 2021.

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