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What Happened to “Bitconnect Guy” Carlos Matos?

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Carlos Matos

You might recognise Carlos Matos from the famous meme in which he screams “Bitconneeeeecct” with plenty of gusto. Matos was an “investor” in the now-defunct Bitconnect Coin.

Bitconnect was a cryptocurrency scam that went from obscure in 2016 at about US$ 0.17 to a high of $436 in 2017. It screamed of potential, becoming a top 20 cryptocurrency token. This couldn’t last, as the price came crashing to $0.40. Regulators came cracking down on the project, forcing its cessation in 2018.

Investor Frenzy in Bitconnect

If you logged in to the website, you’d find no whitepaper or clear team identification, but a promise of unusual profit. Through four phases of the project’s rollout, investors got a guarantee unlike any other in traditional investments such as stocks.

Phase one was the giveaway of 4.8 million Bitconnect coins to investors and the community. The second phase (first quarter of 2017) entailed the launch of BCC wallet and the desktop client to enable staking and mining BCC (Bitconnect coins). Phase three (second quarter of 2017) would be the launch of staking and mining. This meant 120% returns for investors per year! The fourth phase targeted introduction of the “Smart Card” and wider merchant adoption.

A Massive Cryptocurrency Scam

Bitconnect

Bitconnect is an excellent use case for newcomers to learn how crypto scams can operate.

  • Firstly, BitConnect had no traction until the lending platform was announced. For a profitable business, it’s mandatory to have a working product, a product-market fit and a clear revenue model, among other fundamental aspects of valuation. BitConnect had a new product with a supposed market (since adoption had to be pushed) and a complicated revenue model. It simply didn’t make business sense.
  • Secondly, BitConnect guaranteed profits of over 91% and promised returns of over 480% per year. No basis for the guarantee came out clearly from the promises of this once-in-a-lifetime deal with no financial risk. All investors needed to trust was an “undefeatable” trading bot – it couldn’t lose! Assumptions cemented in the flow of money from all over the world – US$2.6 billion – at the peak! For many, the profits were irresistible.
  • The third red flag was an extended capital holding period. This was explained away as a preference/ incentivisation toward staking. After all, it made more sense to profit more as you held your money longer in the system – but even traditional finance allows for clear/rapid cash out should you need your money. It’s yours, right?

The low daily return rate hooked on the old and young. Unsecured lending among traditional financial sector players had after all paved the way for the daily return concept not to seem too foreign. These numbers made far more sense if you put in more than US$ 10,000. You can see why Matos’ profit of $140,000 from an initial principal of $25,000 had many addicted to “the future of investing”. 2017’s cryptocurrency boom of bitcoin and other tokens further served to cement this thought with all manner of possibilities.

If the returns weren’t sufficient or attractive for you, Bitconnect provided a lucrative referral program with seven levels of earning commissions. It was an extra assurance of the profit structure. The bot would have to work overtime and compound profits to ensure everybody won. Put these together, and you have a catastrophe – a true castle in the clouds!

The Tragic Ending

The charade collapsed when the law came calling. 2018 saw victims of the scam lose 30%, then 90% of their value to the insider cashouts with the closure of the Bitconnect exchange.

The Ponzi scheme came full circle with its promoters and their aggressive propaganda disappearing from any reasonable trace. Other exchanges delisted BCC, but the damage had been done. Bitconnect cited excuses on bad press, the Texas State Securities Board Cease and Desist order and DDos (distributed denial of service) attacks, yet the truth was out in the open: scammers won.

Matos disappeared, only to resurface recently taking a lot about weight loss through intermittent fasting. He’s trying to build repute in a different field, which is definitely better than the scam that made him famous.

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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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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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