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Weekly Roundup: BSC DeFi Platform Xend Finance Launches in Africa

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2021 continues to look bright for bitcoin as Morgan Stanley introduces bitcoin funds for the wealthy. Also, Chinese tech firm Meitu has added $21.6 million in bitcoin to its balance sheet. In this week’s news roundup, we will highlight the launch of Binance Smart Chain-powered Xend Finance in Africa and other top crypto stories.

BSC DeFi Platform Xend Finance launches in Africa

Xend FinanceXend Finance, a DeFi platform built on Binance Smart Chain (BSC) has launched in Africa. The credit union and cooperatives DeFi platform is now on the BSC mainnet. As a result, credit unions can access DeFi for their members.

“Africa is one of the most important continents, representing the future and emergence of DeFi and blockchain capabilities,” said CZ, CEO of Binance. “We are very excited about the mainnet launch of Xend Finance […]. With their platform, they are able to bring stable currency and DeFi investment opportunities to those who normally would not have them.”

Xend Finance is making financial markets more accessible to underserved communities by offering DeFi and Annual Percentage Yields (APY).  The platform also allows users to create cooperatives and Esusu groups (traditional Africa savings groups. Xend Finance has the backing of Binance and Google Launchpad.

“Through our platform and Binance Smart Chain, people can channel their savings into stable currencies, without worry that their money will devalue overnight, and earn higher interest rates through DeFi. We are very excited that blockchain will have a positive impact on the people of Africa,” said Ugochukwu Aronu, CEO of Xend Finance.

Xend Finance has also rolled out $XEND, a token that the company will use to reward platform users.

Dorsey’s NFT Tweet Sold for $2.9M

Jack Dorsey NFT Tweet

Jack Dorsey has sold his NFT tweet for $2,915,835.47 to Sina Estavi, the CEO of Malaysian blockchain company Bridge Oracle. The tweet received bids from different people including Tron’s founder Justin Sun who bid $2 million on March 6, 2021.

“This is not just a tweet! I think years later people will realize the true value of this tweet, like the Mona Lisa painting,” Estavi tweeted.

The proceeds of the NFT tweet will go to GiveDirectly in the form of a bitcoin donation. GiveDirectly is a charity organization that helps the poor in East Africa.

We Have Not Banned Nigerians from Trading Crypto, CBN Clarifies

Central Bank of Nigeria

GodwinPaya, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

According to an article on Todayng, the CBN did not ban Nigerians from trading crypto. Through his deputy Adamu Lamtek, the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele said the central bank did not restrict Nigerians from buying and selling crypto through its directive in February 2021. Instead, the regulator was protecting “the banking sector from the activities of cryptocurrencies.”

“The CBN did not place restrictions on the use of cryptocurrencies and we are not discouraging people from trading in it. What we have just done was to prohibit transactions on cryptocurrencies in the banking sector,” he said.

This clarification could be a first step towards restoring a more regulatory-friendly environment for crypto in Nigeria.

Visa to Allow BTC Purchases Using Visa Credentials

On Fortune’s Leadership Next podcast, Visa’s CEO Al Kelly revealed that the company will allow customers to make bitcoin purchases using their credentials.

“We are trying to do two things; one is enable the purchase of Bitcoin on Visa credentials, and then secondly work with some Bitcoin wallets to allow the Bitcoin to be translated into a fiat currency,” he said.

According to Kelly, allowing instant conversion of BTC to local currencies would encourage about 70 million merchants in the world to start accepting bitcoin payments. Furthermore, Kelly disclosed that the company is working on a fiat-backed digital currency. “We see a strong potential for those to become a new payment vehicle and accelerant in emerging markets,” he stated.

Visa has so far collaborated with wallet providers and platforms like Crypto.com, BlockFi, Fold, and Boulevard.

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

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Weekly Roundup: New Investigation Links Africrypt to MTI, Bitcoin Shoots Past $40k

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Bitcoin chart

This week’s news roundup will reveal the new link investigators have found between Africrypt and Mirror Trading International (MTI). We will also highlight other top crypto stories.

New Investigation Links Africrypt to MTI

Crypto Investigation Bureau (CIB) has found a new link between Africrypt and MTI. These two companies have been at the centre of the recent bitcoin scams in South Africa.

“Some of the same ‘tumblers’ used by Africrypt were also used by MTI,” said Hamilton Cheong, the CEO of CIB.

Money launderers use tumblers to conceal the origin of funds before transferring them elsewhere in small quantities. Chainalysis named MTI the biggest bitcoin scam of 2020. The organisation is currently undergoing liquidation according to local reports in South Africa.

Cheong also thinks that Africrypt was not the victim of a hack as the Cajee brothers claimed. They “perhaps got mixed up with some very bad people,” he stated.

CIB has been working with law enforcement agencies across the globe to investigate the Africrypt matter. The company uses God’s View, a blockchain track and trace system, to look for missing digital assets.

Sokowatch Collaborates with FinX to Offer DeFi-Powered Services in Rwanda

SokawatchSokowatch has collaborated with FinX to offer services powered by Decentralised Finance (DeFi) to informal merchants in Kigali, Rwanda. The initiative will allow these merchants to digitise their transactions, manage cash flows, and plan for their businesses.

The project will kick off with a pilot, which has already onboarded several merchants. To scale the project to thousands of business owners, Sokowatch will get capital by leveraging deposits in the USD-backed stablecoin, Luna.

The goal of the initiative is to provide capital to small business owners that do not have access to formal credit. By helping merchants shift from cash to mobile money and prepayments for DeFi-powered inventory, the two companies believe that they can help boost profitability, resilience, and efficiency for these businesses.

Sokowatch is a company based in East Africa that helps informal retailers to make product orders through apps or SMS. On the other hand, FinX is an initiative of Mercy Corps whose goal is to speed up financial inclusion.

Bitcoin Rises Past $40,000

Bitcoin rose past $40,000 on Monday and Wednesday, creating a frenzy of excitement across the crypto community. Experts think that the recent rally could have emanated from hints that Amazon could accept bitcoin as a form of payment in the future.

According to data on Coinmarketcap, bitcoin hit a high of $40,499.68 on Monday and $40,816.07 on Wednesday. This increase brought the cryptocurrency’s market cap to above $700 billion. The digital asset has, however, dropped below $40,000. At the time of writing, bitcoin was trading at around $39,000.

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Weekly Roundup: Over 17K Kenyan Farmers Get Blockchain-Based Crop Insurance Cover & More

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blockchain-based crop insurance

In this week’s roundup, we will cover several top crypto news. From one of those stories, you will learn that thousands of Kenyan farmers have received blockchain-based crop insurance covers.

Over 17K Kenyan Farmers Get Blockchain-Based Crop Insurance Covers

A partnership between ACRE Africa and decentralised protocol Etherisc has allowed more than 17,000 small-scale farmers in Kenya to get blockchain-based crop insurance covers. The two partners have already processed insurance payouts for some of these farmers. The farmers will pay premiums as low as $0.5 to obtain insurance coverage for crops negatively affected by climate change.

“The solution that we built with our valued partners at ACRE Africa overcomes a number of challenges associated with traditional crop insurance. [Some of these challenges include] delayed payments, high premium costs, and lack of transparency,” said Michiel Berende, Etherisc’s Chief Inclusive Officer.

The project has received funds from Ethereum Foundation, the Decentralised Insurance Foundation, and the Chainlink Community Grant.

DFS Lab Partners With Stellar Development Foundation to Launch a Blockchain Bootcamp in Africa

DFS Lab has launched a call for application for its Blockchain Bootcamp that was launched in partnership with the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF). The Blockchain Bootcamp for African startups will provide early to mid-stage startups with a chance to build on the Stellar network, which is an open-source blockchain for financial products and services.

Stellar

The three-day virtual bootcamp will see participants answer key business questions while receiving hands-on guidance and support from DFS Lab and SDF. The companies with the most promising solutions will be awarded prizes between 5,000 to 20,000 USDC. Applications close on August 20, 2021.

Zimbabwe Seeks to Include VASPs in its Securities Law

The Zimbabwean government recently announced its intention to broaden the definition of securities to include Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs). VASPs refer to institutions that facilitate the transaction, administration, and safekeeping of digital currencies. Cryptocurrency exchanges in Zimbabwe will, therefore, be regulated under the amended Securities and Exchange Act.

The country’s anti-money laundering laws will also be changed to allow regulatory authorities to deal with the possible abuse of cryptoassets by bad actors. This is the first time cryptoassets are being considered under Zimbabwean law, which suggests that the government is becoming more open to cryptocurrencies as an asset class.

Upcoming Upgrade to Enable Smart Contracts on Bitcoin

legitimate bitcoin doublerAn upgrade that could enable smart contracts to run on the Bitcoin blockchain is imminent. The upgrade, named Taproot, will also improve the privacy of multi-signature transactions and reduce the cost of transacting on the Lightning Network.

Edul Patel, CEO of Mudrex, an algorithmic crypto trading platform, said: “Bitcoin’s Taproot upgrade might just be the key element that would propel it into mainstream finance. The bottom line is the kind of revolution that the Taproot upgrade might bring for Bitcoin is phenomenal.”

The Taproot upgrade received the green light from the bitcoin mining community through a vote. The implementation will take place in November 2021. This is the biggest Bitcoin network upgrade since SegWit in 2017.

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Weekly Roundup: Kenya Asked to Consider Blockchain-Based Elections & More

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Blockchain-Based Elections

In this weekly roundup, we will highlight the call for blockchain-based elections in Kenya and other top industry news.

Kenya Asked to Consider Blockchain-Based Elections

According to local reports, a candidate vying for the electoral commission’s commissioner position has asked Kenya to consider blockchain-based elections.

The candidate, Justus Abonyo, believes that adopting blockchain technology can cut down the cost of elections by up to 300 percent. Abonyo also said that the blockchain will improve election transparency and security. In the past, the opposition political parties have accused the winners of stealing votes.

“The cost of a ballot in Kenya ranges between US$ 7-US$ 25 (Sh700-Sh2,500). If we use blockchain technology, this cost will go down to US$0.5 (Sh50). This is an area I would explore as a commissioner,” he told the selection panel.

Kenya is preparing for a general election in 2022. Currently, the government is hiring a fresh administration to run the upcoming election.

Save the Children Rwanda Partners with Cardano

CardanoSave the Children, a charity organisation, has partnered with Cardano in Rwanda to enable ADA donations.

The Cardano Foundation has developed a payments gateway to make this happen. Hours after rolling out its application, Save the Children received 22,000 ADA, which is about US$ 30,000.

“Through Cardano, Save the Children in Rwanda now has a starter pot of the cryptocurrency ADA which we can deploy to projects for children. But there are also countless possibilities through blockchain. Firstly, the blockchain can directly impact children’s lives through initiatives such as digital school records. Secondly, it can increase our efficiency and transparency as an organisation,” said the Director of Save the Children Rwanda Maggie Korde.

The payments gateway means that the charity organisation can hold and get cardano donations without the need to convert them to fiat money first. The NGO has been receiving bitcoin donations since 2013.

Africrypt Owners Remain On the Run

The brothers behind the latest alleged Africrypto bitcoin scam in South Africa remain on the run. According to an article on Cointelegraph, the Cajee brothers left South Africa in December 2020 and have been traced to various hotels in the UAE.

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) is also not in a position to take any regulatory action because crypto assets are unregulated in the country.

“At this stage, we have only found evidence of crypto-asset transactions. Currently, crypto assets are [unregulated] in terms of any financial sector law in South Africa and consequently, the FSCA is not in a position to take any regulatory action,” FSCA said.

However, the authority said that it has conducted investigations that indicate Africrypt was running a Ponzi scheme. Investors have taken legal action in an attempt to recover their funds. Only time can tell whether this effort will have a positive outcome.

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

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