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Weekly Roundup: Nigeria’s eNaira CBDC Faces Unsuccessful Start & More

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Central Bank of Nigeria

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Nigeria’s eNaira CBDC’s disconcerted first week, Chipper Cash’s new funding from FTX, and other top crypto stories.

Nigeria’s eNaira Digital Currency Faces an Unsuccessful First Week

Barely a week after its launch, Nigeria’s eNaira digital currency had an embarrassing first week that was marred by various issues.

Naira devaluation

Hillato / CC BY-SA

As the first central bank digital currency launched by an African country, the eNaira is supposed to exist within a mobile wallet and have the same value as a physical naira as well as be interchangeable for everyday transactions. This move saw the Central Bank of Nigeria launch two types of eNaira wallets – one for individuals and the other for merchants –  both available on Android and Apple users.

However, users experienced a lot of challenges and according to a report published on Quartz, some users reported that some parts of the wallet didn’t work properly for the individuals’ wallet.

Following the poor reviews left for the Android version of the individual app, it was taken down despite having been downloaded 100,000 times before that while its Apple version was still available.

Despite the unsuccessful first week, the eNaira platform is said to have integrated 33 banks and onboarded more than 2,000 users, with the website receiving over 2.5 million visitors per day.

South African Treasury Prohibits Pension Funds From Investing in Cryptocurrencies

The South African government through the Treasury has published a regulatory draft prohibiting pension funds from investing in cryptocurrencies.

According to The Treasury, the need to introduce the regulation – known as Regulation 28 – has been fuelled by the high-risk characteristic of cryptocurrencies. The draft states that pension funds cannot invest in crypto assets whether directly or indirectly.

Crypto-asset means a digital representation of value that is not issued by a central bank, but is capable of being traded, transferred or stored electronically by natural and legal persons for the purpose of payment, investment and other forms of utility; applies cryptographic techniques and uses distributed ledger technology,” the Treasury states.

The Treasury’s definition of crypto assets seems to encompass anything issued on the blockchain such as tokenised conventional assets like bonds, real estate, and stocks.

The draft by the South African Treasury went further to state, “This restriction is in line with the Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG) policy proposal of not allowing collective investment schemes and pension funds to have exposure to crypto-assets be maintained until further notice.”

Chipper Cash Secures a Series C Extension Round Led by FTX Worth $150 Million

Chipper Cash has secured a Series C extension funding round worth $150 million. Chipper Cash is an African cross-border payments company.

Chipper CashAs reported in TechCrunch, the investment round was led by FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange platform. FTX is one of the largest cryptocurrency derivatives exchanges in the world and the investment in Chipper Cash is its first in Africa.

SVB Capital also reinvested during the extension round amidst other existing investors like Bezos Expeditions, Deciens Capital, One Way Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Tribe Capital.

The new investment comes barely six months after the startup closed its first Series C round after raising $100 million. Additionally, Chipper Cash has since been able to expand to the United Kingdom and the US, making it possible for people living in those countries to send money to the African markets.

Chipper Cash’s total Series C raise currently stands at $250 million and it plans to use the funds to continue scaling and “maintain our lead in the space.”

Black Rock Rhino Set to Raise Funds for Rhinos via the Auction of Horn NFTs

Rhino Horn NFT

Black Rock Rhino, a leading rhino conservancy in South Africa, plans to raise funds for the endangered species through an auction of rhino horn non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The move will see Black Rock Rhino partner with Virtual Nation Builders – a blockchain technology firm – to auction the NFTs at Momint, one of South Africa’s biggest NFT marketplaces.

The auction is expected to take place on November 11, 2021, and according to a statement shared by Black Rock Rhino, the proceeds will be used to cater for some of the sanctuary’s day-to-day expenses.

“The net proceeds will go towards securing the area, feeding, vaccines as well as the other day to day operating expenditure of the conservancies,” explained the statement.

Moreover, part of the proceeds will also aid conservationists in their ongoing efforts to minimize the number of rhino deaths. The auction of horn NFT will enable rhino lovers across the world to acquire a rhino horn without necessarily killing a rhino.

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Weekly Roundup: African Web3 Mobile Games Publisher Carry 1st Secures $27M in Funding & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you will read about Carry 1st securing a $27 million funding round and more.

African Web3 Games Publisher, Carry 1st, Secures $27M in Funding

Carry 1st, a mobile games publisher, has announced that it has successfully raised $27 million in funding to grow its digital content creation and publishing platform in Africa. 

Initially, the company said it would use the funds to grow its content portfolio by exploring Web3 play-to-earn (P2E) games, integrating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the gaming experience, and expanding its internal capacity. However, it appears as though Carry 1st will use its latest funding round to expand the capabilities of Pay1st, its monetization-as-a-service platform, which allows third-party publishers to make more money in Africa.

Carry 1st’s funding round was led by Bitkraft Ventures and saw additional participation from Andreessen Horowitz, commonly known as a16z. Alumni Ventures, Kepple Ventures, Konvoy, Lateral Capital, and TTV Capital also took part in the round. This funding round comes a year after the company raised $20 million in funding that a16 and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) supported. 

Nigerian Cryptocurrency Exchange, Roqqu, Granted European Virtual Currency License

Roqqu, a Nigerian crypto exchange, has been given a virtual currency license for the European Economic Area after two years of waiting for permission from regulatory authorities. 

With the license, Roqqu will now be able to operate in 30 countries and expand its services within one of the world’s largest crypto markets. Roqqu plans to attract early traders keen on gaining an edge in the crypto sector by offering a better experience and competitive fees for newcomers. In addition, the company hopes to reach more than five million users in 2023, up from the 1.4 million users it has in Nigeria, which was the only country it operated in until it was awarded the license. 

Traditional cross-border payment methods are known to take days, and this is what Roqqu seeks to solve. Benjamin Onmor, Roqqu’s CEO said, “It makes a lot of sense to solve this problem by using crypto as the vehicle. Crypto is a faster and cheaper route that can bridge the gap and help reduce fees for moving money globally. This is the core of the problem we want to solve.”

Roqqu plans to expand to other counties in Africa, with Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda being top of the list of countries it’s eyeing to expand into. 

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Weekly Roundup: Morocco’s Central Bank Announces Completion of Draft Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you will read about the Central Bank of Morocco’s announcement on the completion of its draft legal framework on cryptocurrencies, Nigeria’s plans to establish a regulatory framework for stablecoins and initial coin offerings and more.

Morocco’s Central Bank Announces the Completion of its Draft Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework 

Morocco is set to see the introduction of a new cryptocurrency bill following the country’s Central Bank announcement around the completion of the development of a cryptocurrency regulatory framework. 

The bill, which was written by the Central Bank of Morocco, referred to as Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM), will be introduced to the public for discussion and is set to legally define crypto in the fast-growing market of Morocco. This is in a bid to protect individuals while still not constraining innovation in the country. 

Morocco’s Central Bank Governor, Abdellatif Jouahiri, already announced a series of discussions between BAM and various stakeholders in late December 2022 that will precede the implementation of the bill. The stakeholders targeted include regulators such as the Insurance Supervisory Authority, the Moroccan Capital Markets Authority (AMMC), and Social Security (ACAPS).

Jouahiri went on to add that the country’s Central Bank had collaborated with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to develop the document. There are also earlier claims that Morocco had reached out to the Central Banks of France, Sweden, and Switzerland in a bid to study their regulatory experience with crypto assets. 

Nigeria Set to Develop Legal Framework for ICOs and Stablecoins

Nigerian SEC to Regulate CryptoThe Nigerian Central Bank has announced plans to consider the development of a regulatory framework for the potential utilization of initial coin offerings (ICOs) and stablecoins. 

The new plans to create a regulatory framework for ICOs and stablecoins were published in an 83-page strategy paper by the country’s Central Bank. The document went ahead to note that stablecoins have the potential to become a successful payment mechanism in the country. As for the ICOs, the report cites the need to have them regulated to prevent investors from making losses as it considers the potential that ICOs have when it comes to crowdfunding, fundraising for capital projects, or peer-to-peer lending. 

The paper also discussed the eNaira, Nigeria’s CBDC, which was launched in October 2021. In the report, the Central Bank of Nigeria has stood its ground on the potential of the eNaira, terming it as an “enabler for transformation” for the country’s economy even as it looks to complete its implementation in the next three to five years. 

The news around designing a regulatory framework for ICOs and stablecoins comes barely a month after the West African announced its plans to legalise cryptocurrency usage. 

Jack Dorsey’s Block, Inc. Seeks to Partner with Crypto Companies in Africa

Block, Inc., a multinational technology conglomerate co-founded by former Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, is looking to partner with cryptocurrency companies in the African continent. 

The news was shared by Thomas Templeton, who heads the company’s bitcoin mining business and self-custody wallet. Speaking on the collaboration, Templeton said, “Yes, we’re always looking for opportunities to partner. We know we can’t do it alone and we’re not going to build everything to that.”

Block, Inc. is interested in collaborating with companies that decentralise mining, be it physical mining or through the use of hardware or software. On the software side, Block, Inc. is keen to partner with companies offering on- and off-ramp solutions for buying and selling bitcoin. The multinational company has already made some investments in Africa, with the most recent investment being in Gridless’ $2 million seed round, where it led the round. Gridless is a Kenyan-based bitcoin mining company that helps to bring new energy generation to rural communities in the country. 

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Weekly Roundup: Nigeria Looking to Legalise Cryptocurrency Usage, CAR’s Sango Coin Postponed & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you will read about Nigeria’s plans to legalise the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the country, Sango Coin listing postponed by the Central African Republic due to market conditions, and more.

Nigeria Looking to Legalise Cryptocurrency Usage 

The Nigerian government is reportedly expected to pass a law that will recognise the usage of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in a bid to keep up with global practices. 

Nigerian SEC to Regulate CryptoThe news was reported by Punch, a Nigerian-based local newspaper, following an interview with Babangida Ibrahim, the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Markets Chairman. The newspaper shared that if the Investments and Securities Act 2007 (Amendment) Bill is signed into law, it would permit the local Securities and Exchange Commission to “recognise cryptocurrency and other digital funds as capital for investment.”

Speaking about the proposed bill, Ibrahim said, “Like I said earlier during the second reading, we need an efficient and vibrant capital market in Nigeria. For us to do that, we have to be up to date [with] global practices.”

The report comes nearly 24 months after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered Nigerian crypto exchanges and service providers to cease any crypto-related activity and instructed all banks to shut down the accounts of any individuals or entities found to be engaging in crypto-related activities.

Ibrahim, however, noted that the law will not be a 180-degree turn on the ban issued in February 2021. Rather, it will be a secondary review of what is within the mandate of the CBN’s powers. 

In addition to the proposed legal recognition of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the law will also outline the regulatory roles of the CBN and Nigeria’s Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) on matters relating to digital currencies. The new law also comes at a time when Nigerians have continued to show little to no interest in the country’s central bank digital currency, the eNaira. 

Central African Republic Postpones Sango Coin Listing

The Central African Republic (CAR) has announced that it will delay the listing of the digital currency, Sango Coin, on various crypto exchanges citing current market conditions plus marketing reasons. 

The announcement was shared in the cryptocurrency’s Telegram group. The coin was launched in July 2022 following the country’s acceptance of Bitcoin as legal tender in April, a move that saw it become the first country in Africa to do so. Additionally, CAR planned to raise close to $1 billion through the sale of the Sango Coin over the next 12 months.

The country planned to do this by offering attractive incentives to foreign investors, such as a CAR passport and citizenship by investment, among others. However, while only $1.66 million worth of the coin has been sold so far, the move to have foreigner purchase the country’s citizenship was also blocked and deemed unconstitutional by CAR’s top court in August. 

While the Central African Republic has faced various challenges since its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender, it does not take away how significant the move is in the widespread adoption of Bitcoin.

Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya Account for Two-Thirds of Africa’s Crypto Holders, Study Shows

A new study done by the Moroccan think tank Policy Center for the New South (PCNS), which examined the rate of cryptocurrency ownership and its legality in 33 African countries, has found that Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya account for roughly 36.14 million crypto holders out of the 55.3 million crypto holders in the countries surveyed. 

The survey dubbed “The emergence of cryptocurrencies in Africa: reality or overvaluation?” established that Nigeria has by far the largest number of cryptocurrency holders at 40.5% out of the 33 African countries that were surveyed. South Africa and Kenya followed closely with 7.71 million and six million crypto holders, respectively, to become the second and third-highest-ranked African countries. 

Besides the three countries having the highest number of crypto holders out of the surveyed nations, the countries were the only ones whose proportion of holders relative to their population size was higher than 10%. However, using this metric, South Africa takes the lead at 12.27%, followed by Kenya at 11.85% and Nigeria at 10.33%.

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