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Weekly Roundup: Invictus Lab Launches Out of Africa NFT Collection, South Africa to Introduce New Crypto Regulations & More

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African NFT Collection

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about South Africa’s FSCA plans to introduce new crypto rules in 2022, Invictus Capital launching its first NFT collection dubbed Out of Africa, and other top crypto stories.

South Africa to Introduce New Crypto Regulations in 2022

South Africa’s financial regulator has announced plans to unveil a new regulatory framework early next year that will cover cryptocurrencies and help protect vulnerable citizens from highly risky assets.

The rules will establish how trading in digital assets like Ether, Litecoin, and XRP will be carried out. Additional issues that will be examined revolve around how the currencies will interact with traditional financial products, the risks they’ll have to bank balance sheets, and if they threaten fiscal stability.

What we want to be able to do is to intervene when we think that what is provided to potential customers are products that they don’t understand that are potentially highly risky. We must be very careful to not just legitimise them,” said Unathi Kamlana, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) Commissioner, in an interview.

The introduction of these new regulations follows two major crypto scams that led to the disappearance of billions of dollars in investment with both scams originating from the Southern African country.

Kamlana further explained that FSCA views cryptocurrencies as an asset and not as currencies. He further stated that digital currencies don’t pose a systemic risk to the stability of the financial services sector just yet and that the FSCA was monitoring the South African Reserve Bank’s plans to create its own stable coin.

I think that if I were to give advice to retail investors, I would say wait to see what comes out of the process of the work of the central bank. The best outcome in terms of stable coins is what comes out of central bank innovation, given their reliability and stability,” he said.

Invictus Lab Disrupts Fine Art With The Launch of Out of Africa NFT Collection

Invictus Capital, through the Invictus NFT Lab, has unveiled its first non-fungible token (NFT) collection that aims to launch many contemporary digital artists to a global market.

African NFT ArtThe online collection, known as the Out of Africa Collection, is made up of 100 NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain and is the first of its kind to include curated artworks in physical form from a wide range of professional artists. The collection will also see many of the artists taking part in it participating in the NFT space for the first time.

So far, the collection has received interest from close to 40 Southern African artists. The project will begin in January with the distribution of the NFT posters to interested parties and will end in an auction in February for NFT representations of the original, physical artworks.

Speaking about the project, Daniel Schwartzkopff, CEO at Invictus Capital, said, “This inaugural collection is a first of its kind for Southern African artists, and global investors. We will continue to find ways to disrupt traditional investment and financial services, and the Invictus NFT Lab is a clear demonstration of this commitment. We believe that an NFT Lab, like this one, will go a long way to bringing NFTs into mainstream investment portfolios, and appeal to traditional art collectors; modern NFT collectors and anyone in between.”

The participating artworks and artists will be announced in due course alongside the exact dates for each phase of the project.

Binance to Incorporate ‘Project Shield’ Security Audit Program to Boost User Protection

Binance has announced the implementation of ‘Project Shield’, a security audit program that will provide users with a new layer of protection.

BEP-20 and ERC-20 based projects that are listed on the Binance centralized exchange are audited in Project Shield with the audit fees being covered by Binance. This move has seen Binance become the first crypto exchange to apply this kind of protection.

Binance will utilise the security audit program to provide access to secure projects to its users, thus protecting them from projects with faulty code.

Through the program, Binance is able to carry out a thorough evaluation of potential projects against strict legal, security, and regulatory compliance standards. In addition, it’ll also carry out ongoing performance reviews for listed projects.

Binance Founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao (CZ) said: “With the increased interest in the market and the profitability of crypto investments, the number of people ‘apeing’ has increased. Investing without proper knowledge and enough research is risky, but through Project Shield, we believe that Binance can be one of the first hurdles that projects have to overcome before they approach users. Furthermore, with the increased standards of security for projects, we believe that the industry will get healthier, which will allow for greater mass adoption in the near future.”

The audits will be done in partnership with CertiK and PeckShield who will review project tokens that get listed on Binance. CertiK and PeckShield are set to audit about 150 project tokens before the end of this year.

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Weekly Roundup: Nigeria’s SEC Issues New Crypto Asset Framework, Luno’s Take on the New Crypto Regulations & More

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Luno's iconic South Africa building on Cape Town's foreshore district

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about the new crypto asset framework announced by the Securities Exchange Commission in Nigeria, Luno’s views on the just-announced crypto regulatory framework in Nigeria, and more.

Nigeria’s SEC Issues New Crypto Asset Framework

Nigeria’s Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has released new rules relating to the custody, exchange, and issuance of digital assets in the country. The news comes exactly 20 months after the Commission had issued a statement on how it would treat and classify digital assets.

The new rules require token issuance exchanges and platforms to keep trust accounts with receiving banks, a move that completely contradicts that of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which currently restricts local financial institutions from carrying out business with crypto-related businesses.

SEC’s latest development is expected to legitimise crypto and crypto-related businesses which in turn would help boost crypto adoption in Nigeria.

Companies looking to provide any kind of crypto services and products will have to secure a virtual asset service provider (VASP) license in addition to the relevant category licenses stipulated in the publication. SEC’s move is also expected to provide the CBN with a regulatory framework that it could use to advise financial institutions in the country on how to interact with crypto.

Luno’s Views on Nigeria’s New Crypto Regulatory Framework

LunoFollowing the newly introduced crypto regulatory framework by Nigeria, cryptocurrency exchange Luno shared its views on the announcement.

The move signals a change of attitude from authorities towards the growing crypto industry and counteracts the CBN’s circular that banned all financial institutions from working with crypto exchanges in the country.

SEC’s latest announcement could act as a harbinger for CBN to review its stance and provide the needed foundation for the mass adoption of crypto in Nigeria.

Speaking on the SEC’s proposed framework, Luno’s Country Manager for Nigeria, Owen Odia, said:

“At Luno, we strongly believe today’s developments could mark a major breakthrough in not only delivering much-needed clarity and protection for crypto customers, but also for businesses. Since launching in Nigeria in 2015, we’ve always prided ourselves on consistently adopting an open and proactive approach towards regulation and with the SEC’s new framework, our hope is that our current and potential users will have even greater confidence to trust us with their funds as we strengthen our push to raise the standards of our industry.”

Odia went on to add that the exchange is open to helping the SEC navigate the nuances of crypto and create regulations that will protect consumers without suppressing the crypto sector. Currently, Luno has over three million customers and gets an average of over 4,000 app installations per day in the Nigerian market alone. The exchange is also registered with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and complies with stringent KYC and AML processes in all 40 countries it operates.

Mara Secures $23 Million in Funding to Build a Pan-African Cryptocurrency Exchange

Mara, a Pan-African company offering a suite of cryptocurrency products, has raised $23 million to develop a Pan-African cryptocurrency exchange that will act as a portal to the crypto economy for Africans.

As reported in VentureBeat, Mara’s funding round was backed by major investors such as Coinbase Ventures, Alameda Research (FTX), DAO Jones, Distributed Global, TQ Ventures, and other angel and crypto investors.

Besides the funding announcement, the Lagos and Nairobi-based company also announced a partnership with the Central African Republic (CAR) that will see Mara become the official crypto partner in the country as well as an advisor to the country’s President on crypto matters. CAR became the first country in Africa to pass a bill legalising Bitcoin as a legal tender and the second in the world to do so.

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Amber Group’s April Corporate News Recap 2022

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Team at IFGS London

Approved as a member of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA).

Managing Partner Annabelle Huang named on Makinsey’s annual Top Women Innovators list.

Annabelle Mackinsey

Product Development and Partnerships

Partnered with The Dodge NFT and PleasrDAO to make NFTs more accessible.

In the News

Disruption Banking: Amber Group joins International Swaps and Derivatives Association; among one of the few global crypto players in ISDA.

Yahoo Finance: First fractionalized NFT on tier 1 exchange.

U.Today: Amber Group, PleasrDAO ready to launch DOG fractionalized NFT on Huobi.

CoinGape: The Doge NFT, PleasrDAO and Amber Group partner Up to make NFTs more accessible.

Cointelegraph: Crypto seen as the ‘future of money’ in inflation-mired countries.

Mckinsey Website: The Committed Innovator: Women continuing to change the world.

YouTube: Can cryptos fit in your retirement portfolio? Here’s how – Amber Group’s Sophia Shluger.

Medium: Automated Market Makers (AMMs): Versioning up.

Events and Media Appearances

Managing Partner Annabelle Huang joined a panel discussion titled “Institutional Adoption of Cryptos – How fast and deep institutions are adopting the new asset class” by the FinTech Association Hong Kong.

Annabelle @ Fintech Association HK

Managing Partner Annabelle Huang joined Citigroup’s 9th Digital Money Symposium in a panel discussion on mainstreaming digital assets and building bridges between TradFi and DeFi.

Annabelle @ Citi Group Panel

CSO Dimitrios Kavvathas joined The Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute’s webinar series and delivered two keynote speeches on “A New (Crypto-Enabled) Financial System”. 

Attended IFGS 2022 in London;  Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined two panel discussions: one on digital wealth management and the other one on the infrastructure of responsible innovation.

Team at IFGS London

Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined a panel discussion on “Unicorns In The Cryptosphere – How Blockchain Will Revolutionize The World” at the WILD3 Conference.

Sophia at WILD3

Sponsored the Paris Blockchain Week Summit 2022 and Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined two panel discussions on “Financial markets & Web3” and “The Rise of Decentralized Finance”. 

Sophia at Paris Blockchain Summit

Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined Group Futurista’s Future of Treasury Management Virtual Summit and delivered a keynote speech on “Digital Wealth: The Evolution of Value”.

Sophia at FTM

Europe Managing Director Sophia Shluger joined a panel discussion titled “Investing in Digital Assets in an Institutional Context” hosted by Nordic Blockchain Association and Copenhagen Fintech Lab in Copenhagen.

Sophia-at-Nordic-Blockchain-Association

Sponsored and attended Bitcoin 2022 in Miami by Bitcoin Magazine.

team-at-Bitcoin-Miami

Sponsored the 2022 Future Commerce in Taipei and Taiwan Regional Director John Lee joined a keynote session on digital wealth and a panel discussion session on angel investment.

2022 Future Commerce Taipei

Taiwan Regional Director John Lee delivered a speech at Hackathon 3.0Solana Asia Series – Taiwan by EPOCHS.STUDIO.

Hackthon 3.0

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Weekly Roundup: Central African Republic Adopts Bitcoin as an Official Currency & More

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Central African Republic Adopts Bitcoin

In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about the Central African Republic following in the footsteps of El Salvador and adopting Bitcoin as an official currency, Afriex closing its Series A funding with a $10 million raise to expand its blockchain money transfer app, and more.

Central African Republic Adopts Bitcoin as an Official Currency

Central African Republic has officially adopted Bitcoin as a legal currency. The news was announced on April 27, by the presidency. The Central African Republic has officially become the first country in the African continent to do so and the second in the world after El Salvador.

A statement signed by Chief of Staff of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, Obed Namsio, said that a bill governing the use of cryptocurrencies was unanimously adopted by parliament last week.

The president supports this bill because it will improve the conditions of Central African citizens,” said Namsio.

In his statement, Namsio went ahead to say that the move was “a decisive step toward opening up new opportunities for our country”.

The news comes at a time when various African governments have taken a varied approach to regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology with countries like Nigeria launching their own CBDC and others like Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Zambia are still exploring the same.

Nigerian Fintech Startup Afriex Secures $10 Million in Series A Funding For Its Blockchain Money Transfer Platform

AfriexNigerian blockchain-based money transfer startup, Afriex, has announced that it has raised $10 million in its Series A funding with a valuation of $60 million. Afriex is a multi-currency app that enables users to send and receive money from anywhere in the world.

The funding round was led by Sequoia Capital China and Dragonfly Capital and received participation from other investors such as Goldentree, Exceptional Capital, Stellar Foundation, among others.

Afriex processes over %5 million in monthly transfers and has grown its customer base by 500 percent within the last six months. The company makes money by arbitraging the currency and crypto exchange rates when customers transact.

Speaking in an interview, Tope Alabi, the Co-Founder and CEO of Afriex said, “Because we are building this network of connected financial institutions, we have built on-ramps for local Nigerian banks and on-ramps for local currency exchanges. We are building this Web3 mesh of financial institutions that could almost become something like the next Visa.”

The app that offers instant, zero-fee transfers for Africans at home and in the diaspora, plans to use the funds to expand its blockchain money transfer app.

Nigeria’s Fintech Startup Transfy Eyes Continental Growth Following a Successful First Year

Transfy, a Nigerian fintech startup, has announced that it’s planning for continental expansion following a strong early uptake of its payment infrastructure. The company has built a blockchain-powered financial services platform that makes it easy for business and individuals to seamlessly, securely, and freely send and receive money across Africa.

Having processed transactions worth $15 million in its first year of operations with zero marketing spend, the platform enables users to create an account, pass KYC, and start transacting.

Vincent Omulo, the startup’s Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, said, “Most of the money remittance companies concentrate on other corridors outside of Africa like origination of transactions from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Middle East among others. There are very few companies, which are committed to connecting Africa financially. We therefore came in to bridge this gap.”

The bootstrapped startup is currently raising a seed round and plans to use the funds to propel the company into further growth.

We are currently operational in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, and Botswana,” Omulo said. “We are rapidly expanding, and before the end of Q2, we will be present in 30 African countries.”

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