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IBM and Twiga Foods Introduce Blockchain-Based MicroFinancing  for Food Kiosk Owners in Kenya

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IBM Research and Twiga Foods, business-to-business logistics platform for kiosks and food stalls in Africa, announced that they have extended access to microloans to 220 food stall retailers across Kenya using a blockchain-based financing system.

Twiga Foods was looking to expand its logistic services into a total market ecosystem by adding financial services. Late last year, the $13 million start-up began working with IBM Research to deploy a blockchain-enabled supply lending platform to help scale its reach.

Small and medium sized businesses (SME) in African countries often have difficulty accessing sufficient credit due to the complexities of financing processes, high loan costs, collateral requirements and lack of a credit score. This can make it difficult for these organizations to scale their businesses or implement new processes or technologies.

To address this, scientists at the IBM Lab in Nairobi determined that they could use something most people in Africa do have access to, mobile phones, to accurately calculate credit worthiness.

“After analyzing purchase records from a mobile device, we used machine learning algorithms to predict credit worthiness, in turn giving lenders the confidence they need to provide microloans to small businesses. Once the credit score is determined, we used a blockchain, based on the Hyperledger Fabric, to manage the entire lending process from application to receiving offers to accepting the terms to repayment,” said Isaac Markus, a researcher on the inclusive financial services group at IBM Research in Kenya.

With blockchain, the lending process becomes transparent to all permissioned parties involved, from the lending bank to the borrower’s bank and the loan applicants themselves. Blockchains are immutable, helping to reduce fraud, since no one single party can append the blockchain without consensus from the entire network. Finally, blockchains employ a series of “smart contracts” which can be executed in real time, having the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to manually process and issue a loan.

“Previously, we were focused on helping farmers distribute bananas, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to 2,600 kiosks across Kenya, but we soon realized that we could help them sell even more produce with access to working capital,” said Grant Brooke, co-founder of Twiga Foods. “If the food vendors can sell more, we can distribute more, growing both of our businesses.”

The eight-week pilot processed more than 220 loans with the average loan around $30 (KES 3000) which increased the order size by 30 percent and profits for each retailer, on average, by 6 percent. The loans were for four and eight days with an interest rate of one and two percent, respectively. All of the loans were executed via mobile phone and went directly toward working capital for the businesses. When a retailer had an order delivered, they would get an SMS with loan options for financing that order. They would then respond to the SMS confirming the loan option they preferred.

“We had several iterations of the platform based on feedback from the retailers. The SMS-based solution provided an effective channel for a diverse set of users, some with limited IT literacy, to access financing for their orders,” said Andrew Kinai, the lead research engineer on the project at IBM Research.

Based on the success of the pilot, the plan is for the platform to be rolled out to more SMEs across Africa by the end of the year and expanded into new sectors.

South African Fintech Launches Blockchain-based Money Transfer App

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South African Fintech start-up, Vio Digital, is using blockchain to make it easier for people to transfer money from person to person anywhere in the world, introducing a new method of international money transfer.

Across Africa, remittance solutions are typically among the most expensive in the world, with up to 20% being charged on a single transaction. The era of disruption heralded by Fintechs has seen nothing but positive change for consumers to enable access to payments and convenience and now use technology to save costs. With Vio, there are no transfer and exchange fees and no foreign exchange mark-up, solving for some of the biggest markets for remittance corridors.

‘For people sending money home to their families, additional processing and admin costs can be crippling. Our app uses technology to give people safer and more convenient ways to move their money. Technology like the blockchain means we can take cost out of the system to give people cheaper ways to move their money,” said Praga Govender, CEO and Founder of Vio Digital.

The app is currently available for download on the Google Play Store and will go live in May 2018. Initial launch markets include KenyaNigeriaGhana and Cameroon. Users will simply download the app and purchase Vio tokens, which are transferable through the app. Vio has certified with Visa to ensure exchange of funds when users want to cash out.

 

Block Commodities & Wala to provide $10M in Dala token loans to smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa

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Bitcoin is a digital currency

Block CommoditiesWala, a blockchain-powered financial services platform, and Dala, a cryptocurrency token issuer aim to bring blockchain-enabled financial services to farmers in developing markets.

The initiative will see Block Commodities and FinComEco Joint Venture provide an equivalent of US$10M in Dala token loans to approximately 50,000 smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa, starting in Uganda, in order for them to purchase fertiliser to help farmers raise productivity and secure better returns for produce.

According to Block Commodities Executive Chairman, Chris Cleverly, “This collaboration represents a potentially significant reset for finance and commodities market development in Africa, a problem that is being addressed by bold and innovative technologies and partnerships. We are helping to empower African farmers through loans to purchase fertilizer and have better access to markets”.

The agreement complements the Company’s JV with FinComEco announced last November, whereby Block Commodities, FinComEco, Wala and Dala to develop and operate a web-enabled platform using the block-chain ledger for its agricultural commodity trading initiative in sub-Saharan Africa.

Wala will support the Company and FinComEco’s integration into Wala’s financial platform and incorporating the Dala token to maximize the value of African agricultural commodities to smallholder farmers.

 

Dala already has utility, through its launch partner Wala, within the Wala Financial Platform. The Dala ecosystem expands through partnerships across borders and financial services, enabling consumers and enterprises to transact, save, lend, and invest with Dala.

The Wala Financial Platform provides access to transactional banking, remittances, loans and insurance for the unbanked and underbanked. Wala works with best-of-breed specialist providers in each market they operation in, including banks, to offer a full suite of financial services. Wala will support this collaboration with software solutions and integrations into the Wala Financial Platform and the Dala ecosystem.

Wala Founder and CEO and Dala Director, Tricia Martinez, said “This is an industry changing partnership that will drive much needed economic growth and financial inclusion in African markets. Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency have the potential to start financial innovation in these markets and Dala is at the forefront. We are very pleased to work with Block Commodities and FinComEco to provide the necessary tools and resources for these farmers and markets.”

Chairman of GMEX Group and CEO of FinComEco, Hirander Misra said this partnership will drive financial inclusion in Uganda and across Sub-Saharan African countries by providing smallholder farmers with cheaper access to finance and inputs (pesticides, fertilisers and seeds), which will result in an increase in agricultural output combined with electronic warehouse receipts financing and easier access to markets.

 

Foxconn, SIRIN LABS to Manufacture FINNEY, the First Blockchain Smartphone

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SIRIN LABS and Foxconn will debut the design and manufacturing of FINNEY™, the world’s first blockchain-based smartphone after SIRIN LABS’ 4th largest crowdsale in history, which raised $157.8M.

According to Moshe Hogeg, Co-CEO, SIRIN LABS: “Bringing the first blockchain-based smartphone to market obligates us to partner with the very best in the market. FIH Mobile – the gold-standard in smartphone manufacturing – was ultimately the clear and natural partner for us.”

FINNEY™ devices are embedded with a state of the art, ultra-secure cold storage crypto wallet, which will enable seamless and automatic token conversions for the use of different decentralized applications, without the hassle of obtaining the different tokens through an exchange, thus solving the complicated user experience.

The agreement will have FIH Mobile lead the original design and manufacturing of the phone with SIRIN LABS leading the development of the cold storage wallet hardware, and the SIRIN OS™.

Following the co-development, FIH Mobile will manufacture the FINNEY™ devices in its facilities.

SIRIN LABS, also developed SOLARIN, an ultra-secure mobile phone and is the first to develop FINNEY™, the first open source blockchain smartphone and all-in-one PC.

FINNEY™ SMARTPHONE
State-of-the-art mobile device for the Blockchain era

TARGET PRICE ~ $999
BLOCKCHAIN FEATURES

SIRIN OS™:

  • Secure P2P resource sharing
  • Built-in “cold storage” crypto wallet
  • Distributed Ledger Consensus

SIRIN LABS Cyber Protection suite:

  • Behavioral based Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
  • Blockchain based, full tampering proof
  • Physical security switch (for wallet protection)
  • Secured communications (VoIP, text, email)
  • Three-Factor authentication: Biometric, Lock Pattern, Behavioral
TECHNOLOGY SPECS*
  • 5.5 display
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 6GB RAM
  • 12MP Main camera
  • 13MP selfie camera

 

This Blockchain-based mobile app wants to simplify disease diagnostics in Kenya

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 Nurse in Hand, a Kenyan startup that geo-maps accidents and emergencies in Kenya and alerts the registered paramedics, ambulances and air rescue services available, police stations, and classified hospitals within the vicinity has signed a partnership that will see it it embed blockchain technologies in its platform.

Founded by Lucy Njuguna and Stanley Gitau, the application aim to reduce the rate of fatalities caused by slow response of paramedics and ambulances at road and home accidents.

 Nurse in Hand recently signed Memorandum of understanding with Apla Tech Company during Trescon World Blockchain Summit in Narobi to integrate blockchain in mobile app to help store critical patient data and would enable accurate diagnostics of diseases.

Apla Tech Company uses “Smart Law” technology that operate above the level of protocols. Unlike Smart Contracts, Smart Laws can evaluate and rectify errors where there are program contradictions or flaws in the algorithm. Apla’s blockchain platform has an intuitive interface coupled with simple syntax, which allows to use it easily by non-technical staff.

As of 2012 Kenya had just 1.03 health workers (doctors, nurses, midwives, and clinical officers) per 1,000 population, while the World Health Organization of UN recommendation is 2.30 per 1,000 population.

Blockchain Venture Summit in Istanbul pushes for the development of the crypto industry in the heart of Eurasia  

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The organizers were absolutely right when they considered this meeting to be the most influential blockchain event in Eurasia.

The Blockchain Venture Summit was visited by many enthusiasts and professionals of the world crypto community. On March 28th, it was pretty hot in Istanbul but not because of the weather. Attention of investors, business leaders and  more than 1000 participants from all over the world, united by the common goal to develop the industry, were attracted by fiery speeches and discussions of the summit members.

Bobby Lee, the co-founder of the world’s largest exchange BTCC, a member of the Executive Board of the Bitcoin Fund, shared with participants his thoughts on ownership and the benefits of digital assets, declaring the value of blockchain information which does not require identification from an individual.

Bobby clearly  demonstrated the effect of such security mechanism and provided $100 worth bitcoins to a private researcher.He explained that Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies that he works with mainly operate within the blockchain. In his speech, Bobby also mentioned  that bitcoin will soon become a reserved currency of central banks.

Dilip Rao from Ripple talked about the system that would eliminate problems associated with cross-border banking transactions developed by Ripple. If you want to transfer your assets from Germany to Turkey, you no longer have to look for a bank that operates in both countries. In the system which is developed by Ripple, banks use the same register and work next to the blockchain technology; at the same time, it fulfills bank’s all requirements (confirming the transfer of assets, transfer messages or notes).

Stefan Heilmann, the CEO of IEG said that Blockchain investments must be institutional and transparent. He mentioned  about positive changes that were created by blockchain technology over the course of two years. He also noted that there is still room for more transparency. Heilmann described blockchain technology as the most important development after scanners and IP addresses, referring to some basics of blockchain technology. He also stated that with the help of Blockchain technology, agents and governments can be disconnected and transferred to everyone’s hands.

Few of the speakers of the forum – the founders of the project of trust management of digital assets Membrana, stressed the importance of the words of the crypto expert.

“Heilmann said that one of the disadvantages of the blockchain is the lack of an authentication system and the prevention of money laundering. He stressed the importance of smart contracts and the guaranteed money transfer within the blockchain technology. In our project, we have already looked into the future and provided solution for this problem, – said Eugene Buev, the CEO of the project Membrana. “We have created a blockchain platform that connects the investor and the trader directly without intermediaries. The investor does not need to transfer their assets to either the trader or the platform, and all the terms of the transaction are recorded into the smart contract.

Thus, we guarantee the mutual benefit and safety of the transaction for the trust management of cryptocurrency assets, when the trader can not just take and disappear with the investor’s money and profits when fulfilling the terms of the contract, and the investor can choose the most suitable trader using the rating. All trading history is stored on the blockchain, and users have the possibility to check the accuracy of the data. This technology allowed us to create a transparent, decentralized and secure system that controls the process of conclusion and execution of the contract until the receipt of income by both parties.”

 

South Africa’s Waves African Exchange Partners Civic to Verify User Accounts & Comply with Strict KYC Policies

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Waves African Exchange , a Fiat gateway solution for the Waves Platform Blockchain Decentralized Exchange(DEX) has partnered with Civic  to revolutionize digital identity with its Blockchain-based technology.

The deal will allow Waves African Exchange to verify user accounts and comply with strict KYC policies, as well as provide secure multi-factor user authentications for user accounts.

According to Waves African Exchange Director and CEO, Monika Van Zyl, “We are very excited to announce this new partnership as it greatly improves our service offering to our clients, by providing a more secure, and safer way to share sensitive information. It gives us a great sense of relief knowing that we are protected from data breaches associated with traditional centralized customer information management.”

Waves African Exchange says by outsourcing its KYC services to CIVIC, it mitigates the risk of attracting hackers and identity thieves that are usually associated with traditional data management services in centralized systems that serve as a single point of failure.

The firm says the deal also assures it of the authenticity of customer data via the immutable and secure blockchain information management services, making identity verification more reliable and cost effective.

“We are pleased to welcome Waves African Exchange to Civic’s Partner Network. This collaboration marks another milestone for Civic’s ecosystem and for on-demand, secure, and low-cost access to identity verification services,” said Civic CEO, Vinny Lingham.

Civic will help enable Secure Sign-On and Reusable KYC services across the fiat gateway services. This will help with identity protection and identity theft prevention and the associated risk management and enable us to customize access control for specific gateway services based on age and country to comply with individual geographic restrictions and future regulations.

Kenya’s 4G Capital partners with Finhaven to launch a blockchain fund raising platform for microfinance

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Kenya-based 4G Capital, a fintech company focused on empowering businesses in East Africa with micro-financing and business training to help informal SME businesses attain sustainable growth has partnered with Finhaven to provide qualified investors with the unique opportunity to participate in the issuance using cryptocurrencies.

The partnership also represents Africa’s first ever blockchain fund raising platform for microfinance. Finhaven’s equity and debt issuance platform utilizing the Ethereum blockchain for the creation of tokenized securities.

Finhaven relies on its proprietary coding and smart contracts to ensure that the creation, sale, and future resale of these security tokens will all be in compliance with applicable securities laws.

4G Capital gives SMEs access to credit and the skills to use it correctly. It provides each client with business training which enables them to use the credit we provide to positively grow their business.

“Conventional service providers see this as an insurmountable challenge. We see it as an opportunity to utilize data in ever smarter ways. Using our proprietorial machine learning system, we’ve found ways to use data from multiple sources to design credit products at scale which are optimized for segments, business risk, timescale and affordability,” the team says on its website.

The firm is expanding across Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, creating a ladder of opportunity for those in most need to realise their aspirations.

Building on top of the Ethereum blockchain for issuance of security tokens, secure portfolio wallets, and an audit layer providing a log of transactions, Finhaven enables the creation of a unique token for each issuer. The Bitcoin blockchain powers Finhaven’s remittance layer, where investors accumulate Bitcoin (”BTC”) as the return from their investments.

The launch follows the close of USD $1 million in seed funding for Finhaven from Korean venture capital and private equity firm, Medici Investments.

4G Capital and TIMIA Capital will be collectively raising approximately USD $15 million. Vancouver-based TIMIA Capital specializes in providing revenue financing to software-as-a-service (”SaaS”) companies in exchange for payments based on revenue.

TIMIA also looks forward to utilizing the efficiency of Finhaven’s blockchain powered issuance system to create new financing products that better meet the needs of its customers.

Notably, Finhaven’s platform provides issuers with an innovative approach to the capital markets, making it easier, less costly, and more secure to raise global capital. Tokenized equity and bonds provide businesses with access to new markets, asset liquidity, programmable assets, secure and immutable data, and auditable trails of ownership.

Finhaven is currently working to open a blockchain-based securities exchange, and is working with securities regulators to secure the necessary approvals. Once approved, this will position the company as an end-to-end solution for issuing, investing in, and trading regulatory compliant security tokens.

 

Swiss-based Agora powers world’s first ever blockchain elections in Sierra Leone

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Sierra Leone’s 2018 presidential elections, which took place on March 7th, represents the first time in history that blockchain technology has been used in a national government election.

In collab-oration with the National Electoral Commission, West Districts results were registered on Agora’s unforgeable blockchain ledger, and the tally made publicly available days before the usual manual count.

Governments around the world have for years sought a secure and transparent digital voting system to enhance their democracy’s electoral process. While some countries have adopted “black box” e-voting machines, none of these systems have provided a secure and transpar-ent platform for recording votes. Blockchain, however, offers the security and transparency requirements that were missing in previous systems, and Africa is leading the way in adopting this next generation technology into its elections, as was seen in yesterday’s presidential elections.

Swiss-based Agora, in collaboration with the National Electoral Commission, recorded Sierra Leone West Districts results on its custom-built blockchain, ensuring that election data was third-party verifiable and protected against any possibility of tampering. Election results are publicly available on Agora’s website, which has allowed citizens to monitor their election within only a few hours of polls closing.

The National Electoral Commission’s decision to work with Agora was also driven by speed, as logistics around transferring and counting ballots have proven cumbersome, expensive and slow in previous elections. Agora was able to provide election results days ahead of the National Electoral Commission’s manual tally processes.

This election highlights blockchain’s potential to ensure a permanent, transparent and secure record of votes. Sierra Leone is the first government to use blockchain in part of its election process, which its officials anticipate will bring attention to the measures they’re taking to improve transparency and security in their elections, as well as fight corruption.

 

 

Is Bitcoin in danger after the newest Google announcement?

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Bitcoin dropped below the $10.000 line in February and in that month that cryptocurrency broke the $10.000 line three times in two weeks. First significant blow to Bitcoin happened when in late January Facebook announced that they will ban ads on “cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, and binary options”. After that Bitcoin fell 12 percent. A few weeks later Indian government decided to ban the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley said then that the government does not recognize cryptocurrency as legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate the use of these crypto assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payments system. That statement contributed with a 6.5% drop in Bitcoin’s value in just 24 hours, leaving the most popular virtual coin at the $9,625 mark at that point.  

Just the reminder that Bitcoin briefly neared $20,000 in December, and has had a atrocious time since then, partly thanks to regulatory moves against it in South Korea and India. Also, the US government officials and other representatives expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of cryptocurrencies. They called for the regulatory authorities to move promptly and take preventive measures to protect the investors’ funds.

But, after the Google, the world’s largest online ads provider, announced that they plan to ban cryptocurrencies advertising, Bitcoin prices briefly fell below $8.000 on Wednesday 14th March 2018.  

So is this means that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are done? Well, not necessarily, as Bitcoin’s obituary has been written countless times in its nine-year existence. Bitcoin had at least three declines of 70% or more since 2010 only to come back with a vengeance and reach higher highs.

Still, Bitcoin is accepted payment method at many places worldwide and for sure this isn’t the end of it. For example, Square offers cryptocurrency payment solutions for its customers, according to one Wall Street firm. There is a great number of Bookmakers and Online Casinos that accept Bitcoin as a deposit method. List of those casinos can be found here. Also, the unnamed PayPal executive said in February that Bitcoin will very likely become popular payment method in near future. So hold to your cryptocurrencies as they didn’t say the last word for sure.  

This cryptocurrencies story is similar to dot-com revolution but this time anyone with access to a phone with an internet connection can buy or sell cryptocurrencies or directly participate in initial coin offerings in a matter of seconds. In dot-com revolution, only people that invested were large institutions, professional investors, and brokers. This time it is different. Despite most of the world population doesn’t really understand the value of blockchain, it might take years before a mass adoption of this technology will be seen.

But when the time comes, cryptocurrencies will skyrocket because anyone with the phone and internet connection will be able to participate.

On the other hand, maybe people will be more cautious this time, and Bitcoin will fall even deeper. Some economist predicts that in the years ahead Bitcoin will see a huge drop and that real value of the Bitcoin will be around $100, not $100.000 in a decade. According to them, Bitcoin will face reduced adoption because of a lack of legitimate transactional uses and increased regulation by governments around the world.

So the winter is coming for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as few governments already started to realize that Bitcoin is really dangerous and it can be used for some criminal activities and money laundering. Can Bitcoin survive this?

 

Kenya commissions a blockchain & IoT taskforce to enable the country grow into Africa’s top digital economy

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The taskforce consist of Dr Bitange Ndemo as Chairman, Juliana Rotich in charge of Technology and Industry, Safaricom’s Stephen Chege as head of Legal and Regulatory, and Scale, John Gitau-Networking and Cloud Services and Mahmoud Mohammed Noor in charge of- Networking and Community.
 The 11 person blockchain taskforce will be led by former Information PS Bitange Ndemo.
According to President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking at a Microsoft-sponsored forum at Strathmore University dubbed “Digital Drivers: Enabling the Growth of Africa’s Digital Economy,” the taskforce will champion the deployment of more advancing technologies including Blockchain and IoT.
“We need to better understand the opportunities for Blockchain Technology, the risks of cybersecurity and the essential education and skills that our young people will need to make new technology work for them,” said the President urging leaders and business executives to make sure the country is not left behind in latest digital innovation trends to help the cuntry’s health sector, increase food security among others.

 

Nuggets Launches 60 Million NUG Bounty 

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Nuggets today have announced the official launch of a 60 million NUG token Bounty campaign. Nuggets plans to use its new program to empower a community of users; made up of crypto enthusiasts, system engineers, application developers, researchers, thinkers, writers and other collaborators to further the company’s mission of giving consumers true control of their data.
Nuggets is an e-commerce payments and ID platform. It stores consumer’s personal and payment data securely in the blockchain, so it never has to be shared with anyone – not even Nuggets.
The Nuggets’ Bounty program will run throughout the token sale and market launch phases. We have reserved and will reward community members with 60 million NUG tokens (or 0.6% of the total supply).
“We know driving awareness and engagement with the Nuggets community is critical to our long-term platform success,” commented Alastair Johnson, CEO and Founder of Nuggets. “We’re looking to support our passionate community members who would like to get behind Nuggets and help consumers realize there is a new way for them to take back control of their data, especially in light of increasing data breaches”.
Participants in the Bounty campaign earn stakes (which will be recorded and shared weekly by our Bounty Managers) that will allow them to get NUG tokens at the end of the campaign. The bounty program includes a number of campaigns, including:
Bitcointalk signatures
Content/ creative, including articles and YouTube
Facebook
Translation
Twitter
Telegram

The Rise Of Blockchain in Online Casino Industry

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Online Gambling golden age began with the invention of the Internet. Today, the above-mentioned industry worth is estimated in billions of US dollars, and it keeps on growing. However, considering how much freedom the Internet gave to all sorts of fraudsters, it may also be the reason for online gaming industry’s credibility loss.

Thus, as soon as cryptocurrency entered the market, more and more online gambling operators began to think of adding it to their platforms, aside from the traditional US dollar and Euro. The new currency has proved to be much more beneficial in terms of conversion speed, low commissions, and, the most important, operations’ transparency. But still, despite all its advantages, there were too many legal obstacles in the way of its adoption by online gaming companies, which slowed down the development of the online casino industry.

However, Curacao’s authorities recently provided the first license to the Ethereum based online casino. This precedent will give any online gaming providers an opportunity to implement Etherium (or any other coin) system on their platform. It may become the key to online gaming credibility improvement. Moreover, the new system will secure the future sustainable partnership with payment system vendors, stock markets, and banks multiplying both online casinos and players’ profit.

Although there is still much to learn about blockchain, it seems like its implementation in the online games industry may provide something more than just credibility and validation: an evidence-based adaptation model of the new technology will make it work in full conformity with online jurisdiction. The continuously growing list of blocks is to put an end to cheating and money laundering: an absolute transparency of the newly invented system is the very reason it may become the future of online gaming. The inherently resistant to modification, the new database will significantly curb the fraud.

The cryptocurrency value strengthens every day, and very soon the players will have the possibility to make money by playing online slots as well as secure their winnings, which will multiply over time.

 

Bluzelle’s BLZ cryptographic token listed by crypto exchange Huobi.pro

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Blockchain-based database provider Bluzelle, has announced that its cryptographic token BLZ has been listed by Huobi.pro, one of the world’s leading crypto exchanges. The new listing follows the addition of BLZ to Binance, the world’s fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchange, earlier this month.
Bluzelle provides a decentralized, on-demand, scalable data storage and management service for decentralized applications (dApps) that some have called “the Oracle for dApps.”
“We’re excited about listing BLZ on Huobi.pro,” said Bluzelle CEO, Pavel Bains. “This will help provide greater liquidity and efficiency for participants in the Bluzelle ecosystem, enabling them to easily trade BLZ to power their use of the platform.”
Bluzelle closed its three-day Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in January with $19.5 million in fresh funding from the sale of 165 million tokens. Listing the BLZ token on Huobi.pro provides effective access to BLZ tokens for those who may have missed out on the ICO.
Bluzelle’s decentralized Database-as-a-Service will offer app developers, SME developers and enterprises significant benefits compared to even the most robust of centralized cloud solutions: removing points of failure, increasing the efficiency of scaling, providing improved privacy and immutability of data and enhancing overall performance.
Huobi.pro is a leading global crypto exchange serving millions of global traders in more than 130 countries, with service centers in Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shenzhen, Singapore and Tokyo. It features an advanced distributed system architecture built to protect against DDoS and other potential threats.

Kenya’s BitPesa Acquires TransferZero, an International Online Money Transfer Service

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BitPesa, a Nairobi-based blockchain payments platform for Africa and Europe has acquired TransferZero, an international, online money transfer platform that specializes in sending money to consumers and companies in 200 countries using over 50 different currencies.

“Europe is a hub for global remittance and payments companies,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, founder and CEO of BitPesa. “Digital currencies and decentralized technology have hit critical mass in the financial services and payments space. It is no longer a question of whether this technology will have staying power—rather, which specific technology and what product iteration will launch and scale first.

Founded in May 2016 by Luis Cambronero, TransferZero is licensed by the Bank of Spain as an authorized payment institution and is a partner of Bankia, Spain’s third largest bank and has pioneered a number of innovations in the European FinTech sector.

The deal gives BitPesa ability to plant deeper roots through UK and European licensing, bank accounts, and integrations.

“BitPesa has the support of top-tier, institutional investors and a network that will help to bring TransferZero’s technology to the next level,” said Luis Cambronero, former CEO of TransferZero and current MD at BitPesa. “Traditionally, residents would have to go to an agency or office to send money in cash. We enable our customers to quickly send money across the globe for free. Our new smart phone application is designed for the next generation of users,” said Cambronero.

TransferZero has network integrations on four continents, and a team with decades of experience working with enterprise clients in need of global payment solutions. They are the only remittance company that does not charge a fee, aside from a small percentage in the FX.

Under the acquisition, TransferZero will continue to operate under the same brand name and all of its employees will stay with BitPesa. The headquarter will remain in Madrid.

“This is truly a partnership where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, allowing BitPesa to solidify our leadership in this space,” said Rossiello. “By bringing our regional and technological expertise together, we will further accelerate our month-to-month growth,” Rossiello concluded.

Centbee, South Africa-based Bitcoin wallet and merchant payment ecosystem, attracts funding from nChain

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(PRNewsfoto/nChain)
 Centbee, South Africa’s Bitcoin wallet provider that makes it easy for global consumers to acquire, hold and spend Bitcoin with retailers and other merchants has raised an undisclosed funding from nChain Group, blockchain research and development firm.
Founded by co-CEOs, Lorien Gamaroff and Angus Brown, Centbee will be rolling out mechanisms for merchants to accept Bitcoin Cash payments more cheaply and securely than current bank payment systems without exposure to price volatility.
“In addition, we will help consumers move money simply and cheaply across borders to support family and friends. We have been working closely with regulators in South Africa and other jurisdictions to educate and inform and to address any regulatory risk,” said Brown.
Brown has 20 years’ experience in payments and banking including holding the role of CEO of eBucks, a world first bank-backed digital currency created in 2000. nChain Group’s investment entity, nChain Reaction Ltd.
 Gamaroff is a leading expert in blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies. He has consulted and advised regulators and corporates internationally and is highly regarded globally as an educator and presenter.
nChain Reaction financially backs products and applications that make Bitcoin Cash more globally useable as peer-to-peer electronic cash. The Centbee deal represents nChain Reaction’s second Bitcoin Cash-enabling investment within the past month.

Gamaroff explains that, “In addition to providing financial investment, nChain’s research, intellectual property and deep technology expertise will enable Centbee to become a functional and secure wallet provider which will open up Bitcoin Cash merchant payments to a global market.”

According to nChain Group CEO Jimmy Nguyen: “Centbee has one of the most user-friendly Bitcoin wallets and merchant payment solutions we have seen. It smartly embraces Bitcoin Cash because its bigger blocks, low fees and fast transaction network represent the true vision of Bitcoin. We look forward to supporting Centbee as it sparks greater merchant and consumer adoption of Bitcoin Cash in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.”

The Centbee Wallet becomes available in the Apple and Google Play stores in 2018.

Nigeria’s Money Transfer Service VCASH, to Experiment With Blockchain Technology

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One of the most innovative mobile payment operators in Africa has announced the creation of a Blockchain lab, separate from its operations, to experiment on how the technology can help the financial sector of one of the biggest market in Africa, Nigeria.

VBE (VCASH Blockchain Experiment) will bridge the knowledge gap with the goal to place Nigeria at the forefront of this rapidly evolving technology.

Peter Ojo CEO/CTO of the company, VTNETWORK Limited, recalls Nigeria’s slow adoption of technology. “There was a time in Nigeria when electronic communications were not considered legally binding, and banks specifically advised customers against conducting business on the internet. We must get out of the mindset that protects the vested interests of the status quo and VBE will help do this.”

“With blockchains, our focus is to provide young entrepreneurs the opportunity to innovate and build the ecosystem that is relevant to their local realities,” said Ojo. He added there are “immense opportunities” in the areas of Health services/Patient records management, Financial services such as Real Time Gross Settlement and Real Time Net Settlement, Immutability of stored or debit card value, Identity verification, property titles, social security, credit bureaus and insurance, to mention a few.

There is intense interest from central banks in blockchain and cryptocurrency applications with many central banks announcing research initiatives. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has set up an industry committee with a road-map report expected by the end of February 2018.

Market leaders are convinced of the potential of blockchain tech. Visa, Kodak, Barclays, Moneygram, Goldman Sachs and Japan’s Central Bank are just a sampling of high-profile institutions working to unearth the potential of Blockchain. “We will look at industry collaborations, such as the CLS Blockchain Consortium, and leading platforms such as Ripple and Stellar, as components of a way forward,” said Ojo.

In creating VBE, VTNETWORK’s goal is to ensure that Nigerians do not miss out on the knowledge opportunities in this sector. When CBN licensed the business for mobile payments in 2012 the company benefited from its technical foundation; it had started much earlier by building its platform in-house specifically for Nigeria and had experimented with e-commerce payments several years prior. In the past 24 months, the business has processed over ₦247 billion in transactions. The company is also working with partners to increase the volume of remittance to Nigeria banks by introducing cutting-edge technologies to cut the agent time by 90 % in developed countries.

“With blockchains, our focus is to provide young entrepreneurs the opportunity to innovate and build the ecosystem that is relevant to their local realities,” said Ojo. He added there are “immense opportunities” in the areas of Health services/Patient records management, Financial services such as Real Time Gross Settlement and Real Time Net Settlement, Immutability of stored or debit card value, Identity verification, property titles, social security, credit bureaus and insurance, to mention a few.

 

Opera introduces bitcoin mining protection in its mobile browsers

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Opera has added protection against cryptocurrency mining scripts to its mobile browsers, protecting hundreds of millions of smartphone browser users against cryptojacking.

“When you browse the web, there are no visual clues that your device is exposed to mining,” says Jan Standal, VP Product Marketing at Opera “A single webpage you visit can take up to 4.5 hours of your battery time, if you keep the tab open. This often turns out to be just the battery time you needed to use a ride-hailing app or check the map to get home”.

According to some reports, there are currently more than 3 million websites exposed to cryptojacking, so the need for extra protection is bigger than ever. By blocking mining scripts, Opera ensures that its users’ smartphones continue to run smoothly and that they have enough battery life for the things they really want or need to be doing.

The new anti-cryptocurrency mining feature is activated by default when activating the ad blocker on Opera Mini and Opera for Android. The ad blocker can be enable in “Settings”, and it will automatically detect and stop the mining scripts written into the coding of a webpage.

To make it easier for you to tell whether your browser is affected by unwanted crypto mining, Opera has created a website which safely checks just that. Simply go to www.cryptojackingtest.com on your mobile or desktop browser to see if your device is impacted by mining.

Cryptocurrency mining is expensive and needs lots of energy resources to pull off. While some use their own data centers, many web developers are increasingly using people’s computers and smartphones for this – often without their consent. The phenomenon is estimated to be affecting more than a billion people worldwide, causing their devices to run warm, become slower and eat up their batteries. Opera aims to solve this problem with its new browser feature.

World Blockchain Summit to hold in Nairobi in March

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Apollo Eric CEO & Founder Point50Capital is bringing the World Blockchain Summit to Nairobi to bring together entrepreneurs, technology enthusiasts, and thought leaders in the
blockchain ecosystem from around the world.

According to Apollo, “The goal of this event is to explore and seize the commercial opportunities that blockchain technology presents to the African continent, discuss and address the hurdles that must be overcome to realize the full potential of the technology as well as teach the people about the exiting emerging decentralized digital
economy.”

The summit will hold on 22– 23rd March 2018 in Nairobi and will feature keynotes on the potential of blockchain in Africa, developing the African blockchain infrastructure and ecosystem, panel discussion on how the regulatory environment is shaping up around
the world, exhibitions and live demonstrations of some of the most cutting
edge blockchain solutions from around the world digital assets investment.

World Blockchain Summits have been held in London, Singapore, India,
Dubai since 2016. In 2018 the first one will be held in Nairobi in March
followed by Moscow in April, Kuala Lumpa in May, Frankfurt in June, Singapore in July, India in September, Dubai in October, Rio De Jeneiro in November and finally in Riyadh in December.

CS Mucheru urges Kenyans to plug into digital currencies & buy bitcoins

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Though the Central Bank wants Kenyans to see digital currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum among others as volatile and high risk.

The ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru is urging Kenyans to embrace them and plug into the digital currencies and buy bitcoins as those who invested in them have reaped big benefits.

“As a leader in mobile money, we cannot afford to be left behind in this digital economy”, he said adding that the government’s agendas of housing, healthcare, manufacturing and food security will be driven by ICT. The CS was speaking during the launch of the Nairobi Innovation Week 2018 and Nairobi Innovation Week Road Map 2025 in Nairobi.

“I urge you all to support business startups and support the University of Nairobi in building the startup ecosystem in the country”, he added noting that the investments come with big rewards “Investing in start-ups have a great reward. I sold my last start-up in December, 2017.”

The CS was an investor in Kenya’s Weza Tele which exited to Jumo at a price north of $1.2m.

This years Nairobi Innovation Week, an initiative of the University of Nairobi will solely focus on startups. Now in its fourth year, the theme for the Nairobi Innovation Week 2018 is “Innovating for a better tomorrow”.

Key partners include Barclays Bank, UNICEF, Africa Development Bank and Government Ministries of ICT, Education and the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization and several tech hubs and partners from the private sector led by the Kenya private sector alliance.

“We need to integrate the start-up agenda in the country. We are ever committed to provide thought leadership”, Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbithi said on the launch and announced plans by the University to support close to 100 start ups and reward 15 best performers. The best overall start-up will be given Kshs.1 m.