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Kenya’s Bitsoko wants to take cryptocurrencies mainstream

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Bitcoin is a digital currency

Over the past few weeks, cryptocurrencies, in particular, Bitcoin, has made headlines with its exponential growth, increasing its value by nearly $1000 overnight. This has played well for those who had jumped into the gravy train earlier on. While cryptocurrency is gaining believers every day, it is acquiring similar numbers in skeptics as well.

Bitsoko is a Kenyan company that has performed particularly well in this area. In this interview Bitsoko COO, Frank Deya tels us more about his company and the cryptocurrency scene.

Bitsoko COO, Frank Deya

Tell me about yourself, the Bitsoko team and about your journey as a
company so far.

My name is Frank Deya, I’m the Chief Operations Officer at Bitsoko. We have a team of 12 full time staff who consist of software developers,hardware developers, marketing and business development, administration and finance. Our entire team is under the age of 30, vibrant, hardworking and really talented especially in a relatively new and soon to be disruptive technology. We have been operating actively for over two years.

What does Bitsoko do? What does it have to do with bitcoins as the name
may suggest?

Bitsoko is driving mass adoption of digital currencies like bitcoin in Kenya. We are undertaking this through provision of merchant services. We target micro, small and medium businesses by developing enterprise solutions that enable them to ‘professionalize’ their operations. This is done by incorporation customer loyalty solutions, inventory management, customer feedback, e-commerce, customer analytics among other enterprise solutions; all implemented on the blockchain. The customer loyalty service was initially being implemented by awarding customers bitcoins as rewards for shopping or spending at a store; however, we have switched to ethereum and other altcoins which carries the advantage of enabling development of additional applications on top. We are also developing hardware that incorporates Internet of Things (IoT)technology that will offer businesses visibility by creatively advertising and showcasing their offers and promotions while at the same time connecting them directly with the customer through their mobile devices. Narra, is the name of the sign device in development, it sends automatic notifications to customer mobile devices which are in close proximity to where it is installed. The applications of Narra cut across various sectors from events, transport,retail etc. It will give businesses the opportunity to directly connect with their customers seamlessly while notifying customers of existing offers and promotions. Once rolled out successfully, businesses will have an opportunity to directly put their customers on the blockchain network and therefore begin to explore the benefits of this revolutionary technology.

Bitcoins have recently been shocking everyone with dramatic spikes in its value overnight. How has this affected your business?
The spike of bitcoin price has worked to a great advantage on our companyand operations. First of all, the publicity has drawn a lot of interest on our company, people are curious to know what we do and how they can get involved in it. This has made our business development a little easier since it saves us the effort of reaching out to partners, clients and other interested parties; instead they now come to us.
Secondly, we have been working on a token market that enables peer to peer trading of etherium and select altcoins, we’ve seen massive movements and activities as more people trade on it.

How would you describe the Kenyan market for your service?
The Kenyan market is hungry for our service, we get dozens of e-mails, phone calls and visits at our office every day from people requesting to find out how they can get involved. From small businesses, students, investors,corporates and the like. I strongly believe it’s a good thing going forward, it shows that Kenya stands a chance at taking advantage of the numerous benefits that will come with this technology at various levels.

Who are your major competitors in this space?
The only competitors I can think of are established players who are foreign based. We’re just scratching the surface of this massive market, and if there are any local competitors it would be encouraging to have them join this field, it will enable us to improve on our products and at the same time push cryptocurrencies to the masses. This is not a field that can be dominated by any single player, the fight to promote decentralization will be won if more players are encouraged to join.

What do you do to stand out from your competitors?
We have been focused on building products that suit the African market and address the challenges faced by our target audience. This way we create solutions that are on demand and which fit their existing operations.
Secondly, we create strong relationships with our partners and this enables
us to develop a deep understanding of their needs.
Thirdly it’s innovation. At the core of our activities is our never ending desire to undertake wide research and constantly innovate, this gives us an edge in this landscape.

You secured a whopping $100,000 in funding from Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, what did Bitsoko do to inspire such confidence from an internationally revered figure in the tech scene?
Actually, it was a grant; usually awarded through the Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) initiative which seeks to tap into innovations that aim at solving key development problems. We were able to demonstrate the ability to explore new technology which could positively impact a huge mass of the
population if implemented. Most importantly is the team; which constitutes talented, dedicated and forward thinking personalities who have to this point proven their ability to deliver.

What has been the toughest challenge for Bitsoko since its inception?
Our innovations are centered on relatively new technology such as the blockchain, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. The fact that they are new and relatively complex means that creating awareness and an understanding of the tech to the masses becomes quite a challenge.

What has been the toughest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?
Learning to scale. The landscape of the field I work in is constantly changing and new and bigger opportunities present themselves by the day. Adapting to these everyday changes while staying focused on the long term company strategy sometimes becomes a daunting task.

Is there any point during your entrepreneurship journey that you would
term as easy or a walkover?

I would say on a personal level, I have never lost the passion to journey on. Even during those moments that I appeared to hit rock bottom. That has always been easy for me, staying true to the cause even in the most tumultuous moments.

Where do you think your company will be in the next 5-10 years?
At this stage we are pioneering the development and pushing for the adoption of the most advanced technologies that there is. We will continue innovating for our continent. We want to be the beacon of tech in Africa, creating solutions for our businesses and communities and changing the African narrative.

How is your experience at Chandaria Business Incubator at KU?
We have a very close working relationship with our incubator. The institution provides a perfect environment for collaborations with other aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators.

Your company also falls within fintech category, a sector that has grown exponentially, 84% in the past year, what do you think about the future of fintech in Kenya and Africa at large? Do you believe there may be a fintech boom in the region?
I think the fintech boom will be happening very soon. We are seeing unprecedented numbers of fintech innovations, start ups and products. However, in order for us to realize optimal performance we have to break infrastructural and regulatory challenges.

Do you think the bitcoin growth may be a bubble? How does your company plan to adapt if/when the bubble pops? (Hypothetically speaking, I do not wish this for you.)
When the term bubble is used to describe bitcoin, the comparison is usually with historical bubbles which tend to present certain characteristics and features. Bubbles tend to indicate a price no reasonable future outcome can justify. The internet exchanges information through various protocols, just as bitcoin conveys an exchange of value of a good or service when it’s spent. So if it’s utility is increasing, the network value will keep increasing.

What would you advise other entrepreneurs planning to venture into fintech, with cryptocurrencies as a base?
I’d advise them to first appreciate the steep learning curve for this field. They should take their time to study the fundamentals of cryptocurrencies and ensure that the venture creates real value and solves actual or existing problems.

How can one access Bitsoko services?
Our enterprise solution and wallet service can be accessed through our
website:
https://bitsoko.co.ke/home/ent.html
https://bitsoko.co.ke/home/community.html

What is Bitcoin? What you need to know about the digital currency making headlines

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Bitcoin is a digital currency

 

Bitcoin is a digital currency

A lot of questions have been raised personally to myself and I am sure many are wondering what Bitcoin could be all about since for the last couple of months business news all over the world have been focusing on how this currency has been appreciating in value exponentially a surprising phenomenon which has never happened to the other commonly known currencies such as the Dollar and the Sterling Pound.

Each and every country in the world has their own currency which is used in day to day transactions. In Kenya we have the Shilling, South Africans have the Rand, Nigerians have the Naira and the United States have the might Dollar which is widely used all over the world in many transactions including forex. We exchange money in banks or other specialized foreign exchanges platforms, transfer it worldwide either through making purchases online or even invest it.

It is now interesting to see the rise of what we now call a digital currency such as Bitcoin or Etherum. Interest has grown over the past years because of the significant increase in value of the currency which is quite “abnormal” to understand.

Origin of Bitcoin

So where did this currency come from? This is probably the question you are asking yourself right now. Well, I may not have the exact answer to your question but it is believed in 2009, an unknown programmer called Satoshi Nakamoto came up with the proposal of creating a digital currency different from the ‘normal’ currencies popularly to be known as cryptocurrency.

This currency functions in almost the same way as the regular currencies since it has the ability to be a store of a value and can be used as a means of exchange. Just like the other currencies, cryptocurrencies have a market price and also has demand.

The only major difference a cryptocurrency has to a regular currency is that it intangible. There are no bank issued notes or papers meaning that it is impossible to use them in hand-to-hand transactions like buying of groceries in our local open air markets or kiosks.

How Bitcoins work

Bitcoins are normally stored and exchanged digitally within a network. Unlike the commonly used currencies where when funds are being transferred from one account to another a middleman is required i.e. banks to be specific, Bitcoins operate differently  in that no intermediary is needed to make these transactions possible.

The issue, value and fiscal policy is normally controlled by the centralized authority such as the Central Bank of a country which builds trust but it is a different story with Bitcoin since the trust comes from the forces of cryptology.

Because of the lack of a central issuing body, Bitcoins are therefore created and transferred with the help of a unique process called ‘mining’ The mining process requires a powerful computer and a specific mining machine that work out the complex and technical cryptological functions which are billions of calculations.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Bitcoin

Bitcoin being the first digital currency which actually is uncontrolled, the currency is created at a fixed and predetermined rate meaning that it is immune from inflation. Another unique property of Bitcoin is that despite its transactions made public through the blockchain, all the actors involved in a transaction are only identified by their bitcoin wallet.

Lost? A Bitcoin wallet is just like the normal wallet people use to keep their money but it contains a unique address that enables a user to transact with another user thus a user stays anonymous.

Bitcoin is also unique in the way that it creates other strengths from the users perspective- its digital nature makes it highly divisible and the lack of a central body to regulate it ensures the transactions fees are not available.

Its nature and lack of the central regulatory body also shapes out its weaknesses as lost Bitcoins are non recoverable meaning if you loose your private key or the hard drive with your wallet then the coins are lost for good.

Bitcoin and the Future

The future of Bitcoin is not clear at the moment because of the restrictions imposed by governments in different countries and also its unstable exchange rates. However, current users are embracing it as an innovative concept and are contributing to establishing a global bitcoin economy.

 

Vinny Lingham joins US blockchain firm Multicoin Capital as General Partner

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Multicoin Capital, a thesis-driven cryptofund that invests in blockchain tokens has appointed Vinny Lingham as a General Partner.

The Texas-based firm is actively hiring entry-level analysts, expert research associates, developers, and data scientists to fill out its staff. It expects its first $100M fund will be fully subscribed by the end of Q1, 2018.

Lingham is a South African entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of Civic, a global decentralized identity platform that leverages blockchain technology and recently completed a $33M token sale.

Lingham is also the co-founder of Silicon Cape, an NGO based in South Africa, and is a prominent investor. He is a regular Shark on Shark Tank South Africa.

“The pace of innovation around blockchain technologies is accelerating rapidly. Investing responsibly in crypto requires a lot of time, research, and nuance; you need a team of dedicated experts to react to new breakthroughs, keep up with the latest projects, and actively manage your portfolio. I realized I wasn’t the only one who needs that team, and that is a large part of what drove me to join Multicoin Capital as General Partner,” said Vinny Langham, General Partner, Multicoin. “Civic is currently my main priority, and I’m investing in the Multicoin team because I believe I can help Kyle and Tushar build an industry leading cryptofund. I look forward to collaborating with them in the years ahead.”

 

 

SureRemit launches a pre-sale ICO to raise funding to serve about 250m immigrants

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SureRemit , a non-cash blockchain-based international remittance platform which allows immigrants to transfer value and vouchers to their families and friends back home has launched a pre-sale ICO to raise money to launch its app and wallet to serve about 250m immigrants across the world.

Sureremit.co aims to serve about 250m immigrants in the world who send over $600bn  back home each year for them to buy food, clothing, medicine, school fees or utility bill payments among others.

The firm’s token sale event allows investors to contribute to SureRemit and receive RMT tokens which are not an equity representation of the company. SureRemit is selling 1 Billion RMT for a Token Sale Cap: $10 Million. 1 $RMT: $0.02 and the firm is accepting XLM, ETH, BTC, LTC, USD.

Before the Crowdsale, SureRemit’s pre-sales starts: December 8, 2017 and ends on January 5, 2018 to pave way for the main Crowd Sale  which is starting on January 10, 2018 running till February 10, 2018. 50% the tokens will be sold to public as part of token sale. 35% of the proceeds will be held in reserve by company in order to fund future transactional costs and to expand liquidity pool required for future growth and expansion while team and advisors will have 10% allocated to them.

The community will have 5% allocated to them for bounty programs, referrals and other initiatives to grow it.

The SureRemit App will have a wallet to connect a users’s wallet and access their RMT token in app. Allow users be able to pay in Utility bills directly for family and friends on SureRemit using  their tokens. Users can also buy airtime across 550 operators in 135 countries with therr RMT tokens. The firm will also be giving users instant digital shopping vouchers for retail stores across the world.

SureRemit has over 500 redemption points across 3 countries with 100s of utility bills services across 25 countries and has partnered with reputable local offline/online merchants with inventory ranging from groceries to fashion, healthcare, and utility bills.

The firm has raised funding from 500 Startups, Greenhouse, Musha Ventures among others.

 

 

 

African Potash & FinComEco To Create A Complete Blockchain Based SME Loan Platform for Farmers

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African Potash Limited, a vertical platform for the mining, production and distribution of fertiliser and FinComEco, a Financial & Commodities services firm have partnered to launch a blockchain-based loans system for Africa’s agricultural commodity markets.

The two aim to deploy a complete blockchain-based agricultural ecosystem solution in conjunction with the public and private sector commodities focussed community to help facilitate microloans direct to Small Scale Farmers (SSF).

According to Hirander Misra, Founder and Deputy Chairman of FinComEco and CEO of GMEX Group, “We are delighted to be working with AFPO to transform the lives of smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa. Our unique collaborative approach is delivering best-of-breed technology, standards and inputs (including seeds, fertilisers and pesticides) coupled with agricultural finance facilitation to link the supply to market side demand creating a holistic agricultural value chain.”

The integrated microloan financed, token based, input and output trading ecosystem will make the rate of interest to be significantly cheaper than present agricultural finance costs and more accessible.

All supply chain financing and transaction logging will be accomplished via secure blockchain technology and provided through existing co-operatives, agricultural infrastructure and commodity exchanges enabling SSF to buy agricultural inputs at designated warehouses.

FinComEco backed by majority shareholder GMEX Group will also ensure purchase of commodities grown by the SSF through existing warehouse receipt systems and commodity exchanges.
The partnership will deliver improved access to inputs plus associated financing and a better price for their produce. It will also provide opportunities for further income growth, opening alternative added-value opportunities such as the provision of market information, training and capacity building.

Dr. Chris Cleverly, Executive Chairman of AFPO commented, “ This is a significant step in our strategy to build a vertically integrated fertiliser business from initial resource through to selling, direct to the farm, and demonstrates the role of blockchain technology based solutions to commodity trading.”

African Potash Ltd aims to raise £400,000 to set up an blockchain-based payment system for its fertiliser distribution business. The firm said it would raise £68,000 in November and £332,000 on December 13.

Three Bitcoin Traders Arrested in Kenya

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Reports reaching TechMoran indicate that Emma Kariuki, Stanley Mumo and Timothy Gachehe, Kenyan Bitcoin peer-to-peer traders using Localbitcoins.com have been arrested and freed on bail over allegedly participating in a banking fraud.

The three were arrested, detained and later presented at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital and charged with conspiracy to commit felony. They were later released on Ksh 500,000 cash bail.

The three had traded with a user ‘BADASS20’ on localbitcoins.com who is allegedly behind a Ksh 10m banking fraud. The ‘BADASS20’ account was only 3 weeks old on localbitcoins.com. The police want to hold the three because the money trail leads to their bank accounts.

It’s alleged that the Ksh 10.2m was stolen from Kenya’s I&M Bank and Safaricom Pay Bill No 517822 and then channeled through Bitcoin transactions sold by the three traders on the peer-to-peer lending platform bitcoin.

‘BADASS20’ overpaid for the transactions by Ksh 96,000 and asked Emma to send the balance to an account at Equity Bank. Stanley Mumo traded 360,000 with BADASS20 and received sums in excess of 50,000. BADASS20 promised to open another trade to settle the extra 50,000 but never did so.

Emma and Stanley Mumo were first arrested on Friday. Emma was detained  overnight at Kileleshwa Police Station till Saturday morning. She reported back on Monday only to be held and detained overnight till Tuesday.

 Localbticoins.com doesn’t hold customer data and the identity of ‘BADASS20’ is not yet known.  The three Kenya traders deny any knowledge of the counterpart and source of funds. The three were released on bail on Wednesday evening.

The charge sheet alleges Emma conspired to steal 10,244,544 via Safaricom Paybill. However, Emma and Stanley Mumo only received 500,000 relating to a bitcoin trade. The party from whom the money was received was not charged nor present at court. We will follow up with a comprehensive report next week.

In December 2015, the Central Bank of Kenya issued a caution to the public on holding and trading in virtual currencies in Kenya. The Bank said no entity is currently licensed to offer money remittance services and products in Kenya using virtual currency such as Bitcoin.

“This is to inform the public that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are not legal tender in Kenya and therefore no protection exists in the event that the platform that exchanges or holds the virtual currency fails or goes out of business,” said the Bank arguing that transactions in virtual currencies such as bitcoin are largely untraceable and anonymous making them susceptible to abuse by criminals in money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The Central Bank also warned that virtual currencies are traded in exchange platforms that tend to be unregulated and consumers may therefore lose their money without having any legal redress and there is no underlying or backing of assets and the value of virtual currencies is speculative in nature causing high volatility in value hence exposing users to potential losses. CBK therefore warned the public to desist from transacting in Bitcoin and similar products.

 

Hacken Announces A Special Thanksgiving Weekend Offer – Get Up to 20% Bonus

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Hacken, an ecosystem for white hat hackers and a bug bounty marketplace with a focus on blockchain security, announces an unprecedented additional bonus weekend inspired by John McAfee.

The bonus weekend will start at 04:00 am UTC on Friday, November 24, 2017 and last until 23:59 UTC on Sunday, November 26, 2017.

“Recently, we’ve seen some great customer traction with our token sale. It intensified after John McAfee joined Hacken as our product advisor. Currently Hacken is en route to a successful completion of its token sale, with more than $3.2 million raised in the fiat equivalent. Our team has also completed the development cycle for the HackenProof cybersecurity marketplace, our flagship product,” — Hacken Co-Founder Dmytro Budorin said.

During the extended bonus weekend our forthcoming community members will be able to join the Hacken Ecosystem and buy HKNs with a discount. The discounts will be distributed in the following manner: 20% discount from 4:00 to 7:59 on November 24, 2017, then the bonus amount will decrease 1% each 4 hours until 07:59 UTC on November 26, 2017. Please see blackfriday.hacken.io for a table explaining each time slot.

The bonus weekend will be a culmination of the Haken token sale, scheduled to end on November 30, 2017. We developed the extended bonus weekend in cooperation with John McAfee to accommodate his supporters and fans. We also would like to make this Thanksgiving Weekend, which is very special for our project, even more thankful and more giving.

Previously Hacken held an online video conference featuring John McAfee and Dmytro Budorin. John and Dmytro discussed the current token sale, the upcoming release of HackenProof cybersecurity marketplace and the reasons why John decided to join Hacken. The event was hosted by Simon Cocking – Editor-in-Chief of Crypto Coin News and top-10 in world’s most influential fintech voices on Twitter. The recording of the video conference is available here.

Visit hacken.io to buy HKN. Follow us on Twitter or ask your questions via Telegram or on our Facebook page.

 

PayStand Secures $6M Series A Funding to Disrupt B2B Financial Services Industry

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PayStand, the B2B payment platform for the future of business has raised a $6M Series A round led by BlueRun Ventures with participation from Cervin Ventures, Serra Ventures, TiE and Capital for Founders.

“With technology advanced enough to give us self-driving cars and rockets to Mars, there’s no reason finance should be stuck with paper checks and spreadsheets anymore,” said Jeremy Almond, CEO and Founder, PayStand. “Yet most U.S. business payments still run on manual, pre-internet systems. PayStand takes the best of automation, customization and blockchain technology to finally bring B2B payments into the Digital Age. A financial revolution is coming, and we’re excited to have esteemed VCs in our camp that have led the Series A of iconic fintech companies like PayPal, Coupa and Kabbage.”

PayStand will use this new round of funding to scale its account receivable systems, and launch a new free accounts payable product line, opening up in beta today.

PayStand uses blockchain technology to remove friction from the accounts receivable and payable process, simplifying one of business’s most notorious headaches—sending and collecting money. An end-to-end digital process, PayStand’s network automates cash management, from accounting software to reconciliation.

Users embed payments into their apps, websites and invoices, funneling revenue into a seamless digital network that supports traditional card & ACH processing as well as next-gen eCheck bank transfer and 0 percent eCash stored-value technology. All payment data is securely tracked and recorded, receivables digitized and processing automated. As traditional obstacles disappear, time-to-cash and transaction costs fall while revenue grows. The innate security of blockchain technology ensures that all records can have an audit trail, a crucial functionality in wake of massive financial data breaches such as Equifax.

“Like the consumer and retail payment innovation that has preceded it, PayStand’s focus on building the future of back-office commercial payments, melds seamlessly into our investment themes of digital transformation,” said Jonathan Ebinger, General Partner at BlueRun Ventures. “The company is doing what we see common in every great fintech company: removing unnecessary friction and cost from the key financial processes that are vital to our economy. We see big things ahead for PayStand.”

Now available in beta, the new Paystand AP solution will enable businesses to completely automate their accounts payables to improve efficiency, security and control. Digital AP will speed up the accounting department’s time by eliminating the laborious need to cut paper checks. It will also give finance added control and visibility of the vendor payments through full data tracking within the entire cash cycle.

The automation will reduce the chance for human error and improve critical security with payments that are specific to the vendor and even the exact invoice amount, reducing possibilities of theft and fraud. This early-access AP release will be free to all beta signups.

This New Tool Allows Bitcoin Users to Send & Receive Cryptocurrency Without a Wallet

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Cape Town-based Around Corporation has launched a transfer tool that will allow new Bitcoin users to send and receive cryptocurrency without a wallet.

According to the firm, the transfer tool will eliminate the concerns about wallet hacking and users from losing their cryptocurrency within a wallet. Dubbed Around.WS Bitcoin Address to Address direct transfer tool, users are able to gain real control of their Bitcoin.

“Many people think the only way to send and receive Bitcoin is with a wallet, but that’s not true,” says Theo Fitchat, CTO of Around Corporation. “Getting users back to the basics is important to avoid hacking and a loss of funds. As long as the Bitcoin address is available, a simple transfer can be made through our transfer tool.”

The Around.WS Bitcoin Address to Address direct transfer tool is easy to use. Simply open up the tool at from a modern browser like Chrome, Firefox or Edge. Once a secure communication channel has been set up, all the user needs to do is provide the details of the Fund From and Fund To section, then follow instructions to make the direct transfers. Users can manage the amount sent, creating multi-address to multi-address transactions, as well as seeing the time estimate for a transaction to be accepted into the Bitcoin network.

 

AllenHark Group launches presales ICO to raise $250,000 for its new cryptocurrency trading terminal

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Fintech firm AllenHark Group has launched its presale initial coin offering (ICO) targeting to raise $250,000 from a sale of 1m HRK tokens for $0.25 and a 50% bonus to build AllenHark Terminal, its cryptocurrency trader platform.

AllenHark Group says the AllenHark Terminal will be a subscription-based platform that will provide traders with real-time data, reports and news to help them increase their returns on their investments in the cyptocurrency trade.

“We are building AllenHark Terminal, the world first platform to provide real-time data, reports and news to give cryptocurrency traders tools of trade, help them get the right returns over their investments, forge policy and make the right decisions,” said Anthony Gitonga, AllenHark Group CEO.

“Our algorithms and human researchers and editors will curate and create real-time data, reports and news to keep investors make money out of their money,” he added.

The $250,000 pre-ICO started today and runs for two weeks and is expected to help AllenHark bring on the market its new suit of products which include AllenHark Terminal, an institutional software and hardware trading platform, AllenHark Professional, a subscription web-based trading platform and AllenHark Go, a cryptocurrency exchange and trading app.

Gitonga adds that the financial services platform will be one of its kind in Asia and Africa where trade in cryptocurrency markets and securities and use of internet and smartphone is growing tremendously.

The real-time data tools, portfolio monitors, news, charts and analytics will help them stand out of the crowd.

“We are not just a data vending and a real-time crytptocurrency news provider,” Gitonga said, “but the professional standard for cryptocurrency and digital assets trading, risk management and compliance.”

The $250,000 targeted in the pre-ICO will help the firm finalize building its platform, do marketing for its platform in the crypto-world and help launch in more countries.

“Our cutting edge technology for professionals to trade in the crypto-currency world will help them buy, sell and track crypto-currencies, digital assets, crowd-sales’, forex and derivatives at the click of a button,” said Gitonga. “With a global network of reporters and a network of crypto professionals, our multicurrency platform gives you everything you need to be a pro.’’

The firm will also use the funds to hire financial reporters and data analysts and story tellers to follow news, mine data and customize the stories according to individual trader or investor’s needs.

AllenHark Terminal will have both free and premium data tools for daily, weekly, monthly or yearly subscribers. It will also have a messenger platform connecting traders to other traders and investors in the crypto space to help each other build solid portfolios.

AllenHark has worked with fintech firms and investment groups in Latin America, Asia and Africa providing them with mobile money integration and softwares to serve their unbanked clients.

In May 2015, The AllenHark Group signed a $33m partnership deal with Germany’s Mambu as their innovation & integration partner for East Africa to help financial institutions move to cloud-based banking applications using its Allensuite Banking 3.0 Platform.

The Allensuite Core Banking System together with Mambu is pre-packaged with Mobile Money integration, SMS Banking, Automated Payments Disbursement and a GPS visualization engine for Data-driven customer acquisition.

Nigeria’s design company Minku raising $200,000 in bitcoins

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Nigeria’s design company Minku which has since 2013 accepted bitcoin alongside Stripe-supported card payments, and PayPal is raising a seed round in bitcoin.
The proceeds from the round will be used to develop a follow-up to Minku’s first men’s clothing collection, which was released in September.
According to Kunmi Otitoju, the founder and creative director of the company which started off as a leather goods maker in 2011, “Our objective is to fund the next stage of growth, while providing a fun and unconventional way to involve like-minded investors. I’m constantly seeking ways to validate bitcoin beyond a speculative instrument, and to reward those who take a chance on the company’s vision at this early stage in its funding life cycle.”

Minku will take part in Bitcoin Black Friday later this month, as it has in 2014 and 2015. It is a limited liability company registered since 2011 with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission. As at November 11 the bitcoin price in Nigeria was high. 1 bitcoin = $6500 = N2.3m.

 The $200,000 in a coin-for-equity sale will also include investor perks like priority new collection viewing and guest-authorship in the company’s culture magazine, Yonderland.
The firm is also researching men’s clothing trends through the middle ages, with an eye to designing, creating (through local production in Nigeria), and distributing a collection centered on music and synthetic sounds for the DJ’s work wardrobe.

Luno adds support of Ethereum to its platform

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 Luno has added support for Ethereum, the second-largest digital currency after Bitcoin just weeks after its recent $9m Series B announcement and expansion into Europe.

This move will allow customers from over 40 countries to easily buy and sell digital currencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) using the Luno wallet.

“It is core to our beliefs that decentralised digital currency will form the basis of the future of finance,” said Marcus Swanepoel, co-founder and CEO at Luno. “Our mission at Luno is to bring digital currencies to everyone, everywhere. It is our view that we will end up with a multi-digital currency world and Ethereum is aligned with this view”.


Caption: The price of ETH over the past 12 months (source: CoinMarketCap)

The price of BTC has risen by over 940% and ETH has risen by over 2,600% in the past 12 months (source).

Those interested in learning more about digital currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum can visit www.luno.com.

Healthbase launches to advance medical research through blockchain & tokenize patient records

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With its headquarters in Bonn, Germany, Healthbase is a blockchain tool set to revolutionize healthcare sector by helping digitize patient medical records and ensuring that medical researchers, care providers, as well as patients are given the best care by increasing access to their patient history and other related health data. 

The current infrastructure handling patient medical records and supporting therapies is composed of legacy systems that are no longer sufficient to meet the growing demands of the burgeoning medical industry in today’s age.

“Health data is currently scattered across a myriad of platforms, thereby preventing holistic care while raising serious privacy and security concerns,” said Chris Meitner, CEO and co-founder of Healthbase. “We aim to leverage modern information technology including blockchain to improve this status quo.”

Healthbase says it has over 90 employees at the moment, including 32 doctors in its clinics to fine tune the software with the direct feedback from both care providers as well as its patients.

 

Healthbase aims to launch its ICO in the first quarter of 2018 with a working prototype. While the technical details concerning the type of blockchain and token structure are still in active development, the project has already generated substantial interest among the medical and blockchain communities in Germany.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner, who is the head of the Frankfurt School of Blockchain Center and a core advisor on the healthbase project, said “healthbase is a fascinating project, with an existing track record in the field of medical data, respectively medical software. Personally, I consider this a high-profile project. The main point is that as a patient, you can sell your anonymized data to researchers – through a smart contract against money and with your consent. This approach could redefine the way medical research works. Also noteworthy is the fact that healthbase is already composed of a software development company, as well as two German clinics. So there is a large amount of industry experience.”

 

 

 

 

 

bext360 partners coffee brands & farmers in Africa to introduce fully blockchain-traceable coffee

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  bext360, a supply chains firm has launched two programs with partners in Africa, Europe and North America to produce the world’s first blockchain traceable coffee and payments to coffee farmers.

bext360 has partnered with the Great Lakes Coffee, a Uganda-based coffee exporter and Coda Coffee, a Denver-based coffee roaster, to launch a pilot program using the bextmachine to trace coffee from Uganda to Denver, Colorado in the U.S.

The second program with Moyee Coffee, the world’s first FairChain coffee brand based in Ethiopia and Amsterdam, will be in production for four months long and generate revenue. It will use the bext-to-brew platform to trace coffee from Ethiopa to Amsterdam, as well as payments made to coffee farmers in Ethiopia.

The first pilot program started on November 1, 2017 by sourcing coffee through Great Lakes Coffee in Eastern  Uganda, and exporting the product to Coda Coffee in Denver, where the coffee beans will be roasted and sold to consumers.

During the pilot, the bextmachine will be deployed in Uganda with Great Lakes Coffee farming partners who will deposit their coffee cherries for analysis at washing stations, where they will also be paid for their harvest. From this collection point, the product will be tracked and analyzed beginning at the washing station all the way to Coda Coffee in Denver, where the coffee will be roasted and available for purchase. The bextmachine links the coffee cherries to special crypto tokens tracking the produce across its lifespan through the different nodes of the supply chain.

The bext360 platform enables farmers, roasters, and consumers – to access data across the entirety of the supply chain to identify supply chain inefficiencies, and allow more compensation to farmers who produce higher quality coffee cherries, and provide more visibility for consumers.

The four-month long revenue generating program with Moyee Coffee began on November 6, 2017 by sourcing coffee in Ethiopia and providing proof of living-wage payments made to the farmers, all traced and immutable within the blockchain. For this entire coffee harvesting season in Ethiopia, all of Moyee’s coffee will be fully blockchain-traceable from the washing station in Ethiopia to its retail and wholesale customers in Europe.

Moyee will be providing confirmation data from the producers and farmers at the different points of collection, which will be inputted into bext360’s bext-to-brew platform, which is powered by Stellar.org’s blockchain technology. All of this coffee information—from origin, quality, to purchasers to payouts—are recorded in the bext-to-brew platform, which links the product to special crypto tokens tracking the produce across its lifespan.

Additionally, the ledger is designed to help keep down overhead costs—replacing paper carbon copies and other inefficient record-keeping methods—while making the financials easier to audit. For consumers, bext360 provides unprecedented levels of transparency around origin and quality; and allowing, for the first time, a coffee drinker in Europe to pull up this data and verify exactly where her coffee was sourced.

Blockchain startup LaLa World aims for financial services for all

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LaLa World, a blockchain financial system has launched to counter the inherent shortcomings and apprehensions of the traditional financial system to bring the underbanked and underserved population of the world into the financial mainstream.

According to the firm, it aims to venture where “no banker has gone before” with its plans to touch the lives of the vast population of the world whose lives haven’t been affected by the global financial system.

LaLa World has LaLa Wallet, a peer-to-peer ecosystem that aims to revolutionize the way in which people and micro and small businesses make transactions, payments and borrow money. It also aims to change how people buy insurance, remit money, perform daily transactions through cards (both virtual and physical) and buy banking products.

Serving the underserved; banking the underbanked

There are still more than 2 billion unbanked people in the world. That is more than 25% of the global population. More than 50% adults in the poorest households are unbanked. How could one expect the global economy to fire on all cylinders when one in every four people in the world isn’t part of its financial system? Also, the traditional system’s over-dependence on physical processes and a cumbersome identification process makes it difficult for many people to have even a bank account, leave alone more complex financial transactions.

The emergence and popularity of connected smartphones has offered a flexible, seamless and easy device to the financial systems to exploit and bring more people under the global umbrella. LaLa World appreciates the importance of such a connected technological device to join the millions of underbanked people to a unique financial ecosystem that is powered by blockchain technology.

Anybody can own the LaLa Wallet on their smartphone and be connected with a world of opportunities and possibilities. The Wallet is secured by a global ID that includes state-of-the-art biometrics and physical identifications all digitized into a unique ID – LaLa ID. The Wallet allows peer-to-peer micro lending, affordable domestic and international remittances and daily financial transactions, all of which can be done using crypto or fiat assets. A digital card (debit and credit) can be used for any and all transactions that can be done with a traditional card but with the added advantage of very low or zero charges and with the opportunity to earn more crypto assets with every transaction performed. Yes, using LaLa Wallet is rewarding as much as it is easy.

Towards absolute financial inclusion

The World Bank believes that financial inclusion is a key enabler to reduce poverty and bring about prosperity. It has also charted out the Universal Financial Access Plan where it aims to bring about 100% financial inclusion by the year 2020. LaLa World has a unique business proposition, one that is driven not by profits but by the passion to reach every underbanked and underserved person in the world. It aims to be a true vehicle of financial inclusion. LaLa World is all geared up to bring this dream into reality.

Knife Capital participates in a R22m round into a Stockholm IoT startup alongside Candy Crush co-founders

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Knife Capital, a Cape Town-based venture capital firm has made its first global investment since opening the London office in a Stockholm-based IoT specialist.

The Cape Town-based firm has participated in a R22m funding round by Stockholm-based Mobile and Sensory Technology (MOST). Knife Capital invested alongside some of Europe’s most successful new age entrepreneurs – the founders of the British and Swedish games studio: King Digital Entertainment.

According to Bob Skinstad who heads up the business development function for Knife Capital in London and responsible for securing the deal: “We are excited to partner with an accomplished team and credible co-investors in this technology-rich IoT startup that already has a proven product. Knife Capital will assist MOST in expanding into key markets where we already have strong networks.”

The investment was facilitated through Knife’s new London office by director Bob Skinstad, the former SA rugby hero, who will join MOST’s board alongside King Digital co-founder Lars Markgren.

MOST will invest the fresh capital into further global expansion, including penetrating the South African market.

A large quantity of the world’s food is destroyed during transport, mostly caused by temperature fluctuations, increased humidity or the freight load shaking too much.

It is usually difficult to identify the party responsible for compensation when there are damages as the law requires parties to prove where in the transport chain the breach occurred.

MOST’s sensor is connected via the cloud so customers can track their consignments in real time. This increases transparency, intelligence and proactivity in the supply chain at a low once-off cost. Industries being prioritised are fruit and perishables, electronics and pharmaceuticals.

Its breakthrough product is a sensor which monitors and transmits real time information on humidity, light, positioning, shock and temperature within containers used to transport sensitive products.

MOST device

 

“Our product is already market leading in functionality as well as in performance. Through our services, we offer our clients the opportunity to act proactively instead of reactively. The market has shown great interest in our product and we currently serve clients in five different continents,” said MOST CEO Jon Hjertenstein.

The MOST sensor has helped its clients with various issues, such as decreasing food waste and preventing damage to sensitive equipment. MOST is also enabled for implementation of blockchain technology, which gives all stakeholders in the supply chain full transparency.

”Our latest investment round enables us to expand more rapidly to our prioritized markets like EMEA and the US,” added Hjertenstein.

King Digital is the creator of global sensation Candy Crush. Its founders were early investors in MOST. They have strengthened their positions by investing in the latest round.

King Digital Entertainment co-founder Lars Markgren explains: “We invested in MOST in 2015. The company keeps impressing us with its agile development. Strengthening our ownership was the obvious choice when the opportunity arose. MOST has demonstrated an impressive development capacity so far and we will engage ourselves to ensure continuous improvements.”

 

 

 

 

 

 Moya Networks launches a coin sale to fund Africa’s ACE submarine capability

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Sun Exchange Raises $1.6 Million Seed Investment to Catalyze Global Shift to Solar Power

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Sun Exchange has raised $1.6 million in seed financing from Network Society Ventures, Kalon Venture Partners and three of the world’s leading technology accelerators, BoostVC, Techstars and Powerhouse.

The firm says it will use the funds to boost its capacity to meet the demand for commercial-scale solar power projects, located in the sunniest regions of the planet. Founded in 2014, Sun Exchange has now expanded globally with United States headquarters and a regional operating office in Dubai.

According to Abraham Cambridge Founder and CEO, “We are the first marketplace of our kind, combining sharing economy principles with blockchain technology to democratize solar power.”

Sun Exchange allows individual investors to buy solar cells in solar projects in emerging markets in power-poor regions in move to make solar panel ownership accessible to retail and institutional investors worldwide, while giving businesses and communities in emerging markets access to fully-funded solar power plants to reduce running costs and drive sustainable development.

Using its blockchain-based platform, Sun Exchange is giving retail customers around the world the chance to lease solar cells bought on their platform for as low as $10 to achieve a zero-carbon future. The firm also breaks down the solar panel ownership to a single cell thereby reducing the cost by three.

“We’re utilizing empty roof space in some of the sunniest cities on the planet, such as Dubai and Johannesburg. To super-charge the process we’ve combined our solar leases with another breakthrough technology – blockchain, namely Bitcoin. Putting the two together empowers anyone to go solar and be part of the global solar energy transformation with just a few taps on a screen,” he said.

Sun Exchange says blockchain and Bitcoin will increase transparency and reduce the costs of the cross-border transactions, both problems that inhibit the majority of commercial solar projects from accessing traditional funding options.

HyundaiPay & the African Union to launch a blockchain-based African Union Coin

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Have you ever envisioned a situation where all the countries in Africa have a single currency for streamlining settlements, payments and remittance? Are we even ready for it? Well, HyundaiPay and ABA think so because they have inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate for the African Union Coin, which is aimed at uniting African countries’ complicated currency markets.

The two companies arrived at the MOU came after HyundaiPay held a technical seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa to teach about virtual currency and a blockchain-applied-IoT. This was the first time a Korean company had done such a thing.

According to the Korea Times, two more Korean companies — Double Chain and Korea Digital Exchange — have also joined the MOU.

“The fintech industry of Africa has been developed with a great opportunity. Especially, it is the most suitable place for HyundaiPay, Double Chain and Korea Digital Exchange to play the given roles for each company,” CEO Kim Byung-chul said.

ABA Vice Chairman Cromet Molepo said, “Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency have drawn attentions in South Africa, but it’s hard to find a local company that has the related technology.”

He added: “I am glad to have this business alliance with HyundaiPay, Double Chain and Korea Digital Exchange — the companies that have highly progressed blockchain and internet of thing (IoT) technologies.”

The three companies are also in separate discussions with German fintech company MyBucks, ABA technology partner Touchside and South African consulting company Trapeace.

Rwanda govt digitizing its land registry using blockchain technology

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The Rwanda Government has set up the Government Blockchain project to lead the county into becoming more digitized to enable secure transactions, digital authentication and legally binding signatures.

The government says its objective is to realise the benefits of digital transformation with a more open, transparent and publicly verifiable system that will fundamentally change the way value-exchange, assets, enforcement of contracts, and sharing of data across industries will be experienced.

The technical partners include WISeKey, a global cybersecurity and IoT solutions firm and cloud provider Microsoft.

“We are delighted to form  this new partnership with Microsoft by combining our technology to provide trusted blockchain solutions. This will cover technology gaps in the private and public blockchain infrastructure for enterprise and governmental projects, facilitate secure transactions and also verify the identity of the parties participating in these transactions, said Carlos Moreira, Founder and CEO of WISeKey.

The Rwandan Blockchain project which was established earlier this year in partnership with WiseKey’s Blockchain Centre of Excellence aims to position the country as a key player in digital transformation by providing citizens and businesses access to policy, technical and business expertise which ultimately aims to facilitate growth in the country.

In the first phase, the Rwanda Land Registry will be digitised to ensure control of authenticity. Using WISeKey’s WiseID suite of mobile applications – a secure semiconductor solution – the system will digitally store necessary data to enable authenticity of identification and the validation of assets. Applying  Azure’s capabilities will ensure that all personal data is protected and secured.

This solution will benefit the Government of Rwanda and any future Microsoft Azure and WISeKey client leveraging a broad portfolio of familiar and security-enhanced software, partner solutions, devices and services. 

Microsoft has long been committed to enabling both the public and private sectors of the African continent to digitally transform.  Becoming a technology partner to WiseKey’s solution seems to be a natural fit. Microsoft believes this collaboration will enable them to be a part of a solution that will facilitate private and public collaboration in Rwanda.

“Microsoft is proud to be WiseKey’s technology partner of choice. We trust this solution will bring the Rwandan government and its private sector closer to realising the benefits of digital transformation with a more open, transparent, and publicly verifiable system that will fundamentally change the way value-exchange, assets, enforcement of contracts, and sharing of data across industries will be experienced,” said Dr. Ashraf Abdelwahab, Chief Technical Officer, Microsoft 4Afrika.