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Kenya’s Government Task Force to Explore Blockchains for Land and Education

Private companies, as well as national and local governments, have all caught media attention for announcing some kind of investigation or at least interest in the blockchain. Of course, one of the most notorious examples of this was Long Island Iced Tea Corporation’s pivot to Long Island Blockchain Corporation.

On February 28, 2018, the Kenyan government announced it will appoint a task force to explore the use of distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence over the course of a three-month tenure. Led by Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the 11-member task force has three months to produce a road map that will detail how these technologies can be applied at a local level. The task force includes Steve Chege, Safaricom’s head of corporate affairs, John Gitou, Michael Onyango, Dr. Charity Wayua, Fred Michuki and Juliana Rotich, a serial tech entrepreneur who co-founded BRCK and Ushahidi.

The announcement came from Kenyan ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, who explained that, if implemented correctly, blockchain technology could be used to reduce corruption in education and land title registry.

The news comes after the Central Bank of Kenya cautioned investors against the use of cryptocurrencies though they are still very much unregulated within the country.

“We cannot ignore it [blockchain technology] as a country but we also cannot rush into it. We don’t have to be first mover, but definitely not last mover.”

Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution

Poor infrastructure is the main detriment to Kenya’s ability to address its high poverty and unemployment rates (unemployment could be as high as 40 percent). International financial institutions and donors are critical to the country’s economic development.

More than anything else, this announcement appears to represent a critical assurance that Kenya is taking actions with regard to global technology trends. The country averaged over 5 percent GDP growth for the last eight years.

“It is true that previous industrial revolutions have passed us by … this time, however, it is my hope that the fourth industrial revolution, driven by digital transformation, will not leave Africa behind,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Kenya CitizenTV, speaking at a University Symposium on Digital Technology.

Kenyatta’s point sheds light on how blockchain technology is now perceived throughout the world. Nations are beginning to pay attention to the work happening in cryptocurrency and blockchain-based data infrastructures. Dozens of countries are starting to eBits on the technology in some way.

For example, Estonia has eBits a virtual citizenship program using the blockchain. Venezuela’s love-hate relationship with cryptocurrency seems to have solidified since launching Petro, the first government-backed cryptocurrency, as a way for the country to save itself from economic collapse. And the Marshall Islands have eBits the first cryptocurrency that will serve as a sovereign nation’s legal tender.

“There has been a thaw in the regulatory stalemate in Kenya in regards to blockchain. It is a big step forward,” said Elizabeth Rossiello, CEO of the digital foreign exchange and payment platform BitPesa.

M-Pesa: Kenya’s Other Digital Payment System

Started in 2007, M-Pesa is a phone-based money transfer launched by Safaricom — Kenya and Tanzania’s largest mobile network operators. It has since expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India, Romania and Albania.

M-Pesa is not so different from cryptocurrency; with it, customers can deposit and withdraw money, transfer it to others, pay bills, and move money between the M-Pesa service and a bank account. The key difference between M-Pesa and most cryptocurrency is centralization versus decentralization. M-Pesa is owned by Vodafone, a mobile operator, not a bank. It is pegged directly (1:1) to the Kenyan shilling (KES). And converting or trading M-Pesa must be done physically with a mobile device either interacting with an ATM or another mobile device.

Overall, there has been a significant lack of regulatory clarity around emerging financial technologies in Kenya up to this point. Rossiello noted that “if there was more regulatory clarity, there would be room for start-ups operating in Kenya to finally be allowed to use blockchain technology AND be allowed to own bank accounts.”

Though excited, Rossiello is insistent that true implementation of the technology in Kenya will require patience and more education.

This news comes in the wake of BitPesa’s acquisition of the European money transfer platform ZeroTransfer, and its recent announcement that it intends to launch a foreign exchange and payment platform in South Africa later this year. BitPesa operates not just in Kenya but also in Uganda, Tanzania, the DRC, Nigeria, Senegal, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Mozambique, Spain and Ghana.

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Blockchain

No Money to Buy the Dip? Start Hunting!

If you’ve spent some time in the cryptocurrency sphere, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Buy the F-ing Dip” (BTFD). While the BTFD strategy is a viable one for dollar-cost averaging and gaining solid entries, there may come a time when one is unwilling or incapable of adding to existing positions. However, this does not render an individual unable to grow his or her holdings. It simply means their efforts must be spent elsewhere: on bounty hunting!

The term “bounty hunter” traditionally refers to one who tracks down and detains fugitives and criminals that have failed to respond to court orders and other legal obligations in return for the posted bail or other financial rewards. While bounty hunting in the crypto space is not quite as adrenaline-fueled, it’s a similarly fruitful and expansive affair, where top bounty hunters are earning upwards of tens of thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency each month for their participation in the variety of bounties posted every day.

How to find bounties

Almost every single ICO and the majority of cryptocurrencies offer some type of bounty program. Perhaps the best first step is to find a cryptocurrency you believe in and would like to build a bag for, as almost all bounty programs will pay you in the native currency of the project they represent. Generally, these projects post bounty sections or portals on their main websites. Additionally, they are likely listed in Bitcointalk’s Bounties section. Bount0x, a blockchain platform specifically for bounties, also contains plenty of opportunities. Bounty responsibilities range from actions that are as simple as joining Telegram and Discord channels, all the way to video productions and coding projects. To begin bounty hunting, it is important to have accounts on the popular platforms in the cryptocurrency space: Bitcointalk, Reddit, Telegram, Discord, and Twitter. From there, here are a few tips to follow to ensure your success:

1. Evaluate the Programs

The Bitcointalk Bounties section is populated with flashy threads guaranteeing millions of dollars of bounty rewards. Before jumping into the one with the highest dollar amount, take a look at the fundamentals of the project. Because bounty campaigns will almost certainly pay out in the native currency, it’s important to make sure the currency itself holds some value. Valuations for assignments are likely assigned to the ICO price of the currency – will the ICO see activity? Will the coin have liquidity? Beyond this, check out how the bounties are split up. Bounty campaigns typically assign shares to certain actions, like retweets, forum posts, articles, etc. Make sure that what you are earning shares for doing is being adequately rewarded compared to other activities.

2. Play to your strengths

While there is very simple money to be made from signing up for airdrops and chat rooms, these activities will only earn you a few bucks at most. More skilled tasks, like technical writing, art creation, video production, and programming is where the big bounty payouts can be made. If you possess a skill relevant to what projects need, seek out the bounty programs that are in need of those skills. Additionally, if you have a solid background in working with cryptocurrencies, there are oftentimes large bounties assigned to testers and bug finders.

3. Keep at it

The more you participate in bounty campaigns and the cryptocurrency community as a whole, the more you can earn. The highest level forum accounts on Bitcointalk are eligible to enter signature campaigns that sometimes rake in hundreds or thousands of dollars a week simply for participating on the forums. Similarly, consistent and quality work utilizing the skills listed above are often recognized, and oftentimes these projects will recruit their most valuable campaign participants for more permanent positions on their teams.

4. Stay safe

In any large community, there are bad actors. Unfortunately, bounty campaigns are no different. There have been a number of instances in which hackers and exploiters have employed malicious airdrop and bounty programs that simply act as a tool to phish information from users. In the worst cases, wallet information and cryptocurrency balances have been stolen. Make sure to use unique passwords and emails for different campaigns (if necessary), and under no circumstances whatsoever should you share your private key with anyone. Good luck!

 

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Blockchain

Rewards.com Begins Offering Cryptocurrency Rewards

Cryptocurrencies are slowly making inroads in various areas of finance. So far, there has been little to no progress in regards to loyalty schemes or bonus point offerings. Rewards.com is looking to shake things up by offering Dash support to its customers. As such, users can earn rewards for making retail purchases in the form of cryptocurrency.

A Feather in the cap of Dash

It is evident getting people interested in cryptocurrencies will not be easy by any means. To most people, this new form of money offers no real improvements. Even so, things will gradually improve from here on out, as there has been an increase in overall cryptocurrency awareness. 

The latest news from Rewards.com may shed some more positive light on the cryptocurrency industry. While the company isn’t looking to integrate Bitcoin or any of the other top established coins, they are incorporating Dash support in a meaningful manner. First of all, the company has announced they will change their rewards system by letting users earn rewards in Dash, which should introduce some improvements over time.

Secondly, it seems the platform is leaning toward fully integrating cryptocurrency in the near future. Whether or not that will result in positive changes for the eBitsecosystem remains to be seen. Obtaining various cryptocurrencies – especially those with smaller market caps – will remain challenging for most consumers. Even so, any positive attention for cryptocurrencies is considered a victory these days.

Rewards.com’s co-founder and CEO, Todd Rowan, explained the company’s decision:

The remarkable aspect of this partnership is we are introducing people to cryptocurrency in a nonthreatening way. Let’s say you shop at Macy’s, Groupon, or Hotels.com – you can earn a portion of their total purchase in cryptocurrency. The program works just like any points program. You can keep your rewards in the ecosystem just like you would with any type of reward point or redeem it for products, travel, restaurants, or gift cards. The earnings from Rewards.com will help you to start to learn about how to use cryptocurrency, including trading it on the market for Bitcoin or [other] cryptocurrencies. Rewards.com takes us one step closer to global mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrency.

Given the major presence of Rewards.com in the US retail sector, it will be interesting to see how both retailers and consumers respond to this development. It seems users will need to enable the Dash option manually, and thus the rate of acceptance may not be all that impressive when looking at the bigger picture. Even so, it is another feather in the cap of the cryptocurrency industry and a positive change for the Dash ecosystem.

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Blockchain

Researchers Claim $1.2B Worth of Crypto Has Been Stolen Since 2017

Cryptocurrency has been a prime target for criminals for quite some time now. This trend has only intensified over the past few years. A new study by the Anti-Phishing Working Group claims that close to $1.2 billion worth of cryptocurrencies have been stolen since early 2017. It’s a very worrisome number that warrants some clarification.

Criminals are Crazy for Crypto

It is no secret that criminals all over the world have been paying extra attention to cryptocurrencies over the past few years. In the minds of most criminals, this form of money is anonymous and will help them cover their tracks. In reality, however, most (though not all) cryptocurrencies are anything but anonymous or privacy-oriented. Given the rise of eBits firms, using Bitcoin for criminal purposes is less favorable now than ever before.

Even so, there have been numerous thefts of various cryptocurrencies in the past year and a half. As it turns out, researchers claim that close to $1.2 billion worth of crypto has been stolen since early 2017. This is simply an educated guess, as it is nearly impossible to gauge the exact impact of all of these cryptocurrency-related heists.

Even though criminals have seen their fair share of success in the cryptocurrency world, theft is a relatively new trend. To be sure, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been associated with money laundering, drug trafficking, and other illicit behavior for some time now. Stealing tokens and assets from users is only the proverbial icing on the cake.

It is also worth noting that the Anti-Phishing Working Group is confident that nearly 20% of stolen funds have been recovered. That is an interesting figure, even though it means close to $1 billion worth of stolen funds are still out there somewhere. Additionally, tracking down criminals remains an ongoing challenge despite the rise in popularity of blockchain analysis firms.

The study also touched upon Europe’s recently-implemented eBits:

GDPR will negatively impact the overall security of the internet and will also inadvertently aid cybercriminals. By restricting access to critical information, the new law will significantly hinder investigations into cybercrime, cryptocurrency theft, phishing, ransomware, malware, fraud and crypto-jacking.

It is a bit unclear what steps are being taken to recover the remainder of the stolen funds. Although it’s a major struggle, it seems some progress has been made. Even so, cryptocurrency enthusiasts will have to remain vigilant in order to thwart further heists from happening. This also means users will need to stop relying on centralized trading platforms which offer custodial services. So far, it seems those services remain extremely popular despite their obvious drawbacks.

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