Nigerian Startup Kubitx Launches Bitcoin Exchange in Beta

Nigerian Startup Kubitx Launches Bitcoin Exchange in Beta

Kubitx, a Pan-African financial technology startup registered in Malta, announced the beta launch of its new cryptocurrency exchange on Thursday. The platform, which supports seven digital coins for the test, including BCH and BTC, will initially be available to users in Nigeria, before the company expands it to other African countries in the coming months.

Also read: Billion-Dollar Startups Flourishing in Switzerland’s ‘Crypto Valley-

‘Hybrid’ Exchange Facilitates Payments,
Remittances and OTC Trades

“Today we launch the Kubitx Exchange feature release version 0.1,” Victor Philips, co-founder and chief operating officer at Kubitx, told news.Bitcoin.com by telephone. He added that 150 people qualified for the company’s open invitation to prospective beta test users seeking to participate in the launch.

Nigerian Startup Kubitx Launches Bitcoin Exchange in Beta

Philips, a Nigerian economist and IT program manager based in Canada, said: “(The) first rollout spot for crypto-to-fiat conversions and bill payments using crypto is Nigeria — a suitable destination to test our platform, as the country boasts the largest population and active youth with massive crypto adoption, ranking sixth globally.”

Founded in 2017, Kubitx describes itself as a “hybrid digital asset exchange” that leverages distributed ledger technology to facilitate payments throughout Africa and abroad. It also offers trade financing, while handling remittances and over-the-counter trades. In addition, the exchange is registered as a legal entity in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

With the beta release, users will be able try out the exchange’s trading, deposit and withdrawal interface, among other features, using a demo token. Consumer feedback will then be incorporated into the final beta version, which will use real digital currencies such as BCH and BTC.

The trial period runs until Oct. 15, with official live trading to begin one week after that, Philips said. When fully operational, for example, a Nigerian who is a resident of the U.K. will be able to send money back home by depositing BCH through Kubitx. The recipient in Nigeria will then be able to withdraw funds in naira, the local currency.

Nigerian Startup Kubitx Launches Bitcoin Exchange in Beta

“Once the beta test is done, we will have a one-week window to implement any suggestions received from the users on our platform, after which the (official) beta launch takes place,” Kubitx wrote, in a separate online statement.

Crypto Adoption Growing Steadily in Africa

The digital currency ecosystem has grown rapidly in African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe over the past few years. Bitcoin has particularly become popular. The wave of steady cryptocurrency adoption is widely viewed as key to driving economic growth and financial inclusion, while reducing remittance costs throughout the continent, which is home to roughly 1.2 billion people.

Africa’s booming technological advancement is reflected in the rapid growth of mobile phone use, both as a means of payment and to serve as bank accounts. With more than 100 million active users of mobile money transacting about $2.1 billion each year, according to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Africa has become a global leader in mobile-based financial settlements.

Nigerian Startup Kubitx Launches Bitcoin Exchange in Beta

In Nigeria, Kubitx recently reached an agreement with Interswitch International, a major payment switching company, to claim a 99% share of the Nigerian banking sector, with an additional presence in Kenya and Uganda. It will operate its fiat-to-crypto payments and remittance business in those markets,  the exchange said. It has struck similar deals in Gambia with Modulus Global, and in Zimbabwe with undisclosed local financial institutions.

“Our ecosystem will support cryptocurrency-to-fiat handshake to get transactions done using the transparency, speed, security, immutability and decentralized features of the underlying (blockchain) technology,” said Philips. The exchange hopes to open new trading platforms in Zimbabwe, Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere after it completes its planned $12.5 million initial coin offering later this year.

What do you think about the development of cryptocurrencies throughout Africa? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Kubitx.


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Pushing the Boundaries of Economic Change: Bitcoin as a Medium of Exchange in Africa

Pushing The Boundaries Of Economic Change - Bitcoin As A Medium Of Exchange In Africa

Bitcoin is pushing the boundaries of economic change in Africa. In East Africa, a new deal between digital currency exchange Bitpesa and a Japanese firm shows Kenyans are using bitcoin to pay for used Japanese cars, cosmetics and electrical gadgets. In Nigeria, Sure Remit is helping make cash transfers cheaper and in Zimbabwe, TV subscriptions, university fees, and second-hand car imports.

Also read: US Dollar Losing Dominance As A Means For Settling Transactions In Africa

Bitcoin as A Cure for Africa’s Cash Addiction

When Elisha Owusu Akyam bought his Macbook Pro laptop using bitcoin (BTC) earlier this year, he wasn’t just fulfilling a long-time desire – he was making a statement of change in a continent hooked on cash.

Pushing The Boundaries Of Economic Change - Bitcoin As A Medium Of Exchange In Africa
Elisha Owusu Akyam

“Making payments in bitcoin is easier than existing methods,” the 17 year-old cryptocurrency investor from Accra, Ghana, told news.Bitcoin.com.

“Barriers exist for financial inclusion on the continent. Bitcoin eradicates these barriers,” said Owusu Akyam, founder and chief executive of Token Media, a startup that has helped other emerging businesses raise millions of dollars in token sales through its marketing services.

“For instance, the purchase I made in just one payment would not have been possible without bitcoin. I would have had to make payments in parts for a couple of days. This wastes time and costs money,” he said.

Pushing The Boundaries Of Economic Change - Bitcoin As A Medium Of Exchange In Africa

Although Africa has been touted as the cradle of mobile money payments, mobile is effectively only widely used in a few countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe, where about 30 million people combined use cell phones to pay for goods and services. In most countries, cash is still king.

But bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are starting to catch on, not only as a means of payment, but also for remittances and as a store of value.

Ghana is one of a number of countries in Africa whose economies are currently being reshaped by cryptocurrency. In the West African country, the crypto market is still very small, with issues around regulation casting a shadow over the market’s future, but it “has seen a lot of growth lately,” according to Elisha Owusu Akyam.

Adoption, Regulation, Fraud

Some small businesses have started to accept payment in bitcoin, Owusu Akyam says, while digital currency exchanges are flourishing, with about 15 different platforms, mainly over-the-counter exchanges, allowing Ghanians to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

Basic services like buying mobile phone airtime and data can also be done with the use of bitcoin, he added. At some point in 2016, the highest number of bitcoin searches on Google originated from Ghana, though that in itself didn’t mean much.

“This awareness doesn’t translate into the understanding of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as many think it is a scam or fraud,” explained Owusu Akyam, via email. And then there are the issues around regulation.

“The closest we have come to [regulation] is a statement by the Bank of Ghana, cautioning the public on the use of bitcoin as an unregulated activity,” he said. “This unregulated environment has led to the spread of several scams and fake investment schemes that are hurting the image of the cryptocurrency industry as a whole in Ghana.”

Kenyans Use Bitcoin to Import Beauty Products

In Kenya, a new deal agreed between local digital currency exchange and payments platform Bitpesa and Japanese firm SBI Remit shows that Kenyans are using bitcoin for a number of things, including to make payment for beauty products from overseas, through the exchange, at lower cost and faster.

Pushing The Boundaries Of Economic Change - Bitcoin As A Medium Of Exchange In Africa

Elizabeth Rossiello, co-founder and chief executive of Bitpesa, says payments will also include used Japanese cars – a multi-million-dollar industry in Africa – and electrical gadgets. Kenyans intending to make a purchase overseas deposit their local Shillings into Bitpesa’s Kenya bank account before payments are facilitated on the bitcoin blockchain to SBI Remit, which in turn makes the final payment in Japan.

The entire process is completed within a matter of hours, at half the cost in transfer fees, compared to about two weeks that it usually takes when payment is made via conventional banking methods, for around 7% in fees of the total amount involved, she said.

“If it makes sense for us to settle using cryptocurrency or fiat currencies, then we do. And in this case, we’re happy that SBI feels the same way, so we’re open to using digital or fiat currencies to settle between us,” Rossiello was quoted as saying.

The new service will be available to people in all eight of the African countries where Bitpesa has operations: Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda.

A Store Of Value

In Nigeria, Sure Remit is helping people send money through bitcoin after the startup earlier this year raised $7 million in an initial coin offering that reached its hard cap within a matter of days. The remittance business is a common feature across all African countries where bitcoin has gained traction, from South Africa to Nigeria, Kenya to Angola.

Even though the number of Africans in the diaspora sending money home continues to swell, with the continent accounting for just 6.4% of the more than $610 billion global remittances market, according to the World Bank, the remittance business in Africa should only grow from here. The World Bank estimates that growth to reach about 7%m to over $40 billion this year.

In Zimbabwe, bitcoin is being used to pay for TV subscriptions and accommodation rentals. But above all, it is looked at more as a store of value against fiat currency devaluation, rising inflation and policy uncertainty, as indeed is the case is across much of Africa, including Owusu Akyam’s Ghana.

“The major use of bitcoin is as a store of value or investment. Bitcoin protects Ghanaians against inflation since the Ghana cedi depreciates in value against the US dollar,” said Owusu Akyam, who in many ways represents the face of bitcoin and cryptocurrency entrepreneurship in Africa – youth.

How are people in your area making use of bitcoin? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Speculators and Investors Hodl, Venezuelans Send Crypto With SMS

The Daily: Speculators and Investors Hodl, Venezuelans Send Crypto With SMS

A study has detected stability in the amounts of bitcoin held for both speculation and investment during the last several months through August. Also in The Daily, Opera launches its much-vaunted desktop browser with built-in crypto wallet, a new service offers Venezuelans SMS-controlled platform for cryptocurrency remittances, and website-building platform Wix integrates coin payments for merchants.

Also read: Rethinking Bitcoin’s Market Cap, ICOs Printing Money

Study Finds Investors, Speculators Hodled This Summer

The amount of bitcoin core intended for both speculation and investment have remained relatively stable during the summer months in comparison to the previous period since December, when a large number of speculators entered the crypto market, while many long-term investors sold approximately $30 billion of the cryptocurrency. According to the latest update of a study conducted by the analytics firm Chainalysis, between May and August around 23% of the available BTC (4.8 million) was held for speculation, and 30% (6.4 million) was held for investment purposes.

The Daily: Speculators and Investors Hodl, Venezuelans Send Crypto With SMS

According to the authors, the findings indicate that the space has become less sensitive to hype, meaning that nowadays crypto prices are not influenced so much by news, positive or negative. They believe the market has recalibrated following the entry of many new participants since 2017. As such, a major price move can be expected only in the event of a significant change, such as the introduction of restrictive regulations or important technological improvements. The researchers also point out that the continued presence of both long-term investors and new speculators signifies the expansion of the user base in terms of more people acquiring cryptocurrency, but growth will also depend on the next step towards wider adoption.

Opera Launches Desktop Browser With Wallet

The Daily: Speculators and Investors Hodl, Venezuelans Send Crypto With SMSOpera, which is trying to attract more crypto enthusiasts, is releasing a desktop edition of its browser that comes with a built-in cryptocurrency wallet, as promised this past August. At this stage, the application has been offered for beta testing only. A select group of testers with early access can pair their desktop wallets with those in the Opera mobile browser for Android, while regular users will be able to take advantage of the functionality after the official release of the software.

The new version called Opera Labs allows users to control their cryptocurrency funds and browse decentralized apps based on the Ethereum network. A representative of the company, quoted by Hard Fork, confirmed interest in expanding the features to include support for other blockchains as well. The integration with the mobile app means that signing ETH transactions will require a confirmation with a fingerprint scan using a smartphone. The developers claim that the associated private keys are stored on the phone’s hardware and will not be transmitted.

Crypto Remittances via SMS Offered to Venezuelans

The Daily: Speculators and Investors Hodl, Venezuelans Send Crypto With SMSCross-border transactions and payments have been hit hard in economically troubled Venezuela whose citizens have experienced the negative effects of hyperinflation, international sanctions and government instituted reforms. A new service has been launched to offer Venezuelans fast and easy remittance in cryptocurrency.

Dash Text, an offline wallet operated with short text messages sent via the GSM network, has been launched in the South American country where many people have mobile devices but less than half of the population uses smartphones, while electricity and internet outages are a common occurrence. A beta version of Dash Text, an SMS service introduced by a Venezuelan company, is now available to subscribers of one of the country’s three major telecoms, Movistar. Using simple text commands, users will be able to set up a wallet, receive and send dash.

It’s been estimated that every year Venezuelans residing abroad send at least $1 billion in remittances to their families back home. However, new tightened rules governing remittance have seriously complicated the process. Dash, a cryptocurrency with features offering fast transfers and improved privacy, has enjoyed growing popularity in Venezuela. Another option for locals to transact in dash comes with the KRIP phones designed with a built-in dash wallet and functions enabling the purchase and spending of the altcoin.

Website Builder Wix Adds Support for Crypto Payments

The Daily: Speculators and Investors Hodl, Venezuelans Send Crypto With SMSWix.com, a platform that allows users to create websites without the need to become or employ programmers, has recently integrated a service that will make it possible for online merchants to accept crypto payments. The new billing method has been introduced thanks to a partnership with the Cyprus-based company Decentralized Vision, which raised $117 million through a private sale earlier this year to fund the development of its Pumapay project. The payments will be processed using its native PMA tokens. Wix claims to have more than 110 million users of its point-and-click system for building internet pages.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section below.


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South Korea Urges 14 Countries to Create International Discipline System for Crypto

South Korea Urges 14 Countries to Create International Discipline System for Crypto

At an annual international conference for regulators in Seoul, the South Korean Financial Supervisory Service urged regulators from 14 other countries to create an international discipline system for cryptocurrency and initial coin offerings. The Korean government also outlined its current crypto countermeasures and pushed for better information sharing and international cooperation.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

International Discipline System

South Korea Urges 14 Countries to Create International Discipline System for Crypto
Yoon Suk-heun.

The 20th Integrated Financial Supervisors Conference (IFSC) took place on September 6-7 in Seoul. The governor of the country’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), Yoon Suk-heun, urged representatives from all countries attending the event to jointly respond to cryptocurrency risks.

The event was attended by officials from 14 countries, including the UK, Japan, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Singapore. The regulators met to share and discuss global regulatory issues, including those related to cryptocurrencies.

According to the Korea Times, Yoon said:

The authorities are in a difficult situation to minimize the side effects while encouraging financial innovation…The aim is to calm overheated speculation and prevent illegal activities against new risks associated with virtual currency or initial coin offerings (ICOs)…We need to create an international discipline system, which can only generate regulatory gains between countries.

Citing that crypto and ICO activities are carried out across borders, Yoon emphasized that “it would be better to create an international discipline system” rather than each country responding individually, Hankook Ilbo reported.

Countermeasures Discussed

South Korea Urges 14 Countries to Create International Discipline System for CryptoYoon proceeded to explain South Korea’s current countermeasures for new financial services including cryptocurrency, ICOs, and fintech, Etnews reported. They include a “supervision method for effective internal control and compliance of financial companies, the direction of financial consumer protection system and financial inclusion policy, [and the] effective anti-money laundering system and how to operate it.”

The governor believes that the “internal control of financial companies is a way to safely manage customer assets and maintain sound management.” In addition, he hopes that “the level of information sharing and international cooperation would be further strengthened,” the publication conveyed, adding:

Korea has faithfully implemented international supervision standards such as reporting doubtful transactions, confiscation of criminal proceeds related to the prevention of money laundering, and expanding the exchange of information between countries.

What do you think of South Korea urging 14 countries to cooperate on crypto countermeasures? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Daily: EU Urged for Common Crypto Rules, EEU Ready for Common Crypto

The Daily: EU Urged for Common Crypto Rules, EEU Ready for Common Crypto

A Brussels-based think tank has urged the European Union to adopt common crypto regulations. Its report will be reviewed during this week’s meeting of the EU finance ministers in Vienna. Also in The Daily, the Eurasian Economic Union may adopt a single settlement currency, possibly a crypto, Samsung Pay offers a tokenized money transfer service in Russia, and Transfergo launches remittance payments to India using DLT technology.

Also read: Luxury Car Dealership Accepts Bitcoin, Basketballers to Earn Crypto

Think Tank Calls for Universal EU Crypto Regulations

The European Union, a politico-economic behemoth that often finds it hard to agree on common policies on anything, from immigration to taxation, has been called upon to adopt universal regulations for crypto exchanges and clear rules for crowdfunding through initial coin offerings (ICOs). In a report, the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel argues such an approach would put risks under control while creating conditions to exploit the industry’s potential.

Worried about some innate peculiarities of the space and the technology, including the volatility of young crypto markets and the associated risks of fraud and money laundering, EU leaders and institutions have nevertheless refrained so far from discussing and developing a comprehensive pan-European regulation, citing the relatively small size of the sector and the crypto-euro trade. There are indications this attitude could change as the report in question has been prepared for the Union’s finance ministers’ meeting this Friday and Saturday in Vienna, as reported by Reuters.

The Daily: EU Urged for Common Crypto Rules, EEU Ready for Common Crypto

Despite the bearish market trends this year, crypto trading and investing has increased in the EU, so has the interest in ICOs – member-states account for 30 percent of the projects funded through digital token sales. This will surely press Brussels to take a closer look at the regulatory challenges. Austria, the current EU president, is now asking its partners whether the applicable EU regulations need to be updated.

Bruegel suggests that entities dealing with cryptocurrency and related instruments, such as crypto exchanges, should be subject to stricter disclosure rules. However, the think tank notes that crypto companies seeking favorable business climates in jurisdictions like the EU-member Malta might need to be tolerated for some time in order to “experiment and learn about the best approaches to this fast-developing technology.”

EEU May Adopt Single Currency, Ruble or Crypto

The Daily: EU Urged for Common Crypto Rules, EEU Ready for Common CryptoThe Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is in a position now to create a common settlement currency for the region, according to the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) board chairman Andrei Belyaninov. During a Eurasian Media Congress in Almaty, Kazakhstan this week, he said the situation across the union today is extremely advantageous, for which he expressed gratitude to US President Donald Trump’s administration, Arka news agency reported. He elaborated:

The sanctions appeared to be instrumental in our efforts to consolidate internal resources, create a single economic space, form infrastructures within this space and develop them… We are in a position to create a regional settlement currency. I believe that it should be the ruble, although there are other points of view, for example, a blockchain-based currency.

Belyaninov admitted the EDB is currently a “bit aggressive” with its plans across the EEU and complained the bank’s initiatives are hampered by what he called “incompetent and illiterate judgments” about the current situation in the economic markets. EDB has an authorized capital of $7 billion USD and is supported by Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.

Revamped Russian Crypto Law Ready for Discussions in October

The Daily: EU Urged for Common Crypto Rules, EEU Ready for Common CryptoThe draft law “On Digital Financial Assets” will be submitted for public discussions in early October, Alexei Guznov, Director of the Legal Department of the Central Bank of Russia, told journalists on the sidelines of the Forum of the Association of Russian Banks. The version that will be presented is going to be the one that deputies will accept for a second reading in the lower house of Russia’s parliament. Three bills aimed at regulating different aspects of the crypto space were voted on first reading this spring, with their final adoption scheduled for the fall session of the State Duma. Russian lawmakers have been trying to synchronize the drafts to produce a comprehensive regulatory framework.

Samsung Pay Offers Tokenized Money Transfer Service in Russia

Mobile payment service Samsung Pay is now offering a tokenized cashless transfer service in the Russian Federation, local media reported. Samsung Pay is partnering on the project with Visa, Mastercard, and Multikarta, and the Russian Vneshtorgbank (VTB) will be the acquiring bank. When making a transfer, a randomly generated token will replace the card number thereby protecting the clients’ personal information, mitigating the risks of the data being intercepted by third parties.

Transfergo Launches Remittance Payments to India

The Daily: EU Urged for Common Crypto Rules, EEU Ready for Common CryptoPayments provider Transfergo has announced the launch of an instant payments service to India using technology provided by Ripple. The company notes that Transfergo Now is available for users in Europe who will be able to order real-time money transfers to India, considered the world’s biggest receiver of remittances. The issued press release does not specify the technology underpinning the system but a number of financial institutions, including leading Indian commercial banks such as Kotak Mahindra and Axis bank, are among the users of Ripplenet. The blockchain-based Xcurrent software which enables the transfers on the platform does not use XRP, Ripple’s centralized altcoin.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Singapore FinTech Enables Instant Blockchain Remittance for Myanmar Migrant Workers in Thailand

Everex, a Singapore-based financial technology firm, has partnered with Myanmar’s Shwe Bank to introduce blockchain-Powered remittance Services between Myanmar and Thailand. The blockchain firm claims that the partnership will enable millions of Myanmar migrant workers living in Thailand to send money home instantly and securely at much lower transaction costs than traditional remittance methods. Blockchain … Continued

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Cryptocurrency to Fiat Transactions Remain High in the Philippines

Cryptocurrency to Fiat Transactions Remain High in the Philippines

The Filipino central bank has revealed that the trade between fiat and cryptocurrencies on authorized bitcoin exchanges in the Philippines has maintained its high level for the country from the boom time of late 2017 during the first quarter of this year.  

Also Read: US Authorities Seize Over $20M in Crypto in Massive Darknet Crackdown

Cryptocurrency-Fiat Transactions Remain High

Cryptocurrency to Fiat Transactions Remain High in the PhilippinesTransactions involving both fiat and cryptocurrencies remained high during the first three months of 2018 in the Philippines, revealed new figures released by the country’s central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). This happened despite the warnings to the public issued by the central bank about the risks involved with the instruments, which were meant to discourage the acquisition, possession and trading of cryptocurrencies.

BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi Fonacier announced that conversion of cryptocurrencies into the local peso as well as other fiat currencies by monthly average amounted to $24.16 million, while conversion from peso and other fiat currencies to cryptocurrencies reached $36.74 million in the first quarter of the year, as The Philippine Star reported. In the last quarter of 2017, Fonacier said the average monthly transactions involving conversion of cryptocurrencies to peso and other fiat currencies reached $24.79 million, while conversion from peso and other fiat currencies to cryptocurrencies amounted to $38.27 million.

A Fertile Ground for Bitcoin Adoption

Cryptocurrency to Fiat Transactions Remain High in the PhilippinesThe Philippines has a population of over 100 million people, and it has a couple of factors that make it a fertile ground for bitcoin adoption. Its growing economy is heavily reliant upon remittances from overseas Filipino workers and international tourism is an also important sector of the local industry, both of which stand to greatly benefit from reduced costs on cross-border transfers enabled by cryptocurrency.

Moreover, unlike other locations in Asia, the local financial authorities have not banned fiat to cryptocurrency transactions and the BSP even authorized the operation of a few exchange platforms in the country including Rebittance Inc, Betur Inc (Coins.ph), and Bloom Solutions Inc. As we reported last month, Coins.ph reached a whopping five million users in May for its mobile payments app and hot wallet.

What can the bitcoin community do to encourage the further development of the market in the Philippines? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 


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Venezuela Begins Monitoring Bank Accounts for Crypto Transactions

Venezuela Begins Monitoring Bank Accounts for Crypto Transactions

The government of Venezuela has started monitoring the bank accounts of its citizens for cryptocurrency-related transactions. Accounts found to contain crypto transactions at prices which the government considers to be “undermining the national currency” will be “severely punished,” Vice President Tareck El Aissami said.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Next Phase of Operation Paper Hands

Following the launch of “Operation Paper Hands,” as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported, the Venezuelan government has initiated the next phase of its plan to reduce capital flight, calling it “Operation Metal Hands.”

Venezuela Begins Monitoring Bank Accounts for Crypto Transactions
Tareck El Aissami.

This new phase was launched last week with a focus on what they call “gold smugglers,” or Venezuelans who bought gold from small miners and then sold it outside of the country. The operation has “detected that these mafias have distorted the prices of the dollar,” the country’s Vice President Tareck El Aissami declared, adding that “they have migrated through the market of cryptocurrencies to hit the Venezuelan monetary system.”

The operation further targets capital flight via cryptocurrencies. El Aissami explained that the government will start monitoring bank accounts for crypto-related transactions and will prosecute those trading them “at speculative prices.”

“This is part of a war to hit the financial system of the country,” Aporrea publication stated, “and they [the government] will exercise future actions to hit those who try to conspire through cryptocurrencies.” The Vice President was quoted by La Red publication:

All the accounts that we identify that are linked to the manipulation are going to be severely punished and (those responsible will be) placed at the order of justice.

He revealed that, as part of Operation Paper Hands, “5 billion bolivares [~US$50,000] in bank accounts were frozen at Banesco bank, and 12 trillion bolivares [~$120 million] were seized that were destined for contraband in Colombia,” Aporrea publication conveyed.

Three Remittance Houses Legalized

Venezuela Begins Monitoring Bank Accounts for Crypto TransactionsSince the launch of Operation Paper Hands, three remittance houses were shut down, including two crypto exchange operators. However, the government soon realized that underground cryptocurrency transactions did not cease.

This led the Vice President to announce last week that three money exchangers in Caracas have been specifically authorized to handle the country’s foreign exchange transactions and remittances. He was quoted by Correo Del Orinoco:

We have authorized three exchange houses, private companies, private exchange operators, legally authorized, to perform all operations associated with remittances.

The three exchanges are Zoom, Italcambio, and Insular. However, their websites do not indicate that they deal with cryptocurrencies in any way.

For the purpose of buying and selling cryptocurrency specifically, the Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, announced in April that he had certified 16 exchanges with the aim for them to list his country’s own digital currency, the petro.

What do you think of Venezuela monitoring bank accounts for crypto transactions? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and Digital IDs

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

The city of Zug, home of the Swiss Crypto Valley, will invite its residents to take part in an experimental blockchain-based vote. They are expected to share opinions on several questions of local importance, including the fireworks display during the annual Lakeside Festival and the use of digital IDs to borrow books and pay parking fees. This and other fintech and crypto-related stories from the Alpine nation and other corners of Europe are featured in today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief.   

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Tuesday: POT Saves World, Coinbase Pumps ETC, Binance Wants EUR

Zug Experiments with Blockchain-Based Vote

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsAuthorities in the Swiss city of Zug plan to ask local residents to participate in a consultative blockchain-based vote this month utilizing the city’s electronic ID system. They will be able to vote via their smartphones by downloading and installing an app. The experimental vote will be held between June 25 and July 1. Citizens will be asked if they are in favor of setting alight fireworks during the annual Lakeside Festival, and whether they think digital IDs should be used to borrow books from the library, pay parking fees, and for identification on regular referendums.

According to Swissinfo, the results of the vote will be non-binding. Nevertheless, the initiative, which aims to test whether blockchain can be used on a broader scale, highlights again the positive attitude of Swiss authorities towards cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology. The canton of Zug, dubbed Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, has become home to many fintech startups and even established crypto companies like the Chinese giant Bitmain, which has opened an office there.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsFor some time now, Zug has been accepting cryptocurrency payments for municipal services, including company registrations using bitcoin and ether. The city introduced its eID system to provide citizens with digital access to council services. The pilot phase of the project started last fall. The system is based on blockchain technology.

New Swiss Body to Simplify Capital Markets

In another example of Switzerland’s serious approach to fintech innovations, leading representatives of the country’s financial, technological, academic and legal sectors have recently formed the new Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) to facilitate the use of blockchain in financial markets. In a press release, they noted that “the blockchain technology has the potential to reduce the complexity of the capital markets system and lower the barrier of entry for startups.”

According to CMTA’s founders, the lack of legal certainty is slowing and can potentially compromise development in the field. They hope to facilitate access to funding for new businesses by defining a set of industry-supported open standards. These should ultimately contribute to value creation throughout the economy said Jacques Iffland, CMTA’s chair and partner at Lenz & Staehelin, the largest Swiss law firm.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

Swissquote Bank Ltd, a leader in online banking, and Temenos, which specializes in banking software, are also behind the initiative. CMTA promises to work to create toolkits that can be used by new or established companies, businesses and startups to access funding and raise capital securely and efficiently, using new technologies and leveraging digitalization. The association is based in Geneva.

Irish Blockchain Startup Delivering Aid to Refugees Raises €1m

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsAn Irish startup, using blockchain to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, has raised an estimated €1 million from investors, according to industry sources quoted by The Irish Times. The Dublin-based Aid:tech is working in refugee camps, often in hotspots like the Middle East. On Wednesday, Enterprise Ireland and SGInnovate, the venture capital arm of the Singaporean development authority, announced simultaneous investments in the Irish company. This is the first time both state-backed organizations have allocated funds to support a blockchain business, the Irish daily notes. Amsterdam-based Blue Parasol Investments and Tin Fu Fund, a closed private equity fund managed by Shenzhen Capital Group, also took part in the funding round.

Aid:tech aims to increase transparency in the distribution of aid, welfare, remittances, donations, and healthcare services through digitizing their delivery using blockchain technology on its platform. According to the company, only a fraction of the estimated €306 billion (~$360 billion) transferred each year by non-governmental aid organizations is currently delivered via transparent systems which, the startup claims, are extremely expensive to administer. The blockchain technology employed by the Irish firm would allow all international aid to be accounted for, including the distribution of medicine, food and other essentials, the publication details.

Government-Backed Platform to Promote Ireland as a Blockchain Hub

In an attempt to highlight Ireland’s capabilities in the blockchain ecosystem, authorities in Dublin have launched a new government-backed platform. Blockchain Ireland, founded in partnership with a young company called Consensys, aims to create conditions for greater cooperation between startups working in the sector, both on national and international level. The platform was launched by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group and backed by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Department of Finance, leading members of the country’s blockchain industry and representatives from a number of academic institutions.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

The online platform is a source of useful information about the Irish blockchain ecosystem. It will be used to promote the country as a blockchain hub by highlighting the Irish technology sector and business environment which turn Ireland into an ideal location for blockchain-enabled business, Silicon Republic reports. The services it will be offering include providing information on setting up a new company and support for blockchain projects in Ireland. Its activities, however, will stretch beyond Irish borders. Blockchain Ireland will be working to develop the European and international blockchain ecosystem as well.

What are your thoughts on today’s topics in Bitcoin in Brief? Let us know in the comments below.


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Zimbabwe’s Golix Exchange Enters Kenya, Uganda, South Africa

Zimbabwe’s Golix Exchange Enters Kenya, Uganda, South Africa

Crypto exchange Golix is entering three other African markets in an effort to survive the ban imposed by the central bank in its home country – Zimbabwe. Moreover, the troubled trading platform claims the move is part of a strategy to offer its services across the whole continent. Golix says the shortage of infrastructure has slowed down the adoption of cryptocurrencies in Africa.

 Also read: Johannesburg Gets a New Crypto ATM, Ban Threatened Harare May Lose One

Golix Moves On After Ban, Expands in Africa

Trying to stay afloat after the crackdown by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Golix has turned its attention to Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa. Zimbabwe’s leading cryptocurrency exchange hopes to continue trading in these African countries, despite the ban imposed by financial authorities in Harare.

In a statement quoted by News Day, Golix head of growth, Panashe Tapera, noted that moving outside the country was part of a new strategy – the trading platform plans to expand operations across the entire continent. Tapera said:

As part of our strategy, starting from Friday, June 1, people in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda will be able to start trading from Golix. This is one of our plans to be the leading exchange in Africa, which is inspired by the vision to provide financial autonomy in the continent.

Golix has been offering exchange services in Zimbabwe for the past three years and was the only crypto trading platform there for quite some time, processing transactions worth $20 million and having 50,000 local users. Now it’s planning to continue to do the same in more and larger markets, saying that shortage of crypto infrastructure has slowed down the adoption of digital currencies in Africa.

Zimbabwe’s Golix Exchange Enters Kenya, Uganda, South Africa

The Republic of South Africa, the region’s economic powerhouse, has the highest number of cryptocurrency exchanges on the continent. Its central bank has set up a special unit tasked to review its position on cryptocurrencies and a “self-regulatory” approach has been proposed by legal experts working in the crypto sector. Uganda has been mentioned recently as a crypto-friendly destination, where the leading crypto exchange Binance wants to open a new office.

Challenging the Central Bank in Court

The announcement comes after last month the central bank in Harare issued a circular to banking institutions instructing them to stop providing bank accounts to cryptocurrency companies. The new guidelines effectively banned all crypto-related activities in the country. The RBZ gave local banks and cryptocurrency operators 60 days to comply.

Zimbabwe’s Golix Exchange Enters Kenya, Uganda, South AfricaGolix has since sent several letters to its clients informing them that they would not be able to trade digital coins or deposit fiat currency, and also helping them withdraw their funds.

According to local media, the operator of the exchange, Bitfinance Limited, has filed a lawsuit against the central bank. Later, it was reported that the country’s High Court has ruled in favor of the company’s argument that the RBZ has no authority to ban digital currencies.

Last week, Golix said it had been granted “an interim relief.” In further communication with its customers, the exchange shared that its accounts had not been restored and the legal proceedings were still ongoing. “Nevertheless, please note that we are in the middle of promising engagements with a financial institution which is willing to process our fiat withdrawals through a prepaid debit card,” the platform told its clients.

Golix Takes Its Token Sale to the New Markets

The Zimbabwean exchange intends to enter and operate in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa by also conducting its $32 million token sale there. The aim of the coin offering is to enable instant remittances and international payments through cryptocurrencies.

According to Golix lead of special projects, William Chui, “Since the onset, our main agenda is to provide financial autonomy in Africa. The GLX token is going to be used to facilitate and realize this agenda.”

Zimbabwe’s Golix Exchange Enters Kenya, Uganda, South Africa

Clients from different countries will be able to buy the GLX token from the exchange with fiat currencies, he explained. Then, the coin issued by Golix will be used to purchase other cryptos on its trading platform at zero transaction fees.

Zimbabwe’s first crypto exchange also promises lower fees, in comparison with traditional banking methods, for remittances and international transfers facilitated by the GLX token. The Golix representative believes that will contribute to the GDP growth in African countries.

Do you think the expansion to new markets will help Golix survive the ban in Zimbabwe? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Philippines’ Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

Philippines' Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

Averaging more than a million onboardings per year, Philippines’ Coins.ph announced it reached a whopping five million users this week for its mobile payments application (app) and hot crypto wallet. Not content with merely adding numbers for their own sake, the company also revealed it would add two new popular coins: bitcoin cash (BCH) and ether (ETH).

Also read: Bitgrail Exchange Ordered Down Indefinitely as Italian Court Upholds Halt

Philippines’ Coins.ph Hits 5mil User Milestone

Founder Ron Hose enthusiastically explained, “We are excited and proud to provide 5 million customers with access to financial services. Our focus on creating financial inclusion to all Filipinos has propelled our growth to date.”

Many of the southeast Asian archipelago’s inhabitants struggle with inadequate economic opportunities and poor financial services. Nearly half of the Philippines is living on close to $2 a day, and its central bank, Bagko Sentral ng Pilipinas, estimated early last year that 86% of Philippines’ citizens are unbanked – bereft of basic banking services used by folks in the West every day.

Philippines' Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

Those factors just might be features rather than bugs when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption. Indeed, for relatively smooth economies in the West, money is already digitized for all intents and purposes. Crypto adoption, as a result, in the West has been a bit of struggle: the immediate argument gets lost in money that ‘works,’ and works well.

For Filipinos to become one’s own bank, in effect, relying less on financial legacy permission and trust, a peer-to-peer currency out of view of its notoriously corrupt government seems to be proving very attractive if Coins.ph numbers are any indication.

Coins.ph Adds Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

“Millions of our customers have already used Coins.ph’s web and mobile apps to access a wide array of financial services,” CEO Ron Hose continued, “including buying load, paying bills, topping up their beep™ card, and purchasing digital currencies, all without needing a bank account.”

Five million users has come in only four years for the company. It was founded by Runar Petursson and Mr. Hose, both Silicon Valley veterans. Their services are a way for Filipinos to become banked, a potential market of over 300,000 people. In the past two years, it has raised a total of $10mil in venture capital funding, indicating investors believe the company to be “on” to something.

Philippines' Crypto Wallet Reaches 5 Million Users, Adds More Coins

Users of the company’s platform can take advantage of ever-important remittance services, card top-ups, wallet transfers, paying bills, and even online shopping. Just the mere notion of a friction-filled economy (as is the case within the Philippines), flattening and becoming more streamline would seem to forecast wonderful economic advancements for the nation, at least theoretically.  

“Responding to consumer demand for additional blockchain-based services,” the company notes it has already rolled out ether (ETH) acceptance in addition to its existing bitcoin core (BTC) offering, “with an eye for future smart contract based financial services, and will also begin supporting Bitcoin Cash (BCH) next month, in an effort to support lower cost blockchain based payments.”

Do you think more emerging economies will embrace crypto? Let us know in the comments. 


Images via the Pixabay, Coins.ph.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi’s Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com

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Venezuela Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Venezuela Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency Exchanges

The government of Venezuela has taken action against two cryptocurrency exchange operators in the country. Both of them allow customers to convert between a number of cryptocurrencies and bolivars and send remittances abroad.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Operation Paper Hands

The Venezuelan government’s “Operation Paper Hands” began a new phase this week “with the dismantling of 3 illegal remittance houses: Intercash, Rapidcambio, and Airtm,” according to the country’s Prosecutor General, Tarek William Saab. He described:

Operation Paper Hands is the largest anti-litigation procedure in the country’s history. So far 112 people have been arrested, of whom 107 have already been brought to court.

Venezuela Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Venezuela’s Prosecutor General, Tarek William Saab, talking about Operation Paper Hands.

The operation “seeks to take action against individuals and companies that have incurred misappropriation, [and] dissemination of false information about the exchange rate,” he explained, adding that “1,382 bank accounts have been frozen in which a sum exceeding 711,967 million bolivars [~US$10.6 million] has been blocked.” Furthermore, he indicated that he has also requested the blockade of 247 bank accounts, 40 new arrest warrants, and 104 raids, according to a notice by the country’s Public Ministry.

Out of the three aforementioned exchanges, the latter two engage in exchanging between cryptocurrencies and bolivars. Airtm supports the conversion of zcash, bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, ripple, litecoin, monero, dogecoin, and tether. Rapidcambio allowed customers to exchange and send remittances using bitcoin, ether, bitcoin cash, dash, litecoin, and ripple.

Venezuela Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Venezuela Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Charges Against the Exchanges

Saab noted that these exchanges operate through websites registered abroad as well as Twitter accounts and other social networks, adding that they use international parent bank accounts in the U.S., Chile, Ecuador, and Panama. The crackdown, therefore, only affects their operations in Venezuela.

He elaborated, “In those accounts, they received deposits in cash or transfers, and then converted at a high and unreal exchange rate,” adding that “I have spoken with the President of the Republic to create new detention centers for these criminals.”

Efecto Cocuyo then quoted the Prosecutor General exclaiming:

I want someone to explain to me how in September of 2017 a dollar cost 15,000 bolivars; in December it was 100,000 bolivars; in January of this year 200,000 bolivars and at the end of March 500,000 bolivars.

Rapidcambio Shut Down

Venezuela Shuts Down Two Cryptocurrency ExchangesAt the time of this writing, one of the exchanges above has already closed down. Rapidcambio posted a notice on its website stating that it has “always demonstrated its responsibility, honesty, seriousness and a true commitment to providing a service to all Venezuelans who are abroad.”

In addition, the company emphasized, “our company has never set or intended to fix market prices, our exchange rates have always been given by the law of supply and demand, as a free market without any imposition.”

Nonetheless, Rapidcambio concluded:

Unfortunately we are in need to close our operations indefinitely due to the unjust persecution to exchange houses in Venezuela by the National Government.

What do you think of Venezuela shutting down these exchange operators? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Rapidcambio, Airtm, Vtv Canal8, and the Venezuelan government.


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