Blockchain Africa 2019 has been characterized by slow but steady growth in user adoption. Various central banks have issued warnings about dealing in cryptocurrencies in the wake of ponzi schemes collapse leaving investors to losing their hard-earned money. Nonetheless, products continue to be launched especially exchanges. Trade volumes on peer-to-peer platforms soar and industry applications of blockchain are being explored. Here is a highlight of major developments that have taken place in the continent in 2019.
February: Carico Café Connoisseur reported that it was using blockchain to track Ugandan coffee and certify shipments in order to meet consumer demands and help boost farmer incomes.
Binance launches in Nigeria partnering with payments company, Flutterwave to enable users in Nigeria fiat-to-crypto gateway for Flutterwave users. Binance had also earlier launched Binance labs in Nigeria where successful startups have a chance of getting $120K in funding, mentorship, and support.
Mauritius Financial Services Commission (FSC) announces that it would be establishing a digital asset custody regulatory framework, the first in the world, giving a solid gateway for institutional investors of digital assets. The framework was expected to come into effect on March 1, 2019.
In March: Bittrex, a leading crypto exchange said it would invest $1.5 million in South African crypto exchange VALR.
In an aim to establish ICO standards for projects in Africa, the Africa Digital Assets Framework, ADAF, published its first regulatory framework for ICOs. The aim is to create consumer protection guidelines and minimum standards for token generation events.
In July, the second edition of Africa Blockchain Summit takes place in Kampala, Uganda
Bithub Africa launches CoinTest.AI, a machine learning application for analyzing technical fundamentals of cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects.
South African Reserve Bank (SARB) issues a tender notice in May seeking applications for a prospective study on central bank digital currency (CBDC). Later in early December, news emerged that FNB bank was restricting customers from dealing in crypto. SARB also came out to say it would introduce new laws on the use of digital currencies in Q1 2020.
Red-cross to launch blockchain-based currencies in Kenya: This is in a bid to help distribute its $1 billion a year humanitarian aid as cash and vouchers. The system works like M-pesa but does not entail local legal tender- Kenya Shilling. Community currencies have been in Kenya for a while now such as Banglapesa and Sarafu-credit with varying degrees of success. (Reuters).
In Egypt, in a draft bill proposal, businesses dealing with promotion, creation, and operation of platform issuing or trading crypto would be required to obtain a license from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
Malawi Reserve Bank issues warning that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in the country and are outside the purview of the institution. Similar directives have been issued in Tanzania and Uganda in 2019.
Seychelles securities exchange, MERJ starts listing regulated security token on the exchange making it the world’s first exchange to list security tokens in a national exchange.
July: Kenya Blockchain and AI taskforce launch its report: calls for a central bank digital currency (CBDC), allow and regulate ICOs, use of blockchain for elections, supply chain, healthcare. A breakdown of the report here.
Africa Digital Assets Framework publishes the Pan-African blockchain ecosystem.
AKOIN: rapper and entrepreneur, AKON announced plans for AKOIN a cryptocurrency to be used across Africa.
Bittrex, a leading global crypto exchange invests $1.5M in VALR, a South African crypto exchange. In December, VALR says it had recorded 500 BTC daily trade volume in just 6 months.
Ponzi scheme warnings: in a joint statement, blockchain associations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda came together to shed more light on cryptocurrencies. This comes in the wake of several warning issued by respective central banks as well as the collapse of the global Bitclub network Ponzi scheme. Bitclub network had fooled investors around the globe including Africa to the tune of $722 million. This is not the first time as another Ponzi scheme, Velox 10, went down with Kenyans losing hundreds of millions. It charged people $100 ‘membership fee’ with the promise of earning up to $4000 daily- a typical strategy used to lure gullible investors. In early December reports came out that another crypto Ponzi, Nurucoin fleeced Kenyans up to 2.9 billion ($29M) as the founder son of a preacher wooed investors to purchase shares with the promise of future gains.
Exchanges and projects:
- Kenyan-based blockchain and AI startup, UTU technologies, raises additional $500,000.
- Bitsika, a Ghanaian-based stablecoin is under development on Binance chain.
Jack Dorsey says African bitcoin future is bright after completion of his 3 nation tour in Africa.