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Binance & Women in Tech to Offer Free Blockchain Courses in Africa

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In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Binance’s Charity and Women in Tech partnership to train women in vulnerable parts of Africa, Luno’s partnership with South Africa’s rugby captain in a new cryptocurrency education campaign, CAR’s court rejection of the use of Sango Coin to purchase CAR citizenship, and more.

Binance Charity and Academy partners with Women in Tech to Offer Free Blockchain Courses for Rural Communities in Africa

Binance Charity, the philanthropic arm of Binance, has announced a flagship global partnership with Women in Tech, that will offer educational courses to 2,800 women from vulnerable communities across Africa and Brazil.

Binance Charity will donate $250,000 BUSD for a six-month project to empower women with the knowledge and skills to thrive in a Web3 future. The first courses will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in October of this year. The partnership will help close the gender gap in tech, which has continued to widen despite the blockchain market being expected to grow from $4.93 billion in 2021 to $200 billion by 2028.

Binance believes the future of crypto should be built by all, not the few, so we’re creating certified courses and removing financial barriers for women, especially those from vulnerable communities, to study and train. It is important to us at Binance and Women-in-Tech that quality blockchain education, innovation, and research opportunities are within everyone’s reach,” said Helen Hai, VP of Binance and Head of Binance Charity.

Courses will be offered in classes of 25 to young women aged between 15 and 25 by qualified trainers both in person and online. The Web3 courses will be designed by Binance Academy and adapted to meet local context Courses, which will include: Blockchain Fundamentals, Crypto Fundamentals, Decentralization, Web3, and the Metaverse.

The South Africa pilot will take place in Cape Town at the Philippi Village Tech Hub in the Philipp Township for an additional 50 women.  Over the duration of the six months, further programmes will be rolled out across Burundi, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zambia.

South African Rugby Icon Siya Kolisi Partners with Luno to Headline New Crypto Advertising Campaign

Siya Kolisi, South African national rugby captain, will lead a two-year educational digital currency advertising in South Africa in partnership with Luno, a leading crypto exchange in South Africa.

The campaign’s rollout is expected to feature a series of television adverts that will promote a long-term investment attitude towards cryptocurrencies. Kolisi was front and centre of the first advert of the new campaign, which was aired during the Springboks’ third match of the Rugby Championship against Australia on Saturday.

In a statement highlighting Luno’s efforts in making crypto investing accessible to newbies that are unfamiliar with the space, Kolisi said, “Like many South Africans, I am new to crypto investment, so I had to do some research before deciding to partner with Luno. I love that Luno focuses on providing education for new crypto investors like me so we can make better, long-term financial decisions.”

Marius Reitz, Luno’s General Manager for Africa, highlighted the current downturn across cryptocurrencies markets as a prime example for investors to zoom out and focus on long-term investing in the space, “When you zoom out, the ups and downs do not change the fundamental potential of crypto to improve the world’s financial system, which is what its long-term value is based on. The long game in crypto means holding, rather than trading.”

Central African Republic Court Terms the Purchase of CAR Citizenship Using the Sango Coin Unconstitutional

Just over a month after the Central African Republic (CAR) launched the Sango Coin project that allowed foreign investors to purchase CAR citizenship by purchasing $60,000 worth of the coin, the Constitutional Court in the country has now ruled the move unconstitutional.

Despite the crypto winter, CAR’s government went ahead to launch the crypto project on July 25, 2022, amid backlash from various institutions, such as the World Bank, which distanced itself from the project. The court ruling, among other reasons, argued that nationality did not have a market and that residency required a physical stay in Central African Republic (CAR) as shown in a decree.

It is not immediately clear what the impact on the Sango Coin project will be over the coming days and weeks.

Binance Launches Educational Hub in Cameroon

Crypto exchange Binance has, in a partnership with Inoni Tech, opened a training center in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé.

Cheta Nwatarali, a Binance Angel and an active member of Binance Africa, told BSC News, “With an average of 4.2% global crypto owners, Africa boasts 53 million crypto users, the second after Asia. Binance prioritizes educating about web three education and advancement in Africa through webinars, workshops, meet-ups, etc., which means they already know the drive to expand the crypto ecosystem starts from Africa.”

The educational hub that was launched on August 25, 2022, will act as a training centre for in-person blockchain and crypto education, up-to-date crypto news as well as host regular in-person events. In addition, the space will also offer resources and training for young people across Francophone Africa.

This latest move is part of Binance’s continued efforts to make cryptocurrencies more accessible in Francophone Africa and other parts of Africa.

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US Treasury Sanctions Hit Russian Arms Dealer’s Crypto Wallets

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed full blocking sanctions on 22 individuals and entities across several countries, including Russia and Cyprus, as part of its sanctions evasion network that supports Russia’s military-industrial complex.

The sanctions were imposed under Executive Order 14024 and are part of the U.S.’s strategy to target sanctions evasion globally, close key channels, and limit Russia’s access to revenue for its war in Ukraine.

US Treasury Goes After Russian Arms Dealer’s Cryptos

The U.S. Treasury’s sanctions were imposed by the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force, a multilateral effort to identify, freeze, and seize assets of sanctioned Russians worldwide. This task force leverages information from international REPO partners and key data from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to share information, track Russian assets, and sever Russian proxies from the international financial system.

The REPO Task Force aims to maximize the impact of multilateral sanctions while preventing opportunities for Russia to evade or circumvent U.S. and partner sanctions.

The primary target of the sanctions is a Russian sanctions evasion network led by Russia and Cyprus-based arms dealer Igor Zimenkov and his son Jonatan Zimenkov. The Zimenkov network has been involved in projects related to Russia’s defense capabilities, including supplying a Russian company with high-tech devices after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. They have also supported sanctioned state-owned Russian defense entities, Rosoboroneksport OAO and State Corporation Rostec, which are critical components of Russia’s military-industrial complex.

Igor and Jonatan Zimenkov have worked closely together to enable Russian defense sales to third-party governments and have engaged directly with Rosoboroneksport’s potential clients to facilitate sales of Russian defense material. Igor Zimenkov has also supported the Belarusian military-industrial complex by enabling the sales efforts of State Owned Foreign Trade Unitary Enterprise Belspetsvneshtechnika in Latin America.

Today, Igor Zimenkov was designated for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy, while Jonatan Zimenkov was designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for Igor Zimenkov, Rosoboroneksport, and other sanctioned entities.

The Zimenkov network used front companies to funnel money and maintain a lawful appearance. Singapore-based Zimenkov network shell company Asia Trading & Construction PTE Limited and its director, Serena Bee Lin Ng, have sold helicopters to clients in Africa on behalf of the Zimenkov network. Additionally, Cyprus-based Zimenkov network shell company Lobster Management Limited and its director, Mikhail Petrov, have facilitated sanctions evasion by providing support to sanctioned entities.

The Treasury’s OFAC continues to work with its international partners to coordinate information sharing and enforcement and to travel the world in pursuit of sanctions evasion. The sanctions imposed today are a clear signal to Russia and its military-industrial complex that the U.S. and its partners are committed to tightening sanctions enforcement and preventing the evasion of international sanctions.

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BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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Digital Wallet Growth Will Enable More Closed-Loop Transactions

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Crypto and fintech investment firm Ark Invest has made bold predictions about digital wallets, estimating that more than half the world will soon be using at least one.

In its Jan. 31 ‘Big Ideas 2023’ research report, Ark Invest revealed that digital wallet global population penetration is currently 40%. This equates to around 3.2 billion users, the firm added.

However, the research suggests that the number of online wallet users will increase at an annual rate of 8%. The firm predicted that this will result in a global population penetration of 65% by 2030:

“Having onboarded billions of consumers and millions of merchants, digital wallets could transform the economics associated with traditional payment transactions, saving them nearly $50 billion in costs.”

It also noted that digital wallets were gaining market share in online and offline transactions. Cash is definitely in decline, accelerated by government initiatives to go digital, as recently seen in Nigeria.


Payment method trends - Ark Invest
Payment method trends – Ark Invest

Digital Wallet Growth to Continue

Ark reported that digital wallets were scaling faster than accounts at traditional financial institutions. Furthermore, U.S. digital wallet adoption rebounded in 2022, surpassing previous highs following a COVID-induced dip.

The firm estimates that U.S. digital wallet users will increase by 7% annually during the next eight years. This will be a growth of around 160 million in 2022 to more than 260 million by the end of the decade.

Digital wallet user growth - Ark Invest
Digital wallet user growth – Ark Invest

Furthermore, online wallets are enabling “closed-loop” ecosystems. This is where consumers and merchants can transact directly, cutting out the middleman. 

“Digital wallets are onboarding millions of merchants to platforms that enable direct consumer-merchant transactions that disintermediate traditional financial institutions,” it noted.

In this closed-loop environment, wallet providers capture more value per transaction, enabling savings to be shared with merchants and consumers.

Open and Closed Lopp transactions - Ark Invest
Open and Closed Lopp transactions – Ark Invest

Additionally, Ark noted that closed-loop transactions could boost the margin structure of wallet providers.

It used Block Inc. (formerly Square) as an example, stating that it paid around 60% of customer transaction fees to third parties in 2022. The fees were paid for interchange, assessment, processing, and bank settlement fees. Block’s net take rate could more than double if customers transacted directly with merchants.

Block Inc. fee structure - Ark Invest
Block Inc. fee structure – Ark Invest

Closed Loop Transactions Could Top 50%

Finally, Ark predicted that these closed-loop transactions could account for over 50% of digital payments by 2030.

It used China as an example where wallets and merchants are largely internal or domestic only.

Closed loop cost savings - Ark Invest
Closed loop cost savings – Ark Invest

In conclusion, digital wallet growth is set to continue. Cutting out the intermediary which they facilitate is beneficial to both the consumer and merchant.

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BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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Strike Launches Lightning Remittances in the Philippines

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Bitcoin fintech giant Strike rolled out its Lightning Network money transfer service Send Globally in the Philippines, a $35 billion remittance market.

Send Globally launched in the Southeast Asian country on Jan. 31, 2023, enabling businesses and tourists to receive international money transfers in the Philippine peso. The country receives $35 billion in remittances globally.

How Strike’s Send Globally Service Works

“Remittances are a broken system and Strike delivers an incredibly empowering experience for people to send money around the world in nearly an instant,” Strike CEO Jack Mallers said.

According to a press release, Strike’s remittance service converts a sender’s fiat into Bitcoin and sends the Bitcoin to a Strike partner in the destination country using the Lightning Network, which in the case of the Philippines, is Pouch.ph. Pouch.ph then converts the Bitcoin to the recipient’s fiat currency and credits their bank or mobile money account, with Strike shielding both parties from the tax implications of handling Bitcoin directly.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is a layer-two solution on the Bitcoin blockchain that allows micropayments between nodes over a payment channel. Unlike traditional payment networks, Lightning’s low fees enable almost zero-cost remittances.

Recently, Mallers announced a trial to bring Bitcoin Lightning Network payments to retailers through a partnership with Fiserv’s point-of-sale solution Clover Commerce. The trial allows any application with Lightning capability to pay Bitcoin for goods and services at Clover merchants.

Philippine Smartphone and Internet Adoption Auger Well for Strike

Send Globally rolled out to Strike users in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya on Dec. 6, 2022, where it has reportedly gained rapid traction.

However, mainstream adoption in the Philippines will depend heavily on network effects, driven by smartphone and internet penetration.

According to Statista, the number of smartphone users will increase from 85 million in 2022 to 87 million by 2023. Additionally, forecasts suggest smartphone users will increase to 91.5 million in 2025, representing roughly 83% of the island nation’s population.

Smartphone Adoption in the Philippines
Smartphone Adoption in the Philippines | Source: Statista

Additionally, Statista predicts that about three-quarters of the population will have internet access by the end of 2023. Growing internet access increases the chance of Strike’s success, since it helped drive adoption of crypto game Axie Infinity.

For Be[In]Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

Disclaimer

BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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