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Kenyan Startup Selected for Draper Web3 Accelerator & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Crypsense Digital Group being selected to participate in Draper VeChain’s Web 3 accelerator programme, Stitch’s partnership with Easy Crypto to make purchasing cryptocurrencies in South Africa easy, Yellow Card’s new service knowns as Yellow Pay, and more.

Kenyan Startup Selected for the Draper VeChain Web 3 Accelerator Programme

Crypsense Digital Group, a Kenyan-based digital assets building and management platform, has been selected to participate in the Draper VeChain Web 3 accelerator programme that will give the startup access to mentorship and support.

The startup is a brainchild of The Africa Blockchain Centre, one of the startups at Adanian Labs – a venture studio that aims to establish, nurture, and scale 300 impact-driven tech startups across Africa. Crypsense Digital Group offers end-to-end solutions for the institutional adoption of blockchain and crypto assets in Africa.

This is an amazing opportunity to accelerate Web 3 adoption in Africa through the programme and partnerships. We have so much untapped talent and potential within our continent in blockchain and Web 3. I am excited for Africa and I can’t wait to see where this opportunity takes us. We understand the potential that blockchain has in solving some of the challenges that are facing Africa and we believe that we can use our disruptive nature as a continent to create value for ourselves through the adoption of the technology,” said Alice Anangi, the Co-Founder and CEO of Crypsense Digital Group.

The 12-week programme is usually delivered globally to high-growth blockchain companies and is run by Draper University – a leading pre-accelerator and incubator in Silicon Valley that fosters growth of high-potential technology startups. The programme will provide the selected blockchain and Web 3 startups with the needed support to get all the industry mentorship and support necessary to scale their impactful solutions across the world.

Easy Crypto Announces Partnership with Stitch to Make Purchasing Crypto in South Africa Easy

Easy Crypto, a crypto exchange, has announced that it has partnered with Stitch, an instant EFT payments and financial data API for Africa, to enable its users in South Africa to purchase digital assets on the platform in minutes as well as to securely top up their wallets.

The partnership is expected to grow the accessibility of digital currencies to the general masses in the Southern African country. Customers will be able to securely link their bank account to the Easy Crypto platform and top up their wallets via Stitch’s instant EFT in just one click when they wish to buy crypto assets. Besides faster processing times, users will be able to process payments over the weekends, thus eliminating operational delays caused by traditional banks due to weekend closures.

Speaking on the partnership, Stitch Chief Executive Officer, Kiaan Pillay said, “At Stitch, we know that in the assets space, timing is critical. Through our LinkPay method, Easy Crypto customers can enjoy a secure, seamless, and fast payments experience whenever they buy crypto – without needing to wait through the weekend, and with far fewer instances of fraud. We’re excited to work with the Easy Crypto team to enable greater accessibility to the growing crypto assets space in South Africa.”

Yellow Card Launches Yellow Pay to  Help Simplify Money Transfers

Yellow Card, a Nigerian crypto exchange, has launched a new feature dubbed Yellow Pay that will make it easier for users to transfer money between different countries in Africa.

The new service is also expected to open up the African continent to more investment opportunities, business grants, and access to credit, according to its Operations Director, Oparinde Babatunde. Yellow Pay was created to make it easier for users to send and receive money between African countries, as it’s often easier to send money from an African country to the United States than to send it to a neighbouring African country.

Speaking of the Yellow Pay launch, Babatunde said, “Yellow Pay simplifies money transfer between African countries by building a solution that understands the way Africans already interact with financial products. We’ve managed to simplify it further by reducing costs and waiting time of remittance across the continent drastically compared to traditional money transfer rails. With Yellow Pay, Africans can send money across borders using their phones.”

Although Yellow Pay is not a money remittance or foreign currency exchange service but an advanced crypto exchange product, it will utilize Yellow Card’s crypto exchange platform to complete the customer transactions in USDT. Transactions made via Yellow Pay will be instant and cheaper thanks to the use of blockchain technology.

Binance Appoints New Country Head in South Africa

Binance has announced the appointment of Hannes Wessels as its Country Head of South Africa.

Speaking of the appointment, the firm said that the move will help it further its ambitions to drive and grow its business operations in South Africa as it remains at the forefront of driving crypto adoption and blockchain education in the African continent.

Wessels brings with him over ten years of experience in the traditional finance sector and is the previous Head of Global Banking for South Africa at HSBC. He is expected to lead the development of business strategies and drive strategic initiatives for Binance in South Africa.

I am excited to join Binance at a time when crypto adoption is still in its infancy in South Africa and look forward to playing a leading role in Binance’s growth strategy in South Africa,” said Wessels about his new appointment.

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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.

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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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