The cryptocurrency excitement reached fever pitch in 2017 as Bitcoin struck $20,000. Whether a Bitcoin maximalist or an altcoin aficionado, we were all in a state of euphoria. Then things changed. The market took on a downward spiral and interest in the industry took on a similar path. As we recently reported, interest in the industry has dropped by over 90 percent, with crypto sites’ Alexa rankings being on a free fall as well.
In Africa, the narrative is different. During the 2017 logic-defying ascension of the industry, Africa was lagging behind the other continents. The number of crypto traders on the continent was small, with a huge majority of people not aware of what cryptos were. This shielded many from the catastrophic losses many traders incurred last year. From a rise in the number of traders in 2018 to increased Google searches, Africa is moving in as the rest of the world shies away.
The Blessing In Disguise
Africa is not renowned for its swift adoption of technological innovations. For instance, as the Western world quickly adopted telephones, Africa lagged behind. Years later, smartphones took over and replaced the telephone. The Western world had already spent billions of dollars installing telephone cables, and the switch proved quite expensive. Africa, on the other hand, hadn’t taken to telephones. This made the move to smartphones quite easy for the continent’s one billion people.
Cryptos have taken a similar path and Africa’s slow adoption turned out to be a blessing in disguise. At first, the continent was apprehensive, with many governments warning their citizens against cryptos. The tone from the lawmakers has changed significantly, and so has people’s attitude to cryptos.
One company that has reaped the benefits of Africa’s rising interest in cryptos is peer-to-peer crypto trading platform Paxful. While the likes of Coinbase and Binance have seen a significant decrease in trading volume in 2018 as many traders exited the market, its been a different story for Paxful. The firm recently revealed to Coindesk that its transaction volume increased by 130 percent in 2018. Africa was the primary driver of the growth.
West Africa was its biggest growth region, doubling its users in Nigeria and tripling them in Ghana. African crypto traders on Paxful accounted for 41 percent of the new users in 2018. Paxful, which has offices in Hong Kong, New York and Manila now has African users accounting for 35 percent of its users.
The Need For Cryptos Is Greater
Cryptos enthusiasts all around the globe have continually pushed for an overhaul of the finance system. With a few entities having the power to control the supply of money, the system is skewed to the benefit of the elites. And while the benefits of crypto will impact on everyone, there’s a far greater need for the revolution in Africa.
The continent battles with many challenges, one of which is a lack of financial inclusion. Even for those with access to financial services, some of the basic functions such as funds transfer are quite costly. In fact, remittances to Africa are the most expensive in the world according to the World Bank, almost as twice as expensive as second-placed Asia.
Cryptos will therefore have a much greater impact in Africa than anywhere else. And while everybody else frets about the bear market, the continent is beginning to realize just how much faster, easier, cheaper and more convenient cryptos are. While it doesn’t currently have as big an impact as the other continents, Africa will certainly shape the future of cryptos in the not-too-distant future.
Opera’s Browser With Built-In Crypto Wallet Launches for iPhones
Users of Android phones and desktop computers have had the option to use Opera’s blockchain-friendly browser for months now, but iPhone owners have been left out of the fun.
That’s now changed with the launch of the latest version of Opera Touch for iOS.
As per a blog post from the firm, the new browser option is largely identical to the above-mentioned offerings, providing a built-in cryptocurrency wallet and the ability to run Web 3.0 and decentralized apps (dapps) without a third-party plugin.
“We believe that the Web of today will be the interface to the decentralized web of tomorrow (Web 3). With built-in Crypto Wallet, the browser has the potential to renew and extend its important role as a tool to access information, make transactions online and manage users’ online identities in a way that gives them more control.”
The wallet currently allows users to hold, transact and make payments in ethereum and all ERC-20 standard tokens and stablecoins, as well as collectibles such as CryptoKitties via the ERC-721 standard.
The Opera website says the wallet can automatically detect and list any ERC-20 tokens used in ethereum dapps, such as in-game currencies.
Dapps can be accessed by typing their address directly in the browser, avoiding the need to use third-party extensions
In order to start using dapps, users will need to purchase ethereum (ETH) and store it in the Opera wallet. Once there, a selection of dapps will be listed in the store in the app, the post says.
JPMorgan to Start Customer Trials of Its ‘JPM Coin’ Crypto
JPMorgan Chase is to start trials of its “JPM Coin” cryptocurrency in conjunction with corporate clients.
According to a report from Bloomberg Japan on Tuesday, Umar Farooq, the investment bank’s head of digital treasury services and blockchain, said that customers would trial the technology with the ultimate aim of speeding up transactions, such as payments between firms and bond transactions.
The trials are being conducted on the assumption regulatory permission will ultimately be granted, according to Bloomberg.
First revealed in February, JPM Coin initially runs on top of Quorum, a private version of ethereum developed by the bank.
JPM Coin will function as a stablecoin, with fiat cash being deposited at the bank in exchange for the token, which can then be transferred via a permissioned distributed ledger. The recipient can later redeem the token for cash from JPMorgan.
Initially linked to the U.S. dollar, the coin is expected to be extended to other fiat currencies in time. Real-world trials were expected in “a few months,” according to a report at the time.
Discussing JPM Coin’s state of development, Farooq told Bloomberg in today’s report: “The technology is very good, but it takes time in terms of licensing and approval. It must be explained.”
As well as inter-firm remittances, he said that the cryptocurrency could be used to settle bonds and commodities transactions. Clients in regions including Europe, the US and Japan have already shown interest, according to Farooq. He would not name any companies involved in the upcoming trials, the report states.
Russia May Allow Crypto Trading in Upcoming Legislation: Official
As Russia’s cryptocurrency bill slowly inches forward, a government official has hinted at what may lie ahead when the legislation is finally passed.
According to a report from local news source Interfax.ru, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev told journalists on Friday that among the options currently being discussed is to allow the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies. Crypto payments are not on the table, however.
Worryingly for the country’s crypto community, the bill could still see cryptocurrency use banned outright.
Moiseyev said that the finance ministry had met with the Russian central bank and the Federal Security Service, the nation’s security agency, to discuss the bill.
“There is a range [of possibilities] from prohibition to the possibility of purchase,” he explained. “Like with foreign currency, it would be possible to buy and sell [cryptocurrencies], but impossible to use them for payments. After a political decision is made on this issue, we will have the responsibility.”
Russia’s bill on digital financial assets was expected to be considered at the plenary session of the State Duma on March 19, but was postponed.
According to the report, Anatoly Aksakov, head of the Duma Financial Market Committee, has said that Russia must adopt a bill on cryptocurrency before the end of this year in order to comply with recommendations from international watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In related news, FATF announced new standards on Friday that include a controversial requirement that “virtual asset service providers,” including crypto exchanges, pass information about their customers to one another when transferring funds between firms. Its 37 member nations are not obliged to apply its guidance, but non complying countries can be blacklisted, which would be harmful financially.