Pokemon Go in Nairobi with Bitcoin

It’s amazing the things we can do with Bitcoin, the Bitcoin blockchain and open source technology.

This week, I stumbled upon a review on Takara (demo), a treasure hunt Pokemon Go-esque game, that geocaches bitcoin. A location-based augmented reality game.

“The app lets user drop bitcoin tips anywhere in the world however collectors must visit a location where bitcoin has been dropped to pick it up.”

Takara

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Innovation in Kenya is like. . .

Innovation in Kenya

Mpesa takes on Banks with Mpesa Prepaid Card

 

lipa na mpesa cardToday, Mpesa announced it was piloting an Mpesa Payments Card, a  Lipa na Mpesa prepaid card. Mpesa card was inevitable, given the Kenyan local cards versus mobile payments turf wars pitting Kenyan Banks on one end vs Safaricom.

Techweez reported,

“The card, mirrors a user’s M-Pesa account, meaning whatever amounts are in your M-Pesa wallet are reflected in the card.”

 

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What is driving Kenya’s Bitcoin demand?

 

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Enterprising young Kenyan have figured out they can use bitcoin as a payment mechanism to take part in global online commerce . They buy bitcoin from a peer to peer market (here) and use it to pay for stuff online. For as little as 200 KES, they can purchase $ 2 worth of Bitcoin to make micro payments to their favorite sports bet pickers.

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The evolution of Kenya’s informal sector agency

Mobile money human agent were one of the key pillars of Mpesa and mobile money success.

Today, human agents in Kenya, and Nairobi have evolved to cater for an increasing number of services: cash in cash out, banking service, prepaid utility.

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Why Kenyans rush to cash, when banks go bust

Banking Crisis
Just now, Kenya’s #CoopBankTradingScam is trending on Twitter, and already, people are touting cash as a safer option

“If #CoopBankTradingScam goes on I bet people will panic just like Chase Bank & withdraw their cash. Co-op Bank could collapse by 4p.m!”

Kenya’s current recent banking crisis, if I may call it that, is a long list of 32 banks that fell to the wayside since 1988. Almost always, there is never enough cash to give. The reason is, all the money held in banks is debt, a string of electronic digits that says the bank owes you money. As we transition from cash to electronic money, we face a wider systemic risk.

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Kenya’s Banking crisis is a Testament to Bitcoin

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This week, the 3rd Kenyan bank in 8 months was placed under receivership for 12 months by the Central Bank of Kenya. The country’s Banking regulator says, Chase Bank of Kenya misreported its loans resulting in a social media triggered bank run. Kenya’s short banking history is littered with banks that fell to the wayside. Here is a list

@Owaah on twitter

I unashamedly drained my Chase Bank account the morning of the bank run. I would do it again with any other bank. Fraud is not patriotism.

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Emerging Regulatory Issues on Digital Currencies in Kenya

Digital currencies

 
A couple of days ago I perused the Kenyan NATIONAL PAYMENT SYSTEM ACT (No. 39 of 2011)THE NATIONAL PAYMENT SYSTEM REGULATIONS, 2014 (pdf). My interest was the legal stance on issuance of P2P exchangeable assets, such as loyalty reward points in Kenya, on the bitcoin blockchain – a decentralized network. At Umati Blockchain Ltd, we are exploring using the coloured coins protocol (for now)  for issuing freely exchangeable loyalty points, with all the ease, nifty features and security of the bitcoin blockchain.

It seems, to me, digital currencies such as bonga points, and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, fall in a gray area. They do not fit the strict definition of E-money under Kenyan law. Perhaps why, late last year, the Central bank of Kenya admitted via a public notice ‘Virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are forms of un-regulated digital currency not issued or guaranteed by any government or central bank.’ I subsequently wrote a rebuttal to this notice.

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Why I am bullish on Bitcoin and why you should be too

Bitcoin is yet to resonate with mainstream investors and the average (wo)man as a neo-asset class. I think if you have heard about bitcoin, you would be foolish not to dip a toe. Bitcoin, is a great proxy investment at potentially, the greatest innovations of our age, the internet of money.

Bitcoin Price 2

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Uganda’s Mobile Money Censorship is a Testament to Bitcoin

Money as a form of Communication

The censorship of mobile money in Uganda during its Presidential and parliamentary elections, is a testament to the need for apolitical digital currencies like bitcoin. Money, just like media is a means of communication. Just as social media censorship riles up freedom activists, so should forms of censorship on money.

On election day, Ugandans woke up to no social media and no mobile money services. Nearly 20 million mobile money users were unable to access the service for at least two-and-half days.

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