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My Crypto Journey: Kayode Babarinde – Director, Africa Blockchain Institute (ABI)

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Tracing the African evolution from traditional banking systems, to seemingly, the current proliferation of fintech and agritech startups, there is no gainsaying the fact that blockchain, and by extension, cryptocurrencies, will constitute a major player in the continent’s evolution story. 

With the increasing fluctuations in the African economic systems, coupled with the need to key into relatively stable forms of investment as an alternative to unemployment, several Africans have turned to crypto assets. 

However, in spite of this large user base which crypto has garnered over the years, there is a plethora of stories involving African crypto traders who have ventured into the crypto market and have either lost their capital, or generally failed in their quest to gain profits. This is the backdrop for the launch of the My Crypto Journey series. 

The series is a compilation of interviews conducted with experienced and successful cryptocurrency and blockchain professionals, who would be willing to share useful experiences, tips, as well as mistakes they made during the course of their respective journeys. The first edition of this Series an interview with one of early active crypto and blockchain professionals, Kayode Babarinde, currently the director at Africa Blockchain Institute headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda.

Meet Kayode Babarinde

Executive Director, the Africa Blockchain Institute. 

Kayode Babarinde
Executive Director, the Africa Blockchain Institute.

In 2015, I met Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, the founder of Bitnation, at a camp I attended. This was majorly my first step towards discovering blockchain. Subsequently, the camp organizer had me host MeetUps and Workshops on blockchain. It sparked my interest in the concept, and I became very curious. But of course, at the time, I was more interested in educating interested people on the complexities of blockchain and cryptocurrency. 

During the first few years of my blockchain journey, the proliferation of mistrust was quite overwhelming. Many Africans were heavily suspicious of cryptocurrency trading, and viewed it as another scam which was set to take over the market for a while, scoop profits, and suddenly vanish into thin air. 

The regulatory gaps didn’t let up either. There were (and still are) limited or no legal pronouncements on operating crypto businesses on the African continent. The best we often have access to are recommendations from the policy makers, warning citizens on Ponzi Schemes. Asides that, there is virtually nothing. As a result, many law abiding crypto businesses now have to operate under FinTech Laws instead. However good this is, it still limits the full potentials of crypto business operations.

But looking back, if I had to retrace my steps, one of the major things I would have paid attention to, especially as a cryptocurrency enthusiast, is the fact that losing is basically built into the system. It is inevitable. Investment is the Interplay of risks, and cryptocurrency trading is not an exception. As a trader, your major focus should be on optimising your percentages, and not gunning for perfection or a perfect record of correct trade predictions. Also, whilst being in the process of optimising your productivity, it is pertinent to learn how to pause and verify information before moving to trade based on such pieces of information. This is because should the information turn out to be wrong, it could be quite detrimental to profitability. So, one thing you need to have as a cryptocurrency investor, is a list of reliable sites you can always consult to verify any piece of cryptocurrency-related information. 

Similarly, an important element in the journey of every cryptocurrency trader should be the ability to only invest what one can afford to lose, and be considerably comfortable with the fact that one might lose it all. These elements do not necessarily connote the adoption of failure as a mindset, they only reiterate the nature of cryptocurrency as an investment where massive profits are attainable, and deep losses can equally be incurred. 

My cryptocurrency journey has been quite interesting, to say the least. Of course, there are challenges, but as a saying goes, “If you want to quit, remember why you started”. The journey is definitely for a long ride, and I have packed my bags.

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CBN Crypto Ban Increases P2P But Is It Also Increasing Crypto Scams?

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Crypto ban

The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN on the 5th of February 2021 caused an uproar within the crypto community in Nigeria and globally. The Apex bank released a circular that prohibits financial institutions from processing crypto-related transactions. Banks and other financial institutions were also directed to close accounts that made crypto-related transactions.

As expected the directive did not sit well with crypto enthusiasts, traders and most Nigerians alike. In the CBN’s defence, they were protecting Nigerians from crypto-related scams, volatility of the crypto market and several evils perpetrated with cryptocurrencies. Though valid reasons, many Nigerians still express their resentment of the directive. Cryptocurrencies which serve as an alternative to the weakening Naira are faster and easier at facilitating cross border transactions. 

However, the ban has not hindered crypto transactions in the country. The country still ranks high when it comes to crypto transactions globally. Business Insider reports that between January and March 2021,  p2p trading value of bitcoin in Nigeria was worth $99.1 million. This is $9 million more than the value of bitcoin p2p transaction in Kenya for the whole of 2020. Cleary p2p has increased significantly since the ban. It is therefore safe to say that the ban has increased crypto activity in Nigeria. But has it increased crypto scams too?

The dark side of p2p

While volatile nature cryptocurrencies might in truth lead to loss of funds, the ban by the Central Bank of Nigeria could make Nigerians more vulnerable to crypto scams as they now purchase these digital currencies from unregulated sources hence, p2p.

“It was very easy just buying bitcoin straight from the Luno app but now I need to find someone who is willing to sell me bitcoin and there is really no way to ascertain the person’s trustworthiness.” This statement by crypto newbie, Adekunle Agbetiloye sums up the troubles and vulnerabilities crypto newbies go through to buy and sell crypto assets.

Kunle has been fortunate to have friends that are more grounded in trading cryptocurrencies. This has prevented him from falling into the hands of scammers that find newbies like him, easy picking. In his words “I know people that have fallen victim to crypto scammers that is why I only transact with people that I know personally”.

Ezekiel Juwon wasn’t lucky enough to buy from someone he knew personally. He recounts how he unsuspectingly sent money to a crypto scammer. In his words, “as a beginner I think it is more convenient to buy directly from crypto apps than dealing peer-to-peer. As someone who has experienced crypto scams first hand, I know this for a fact”. Juwon also adds that regulated p2p platforms created as an alternative to trading crypto can also be dangerous. He is convinced that more people will suffer his fate if the ban isn’t lifted. “Everyone wants to get in on crypto, it saves you from poverty so the ban just makes newbies vulnerable”. 

Just like Adekunle, Oyin Komolafe is fortunate to be surrounded by crypto veterans. She says “aside from the grace of God, what is helping me is that I am surrounded by people who know their way around crypto. However, I am sure that newbies will be susceptible to crypto scams because of the CBN ban”

What experts have to say   

However, Crypto expert and blockchain stakeholder, Samuel Attah feels crypto platforms have created alternatives that should keep crypto newbies safe. He sights Bundle as an example of these platforms. In contrast, some of these new users have said they do not find these platforms easy to use. 

Another crypto trader who identifies himself simply as Smogz, says these alternatives by crypto exchanges and crypto platforms require a lot of expertise. Smogz believes that the ban will increase crypto scams. “Crypto platforms serve as a shield to protect crypto beginners from scams. Now that these beginners have to look outside of the confines of these platforms they are open to being ripped off”

It is clear the crypto ban cannot stop Nigerians from using cryptocurrencies. Although a risky investment venture, crypto assets are known to be a source of wealth. Ensuring the safety of Nigerians while they use these crypto assets should be a priority.

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Bitcoin in Africa

Crypto Wallets: A Major Hurdle To Crypto Mass Adoption – Interview with Francis Obasi, Lead Wallet CEO

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Image Credit: Lead Wallet / Twitter (Image was modified)

Cryptocurrencies are getting more popular each year, but mainstream adoption and usage of digital currencies and assets are nowhere close. According to Buy Bitcoin Worldwide, 1.3% of the world’s population uses bitcoin. While a great number of people might know about cryptocurrencies, very few people own or use them. 

For Francis Obasi, the CEO of Lead Wallet, a  major obstacle to crypto adoption is the ability to create and simply use a crypto wallet. Whether trading, staking or hodling, owning a wallet is the basis of transacting in crypto. This is why Francis has created an app that he believes will help people enter the crypto ecosystem seamlessly. 

The idea behind Lead Wallet 

Before Lead Wallet, we were a group of community managers working for AmaZix. One of the most frequent questions we got then as community managers are “where will I store my cryptocurrency, which wallet is the best wallet?” We most times recommended Trust Wallet, we would explain the process of setting up the wallet. Unfortunately, some of these crypto newcomers fall victim to impersonators. For example, someone would impersonate me and tell people to disclose their private keys. People were getting scammed off their cryptocurrency and it became a concern for me. 

Consequently, I realised that the bridge between conventional finance and the crypto space is a digital wallet. To interact with anything crypto-related you need a crypto wallet. So the crypto wallet is a very important factor in understanding what cryptocurrencies are and keeping new users safe. It is their first point of contact when they choose to enter the crypto ecosystem. 

However, a lot of crypto wallets are not simple enough for new users. We decided to create something that will not seem strange to people who are already used to bank applications (which are simple to use).In essence, a crypto wallet bridges the gap between conventional finance and decentralized finance. 

We chose the name “Lead” because we were building something different from what is considered the norm within the crypto ecosystem. We were setting a new standard, a wallet that will “Lead”  the crypto mass adoption. 

What a simple crypto wallet should look like?

A good wallet should reduce a user’s journey in performing simple tasks such as sending and receiving cryptocurrencies. Inside Lead Wallet, there is an ostensibly placed “send” button. Rather than having too many steps to simply sending cryptocurrency, it should not be more than four. In fact, doing most things on a crypto wallet should not take more than 4 steps. 

So no matter how uninformed one might be about cryptocurrencies, using a crypto wallet for the first time should be easy. 

Owning your own private keys

Owning your own private key means that you are in control of your crypto assets. The saying “not your keys not your coins” explains it well. A private key is an alphanumeric string that is generated at the creation of a wallet. 

Having your own private keys means you are in charge of your own crypto asset. A wallet like Trust Wallet or Lead Wallet gives you power over your own crypto assets, it is a decentralized wallet. However, unlike Trust Wallet that stores all crypto assets within one private key, Lead Wallet creates a unique private key for each crypto asset. This gives users the ability to export wallets to other platforms such as Trust Wallet. 

Decentralized crypto wallet is the gateway to DeFi

Decentralized Finance, known for short as DeFi, is a disruption to the traditional financial system. DeFi gives everyone a chance to enjoy financial services without the bottlenecks that come with traditional or centralised financial services. 

Savouring the fruits of decentralized finance requires a decentralized crypto wallet that can connect to a web 3 browser. Like Lead Wallet, such a wallet should offer a very user-intuitive web 3 browser that helps them interact with DeFi applications. Lead Wallet provides these apps as bookmarks to protect users against malicious links. 

There is a lot going on in the crypto world, a lot of people genuinely want to be a part of it but there’s a lot they do not know. A crypto wallet which is most likely their first point of contact with the crypto ecosystem should simplify things for them. 

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Eliud Kipchoge, World Marathon Champion Sells Out Career Milestones As NFT For 17.9837 ETH

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Eliud Kipchoge
Image Credit: Eliud Kipchoge / Goal.com

Eliud Kipchoge, an eight-time major marathon winner and three-time Olympic medalist who is often regarded as the greatest marathoner of all time, became the first Kenyan professional athlete to sell his own set of NFTs.

According to the official Twitter handle of Eliud Kipchoge, the athlete, launched his first two sets of NFTs. Eliud said that he was delighted to have the memories of his career available as NFTs. He further said that he hopes that he will give someone around the world the exact memories it gave to him.

The digital representations–Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)– of his career achievements were signed and officially approved by Eliud Kipchoge himself. These artworks were done by Momentible.io on the Ethereum network, in which they partner with Opensea.io (an NFTs marketplace), to showcase the digital trading arts of Eliud Kipchoge.

The auction of Eliud Kipchoge’s NFTs for bidding lasted for five days. The first set of the NFTs is the digital representation of Eliud Kipchoge’s 2019 moment, when he became the first person on earth to run a full marathon under the eye-popping 2-hour mark. This was sold for 14.8837 ETH, which is equivalent to $30,864.48 (Ksh 3,321,018.05).

The second set of the NFTs is the digital representation of Eliud Kipchoge’s legendary moment when he crushed the old world record on the marathon, one of the oldest competitions in sports history. This was sold for 3.1 ETH, which is equivalent to $6,428.10 (Ksh 691,663.56).

One of the buyers of Eliud Kipchoge’s first set of the NFTs is a blockchain investor known as “NoDaoIsLimited”, on the Opensea Marketplace. In addition, the “NoDaoIsLimited” also received a personal video message from Eliud Kipchoge.

Kipchoge is the first marathoner to run 26.2 miles in a once-inconceivable time of 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds at the age of 34 years. He broke a milestone record that seemed to be untouchable only a few years prior. But this cannot be recognized as an official world record because it was not run under open marathon conditions.

The famous Kenyan Athlete and the reigning Olympic champion, ran 2 hours minutes 5 seconds, in the London Marathon which is just 8 seconds off the world record held by Dennis Kimetto, a fellow countryman.

The Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are already receiving the attention of popular athletes, celebrities, musicians, and several others. Recently, Cristiano Ronaldo’s NFT token card was sold for €252,800 on Soare (NFTs fantasy football platform). This shows how the digital market is increasingly involving sports.

NFTs are a special type of cryptocurrency, in which each NFT represents a unique digital item. Every NFT has a unique code – metadata that lies within it. This ensures authenticity and originality. It can be bought, sold or held, just as any other property.

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