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Women are key to the future of the Crypto-Economy

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Pictured here: Helen Brand, Marketing Manager for non-profit GROW with Educare Centres (Grow). As part of its #builtwithbitcoin initiative, Paxful recently donated funds to Grow. Grow empowers qualified, passionate women to own and run successful high-quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres, such as daycares and pre-schools, in low-income communities using the principles of social enterprise and micro franchising (Source: Paxful)

While looking into expanding its presence in South Africa, Paxful is hoping to nurture as much female talent as possible

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 28, 2019 – Paxful planning to expand presence in South Africa. Plans Africa-wide recruitment drive with a focus on women; The global bitcoin marketplace also becomes the first bitcoin peer-to-peer marketplace to launch an app.

As South Africa celebrates Women’s Month in August, global peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace, Paxful, supports the important role that women are playing, and should continue to build on, in the innovative blockchain technology and cryptocurrency sector.

While looking into expanding its presence in South Africa, Paxful is hoping to nurture as much female talent as possible. Almost 40% of Paxful’s employees are women and the company is set to further increase female appointments in its offices across the globe, located in New York City, Hong Kong, Estonia, and the Philippines.

While overall female participation in the broader crypto-economy, according to several sources including WEF , is estimated at between 1% – 5% globally, Paxful believes that growing female participation in crypto will be key to the sector’s continued innovation and success. “Women are critical to the future of the crypto-economy and we are committed to fostering more diversity and supporting efforts to attract more women to make their mark in the industry” says Ray Youssef, co-founder and CEO of Paxful.

Also Read Lillian Barnard: Tech Enthusiast And First Female Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa

Youseff adds: “We’ve already seen the incredible contribution that women have made to the technology sector overall as founders, developers, product managers, investors and more. The crypto-economy could greatly benefit from the rich diversity of skills, perspectives, experiences and many other unique resources that women can offer. Further, in my opinion, women are decidedly better community builders, which is a very important factor in driving a peer-to-peer economy like the crypto space. At Paxful globally, many of our senior leadership roles are held by women.”

Millenial Women

With millennials making up the bulk of Paxful’s customers in Africa, Paxful‘s recruitment drive in Africa includes a Student Ambassador Programme on tertiary institution campuses across the continent. Female participants from Johannesburg and Cape Town are already the top performers in the Programme. The Programme – made up of a series of workshops – educates and empowers youth who are interested in entering the crypto-economy and especially encourages entrepreneurship in the crypto-sector. To extend the Programme’s impact, students who participate in the initiative are financially incentivised to educate their peers about the bitcoin economy. To date, Paxful’s University education outreach has engaged more than 1000 students.

Paxful also launches a mobile app

With over 2,5 million users globally and Africa being one of its top markets, Paxful has gained valuable insights into how consumers are evolving their use of digital currencies like bitcoin. Based on these insights, Paxful has become the first global peer-to-peer marketplace to have launched an official wallet app to make buying, selling, and storing bitcoin easy and secure for customers while on the move. The app has been available since May this year for both Android and iOS devices.

Commenting on the app Youseff says, “Our app allows us to make our platform more accessible to communities around the world. The majority of our customers access our website through their mobile devices, and this is just another step in that direction.”

“Our goal is and always will be to empower individuals through presenting the entrepreneurial opportunities of bitcoin and peer-to-peer finance. We all have our part in levelling the playing field and to ensure equal opportunity to pioneer the peer-to-peer financial revolution,” concludes Youssef.

–  Paxful.

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Accelerating Growth in an Inclusive Rwandan and Pan-African Digital Economy

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By Dr. Diane Karusisi, CEO, Bank of Kigali and Dr. Reda Helal, Group Managing Director – Processing, Africa and Co-Head Group Processing, Network International (Image: Supplied). 

One of the visible signs of a growing digital economy is its flourishing initiatives for financial inclusion and financial literacy. Rwanda recognizes financial inclusion as a crucial component for realizing its development and economic prosperity and is a remarkable example of a country that is introducing such programs to aid in setting up a vast digital economy, which are increasingly gaining international recognition. The country has set an ambitious target to achieve 90% formal financial inclusion by 2024.

Building inclusivity by involving microfinance institutions, savings and credit cooperatives, and mobile network operators, as well as enabling interoperability in digital payments, play a critical role in ensuring accessibility for populations that have historically been unbanked and rely on cash-based transactions.

Digital transformation

Traditionally, Banks and FIs feel enormous pressure to grow their digital payments penetration in a landscape that is radically different from even five years ago. This pressure is accentuated when Fintechs and wallet operators are added to the mix. Everything from regulatory requirements, a competitive landscape and consumer expectations to product innovations has upended the “business as usual” outlook for digital payment providers. The industry is fraught with challenges that payments leaders must carefully navigate.

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Financial institutions are increasingly recognizing the importance of digital transformation and access to data. A legislation on the protection of personal data and privacy that was passed in October 2021 serves as a foundation for enabling trusted and secure domestic and international data flows and maximising the economic and social benefits of data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), for businesses and individuals in Rwanda.

The Bank of Kigali is an interesting example of a financial institution that has transitioned from traditional banking processes and payments to a structured digital platform. Embarking on a digital journey four years ago, the bank introduced several measures including internet banking and a mobile app, ISO standardization, and cyber resilient systems tuned to ensure the safety of customers’ data while enabling digital transactions through mobile phones.

Internet penetration in Rwanda stood at 30.5 percent of the total population in January 2023, with 4.25 million internet users. Incidentally, the ownership of smartphones in Rwanda stands at 26.7 per cent among men and 21 per cent in women respectively, according to the 2022 Rwanda Population and Housing Census, with the number of mobile phone users standing at 11.7 million in June 2023. Mobile phone penetration of 87 percent has consecutively increased the interest in digital payment solutions.

With the surge in mobile usage and e-commerce within the country, it is natural for banks to respond to the momentum and strengthen their digital economy payment services. The Bank of Kigali, for example, sought the advisory services of Network International (Network) to understand how to enhance and structure their product offering to cater to evolving customer behavior.

Network has been at the helm of accelerating digital transformation and has extensive experience in revolutionizing digital finance in the region with a deep understanding of digital payment offerings and technology usage. Network, using generational artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, as well as market knowledge and data utilization, helps the Bank generate informed business decisions to refine their services proposition in accordance with consumer spending trends.

Threat landscape

In a rapidly evolving digital payments landscape, the threat of fraud looms large. According to TransUnion Africa, digital transactions in financial services surged by 12.2 per cent during the first half of 2023, and the alleged rate of suspected digital fraud attempts for transactions from Rwanda in financial services increased 252 per cent year-over-year (YoY) – the highest rise among industries analyzed. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau reported 254 cases of cybercrime involving up to RWF 416 million in 2021. While fintechs and other new stakeholders in the environment pave the way to superior banking services, they also ensure to bolster their systems with strategic analysis and secure data management systems to counter sophisticated fraudulent activity.

In this regard, Network supported Bank of Kigali with an authorization strategy with detailed analysis focusing on authorization diagnostic, data and fraudulent transactions. Based on the findings of this analysis, Network provided recommendations to aid the Bank in improving operational efficiency, reducing risks, and accelerating growth.

Advanced tools and technology leave no room for error or vulnerabilities, in an environment that is seeing a growing dependence on mobile wallets, digital-only banking platforms, and contactless payments, which fosters adoption of digital payment solutions between merchants and consumers. This security allows for convenient access to digital payment services which include remittances, timely purchases, e-commerce and small businesses promotions, insurance payouts and more.

By enabling innovation and operational efficiency for financial institutions, Network International contributes to government-led financial inclusion initiatives and supports the sustainability of commerce among the masses.

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Lisk and CV Labs Africa Unveil VC Curated Blockchain Incubation Hub

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Lisk Chief Project Officer, Dominic Schwenter (Image: Supplied).

With nearly a million developers, a flourishing cross-industry entrepreneurial mindset, and a remarkable surge in blockchain adoption, Africa’s ability to lead blockchain technology impact is undeniable. Yet, technology entrepreneurs face barriers like limited access to finance and expert mentorship. Lisk’s Blockchain Incubation Hub intends to solve that issue.

Lisk is a fast and scalable Layer 2 (L2) network secured by Ethereum. As a member of the Optimism Superchain, Lisk provides builders and users some of the cheapest fees possible in the Ethereum ecosystem (currently sub 1 cent) and is actively contributing to the larger Superchain mission of onboarding the next 1 billion people to Web3. Lisk’s strategic decision to focus on emerging markets stands as a testament to its commitment to innovation and inclusivity. By prioritizing these regions, the team acknowledges the transformative potential they hold for the global community. 

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Dominic Schwenter, Chief Project Officer at Lisk, speaking of the incubation program, said “As an established infrastructure project, that has long focused on making Web3 technologies more accessible to builders and users around the world, we fully understand the tremendous opportunity the African continent represents for the future of the blockchain industry. By working with established partners such as CV Labs and its VC pillar, CV VC, we intend to bring our mutual excellence to support African pioneers who harness ingenuity to empower their communities. Blockchain is the engine for propelling local economies across the continent and we are well aware of the great quality of the developer community in Africa. There’s no one better to solve challenges than local developers, founders, and entrepreneurs“.

CV Labs is a renowned blockchain accelerator and ecosystem builder within the Web3 space. CV Labs is a business pillar of CV VC, the Swiss headquartered blockchain venture capitalist. Lisk and CV Labs both originate from the world’s most mature blockchain hub – Crypto Valley. Each has local and active teams on the ground in Africa, committed to harnessing Africa’s ability to drive the future of the web – one that enables data transparency, new economies, and, most of all, a better way of interacting and transacting for Africans.

Gideon Greaves, MD of CV VC Africa, said “Our experience in creating interconnectedness among our African and global portfolio companies is a bedrock for their growth. As Africans ourselves, we are very excited to empower the Lisk Blockchain Incubation Hub with our ecosystem pillar CV Labs, leveraging local insights and global understanding for maximum impact. Importantly, CV VC’s investor-focused curation will support the appropriation of grant funds to ensure projects with impact and utility succeed”.

African nations are among the strongest adopters of cryptocurrencies, utilizing them both as a store of value, payment, and exchange purposes. Concurrently, the technology behind crypto, blockchain itself, is increasingly important in other ways for Africa due to its immutability which can address longstanding issues such as corruption, lack of transparency, and inefficiencies in sectors like finance, supply chain, and governance.

Builders on blockchain technology can enhance trust, promote financial inclusion, enable secure transactions, and streamline processes, particularly in regions with unreliable infrastructure and weak institutions. Additionally, blockchain can support individuals by enabling access to financial services and property rights, fostering their socioeconomic growth, and unlocking new opportunities.

Despite restricted global funding, technology ecosystems in Africa are emerging, and 15 African countries feature in the Top 100 Global Ecosystems. As Africa accounts for nearly 20% of the global population and a median age of 18.8 years, the continent’s youthful demographic presents a potent force for innovation. While 77% of VC funding in Africa comes from outside the continent, The Lisk Blockchain Incubation Hub is committed to enabling African entrepreneurs to achieve self-fulfilling revenues and new funding sources by becoming market-ready with viable products that meet African needs.

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EMURGO Africa Unveils EMURGO Labs

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EMURGO Africa, the investment and commercial arm of Cardano in Africa, today announced the launch of EMURGO Labs, a dedicated development entity for emerging Web3 technologies. The Labs is designed to support the growth of established and nascent Web2 and Web3 organizations. EMURGO Labs is set to spearhead the digital transformation across borders, leveraging the transformative power of the Cardano blockchain.

This will will serve as the central hub for fostering the growth of both established and burgeoning Web2 and Web3 organizations throughout the region. By leveraging the unparalleled power and potential of the Cardano blockchain, EMURGO Labs aims to empower innovation, facilitate cross-border expansion, and contribute to the overall expansion of the global blockchain ecosystem.

“The launch of EMURGO Labs marks a significant step forward in our mission to unlock the transformative potential of blockchain technology in Africa, Middle East and GCC,” said Ahmed M. Amer, CEO of EMURGO Labs. “Through comprehensive support services, strategic partnerships, and industry-leading expertise, I am confident that EMURGO Labs will become the premier destination for Web3 ventures seeking to thrive in this dynamic region” added Amer.

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EMURGO Labs is dedicated to delivering a broad spectrum of services, meticulously designed to meet the evolving needs of the digital era, enabling organizations to seamlessly migrate from Web2 to Web3 while also enhancing and expanding the capabilities of already established Web3 entities.

  • Blockchain Solutions Development: Partnering with global enterprises, startups, and accelerators, EMURGO Labs is at the forefront of investing in and developing groundbreaking blockchain solutions with real world use cases
  • Custom Software Development: Tailored software solutions are crafted to drive digital transformation, propelling enterprises into the future.
  • UI/UX Design: With a focus on user-centric design, The Labs ensures intuitive user experiences and sleek interfaces for Cardano blockchain applications, setting a new standard in usability and aesthetics.

Aiming to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from Web2 and Web3 startups, banks, and large corporations to governments and the wider business community, The Labs is strategically positioned. By appealing to investors, blockchain enthusiasts, media, and policymakers, it is poised to become a pivotal player in the global blockchain ecosystem.

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