FUD-free Friday: Does Africa hold Bitcoin’s future?

It’s Friday. The weekend is nearly here. And where would you be without your weekly dose of crypto news to catch up on the week that was? Nowhere. That’s where. Read on.

Bitcoin in malls in time for Black Friday

If you’re out hunting for a bargain on Black Friday – good luck, and stay safe out there. But also, put away that wallet. Because retailers are going cuckoo for crypto!

Miami-based Bitcoin automatic teller machines (ATM) firm Bitstop announced on 26 November that it has partnered with the largest shopping mall operator in the United States, Simon Malls, to install Bitcoin ATMs at five locations across California, Florida and Georgia.

The S&P 100 company has malls in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. The group generated $5.7 billion in consolidated revenue last year.

Bitstop co-founder and CEO Andrew Barnard said that the machines were installed ahead of the holiday season. “With the strategic timing of this new installation of Bitcoin ATMs at Simon Mall locations, customers can conveniently buy Bitcoin while doing their Black Friday and Christmas holiday shopping,” he explained.

“Bitcoin is the perfect gift for family and friends this holiday season. Our Bitstop Bitcoin ATM mall locations are at the forefront of a trend as Bitcoin and digital currencies become part of the mainstream culture.”

There are now 6,000 Bitcoin ATM machines globally, with the number expected to reach 10,000 by the end of the year. Is there one near you? Will you be buying your loved ones Bitcoin for Christmas?

Jack Dorsey: Africa is the future of Bitcoin

Bitcoin will see its future “defined” by Africa, according to Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey after completing a tour of the continent.

In a tweet on 27 November, Dorsey said that he was “sad to be leaving the continent…for now. Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid-2020. Grateful I was able to experience a small part.”

Dorsey is a well-known proponent of Bitcoin and has made big claims about the technology in the past. Is he right about Africa?

UpBit hack

On Wednesday, Upbit, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea, announced that 342,000 in Ethereum (ETH), worth approximately $49 million at the time of writing, had been stolen from their hot wallet and sent to an unknown wallet address.

UPbit has now transferred “all” cryptocurrencies from its hot wallet to a “cold” wallet and announced that it will cover the losses via its assets. In the meantime, they have suspended withdrawals and deposits as a precaution. The firm estimates that it will take “at least two weeks” for services to return to normal.

India inches toward blockchain

On Wednesday, Sanjay Dhotre, minister of state for electronics and information technology in the government of India, announced that a “National Level Blockchain Framework is being prepared” by the government. The framework will consider the technology’s potential and different use cases.

The minister added that blockchain is “one of the important research areas”, with potential applications in areas such as governance, banking, finance, and cybersecurity.

To put this into context, in April 2018, the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, initiated a major crackdown on the trade and purchase of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin within its borders. RBI Deputy Governor Bibhu Kanungo declared that all RBI-regulated entities are to “stop having business relationships with entities dealing with virtual currencies forthwith and unwind the existing relationships in a period of three months time.”

Is India set to open its doors to crypto then? It’s too early to say, but Binance seems to think so. Just last week we saw Binance enter the region with the purchase of Indian cryptocurrency exchange WazirX for an undisclosed price, which sources at the Economic Times estimate was between $5 million–10 million. Will this spark confidence for other players to move in next year? Is it an indication that attitudes in the country are changing? We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.

Ghana eyes digital currency

The number of countries rumoured to be investigating digital currencies has swelled this year, with everyone from Turkey to Tunisia reported to be exploring the option. Add to that list, Ghana.

The governor of the West African nation’s central bank, Ernest Addison, said Tuesday that Ghana could issue a digital form of the nation’s currency, the cedi, in the “near future” and is in talks to develop a pilot project in a “sandbox environment.” However, Addison was careful to say that this isn’t strictly speaking a ‘cryptocurrency’.

“It is just electronic money backed by currency,” Addison reportedly said of the mobile money at the banking event’s press conference. “So [the central bank] cannot create money; they are only having an electronic representation of the cedi that the Bank of Ghana puts into circulation. So it is not crypto.”

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