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OPINION

Can Cryptocurrencies Truly Be Our Saviour when Economies are Crashing?

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Cryptocurrencies & blockchain, the technology upon which cryptocurrency runs has been touted as truly revolutionary. After the first cryptocurrency went live in 2009, it sparked a light in dim time. 

Necessitating an escape from the financial world controlled by the fraudulent and manipulative government and corporations. Bitcoin was seen as the saviour to the dying fiat currencies which has continually robbed people of their wealth through inflationary pressures aggravated by reckless government funds mismanagement. 

As a tool for radical and transformative change, Bitcoin has grown from insignificance into global relevance today. But what is its position as of today?

The Idea & Industry

The cryptocurrency industry has grown considerably over the years. From a single cryptocurrency to thousands of crypto tokens or coins, each doing something of its own, although others bear similarities in their designs and functions. 

The idea behind bitcoin and cryptocurrency generally was a rebellious idea. An idea that stems from the disgust of the maladministration of the fiat currency.

This distrust resulted in the writing of the bitcoin white paper with its significant title “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”.

An alternative financial system that doesn’t require the trust of a third party to enable the flow of economic events. Such a revolutionary idea. An idea which has turned into a global multibillion-dollar industry and growing still, at an impressive rate.

Alternative Tender

Crypto enthusiasts have always wanted to use their crypto to purchase daily goods, pay bills and do just about what the naira, dollar, euro, pounds, etc do. As much as they want to acquire that “Lambo”, they also would love to use their bitcoin to purchase their coffee, ice cream, etc.

Over the years with several firms developing great solutions, users are now able to purchase items using crypto but then, there exists a fundamental problem. Are they paying in crypto or fiat? This is a contestable argument. 

If I send my bitcoin directly to the seller in exchange for a plate of tasty Nigerian jollof rice, am I paying with bitcoin or naira? For most, it’s understandable they are paying with bitcoin.

But then, I am paying in naira. Reason being that the jollof rice is priced in Naira NGN. The difference here is WITH and IN. A matter of semantics.

Crypto Volatility

For most people who do not see cryptocurrency gaining global adoption as an effective means of economic exchange, their reason mostly stems from the volatile nature of this new asset class.

The fear of receiving payment of 4500NGN for goods sold at 5000NGN in BTC has been a significant argument against why cryptocurrency will be used for economic exchange. 

Although newer products have emerged that seek to remedy this issue by providing instant clearing for crypto transactions, crypto faithfuls still hold on to the belief that volatility is a feature, not a bug.

Stablecoins

Stablecoins now provide a safe way of protecting oneself against volatility. Stablecoin facilitates crypto security as well as the non-volatile nature which fiat of sound economies carries.

This presents stablecoins as a valid alternative to national fiat currencies. Currently, there are lots of activities ongoing for nations in a bid to develop their own Central Bank Digital Currency – CDBC.

In times of great national distress, the value of fiat currencies is normally shaken. This is normal and is why nations try as much as possible to prevent events that may destabilize their nations due to the correlative effects to their national currencies.

Covid-19

The current pandemic sweeping across the nations of the world is a true definition of distress. For Nigeria as a country with the majority of its revenue tied to Crude Oil, it faces serious economic challenges which have resulted in a reduction in the value of the naira. 

The Central Bank of Nigeria a few weeks back via a circular announced that the present fundamentals do not support the devaluation of the naira yet, however, there have been reports of commercial banks charging users above N400 per dollar.

While the purpose of this article is not to examine the naira and the several elements affecting it, this premise was necessary since it’s a fiat currency.

This begs the question Can cryptocurrency truly be our saviour when economies are crashing?

Nigeria is not the only nation currently affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, Nigeria is one of the countries with fewer cases.


Though, this isn’t the only reason for the current position of the naira. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are notably volatile and in times of national or global crisis, people would argue they can’t hold value. 

The next alternatives are usually Stablecoins, an innovation that is not even up to seven years since the very first stablecoin was introduced. But then this comes with a problem of its own.

Since Stablecoins are pegged to their fiat currency counterparts, as the fiat currency of a nation goes down, the same goes for the stablecoin.

While it is understandable that not all nations will go to dust at the same time, people may move from one country’s fiat currency pegged stablecoin to another. And this will just be an organized and consented pump.

The problem remains that cryptocurrency may not be the saviour when the economies are crashing.  The only way this can be is when the goods are priced in a standard unit of a coin, perhaps BTC.

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OPINION

Permissionless Blockchain Explained and How Algorand Takes the Lead

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Blockchain is simply defined as a chain of blocks that store information. The technology is designed to collect and store digital information in such a way that they cannot be backdated or tampered with. Blockchain’s purpose is to solve financial problems without the need for a central server.

Types of Blockchain

There are 3 major types of blockchains; Private Blockchain, Hybrid Blockchain and Permissionless/Public Blockchain.

Private Blockchain

Also known as permissioned blockchain, private blockchains contain several notable discrepancies from public blockchains.    

In private blockchains, participants must gain permission before they can access the network. Transactions are discreet and are only open to the network’s users permitted to access the network. They are more centralized as opposed to public blockchains.

Private blockchains are useful for businesses that wish to cooperate and exchange data, without their private company data visible to the public. The organizations that operate private blockchain have greater influence over participants. Examples include Ripple (XRP) and Hyperledger.

Hybrid Blockchain

Hybrid blockchain blends the privacy advantages of a private blockchain with the safety and decentralization advantages of a public blockchain. It offers businesses great versatility in deciding which data they choose to make public or private. 

This makes it possible for organizations to work with the transparency they seek, without losing privacy and security.

Permissionless/Public Blockchain

Public Blockchain is an open-source network that enables anyone to take part as users, developers, or miners. Every transaction that exists on a public blockchain is completely transparent, ensuring that anyone can inspect the details of a transaction, and that is why it’s called permissionless.

Public blockchains are built to be fully decentralized, without anyone regulating the transactions registered in the database, or how they were registered. Public blockchains can be particularly resistant to censorship because everyone is free to access the network irrespective of location, ethnicity, etc. This renders it incredibly impossible for authorities to clamp doors on them. Examples are Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.

There has been a huge increase in the adoption of blockchain technologies in the past couple of years. Numerous businesses decided to build their initiatives on a permissionless blockchain as it helps in attracting and retaining users.

Permissionless blockchain gives room for anyone to join and transact. Information on this type of blockchain is open to the public, and full records of transactions are stored and endlessly modified which makes it difficult to control or hack. This particular blockchain is not managed by anyone, so you will stay anonymous because there is no need to identify yourself before you get an address and make transactions.

Finally, all public blockchains have a token linked with them, usually intended to incentivize and reward the particular network’s users.

Characteristics of Permissionless Blockchain

  • Transparency

Participants of a project built on a permissionless blockchain are encouraged to trust the project. An open network will provide users with access to all details, including passwords, right to view the network’s processed transactions, and how transactions are organized into blocks.

  • Decentralization

Permissionless blockchains are decentralized because there is no single authority that regulates activities on the network.  Activities are performed based on agreement protocols. This means that adjustments of any sort on the network will only be done if it is approved by 51% of its participants.

  • Digital Investments

Some incentives offer users tokens in a permissionless blockchain, which may boost or decline in value depending on the significance and nature of the blockchain the tokens belong to. These blockchains employ either financial or service tokens, depending on the purpose.

Now that we must have understood blockchain technology and its purpose, we will be delving back to the main topic of this article which is about How Algorand Takes the Lead among permissionless blockchains.

Algorand is a decentralized, permissionless blockchain with the major aim of building an economy that is free for everyone to access without any barrier.

On Algorand, users do not require any specific authorization to access and engage in the network.  Everyone is free to participate in the network, make transactions, and generate blocks. Information on the network is made public and anyone can read the generated blocks.

Also, Algorand is focusing on solving the three big obstacles of blockchain network; which are scalability, decentralization, and security.     

The Algorand team is aware that there wouldn’t be a widespread adoption if they do not provide what every blockchain enthusiast demands.

Decentralization, Scalability, and Security are key to launching an effective blockchain ecosystem and Algorand strives to add these three to its network, eventually solving the trilemma problem.

Algorand’s Decentralization

Unlike Bitcoin, Algorand solves the decentralization problem in a way that still maintains security. Utilizing a pure Proof-of-Work (PoW), Algorand created a protocol that randomly chooses who proposes and generates blocks.

Proof of work is a process that delays the production of new blocks. It is a computational problem that needs certain efforts to solve. However, the time required to confirm the outcome of the computational problem is much lesser than the time involved in solving the computational problem.

The proof-of-Work mechanism makes it very difficult to manipulate the blocks and in an event, a block is tampered with, it is necessary to recalculate the proof-of-work on each of the subsequent blocks which can be very stressful and costly. 

In the case of Algorand, there is no particular individual or group selected to perform a specific function in the network. In proportion to their stakes, every user is free to play any role in the network. Every owner of Algorand’s native coin ALGO is automatically qualified to engage in all of the network’s functions including block proposals and voting.

A user may opt to just transact, without having to engage in the consensus protocol. The Algorand protocol is structured to reduce participation costs; therefore, there is no limitation for users that wish to engage in the network.

Algorand Scalability

A blockchain is said to be scalable when it can handle millions of transactions in one second.

Algorand is solving the scalability problem by utilizing pure proof-of-stake to randomly select users that would verify and propose blocks. Users are sent private messages to verify their selection for consensus on the next block.

Bitcoin, which was the first to utilize blockchain also utilizes the proof-of-work protocol but unlike Algorand’s protocol, to reach consensus on the next block, users are required to solve cryptographic puzzles which can be stressful and time-wasting.

The consensus protocol of Algorand is capable of scaling to millions of users. It sustains a high transaction cost and doesn’t charge users extra costs. Block consensus is reached in perfect sync as the block is propagated to the network, and it happens in a matter of seconds.

Algorand Security

Security is very essential for every permissionless blockchain and the protection of the network and its users is taken extremely seriously by Algorand. Users require a blockchain where their assets are safe, and where they can safely build applications on.  At the consensus protocol level and network level, Algorand ensures protection from attacks at the network and consensus protocol level.

 

Conclusion

There are numerous blockchain projects in the digital space but none comes close to matching the level of efficiency, speed, freedom, and security Algorand provides. The Algorand project has a great team that is always open to improvisations and improvement on their network and it is no surprise that Algorand is currently the best permissionless blockchain.

Useful Links:

Website     ||     Use Cases     ||     Twitter     ||     Telegram

Article Written by Helen IMAH – Algorand Ambassador

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OPINION

What Happens To My Crypto When I Am Gone?

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Ever wondered what will become of your digital assets when you finally go on to the great beyond?

source: unsplash.com

We all know that a cryptocurrency is a digital asset with monetary value protected by unbreakable cryptography. This attribute makes cryptocurrencies attractive because it makes them a secure way to store wealth, but on the other hand, this may also be a major challenge because when a crypto holder becomes deceased, their virtual assets may become infinitely inaccessible. I bet this does not sound like a great succession plan. 

Cryptocurrencies are kept secure in virtual wallets. These wallets use a public key as a medium for sending and receiving cryptocurrencies. We also have what is called the private key. This is what gives the holder of a crypto wallet access to what the virtual wallet contains.

God forbid that a crypto owner passes on without disclosing his private key to his heirs. The resultant effect is that the content of his virtual wallet becomes inaccessible.

source: bitcoinrecovery.co

Not long ago, the curious people of the Cremation Research Institute conducted a study to find out if the owners of cryptocurrencies had succession or devolution plans for their virtual assets when they go on to the great beyond. It will interest you to know that it was  discovered that 89% of Cryptocurrency investors worry about what will become of their assets when they die. Ironically, this worrying has not given many cryptocurrency investors a cosmic kick up their back side to put plans in place for their virtual properties when they die. 

  It is alarming that only a few, 23%, have written Wills or have established a  Trust to help guide the appropriation of their digital assets when they are dead.

Coinmetrics revealed that our planet already boasts of 12,000 Bitcoin millionaires in the world. The same way crypto millionaires are on the rise, a sad number of crypto investors die every 365 days. It is unfortunate that, most times, their families are faced with the challenge of accessing the deceased’s millions in digital assets. In fact, Coincover disclosed that about 4 million Bitcoin which translates to about 40 billion USD has gone to flames following the death of a number of crypto owners.

source: Wall Street Journal

It then becomes disturbing that a sizable number of crypto investors, especially the millennials, are being negligent on this subject. The older generation appear to have put more plans in place as regards devolving their virtual assets upon their death.

The reason for this is not far fetched. There really is a dearth of digital estate services to help crypto holders in this area. It is a wise crypto attorney that will take this hint.

On a personal level, a crypto owner should endeavour to disclose his private key to a “trusted someone”. He will in turn secure it in a flash memory drive or with a commercial organization that secures same.

It is advisable to use a good commercial service that secures private keys.

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OPINION

Bitrefill Steps Up Consumer Loyalty with Bitcoin-Back Rewards

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Introduction

Bitrefill, in a recent announcement, unveiled a Bitcoin-Backed Rewards program, once again solidifying its resolve as a company with huge plans to step up consumer loyalty as a market leader.  

As a company founded in 2015, Bitrefill is a global vendor which allows purchasing Gift Cards or Mobile Refills from more than 2500 businesses in 170 countries. It has also stepped in for Nigerians as an easy solution to spend their crypto or gift cards. With Bitrefill, Nigerians and several other African countries to get eGifts & pay mobile bills quickly, safely, and privately with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

How Bitcoin-Back Rewards Work

Bitrefill users worldwide are able to accumulate a minimum of 1% back from every purchase, in Bitcoin. Users may even get up to 6% reward on some select products numbering 217 products as at the time of the announcement. The United States leads with 158 products while the users in the UK have 59 products to select from where they get to enjoy as much as 6% bitcoin-back rewards for purchases made in categories like eCommerce, retail, apparel, home, electronics, health & beauty, food, and restaurants. Plans are also in motion to expand this bumper loyalty rewards scheme to other regions such as the Middle East, Asia and Africa. 

Its style of reward system comes even when the smallest Satoshi (the smallest unit of a bitcoin, equivalent to 100 millionth of a bitcoin. Bitcoins can be split into smaller units to ease and facilitate smaller transactions) can be used to top-up airtimes or even pay for snacks in an online store. 

The decision to denominate the rewards program in Satoshis instead of USD or EUR or even NGN was made in order to preserve the value better if as a user you want to save the rewards for later. All you need to do to get sats back is to purchase gift cards, top-up your mobile phones with airtime, or purchase any digital voucher for your favourite brands, retailers, and online stores to have those sats stacking up.

Why does it Matter?

With bitcoin becoming the internet’s de-facto currency, uncensorable across borders, as a user of Bitrefill, your rewards being paid in Sats gives you interoperability to spending across several merchants that accept bitcoin should you decide to opt-out of the Gift Card option. 

While this next point may be easily dismissed as speculation on steroids, I’ll still go ahead to state it. Popular Bitcoin Bulls like Tim Draper, Anthony Pompliano who is more known as “Pomp” have continued to take bold bets on the future rise in the price of Bitcoin. They have even predicted it crossing over $100,000 per Bitcoin in the coming years. This resonates with me due to past experiences.

During the peak of Bitcoin’s price spike in December of 2017, I was fortunate to remember I still had an abandoned wallet with a few satoshi crumbs left in it. Having opened the wallet on the then Blockchain.Info and transacting with it while bitcoin price dangled around $157 per BTC, I left it with a few satoshis as balance. I deemed it as insignificant as it didn’t worth anything much then.

You know those 0.03 BTC balance which didn’t amount to anything substantial by then. But getting access to the same balance by December of 2017 gave me sweet $600.At the current rate of bitcoin, 0.03 bitcoin is worth $283 according to coinmarketcap.com. I have checked that kind of appreciation, only asset classes such as crypto, specifically Bitcoin could have yielded that kind of increment.

What Difference can this Bring to African User Communities

Some of the problems Africans have had to grapple with is financial exclusion, not exposed to varied choices as consumers and currency inflation. Bitcoin is designed to be deflationary, it’s become a safe haven for those who have experienced horrendous inflationary losses to their economy and subsequent crash on their currency value like Zimbabwe. Even Nigeria presently experiencing depreciation of its naira to the dollar already have her citizens recourse to bitcoin trading, this is noticed in the recent spike in Bitcoin P2P trading volume with Nigeria pushing Africa to surpass Latino American region for the first time.

Every consumer, asides having their needs met with good products and services also crave the feeling of being valued. With Bitcoin-Back Rewards by Bitrefill, this will most likely pique the interest of consumers in Africa even further.

And as typical of entrepreneurs who always follow the money, merchants’ interest in accepting Gift Cards in their respective stores should also see considerable growth. This growth should bring even more variety to consumers who always seek to exercise their sovereignty in the most diverse products available.

Bitrefill with this initiative may have initiated a chain reaction which benefits it especially as a brand and the loyalty industry in Africa as 73% of consumers are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs. Why wouldn’t a user spread the good news to others who may have been yearning for the opportunity to “mine” this digital gold called bitcoin?

To start getting sats back, all you simply need to do is sign up for an account, supplying your email and preferred password and in just a few seconds, you’re ready to start earning Bitrefill’s much anticipated Bitcoin-Back Rewards. 

You may also download the easy-to-use Bitrefill app from Playstore and App Store

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OPINION

Possible Career Choices in the Crypto Industry 

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The cryptocurrency space in its own right has turned into a big industry commanding billions of dollars of trade volume daily and providing opportunities for individuals in unique areas. 

Individuals who think they have what it takes to be in one of the fastest growing industries globally are exploiting the various opportunities which the young industry provides. 

The crypto industry started with the unique ideology of freedom. Freedom from poorly managed and corrupt financial estate, freedom from free speech censorship. Freedom from all that undermines what it means to be an individual, to be a man. 

Opportunities abound in great numbers in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry however, these opportunities can only be seized when an individual has strategically positioned himself in the industry. 

On how to better position yourself, please refer to How to position yourself in the crypto industry. 

It’s imperative to note that for every individual, the opportunities available to them is based on the skills and competencies they have. With this said, let’s look at some of the possible career choices in the crypto industry. 

1. Business Development and Management 

Every business whether crypto or not requires a business manager to manage and develop the business. This is even critical for crypto products and businesses where there’s a great gap in knowledge between the numbers of people who know about crypto and those who do not. 

A Business Manager’s role is of critical importance to a crypto firm and they dictate the rate at which a business could rise or fall. 

2. Product Designers/Developer

One of the reasons for crypto’s lack of global adoption is the complexity in crypto products. Though recently, innovative designs are coming on the market which gives users unparalleled user experience, there are still some unique challenges which crypto firms have to tackle to continually release great products into the market. 

An individual who thinks he has the skills to get this job done, could build a career in this discipline. 

There’s a reason why Tiktok and it’s several clones or look alike are amassing a huge user base. Amongst other factors, a good product manager is in charge of the product. 

3. Customer Support/Community Management 

Customer support is imperative for business growth. A thriving community that is ever engaging is imperative for continuing growth and expansion of a crypto business. A business that invests into customer support and community development will enjoy a loyal customer base. 

An individual that has the capacity to grow and manage a community will find a unique well paid position in the crypto industry. 

Community development & management has to do with building an engaging and active community of interested and loyal individuals around a business or product and managing the same to ensure growth and reach for a product. 

4. Content Creators

Smart and creative content creators are ever needed in the crypto space. Individuals that possess the experience, expertise, creativity, flexibility to produce captivating, enchanting contents either in writing, graphics, videos are solely needed and can build a well deserved abs sustaining career in the crypto industry. 

5. Programmers

The technical aspects of crypto are programmers domains. Developers are one of the highest paid professionals in the crypto industry. A programmer or developer has a wide range of areas to specialize on and still make good returns. They are responsible for writing the codes we trust and commit our funds to. 

6. Legal Representative

The industry is still young, there are lots legal uncertainties and this presents a significant opportunity for those in the legal sector. Each nation has their own legal understanding of cryptocurrency and the blockchain. The understanding of how the technology works and the legal sector will help an individual in better positioning himself or herself in the crypto industry. 

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