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The Many Questions behind Bitfxt Technologies $15 Million Series A Funding Claim

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Source: Bitfxt

The news has been making the rounds recently and it’s Bitfxt, a homegrown cryptocurrency startup raising as much as $15 Million necessitating the jamboree of publication especially from Tekedia where it was described as the “Black Swan” by Prof Ndubuisi Ekekwe.

Cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology have come with a great wave sweeping across the world at one block at a time. Today we can easily send value across a trustless network and expect it to get to the recipient exactly as it is. Technology has permeated our lives at such an outstanding depth. And this is the power of solutions that companies like Bitfxt Technologies proudly brings to the fore. 

While we respect growth and wish the best for the industry at large, there are some elements of this deal which upon critical examination leads one down a rabbit hole. If you don’t mind let me take you down the same path 

The Amount of Funding Received vs Valuation:

As a Nigerian startup of the broader African startup ecosystem, receiving $15 Million is a big deal no matter how modest the founder of such a company would want to play it.  Currently, $15Million based on the current value of the naira to the dollar is about N5 Billion. 

What an impressive number. While this may appear to be ambitious, some local startups have been able to raise some decent amounts over the years. The contention is therefore the amount the firm was valued. 

It’s standard practice for a firm to be able to raise such a large amount of funds, the firm has to be valued at an impressive number. However, the statement released by the firm didn’t quite show the valuation used.

The Investors:

According to the PR, Bitfxt Technologies secured $15M in funding from a UK syndicate of Hedge Funds and UK Company, Payitup Clearinghouse Ltd (UK).  The PR also showed that Bitfxt Technologies has “concluded an Agreement with the “syndicate” to extend a $125M Revolving Margin Facility for all its traders to leverage their position for a higher gain.”

Also posted on the twitter account of the firm. 

 

For those wondering what the fancy word “Syndicate” might mean, it stands for  group, association and/or collective, therefore Bitfxt Technologies received funding from a group or collective of Hedge funds and Payitup Clearinghouse Ltd based in the United Kingdom.

The Press Release was published on the 13th/14th of February, 2020 by the several indigenous media organizations not excluding CryptoTVPlus (which has since been retracted). Since the groups of Hedge Funds were not disclosed, one is left to look into Payitup Clearinghouse Ltd (UK).

Searching on Google for “Payitup” shows that Payitup is a Zimbabwean fintech company that received funding of $13Million in the second quarter of 2019. According to various commonplace publications on the internet, the investor was Thawer Fund Management which  invested in Payitup in a series A round. However, a crunchbase.com page revealed that it was Thawer Capital Management UK that invested in Payitup, the Zimbabwean fintech.

This investment of $13Million in Payitup was in May 2019. Digging into the Thawer Capital Management UK, it’s revealed by the campanieslondon.com that, Thawer Capital Management UK with business registration number 09410799 ceased operations on the 20th of August, 2019 (over six months ago) after operating for five years.  The firm had two shareholders, Thawer Fund Management holding 91% shares while Mr. Rahim Thawer himself holds 9% shares. A lookup on the website of the two organizations (Thawer Fund Management and Thawer Capital Management UK (www.thawerlp.com) shows it’s no longer functional.

Quick Finds:

  •       Payitup received funding of $13M in May, 2019 from Thawer Capital Management (UK). Some media reported the funding came from Thawer Fund Management
  •       Fund Management (a majority shareholder in Thawer Capital Management (UK).
  •       Thawer Capital Management has been dissolved. Dissolution was in August, 2019. Six (6) Months after supposedly investing in Payitup.
  •       Website is no longer working.

 The Players

A Google search on Payitup Clearinghouse Ltd (UK) brings the records of the organization. Payitup Clearinghouse Ltd (UK) has its registered office at 71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, England, WC2H 9JQ. According to the UK government’s website, the firm is currently active and was registered as a private limited liability company on the 18th of September, 2019. It has not completed a full accounting financial year. Based on the information on the website, there have been four officers with two of them resigning not long after the incorporation of the company. Officers of the firm are:

  1. Thawer Rahim an American national, currently active, and appointed the day Payitup Clearinghouse was incorporated, 18th September, 2019.
  2. Watson Cherylynn Jean, a Zimbabwean national; appointed on the 27th of September, 2019, this was nine (9) days after incorporation. Currently active.
  3. Gonyora Aretha Pepu, also Zimbabwean national; appointed two days after incorporation to the firm but resigned on the 6th of January, 2020. Gonyora Aretha Pepu is one of the founders of the Zimbabwean Payitup that received $13M funding from Thawer Fund(Capital) Management.
  4. Wesley Mukubvu Takudzwa, Zimbabwean national; appointed on the 11th of October, 2019 almost a month after incorporation. Resigned from the firm on the 12th of February, 2020. This was according to the time the funding articles of Bitfxt Technologies were published just a day(s).

 

This evidence therefore positions Thawer Fund Management, Thawer Capital Management, Zimbabwean Payitup firm, Payitup ClearingHouse Ltd (UK) as related organizations. 

How Does This Concern Bitfxt Technologies?

One of the first articles that independently  reported the funding was Zimbabwean blog technomag.co.zw. The article has been deleted but it read “UK based Zimbabwean company @Payitup which recently got US$13 Million funding from UK’s Investment Fund, Thawer Fund Management, LLC has acquired a significant stake in one of the biggest blockchain companies in Africa, Bitfxt”.

https://technomag.co.zw/2020/02/13/zim-startup-acquires-stake-in-a-nigerian-company/ 

According to a chat with the CEO of Bitfxt Technologies, he dismissed the veracity in the article as “WRONG” and nothing but a leak hence its retraction. He also claimed that Bitfxt Technologies is sister firm to Payitup Zimbabwe.

After this publication, Bitfxt released its own Press Release through several media organizations saying it had received $15M a UK syndicate of Hedge Funds and UK Company, Payitup Clearinghouse Ltd (UK).

 

There are questions that require answers. Questions such as:

  • Since  Bitfxt Technologies is a sister firm to Payitup in Zimbabwe, and Payitup Clearinghouse is the parent company of Payitup Zimbabwe, doesn’t this mean Payitup Clearinghouse is a parent to Bitfxt Technologies?
  • And if yes, doesn’t it mean that Bitfxt Technologies received funding from its own parent(s)?
  • In October, 2019, Payitup said Payitup Clearinghouse Ltd UK was its parent company. Why then did some officers of Payitup Clearinghouse UK which also had ties to Payitup in Zimbabwe leave just before a great deal like the Bitfxt Technologies deal?
  • With the investment of $13M in Payitup, the firm was valued at about $20M. This could mean at a $15M investment, and additional $120M+ revolving fund, Bitfxt Technologies could be valued at an even impressive figure. Why wasn’t this revealed? Since it would help the public image of the firm
  • Why are the websites www.payitup.co, www.thawerlp.co, www.thawerco.com not functional?
  • The sister firm of Bitfxt Technologies shows almost no activity on facebook and twitter. The twitter handle @payitupzw doesn’t contain any meaningful contents. It’s quite inconvenient.
  • According to Thawer Rahim’s linkedin page, it is stated that they only invest in organizations that have $25M+ revenue. Bitfxt has some remarkable products but does it make up to $20M revenue annually?
  • How can an organization that received $13M in funding be part of other organizations giving $15M funding? (Perhaps Payitup after receiving the $13 Million funding has become so profitable within less than a year that it now has so much war chest of funds in the bank to start investing in another startup)
  • Why did officers of Payitup Clearinghouse UK mysteriously leave just before a great deal like the Bitfxt Technologies deal?
  • With the investment of $13M in Payitup, the firm was valued at about $20M. This could mean at a $15M investment, and additional $125M Margin Facility, Bitfxt Technologies could be valued at an even impressive figure. Why wasn’t this revealed? Since it would help the public image of the firm.

 

Could this indeed be the funding that breaks the Central Bank’s back and puts Bitfxt Technologies as the Black Swan dwarfing any other innovative idea within its niche? Well, this is just another question that requires an answer as well as the other burning questions any well-meaning company should answer in its bid to ward off speculations and the roving eyes of regulatory crackdown. 

Just as the CEO of Bitfxt Technologies said in our chat, “…an official press release will address these concerns” We await.

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Opinion

Nigeria Ministry of Communication changes name to include Digital Economy. Is this Pro Crypto? Industry participants express opinions

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The Nigerian ministry of communication has changed its name from the Ministry of Communication to Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.

With the name change comes a widened scope for the ministry which is imperative in the dynamic world in which we currently live.

The Digital Economy is wide and globally, Nigeria is one of the top cryptocurrency markets as indicated by trading volumes and keyword searches.

What does the move by the Ministry means for the digital economy especially, the Crypto Industry in Nigeria?

The approval for the change of name was given by the President, Muhammadu Buhari on the 23rd October, 2019 through a letter which showed the request for the change of name was consistent with global best practices and will further reflect the preferences of the current administration.

The decision for the change according to a statement signed by a Deputy Director, Mrs Philomena Oshodin, the name has been changed to “The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to further expand its mandate to capture the goals of digitalisation of the Nigerian economy in line with the Economic Growth and Recovery Plan (EGRP), one of the key agenda of the present administration.”

The old name “Ministry of Communication” according to the Minister Isa Ali Pantami, has become obsolete and limit the scope of the ministry in the current digital age as emphasized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The Minister, Isa Ali Pantami said further that the change in the name will propel the ministry to reposition its strategic objectives while increasing growth and social inclusion. This he said giving statistics to drive home his point. He said “ICT contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) stood at 13.85 percent in the second quarter of 2019.”

Currently, Nigeria, from the available data transact on average a billion naira daily.

This value excludes peer 2 peer exchanges between physical people that are not captured and this could amount to significant figure. However, working with the available data, Nigeria is a great market for cryptocurrencies and this has been validated by multiple crypto firms setting up shops in the country whether owned by locals or foreigners.

The decision by Binance, a leading cryptocurrency exchange to commence the acceptance of naira through its partnership with Flutterwave for the purchase of cryptocurrency on its binance.com platform also speaks in validating the claim that Nigeria is a significant market in the global cryptocurrency space.

Few days ago, Luno also announced it will allow its customers to start buying the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Ethereum on its platform. The move by Binance must have motivated this move.

The Minister said the goal for the change of name is to further expand its mandate to capture the goals of digitalisation of the Nigerian economy.

For Crypto enthusiast and those deeply rooted in the industry in Nigeria, this move could mean the Crypto will begin to receive the recognition it deserves in Nigeria. Or nothing whatsoever. This is mere speculations, Let’s consider what industry members have to say.

Lead Partner, Infusion Lawyers, Senator Ihenyen, commenting on the change in name said “Sometimes changing a name is mere nomenclature with little or no changes. But sometimes changing a name brings profound transformation. With the change to Federal Ministry of Communications & Digital Economy, I really hope it’s the latter.”

The Regional Manager for CoinCola, Samuel Joseph commenting on the decision by the ministry and its impact on the economy said;

The latest update from the minister / government is a step towards the right direction that I believe will accommodate growth in the digital space (possibly blockchain and cryptocurrency).”

Samuel Joseph who is also an ambassador for EOS went on saying,

“I hope to see actual blockchain and cryptocurrency strategy and implementation from the ministry. A country like dubai publicly made a commitment as far back as 2017 to fully implement blockchain application by 2020. I’m looking forward to seeing clear road maps and visions for the Nigerian digital space.”

Munachi Ogueke, CBO, YellowCard was of the opinion that the Ministry is not considering the Crypto industry in the “Digital Economy” but according to him,

I believe that it will eventually fall into their purview ……. the (Crypto Industry) is exploding, they will have no choice.”

Chiagozie Iwu, CEO of CI CryptoSolutions (owners of Naijacrypto) said the digital economy is the backbone of any country going forward, therefore, the change in the ministry is a “good sign and it shows the government realises that the digital economy has become too big to be ignored. According to him, “We ignore at our own peril.”

Emmanuel Etitim, Brand Manager for YellowCard commenting on the move by the Ministry is quoted saying

This move is unclear yet until we see them defining the roles of the ministry of communication and digital economy. But from the words right now. It could mean that all things that are said to be online businesses and activities could come under the purview of this ministry and I don’t know if it will be a good thing because I don’t remember the last good thing the government did for the people.

So usually given the recent moves by the federal government’s about taxes on so many things that shouldn’t even be taxed. I’m guessing this is likely to bring those activities that goes online under the taxable activity. Crypto, now is a very huge (part of the) Digital economy and Nigeria is the third global bitcoin holders and ranking number one in Africa. So this could mean good or bad depending on body language of the ministry to issues like this.

So I don’t see why it should be a bad thing if these (Government) people are well educated about something like this, but hopefully we (industry stakeholders) can come together and put pressure on the government not to use laws and regulations that are unfavourable to kill the industry; rather, they could look for ways to help like France that have cut down taxes on crypto, making it free.

So I should expect this to come on favorably in that sense you get enough for us if people (in the) industry can push a leg forward.”

Expressing confidence in the ministry, Senator Ihenyen, who is also the VC, Policy & Regulations of SiBAN said,

The new Minister, Isa Ali Pantami, has the capacity to make that transformation happen. Now what does this mean to Nigeria’s crypto industry? Since the Federal government is looking at the “digitisation of the Nigerian economy”, the question we must first answer is whether the Nigerian government considers the nascent crypto industry as part of the Nigerian economy. The answer, as it stands presently is NO.

Therefore, except the Federal government takes a fresh look at blockchain technology and its crypto application and then comes up with an innovation-support policy in that regard, the crypto industry may not benefit from the intended focus on Nigeria’s digital economy.”

And that will be unfortunate for a country with the 5th highest bitcoin transactions and a low level of financial inclusion in the world, Senator Ihenyen concluded. .

The world is changing at an unprecedented speed technologically and only those nations that adapt to the changing times will be able to compete in the global power market.

With Asia, America and Europe each running their race to achieve technological dominance which ultimately will tilt the scale of commerce in their favour, Africa and especially Nigeria should get its game face ready.

Nigeria is tagged the giant of Africa, as far as cryptocurrency trading volume goes, it’s still the giant. Is it? What does the future hold? That’s a question that is best left to time to answer.

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Campus BCAT 2019: Promoting Awareness on Blockchain & Cryptocurrency as Zenith Bank & Globalcom Subtly Hints at Adoption

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Cryptocurrency and the underlying technology Blockchain continues to gain traction all over the world. As the world continues to learn the various ways the technology can be impact social, political and economical construct, various disruptive business models and industries will rise up displacing the old or rebranding them.

As the global stage gets set, various countries are beginning to see promise in the technology and understanding how truly impactful it could be when fully harnessed.

As the most populous African nation, Nigerians who understand the importance of the technology to their personal good are utilizing it to create wealth for themselves either by trading or investing. Others are utilizing it as a means to receive and send low cost funds from/to the various countries on the planet.

As Nigeria commands great volume in cryptocurrency trading despite the awareness level in the country, much can be achieved when there is substantial awareness (though substantial is non-quantifiable).

With various players in the Nigerian blockchain industry calling on the government to make positive move to grow the industry in the country by coming out with clear regulatory policies, the industry is yet to see the activities of the government.

As the banking industry in the country was revolutionized by the private sector, it appears the Blockchain industry will follow the same part.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency awareness is an interesting issue in the local industry and as such, various moves are been made yearly by enthusiast and industry leaders to drive the awareness of the technology.

The awareness campaigns has mostly been targeted at retail entities, but, in an ironic situation, some corporate giants in the Nigeria business environment are coming out to subtly give hints of possible adoption of the technology.

While these may appear somewhat insignificant to others, the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry sees great prospects in them.

Banking & Telecom Giants Speaks Bitcoin & Blockchain

In a surprising move, a giant in the Nigeria Banking Industry, Zenith Bank featured the Bitcoin Logo on an Ad it made on YouTube. The Ad was about a young man thinking of various items, one of which was Bitcoin.

In a similar way, local Telecommunication Firm Globalcom had in a Facebook post given indication of possible recognition of the blockchain technology.

The post read “The 21st century has witness many innovation. From smartphones, to electric cars, to blockchains, and so much more. What innovation has been most useful to you?”

The drive to see the speedy adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in Nigeria has informed various seminars, conferences, campaigns and other events targeted at spreading awareness of the impactful nature of the technology to our way of life, business and governance.

In a strategic move to see quick adoption technology in the country, Campus BCAT was developed as a blockchain and cryptocurrency awareness campaign targeted at those it matters, the students of Nigerian tertiary institutions.

As the potential leaders of the future, the Nigerian students with their great ingenuity are capable of taking the country to the promise land. Campus BCAT 2019 is the spark that will ignite the fire. Let it Rage!

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Opinion

The Next Tech Unicorn around the Blockchain Technology in Africa Could be Birthed by A Nigerian Student

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Campus BCAT 2019 is a blockchain and cryptocurrency awareness tour designed to expose students to the vast potentials and possibilities in the blockchain industry, it developed to address the challenges of transcending the barriers to successful growing ventures in the blockchain space.

Since the creation of the internet, though there have been ups and downs on the applications built on the internet protocol, outstanding innovations occasionally surface. Over the years, the capability of the internet has grown greatly. In its early days, complex multimedia could not be accessed or viewed on the internet, yet today, we can enjoy a 3 hour movies via streaming services such as Netflix.

Over the years, the capability of the internet has grown greatly. In its early days, complex multimedia could not be accessed or viewed on the internet, yet today, we can enjoy a 3 hour movies via streaming services such as Netflix.

The rise of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Machine Learning capabilities continues to present increasing business opportunities for entrepreneurs and life-changing prospects for consumers.

In the last decade, the blockchain technology was birth as the underlying technology behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. While the cryptocurrency’s major application was/is in the finance sector, new blockchain networks have emerged helping to expand the possibilities of the ingenious technology conceived and built by the esoteric Satoshi Nakamoto over a decade now.

While the cryptocurrency’s major application was/is in the finance sector, new blockchain networks have emerged helping to expand the possibilities of the ingenious technology conceived and built by the esoteric Satoshi Nakamoto over a decade now.
While the (bitcoin) cryptocurrency’s major application was/is in the finance sector, new blockchain networks have emerged helping to expand the possibilities of the ingenious technology conceived and built by the esoteric Satoshi Nakamoto over a decade now.

As we continually see the unprecedented rise in various technologies, learning and understanding how they work is key to leveraging them for building game-changing solutions that will revolutionize our current political, financial, economic and social structures.

With the growing interoperability around newer and traditional innovations, opportunities are springing forth that could potentially tilt the scale of economic dominance around the world.

Blockchain technology has been discovered to be just as revolutionary as the internet was, some share the opinion that the blockchain could be bigger than the internet itself considering its fascinating and game-changing lures. That is obviously a heated debated topic in various tech spheres.

That is obviously a heated debated topic in various tech spheres.

With the various challenges across Africa, the blockchain when leveraged undoubtedly will revolutionize existing infrastructure.

As Africa continues to be home to a powerful and innovative Startups, the stage is getting set for new entrants who are learning from the mistakes of others to build sustainable and high growth potential businesses.

As the Africa Free Trade Agreement has been signed, firms in the Africa territories are to enjoy unrestricted access to a wide market spanning across hundreds of millions of consumers. This gives founders and entrepreneurs added benefits to take their solutions/businesses continental.

This gives founders and entrepreneurs added benefits to take their solutions/businesses continental.

Nigeria is one of the largest markets in Africa, the population has an advantage since once they successfully capture the Nigerian market, other territories will only just be a great boost to their total market share.

It must be noted that however the increasing potential for entrepreneurs across Africa and the wealth of possibilities around current technological innovations with an emphasis on the blockchain technology, education is imperative in achieving widespread adoption and building innovative products.

It is on this premise that a blockchain and cryptocurrency awareness campaign has been developed to take the gospel of blockchain possibilities to the length and breadth of the Nigeria campuses. The awareness tour is expected to

The awareness tour is expected to expose students to possible futures in the blockchain industry, arouse their curiosity to the vast possibilities in building block blockchain-powered solutions, expose them to commonplace challenges that can be locally revolutionized using the technology etc.

The Great Nigerian Students are resourceful, resilient and capable of beyond-greatness moves, preparing them for the future by taking them through the to and fro of blockchain educational processes, mentorship and leadership training. This will help position them to take the world by storm and not get caught in the web of helplessness due to the horrific spate of unemployment presently hounding the nation.

This will help position them to take the world by storm and not get caught in the web of helplessness due to the horrific spate of unemployment presently hounding the nation.

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Opinion

FIRS Move to Commence Collection of Tax on Online Transactions to Boost Market for Crypto Payment Solutions

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS, the Nigeria federal tax administration body has announced it will start collecting tax on online transactions. The type of tax called Value Added Tax is expected to remain the same 5% on goods and services purchased online.

Nigeria gets majority of its revenues from oil proceeds however, in recent years; the tax collecting body has been seeing increasing tax collection rate as opposed to previous tax periods that was characterized by stupendous tax evasion.

As the Nigerian state continues to exploit ways to increase its tax collection, the move into the digital space may have come as a shock to some. The tax body desires to collect tax on digital transactions. Though it hasn’t disclosed if there will be any other form of exemption on its’ 5% VAT Collections.

As one of the most populous countries in the world with quite an unstable local currency which Nigerians are taking the initiate to better their lots by growing and storing wealth in cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies enables Nigerians to bypass slow, cumbersome and high fees traditional means of sending and receiving money all over the world.

The announcement of the online tax has brought some questions about the implications of the tax on the Nigerian people and businesses considering the E-commerce industry is still an infant industry when compared to the oil and gas industry with several people expressing total dislike for the tax. The ingenuity of the Nigerian people has been tested at several times and surprising they continue to produce outstanding results.

 

As the FIRS attempts to continue with the taxation on online goods and services, it is understandable that there are three options. One where the individuals forsake online payments and revert to cash, continues and pay the 5% VAT on purchases or find a way to reduce their total amount expended on purchases.

 

Trading in cryptocurrencies has also been a way to make more wealth. The daily trading volume of cryptocurrencies which stands at over One Billion Naira is a testament to this.

 

The Federal Inland Revenue Service has not disclosed if some goods and services will be exempted from this digital tax. Since the 5% VAT will be deducted upon purchases by agents of the tax bodies which are banks, there is an opportunity for cryptocurrency as a means to make purchases online without having to encounter additional charges.

Considering the fact that the tax could increase the cost of online goods, cryptocurrency payment solutions offer a convenient way to avoid paying extra cost. Several cryptocurrency firms offer crypto debit cards which allow owners to buy anything online with their bitcoin, ethereum or other cryptocurrencies without having to go through the local bank accounts.

 

As the knowledge of cryptocurrencies and blockchain grows in Nigeria with the Nigeria’s Federal Tax Body intention to push for the enforcement of  this online tax, consumers would seek for the next alternative that does not cause them to expend more than they ought to. That alternative is cryptocurrencies and this will undoubtedly boost cryptocurrency payment solutions.

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