Xiaojun Deng / flickr.com

 A digital currency wallet, Bitsoko funded by Bill & Melinda Gates foundation announced plans to sponsor a series of educational events in Nairobi, Kenya, on the blockchain for start-ups.

 

The events will focus on the blockchain technology to provide local start-ups with knowledge on opportunities and innovations in the industry. Speakers will be invited from the international and local bitcoin community. Each attendee will receive a small amount of bitcoin and educational literature on bitcoin and the blockchain. The events are scheduled to run on monthly basis for a half a year.

Last month, Bitsoko won a Grand Challenges Explorations research grant worth $100,000 with an opportunity to receive an add-grant of $1,000,000 if the project is successful. The GCE scheme funded by Bill & Melinda Gates foundation helps projects that offer solutions to global health and development challenges. Bitsoko's project is called “Enable Universal Acceptance of Mobile Money Payments” and will be run by Daniel Bloch, a co-founder at Bitsoko. With GCE funding, Bitsoko plans to expand its services to three more African countries: Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone.

Bitsoko is a Nairobi-based Android digital currency wallet that seeks to integrate the blockchain technology to the mobile payment market in Africa. The wallet enables sending money from a smartphone for a 0.1% transaction fee. The start-up sees its mission in bridging fiat in the developed world with digital money in the developing one and to facilitate money transfers to Kenya. The service is currently in beta version.

“The financial structure in Kenya and throughout Africa has changed rapidly since the birth of mobile money by MPesa. We believe that this will only continue to grow and tools such as Bitsoko that leverage Blockchain technology to lower transaction costs will be at the forefront of this boom,” said Allan Juma, another Bitsoko co-founder. 

Bitsoko are planning to launch later this year and are currently monitoring the market response in Kenya and Ghana. Surprisingly, nearly 30% of Bitsoko users are from Russia, as Gibson Juma, a co-founder told an online media

“We think we have been getting users from Russia because of the banning and blocking of some bitcoin related websites in the country.”

The start-up is currently trying to create more services within the wallet to increase the use of bitcoin in Kenya:

“We have signed up local businesses including restaurants, cyber cafes, and mama mbogas (roadside vegetable vendors). If you go to a restaurant and pay using bitcoin, the owner of the business will send us the bitcoin and receive mobile money in exchange. We are trying to build the infrastructure around bitcoin, which is lacking here.”

Africa is a quickly growing market in the bitcoin space. CoinFox wrote earlier about BitHub, a new space with strong focus on digital currencies related education and development, in Cape Town. BitX recently announced bitcoin payments for mobile top-ups in Nigeria and South Africa.

 

Aliona Chapel

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# Fred Sunday, 31 January 2016
Great idea- will follow its progress with interest! Best wishes for success!
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