Peer-to-Peer Bitcoin Marketplace Also Upgrades its Bitcoin-Funded Rwandan Nursery School
Paxful, the global leader in peer-to-peer finance, today announced new developments in its #BuiltwithBitcoin charitable initiative.
The company is awarding more than $15,000 in scholarships to help female Afghan refugees pursue their careers in the U.S. and providing additional classroom resources for the Rwandan nursery school that was constructed as the first #BuiltwithBitcoin project.
The scholarship recipients are Susan Naseri, who is interested in non-profit work and law; Dunia Azizi, who will pursue a mathematics degree; and Farzana Nawabi, who is working towards a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Non-profit organization Zam Zam, the implementation partner for the program, chose the recipients based on personal essays recounting hardships in areas such as obtaining an education, migrating to the U.S., and integrating into American society while raising families and pursuing their careers.
“As a recipient of the Zam Zam Water scholarship, I’d like to express endless gratitude and appreciation to Paxful and everyone involved in the donation process,” said Susan Naseri. “Receiving this scholarship is not only an immense honor and privilege; it also eases my financial stress significantly. I’m beyond humbled and thankful for this scholarship; thank you eternally for helping me expand my education and fulfill my dreams.”
For the inaugural scholarship, winners were awarded $5,000 in two installments — $2,500 per semester. Zam Zam Water will continue the scholarship program as an annual program.
“We are inspired by these courageous women and their indefatigable drive to improve the lives of themselves and those around them,” said Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful. “#BuiltwithBitcoin was started as a way for us to assist communities around the world who have been historically underserved, and we look forward to expanding the initiative with additional partners.”
Paxful launched the #BuiltwithBitcoin program in 2017 to encourage the cryptocurrency community’s involvement in humanitarian projects. With Zam Zam’s assistance, Paxful kicked off the initiative by donating $50,000 in bitcoin for the construction of a Rwandan nursery school in the country’s Bugesera District. The company is now increasing its investment in the school by upgrading the facilities, providing teachers with educational materials and salaries, and giving students free launches, uniforms and new desks. It is also building a water filtration system to allow water from local wells to be used for farming.
“Access to water and education are core principles at Zam Zam Water. Working with Paxful has allowed us to use bitcoin and cryptocurrency to give the opportunity of a better quality of life to those in underdeveloped countries,” said Yusuf A. Nessary, founder and president of Zam Zam. “The potential that Zam Zam, Paxful, and cryptocurrency have in implementing projects for good is inconceivable, and I am extremely optimistic at what the future holds.”
In another development, Paxful and Zam Zam recently welcomed AnthemGold to the #BuiltwithBitcoin initiative. The cryptocurrency provider donated enough bitcoin to build a 35,000-liter water tank in Rwanda and fund the cultivation of over 80 sustainable community gardens and 30 goats for two villages.
“I am grateful to participate in a project that builds sustainable and essential projects for communities in need,” said Anthem Hayek Blanchard, CEO of AnthemGold. “We hope to use Zam Zam’s knowledge to provide people with the building blocks needed to foster and grow.”
Today’s news follows Paxful’s May announcement that it has expanded its investment in Africa by appointing a new Regional Director of Africa and building a blockchain technology incubation hub in Lagos, Nigeria. The hub will launch in fall 2018 and provide a co-working space and services including mentorship, corporate and individual blockchain training, and advisement for ICOs. Paxful will also sponsor several blockchain and crypto-focused events in Nigeria, and plans to speak at others in Ghana, Cameroon and Kenya.
Paxful is a bitcoin marketplace and digital wallet that brings the sharing economy and frictionless cryptocurrency commerce within easy reach of everyone, especially the underbanked. It enables buyers to purchase bitcoin directly from sellers via more than 300 different payment methods, including gift cards, cash deposits, online wallets or debit/credit cards. Paxful secures users against fraud by employing two-factor authentication and the highest-level encryption and holding funds in escrow until the seller has confirmed the payment.
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
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