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Frank Eleanya

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PwC, UNDP partner to promote technology initiatives in Africa

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on creating strategic initiatives to facilitate skills transfer, knowledge, and competencies. The signing ceremony took place at PwC’s The Experience Centre in Lagos which would host the programmes. Mohammed Yahya, Resident Representative, UNDP Nigeria said the collaboration was to ensure innovative solutions to some of the complex development issues facing the continent, using new technology and data. Yahya said digital solutions were important to assist in spotting entrepreneurs and young Nigerians who will become part of the larger developmental agenda. “So signing this agreement today is a testament to the commitment between the two organisations,” Yahya said. He also described the Experience Centre as a frontier of new opportunities. Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Head of UNDP Africa said the initiative is geared towards achieving the shared objectives of both institutions and will develop the culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and employment creation. Read also: Experts applaud PIA but want national plan on renewable energy “This strategic collaboration with the UNDP is in line with our refreshed global strategy, the New Equation,” Uyi Akpata, Regional and Country Senior Partner at PwC said. “We, in PwC Africa, have six focus areas based on this refreshed strategy. I’m excited to note these focus areas speak directly to achieving the SDGs. Most importantly, one of the focus areas is partnering to achieve international development goals. The UNDP is arguably the best partner in this regard. So signing this MoU is a giant step that all adds up to the New Equation.” Femi Osunubi, Partner Technology Leader, West Africa market, PwC, described the centre as a purpose-built space, equipped with interactive digital spaces and a demo lab. The centre hosts a cross-functional team of experts who work collaboratively, bringing together the best of business, technology and experience-driven consulting. “We co-create with clients, solving relevant problems and building remarkable products. Our mission is to help organisations answer questions which are most important to them. We have a team of creative and analytical thinkers that draw insights from research and interactive workshops sessions, andsessions and execute non-traditional consulting experiences for our clients. We are excited to be collaborating with UNDP to solve Africa’s important problems and drive the development of the continent through creative thinking and technology enabled approaches,” Osunubi said. PwC’s Experience Centre was launched in 2020 to accelerate the ability to provide digital-centric services to clients, through a combination of business understanding, human insight, and the power of emerging technology.

Bitcoin set for $80k peak, forecasts report

The price of bitcoin (BTC) surged to $64,206.51 on Tuesday, 19 October just 1 percent shy of its April 14 all-time of $64,899. However, a Bitcoin Predictions Report by Finder.com predicts the price could go as high as $80,000 before dropping to $71,415. The Bitcoin Prediction Report is a result of Finder.com’s panel of 50 fintech specialists. The experts were asked in late September to early October for their thoughts on how bitcoin will perform over the next decade. The majority of them see BTC hitting $80,021, with over a fifth (23 percent) predicting the price will reach $100,000 or higher. The number is roughly higher than the panel’s end of year prediction back in July and 37 percent higher than the panel had predicted back in December 2020. The panel’s optimism is not surprising given the recent rise in the price of bitcoin. As of the time of writing this article the price was at $64.028 on the Coinmarketcap index. The rise is attributed to the debut of the ProShares bitcoin-linked exchange-traded fund (ETF) on the New York Stock Exchange. A bitcoin ETF has long been expected by both the crypto community and investors, many of whom have argued for years that approval by regulators would open digital currencies to more mainstream investors. The ProShares fund is based on futures contracts and was filed under the mutual fund rules that Gary Gensler, the Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman has said provide significant investors protections. The ProShares fund is the first bitcoin ETF to trade in the US on a regulated exchange. The ETF, which tracks CME bitcoin futures, rose more than 4 percent on Tuesday. Read also: Bitcoin price hits 5 months high on speculation Some panelists like Alex Nagorskii from DigitalX Ltd, who predicts BTC will end the year anywhere from $60,000-$99,000, say the approval of a BTC ETF will likely propel prices upward. “We are expecting an SEC-approved Bitcoin ETF to be brought to market prior to the end of 2021. As such we expect a huge uplift in both the bitcoin price and its dominance in terms of percentage of total market capitalization,” he says. Nagorskii is part of the 60 percent of panelists who say they are in favor of a BTC ETF, while 22 percent are against it and 18 percent are unsure. Investors like Mark Cuban say they are not planning to invest in a bitcoin ETF or a bitcoin futures ETF. Iwa Salami, associate professor at the University of East London noted that the approval of an ETF would not only help current crypto investors diversify their portfolios, but would encourage more retail investors to invest in the digital asset. “Bitcoin ETFs would be a way to give more retail investors the opportunity to invest in this asset class without necessarily understanding the technology or going through the rigors of setting up a cryptocurrency exchange account,” “It would also help those who lack confidence in holding bitcoin directly, due to risks such as the potential of permanently losing them through the loss of the password of the wallet holding bitcoin and other digital assets,” she said. Gavin Smith, general partner Panxora Crypto Hedge Fund is part of the 22 percent against a BTC ETF, saying there won’t actually be a need for one in the future. “An ETF is trying to fill the gap because of inadequate custody arrangements available for bitcoin holdings that made it unfit for certain financial institutions. As custody capabilities improve, the added layer of costs introduced by ETFs becomes less and less necessary.” Before the bitcoin ETF debut, there has also positive news that drove prices upwards like El Salvador’s adoption as legal tender and Twitter enabling bitcoin tipping for its creator community. The feature allows Twitter influencers to earn money from anywhere in the world without any geographical restrictions. Twitter partnered with Strike, a platform on Bitcoin Lightning Network, which can execute instant international payments at virtually no cost. “I believe we are in the opening stages of rapid bitcoin adoption that will spread past El Salvador and Twitter and into more traditional areas. As this occurs, the general public will be increasingly exposed to bitcoin and this shift from obscurity into the mainstream will catapult bitcoin prices higher for the next few years,” said Rob Chang, CEO, and director, Gryphon Digital Mining. Chang says BTC will peak at $111,000 this year. The panelists also predicted higher prices for BTC in the longer term. For example, they predict that by the end of 2025 and 2030 prices will rise to an average of $249,578 and $5,237,082.

Online dating users lose $1.4 million to crypto romance scams

Online dating users spread across the United States and Europe have lost $1.4 million to Cryptocurrency romance scams. Sophos, global cybersecurity said in October it uncovered a bitcoin wallet controlled by the attackers that contained nearly $1.4 million in cryptocurrency, allegedly collected from victims. Cryptocurrency romance scam is also known as CryptoRom scam and it relies heavily on social engineering at almost every stage. “First, the attackers post convincing fake profiles on legitimate dating sites. Once they’ve made contact with a target, the attackers suggest continuing the conversation on a messaging platform. They then try to persuade the target to install and invest in a fake cryptocurrency trading app. At first, the returns look very good but if the victim asks for their money back or tries to access the funds, they are refused and the money is lost. Our research shows that the attackers are making millions of dollars with this scam,” said Jagadeesh Chandraiah, a senior threat researcher at Sophos. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had in September issued a public notice warning of a rising trend in which scammers are defrauding victims via online romance scams, persuading individuals to send money to allegedly invest or trade cryptocurrency. From January 1, 2021 to July, 2021, the FBI Internet Crime Center (IC3) said it received over 1,800 complaints, related to online romance scams, resulting in losses of approximately $133.4 million. Read also: Galaxy Backbone partners with SHELT Global on cyber security Sophos said the latest scam targeted iPhone users through popular dating apps, such as Bumble and Tinder. Also, the attackers have expanded from targeting people in Asia to include people in the US and Europe. Sophos research noted that beyond stealing victims’ money, the attackers can now gain access to victims’ iPhones by leveraging the Enterprise Signature, a system for software developers that helps organisations pre-test new iOS applications with selected iPhone users before they submit them to the official Apple App Store for review and approval. The functionality of the Enterprise Signature system can enable attackers to target larger groups of iPhone users with their fake crypto-trading apps and gain remote management control over their devices. This means they can also gain access to personal data, add and remove accounts, and install and manage apps for other malicious purposes. “Until recently, the criminal operators mainly distributed the fake crypto apps through fake websites that resemble a trusted bank or the Apple App Store,” said Chandraiah. “The addition of the iOS enterprise developer system introduces further risk for victims because they could be handing the attackers the rights to their device and the ability to steal their personal data. To avoid falling victim to these types of scams, iPhone users should only install apps from Apple’s App Store. The golden rule is that if something seems risky or too good to be true – such as someone you barely know telling you about some ‘great’ online investment scheme that will deliver a big profit – then sadly, it probably is.” Sophos recommends that users install a security solution on their mobile devices, such as Intercept X for Mobile, to protect iOS and Android devices from cyber threats. It is also worth securing all home and personal computers with additional protection such as Sophos Home.

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