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Government warns about Cryptocurrencies threat

According to investigation agencies here, with the demand and price of cryptocurrencies on the rise, cybercriminals have found innovative ways to dupe those looking to invest.

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The Indian governemnt has compared the cryptocurrency to ponzi schemes. Wikimedia Commons
The Indian governemnt has compared the cryptocurrency to ponzi schemes. Wikimedia Commons
Noting that virtual currencies like Bitcoin have no “intrinsic value”, the Indian government on Friday sounded the alarm on the phenomenon of cryptocurrencies, comparing them with the notorious Ponzi schemes floated to dupe gullible investors.
A Finance Ministry statement said that as virtual currencies (VCs) were not backed by assets, their prices are entirely a “matter of mere speculation”.
“Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes.”
Named after an Italian immigrant to the US, Ponzi schemes operate by enticing a gullible group with the promise of very high returns in a short time but is based on paying off the early investors from the cash from newer ones. The whole structure collapses when the cash outflow exceeds the inflow.
“VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets, ” the statement said.
“The price of bitcoin and other VCs, therefore, is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes,” it added.
cryptocurrency dealer Pluto Exchange on Thursday announced the launch of mobile application for transacting in VC. Wikimedia Commons
cryptocurrency dealer Pluto Exchange on Thursday announced the launch of mobile application for transacting in VC. Wikimedia Commons
Noting that VCs are stored in digital format, the ministry said this makes them vulnerable to mishaps like hacking, loss of password and malware attack “which may also result in permanent loss of money”.
“As transactions of VCs are encrypted they are also likely being used to carry out illegal/subversive activities, such as terror funding, smuggling, drug trafficking and other money-laundering acts,” it said.
It clarified that VCs are not legal tender and do not have any regulatory permission or protection in India.
“VCs are neither currencies nor coins. The Government or Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has not authorised any VCs as a medium of exchange. Further, the government or any other regulator in India has not given license to any agency for working as an exchange or any other kind of intermediary for any VC,” the statement said.
The government also recalled that the Reserve Bank of India had cautioned potential investors about the risks in investing in cryptocurrencies like bitcoins on three earlier occasions — in December 2013, February 2017 and December 2017.
According to investigation agencies here, with the demand and price of cryptocurrencies on the rise, cybercriminals have found innovative ways to dupe those looking to invest.
Bitcoins in India, have been trading at more than Rs 10 lakh each, while people are investing amounts ranging from Rs 3,000 to several lakhs of rupees.
Due to the storage of VC's in digital format, it becomes easier for hackers to launch cyber attacks. Wikimedia Commons
Due to the storage of VC’s in digital format, it becomes easier for hackers to launch cyber attacks. Wikimedia Commons
Bitcoin values in New York, for instance, have soared nearly 1,600 per cent over the past year and currently range upwards of $15,000.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency dealer Pluto Exchange on Thursday announced the launch of India’s first mobile application for transacting in virtual currencies.
At a press conference here, Pluto Exchange founder and Chief Executive Bharat Verma said his company is all set to launch the country’s first app-based wallet that enables Bitcoin transactions using a mobile number.
“All other apps already in the market do transactions using bitcoin addresses, which are long and prone to error while copying. Pluto Exchange will change this scenario by enabling transactions using mobile numbers only, which are just 10 digits,” Verma said.
He also said the app would permit a range of transactions, including payments, remittances, business-to-business commerce, supply chain finance, asset management and trading.

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President Uhuru Insists No Extra Money, Calls for End to County Funds Standoff

President Kenyatta says Members of Parliament should act quickly to ensure that counties get their share of the available funds

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File image of President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi. PHOTO| PSCU

By Geoffrey Isaya

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday called on the National Assembly and the Senate to end the stalemate over the Division of Revenue Bill 2019 to allow the release of funds to counties.

He said Members of Parliament should act quickly to ensure that counties get their share of the available funds because any further delay will deny Kenyans the services they need.

The President, however, reminded MPs that the Government does not have unlimited resources and should bear in mind that what the National Government has been allocating to counties is much higher than the threshold set by the Constitution.

“The Constitution says we give a minimum of 15 per cent to counties. Within one year I took it to over 30 per cent,” said the President as he called on modesty and honesty in demands for more allocations for counties.

“Why can you not pass the Bill so that people can get services. Reach an agreement so that we can release funds to counties,” said the President.

The President said the country does not have unlimited resources and leaders should not act as if money flows freely and that Kenya’s “resources are unlimited.”

The Head of State said leaders also need to change their attitudes and understanding of devolution because the system of governance does not stand for competition between different levels of government.

“It is two systems of Government complementing each other to deliver services for the people,” said the President.

President Kenyatta
President Kenyatta at the same time called on elected leaders to go slow on politics and concentrate on service delivery.

He said devolution as a system of government is working for Kenyans and what is needed is for leaders to change their approach to leadership.

“I want to acknowledge my belief that devolution is working. What we need now is to focus on the agenda of delivering for the people who put us in leadership,” said the President.

The Head of State spoke after he officially opened the Ugatuzi Plaza that houses the Nakuru County Assembly Chamber.

He said elected leaders owe a debt to the electorate and the only way to repay them is to deliver services to them.

The President said he was impressed by the refurbishment and expansion of the Ugatuzi Plaza while also commending Nakuru MCAs for putting the interests of the people before theirs after revelations that the grassroots leaders had resolved not to use county funds on foreign travel.

President Kenyatta at the same time called on elected leaders to go slow on politics and concentrate on service delivery.

He said peace and unity are very important for the progress of the country because investors will put their money where there is safety.

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“Help me to bring Kenyans together. In me you have a partner in development,” said the President who addressed MCAs during a session inside the County Assembly chamber.

The session was also addressed by Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui, Senator Susan Kihika and ex-Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama among other leaders.