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Akoin For Africa? Hope, Cynicism Collide As Singer's Coin Catches Fire

It’s an undertaking that can’t be exaggerated: Akon – the American-Senegalese R&B singer, songwriter and producer – is creating a new cryptocurrency called “Akoin.”

Yes, you heard that right.

As Akon tells it, the forthcoming coin will serve as the currency for a yet-to-be-developed city in the country of Senegal. The “Akon Crypto City” will occupy a reported 2,000 acres of land gifted to the singer by the president of Senegal and is envisioned to be a “100% crypto-based city with Akoin at the center of transaction life.”

And that’s not all.

Akoin, while also being a transactional currency, is a key component to the broader “Akoin Ecosystem” founded to empower youth all over the African continent through a “suite of blockchain-powered apps” that allow young entrepreneurs to “buy, hold and spend cryptocurrency right from their smartphone”, as stated on the coin’s official webpage.

The cryptocurrency’s unveiling and, more importantly, its use for both the development of a “crypto-based city” and as the underpinning of a cause to empower African youth, has arguably launched the celebrity of Akon to whole new level.

Triple threat

It bears mentioning that part of the enthusiasm and support on social media for Akon has  been a long time coming.

Back in 2014, the Grammy-nominated singer started a for-profit company dubbed “Akon Lighting Africa” with the help of his two friends, Thione Niang and Samba Bathily.

The idea was to broaden electrical access to areas of Africa. Funded by a $1 billion credit line, Akon Lighting Africa has gone on to install 100,000 solar street lamps in 480 rural communities across 15 different African countries.

Praise for Akon – not only as a singer but as an entrepreneur and philanthropist impacting the Senegalese people and the African continent more generally – is one of the reasons why his name continues to be in the social media spotlight.

And for what it’s worth, the multi-platinum album-selling arist himself isn’t one to shy away from attention.

Talking at Cannes Lions in a panel moderated by People deputy editor JD Heyman, Akon stated he was preparing to confront the President of the United States, Donald Trump, during the 2020 presidential elections.

“I’m going to go after Trump… I’m going to come in with a team so crazy, man, it’s all going down. I’m not holding my tongue,” he said.

For all the talk of Akon’s new plans to launch a cryptocurrency, build a crypto city and take on the president of the U.S., it’s no wonder people are likening him to Marvel superhero character Black Panther, and his planned city with Wakanda, the fictional utopia.

You must be joking

The social media response to Akon’s plans weren’t all positive or supportive, however.

One user on Reddit thought of the announcement was one big joke, asking “Is this the Onion?” in reference to the American satirical newspaper.

Still others on Twitter made jabs at the celebrity’s image, taking clips from past music videos by Akon and referencing the names of hip-hop artists with whom he has collaborated.

But two can play at that game.

Because of the chatter – both hopeful and cynical – there is undoubtedly a great degree of interest around the impact that Akoin could have on Senegal, depending on how the cryptocurrency plans shake out – first and foremost being its official launch. 

Because of the chatter – both hopeful and cynical – there is undoubtedly a great degree of interest around the impact that Akoin could have on Senegal and the targeted youth in Africa once officially launched.

Image Credit: Miguel Campos / Shutterstock.com

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New Jersey Issues Cease-and-Desist to ICO Endorsed by Steven Seagal

The U.S. state of New Jersey has issued a cease-and-desist order to an initial coin offering (ICO) endorsed by film actor Steven Seagal.

In an order entered on March 7, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities alleged that Bitcoiin is selling unregistered securities to New Jersey residents. The document highlights the lack of concrete information about those behind the project, stating that “Bitcoiin’s developers, officers, managers, employees, controllers, and/or directors are anonymous,” though it highlights the endorsement by Seagal.

“Bitcoiin has never been registered to sell securities in the State of New Jersey,” officials wrote.

The project made headlines last month after Seagal, best known for his action film roles in the 1990s, publicly endorsed the cryptocurrency offering through his official Twitter account – a notable development given the string of endorsements seen last year and the subsequent warning by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding celebrity involvement in token sales.

The Bitcoiin ICO had sparked accusations that it was a pyramid scheme seeking to mislead investors through the close name association with bitcoin – allegations that Bitcoiin later rebuked in a public statement.

Notably, New Jersey’s cease-and-desist order highlight’s Seagal’s role as a brand ambassador, noting a disclaimer on its website that states the actor holds no ownership stake in the project. That said, officials drew issue with the lack of information regarding the compensation he may have received.

“The Bitcoiin Websites do not disclose what expertise, if any, Steven Seagal has to ensure that the Bitcoiin investments are appropriate and in compliance with federal and state securities laws,” the order explains. “Additionally, there are no disclosures as to the nature, scope, and amount of compensation paid by Bitcoiin in exchange for Steven Seagal’s promotion of the Bitcoiin investments.”

A day before New Jersey’s cease-and-desist order was published, Seagal posted a tweet claiming that Bitcoiin was on the cusp of being “listed on some of the biggest exchanges globally,” with his message bearing an “#Ad” hashtag. He added that additional details are “coming very shortly.”

Officials framed Wednesday’s cease-and-desist action as an effort to protect investors in the state from potential fraud.

“The Bureau’s actions today are a reminder to investors that while celebrity endorsements can add to the excitement and hype of cryptocurrency-related investments, they do not guarantee that an investment is sound or even legal,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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Actor Jamie Foxx Promotes Cryptocurrency Exchange ICO

Yet another celebrity has entered the cryptocurrency promotion fray, with Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx promoting an upcoming initial coin offering (ICO).

In a post on Twitter, Foxx promoted the token sale for Cobinhood, which is being advertised as a zero-fee cryptocurrency exchange. That sale is currently underway, according to its website, netting about 17,840 ethers (worth roughly $5.1 million at press time) to date.

The promotion suggests that the spate of celebrity endorsements for cryptocurrency-related projects isn’t slowing down anytime soon. As previously reported, celebrities such as boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., socialite Paris Hilton and rap artist The Game have promoted upcoming or now-completed token sales.

To date, more than $1.8 billion has been raised through the funding model, according to data from CoinDesk’s ICO Tracker.

Image Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].