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I find it interesting that in one half of this transaction is considered 'cheating' , while the other half considers it gigs/freelancing/job creation opportunities 1/

First online job i ever got was this type of job.
2nd year at Uni armed with laptop and free internet.
I was an early adopter, now the market is crowded

Good money! Upto $500 a month 2/
I was smart enough to figure out what this was.
Developed / developing world dichotomy

So strategy was, only pick jobs where the assignments are topics I am interested in

So i learn while earning

Also a great opportunity to work on my writing and research skills /3
I worked for essaywriter.net and a bit for uvocorp

Apparently these were assignment aggregation sites created by russians and eastern europeans. Connecting demand for services and supply in key markets such as Kenya 🇰🇪 (internet, educated workforce etc) /4
Not sure 🤔 if people know how hot this segment grew over the years

Guys made millions!
Others sub contracted , hiring teams to work while they sourced the jobs
Whole apartments were refurbished and turned into sweat shops for academic writing
Biz was good 🔥/5
Most interesting was the demand for accounts

Increasing demand meant it was harder to open accounts and get approved

Cut off requirements were raised such as Tests, language, citation

So verified accounts became rare and highly prized

Everyone wanted an account /6
So some smart entrepreneurial Kenyans got into the business of creating accounts, getting them approved, building up a history of great reviews and then

Flip the accounts to those who cldnt get accounts

Accounts sold for as much as $5000

1 account = 500,000kes /7
here is an example of a client asking for revision from teacher's instructions /8
Account selling was a boom period!
Smart folks made $$$ from flipping accounts
More sweat shops
refurbished apartments
jobs /9
The Russian/Eastern european companies made money by taking a cut from what Western clients paid and what writers got paid
sometime 20% sometimes 50%

Payment was per page

High tier accounts with more experience and work history got paid more per page /10
Payment processing was via moneybookers (now skrill), bank, Paypal, payoneer.

Friction of payment was high! Bank took 7 days. ID verification on online wallets was a pain

It ws my first encounter with online payment friction for us lowly inhabitants of the developing world /11
This is where online informal money changers sprung up to fill the void of converting online money to local currencies

These money changers made money off the spread. They still do. But times have changed /12
So when cryptocurrency popped up on my radar, it made sense as a use case for cross border payments for people like us.

I still think it is, and this case by the UK and Kenyan writers carries key lessons (i'll get back to this later) /13
Informal money changers bridged a gap b/c there were no gateway services connecting online wallets and mobile money or bank.

The internet had lots of wallets. More than 20+. There was no way to connect virtual online wallets to Kenya's mobile money and bank and cards /14
So money changers acted like treasury desks. They would buy up your virtual money and pay out to you in Mpesa. Rates varied per money changer. It was essential a forex trade

This also turned into a booming business!

Google "Kenyan paypal skrill online money to Mpesa" /15
This lasted a while. Also made people millions!

But then the Fintech boom in Kenya happened, and ate up their lunch.

Paypal to Mpesa
Skrill to Mpesa
Paypal to Equity Bank

A similar service that was predictable and smooth. Money changers have been on a decline since '16 /16
Since then, more gig platforms have come up - like Upwork. Integration of payments is better (eg PayPal to Mpesa, Upwork to Mpesa, but far from ideal

The trouble w/ such services is foundational. this case illustrates what is wrong with current online payment infrastructure/17
Whether this case is ethical or not is debatable. Even ethics is stretch.

Who decides what counts as work worth doing? Why is Paypal getting in the way of decent paying jobs and value exchange?

What if this was a cash transaction? /18
We need online payment services that are free from intermediaries who play god, who set up high barriers of access, who freeze our accounts b/c our Kenyan ID is not good enough, who dont get to decide what is right or wrong.

PayPal an American company
Skrill is a UK company /19
Its why people are suggesting cryptocurrency as an alternative means of value exchange btwn UK students and Kenyan writers.

Because cryptocurrency is NOT a company where someone decides what is wrong or right OR says when you can or cannnot receive payments

Its like cash /20
It is already happening.
Early adopters in Kenya earning in virtual workspaces or entertainment in virtual spaces have been using bitcoin for a while now.

For getting paid
For buying virtual goods for gaming
For online sportsbetting
For trading /21
The smart informal money changers from the old are back! New ones have emerged to fill the void of cryptocurrency to local currency forex exchange.
Demand is on the rise, and there are no services that allow quick conversion from cryptocurrency to KES or vice versa /22
Why Kenya’s Cryptocurrency Agents of 2017 remind me of airtime p2p networks of 2006

Could Kenya’s cryptocurrency peer to peer networks become agents or exchange points in a future where digital currencies and crypto assets are commonplace ? /23

An interview I did with @kyletorpey in 2016

Bitcoin Filling Payment System Gaps in Kenya

Bitcoin’s Growing Popularity Among Payments Brokers in Kenya /24
So, takeaways

1. Cryptocurrency is an alternative payment channel for online workers in Kenya and Kenyans exploring the internet for opportunities.

This trend will only go up, as cryptocurrency as a form of payment becomes a web standard /26
2. Peer to peer transactions by online money changers bridging forex demands for inflows and outflows will increase.

Data from localbitcoins.com is a good indicator. Current average is 36 million KES per week. Highest peak was 100 million per week. /27
As a side, trend is Emerging & Frontier markets have more volumes on peer to peer marketplaces, where people exchange bitcoin for local currency /28
3. Crytpocurrency gateway service as a Fintech/online payment is a gap.
Bitpesa, Kipochi were right on trend, but too early.

Old gateways may pivot
New gateways might emerge
Telcos may integrate
Banks may integrate
Browsers may integrate

Watch this space! /29
How The Chinese, Africa’s Most Popular Browser , And A Bitcoin Mining Company Are About To Change African Payments kioneki.com/2018/07/16/how… /30
Why Facebook’s New Cryptocurrency Is a threat to Mpesa and Safaricom kioneki.com/2019/03/07/why… /31
4. High unemployment levels/lack of jobs is driving graduates/educated youth online for all and any exhaustible opportunities.

'Gig economy' is the old offline informal economy on virtual space.

Skills xchange

Is all on the table. Dont fight it /32
How Digital Platforms are Shaping Africa’s Informal Economy

Apps that can drive demand and scale reach affordably are transforming African markets, opening up new opportunities for young Africans. kioneki.com/2018/12/13/why… /33
5. I think smart countries in Africa with burgeoning youth unemployment should do everything possible to bridge youth to online opportunities. Will help ease pressure

That includes access, education & training, IDs, payment processing, contracting, compliance etc /34
I will be running a series of workshops on blockchain, DLT and cryptocurencies in the context of East Africa second half of this year, Q3

Stuff like this and more

DM if interested!

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