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Twitter hack unlikely to ruffle African crypto communities

Amid the fallout from the recent social engineering attack on Twitter during which perpetrators demanded Bitcoin from unsuspected victims, some industry insiders believe there will be little impact on cryptocurrency users in Africa.

The reportedly coordinated social engineering attack on the world's third largest social media site targeted high profile Twitter accounts like Elon Musk, Joe Biden, Kanye West and former President Barack Obama with Bitcoin doubling giveaway scam tweets.

P2P exchange, Bitzlato, described the attack as outrageous, harmful to individuals, companies and the crypto industry as a whole because the trust level in the nascent sector remains low. However it believes that Africa will cope with the incident.

“Of course, we hope that Africa, like other markets, will react sensibly to this situation and the level of tolerance towards cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, in particular, will not fall. It is an amazing market with unimaginable growth potential and it would be a terrible nuisance to stifle its growth. Nevertheless, we are confident that the already-formed African crypto communities, especially such as the Nigerian, Kenyan, South African and many others, will calmly tolerate this incident and, by and large, we think that this will not greatly affect the overall market situation.”

Suyash Sumaroo, who co-founded Horizon Africa Blockchain and Codevigor in Mauritius, adds: “I personally believe that it will not affect the reputation of Bitcoin and altcoins. What this has shown instead is how vulnerable our current centralised systems are. This hack could have had much more serious consequences. What this also shows is how cautious we need to be when we are talking about our money and get-rich-quick schemes are what we need to stray away from.”

Munachi Ogueke, CBO at Yellow Card Financial, believes the attack will force governments and agencies to look more closely at Bitcoin.

“How the decisions swing wouldn't matter, either more regulation and restrictions or not. They will have to come to the realisation that this is a new asset class that is here to stay,” said Ogueke.

A quick browse through the crypto ecosystem highlights that the Twitter hack is somewhat small to significantly move the current $170-bn market. This is probably because Bitcoin giveaway scams on the microblogging site are not new.

The crypto market didn’t signal any reason to move in either direction as volatility remained low over the period and there were no major price moves as a result of the hack. Though it was argued that the incident could be good or bad for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin - some called it Bitcoin's best marketing play and others think the hacker(s) may have used it for more vicious motives - nothing really changed over the course of the week in terms of buying and selling.

The attack did expose the existence of Bitcoin giveaway scams to millions more, though reports say not all those who sent Bitcoin to the given wallet did so for the trap but to promote an idea. The hack also draws attention to the security of centralised platforms and user’s need for true ownership of their data and identity.

Sumaroo adds: “Decentralised systems like Bitcoin aim to create a new way of doing and designing applications whereby it is impossible to hack a central entity and have access to millions of accounts. In the African context, education is probably the primary concern when talking about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and this event can serve as a very good lesson not to fall for such schemes and instead perform due diligence.”

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