Akon’s Crypto Hits $5M Volume at Kenyan Pilot Facility, as Ex-Associate Criticizes Akon City as ‘Ponzi Scheme’


Akoin, the cryptocurrency founded by music superstar and philanthropist Akon, has reached $5 million in total transaction volume (TVL) since it began as a pilot for payments at a high-tech smart city in Kenya last year.

The news comes as Devyne Stephens, a former business partner of Akon’s, criticized both the token and the singer’s planned futuristic city in Senegal as a “ponzi scheme”, according to documents filed in a U.S. court on March 7.

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A tool for financial inclusion

Since February 2021, Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC), a $2 billion metropolis centered around a 5,000-bed medical and technology complex, has used the digital asset as a means of payment.

Akon leveraged the medical facility to try out Akoin (AKN), the cryptocurrency at the heart of Akon City, the eponymous futuristic city currently being built in his native Senegal, at a cost of $6 billion.

Over the past year, AKN has hit more than $5 million in transaction volume, according to Akoin co-founder John Karas. Around 35,000 users from western Kenya, a region of 17 million people, have been on-boarded, BitcoinKE, a local online media outlet, reported.

“Our biggest mission is that akoin ends in the hands of users, not people that are speculating on exchanges,” said Karas. “We really want this to be a tool that empowers financial inclusion.”

Karas revealed that the coronavirus pandemic slowed down adoption. But the period also provided developers a chance to fine tune the akoin “private wallet experience for Mwale hospital, tackling issues such as transfers between merchants, payroll in Akoin and other transfers.”

The “wallet can be used on very simple phones to promote adoption,” he stated.

BeInCrypto spoke to David Gitonga, founder and CEO of BitcoinKE, who visited the Mwale Medical and Technology City. He confirmed that akoin was being used at the facility to pay for various services, including treatment. Gitonga said:

“Akoin is being used to pay for services at the hospital and this is expected to be extended to other services within the city. In addition, akoin is expected to be used to pay for services in the region (western Kenya), which is popular for sugarcane farming, one of the expected use cases for the digital currency.”

Akon City – $6 billion city of the future criticized

Built on the Stellar blockchain, akoin was launched in November 2020 and started trading against bitcoin (BTC) and USDT on the Bittrex Global crypto exchange on the 11th of the same month.

Akon plans to build a Wakanda look-alike city in his home country of Senegal in West Africa. The city, which will include homes, schools, hotels, a hospital, waste facility, a solar electric power plant and other amenities in its first phase, will run entirely on the cryptocurrency.

An impression of Akon City on the singer’s Instagram account

The famous rapper has already secured $6 billion in funding for the project, to be constructed by U.S. engineering firm KE International, the same entity that built MMTC.

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Akon – real name Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam – hopes that his cryptocurrency will help facilitate smooth, fast, cheap and efficient trade throughout Africa.

However, the singer’s former business partner, Devyne Stephens, criticized both Akon City and akoin as a “ponzi scheme”, in papers filed at a U.S. court on March 7.

“The Akon City and Akoin ventures have many of the trademark characteristics (known as ‘red flags’) of fraudulent business ventures such as Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes. Therefore, it is likely that Akon City and Akoin are part of a fraudulent money-raising scheme.”

A representative for Akon dismissed the application as “nothing but innuendo and speculation”

Akoin expansion

John Karas, the akoin co-founder, said his team is planning to expand the utilization and adoption of AKN in western Kenya.

To do that, the team will rollout an akoin-based payroll system to cover the entire Mwale hospital workforce and a regional supermarket chain in the summer.

In addition, more than 286,000 farmers that supply cane to a sugar-making factory recently acquired by MMTC will have all transactions settled in akoin.

The plant’s 5,000 employees will also receive their salaries in the cryptocurrency, said Karas.

Akoin COO Lynn Liss revealed plans to launch an akoin card. Through partnerships with banks, the card will “allow users to spend AKN anywhere.” A public wallet is being developed in conjunction with crypto asset custody platform Fireblocks, she said.

At the time of writing, AKN was down 0.4% at $0.079, with a 24-hour volume of just under $10,000, as per data from CoinGecko. The token is 84% off its all-time high of $0.50, reached on Feb. 21, 2021.

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