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Meet Africa’s Blockchain Startups: Bankymoon

Bankymoon Homepage

Bankymoon is a South African blockchain consultancy and software company that was founded in 2014 to offer bespoke solutions to clients who want to integrate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into their systems.

According to Bankymoon’s CEO, Lorien Gamaroff, the Johannesburg-based startup aims to help institutions to embrace the blockchain. He believes the technology offers a more straightforward platform for people to develop business systems as well as an opportunity for the unbanked population.

Bankymoon’s smart power grid meters

In 2015, Bankymoon announced “bitcoin’s first killer app” dubbed ‘Smart Grids and the Blockchain’. The startup is providing people with the opportunity to top up so-called smart meters using the digital currency bitcoin in real-time. This allows individuals to pay for their utilities without having to use traditional banking solutions that can be subject to high transaction fees.

The Bankymoon smart meters come with their own unique bitcoin addresses. At the point where a smart meter receives a payment in bitcoin, Bankymoon computes the tariff and then tops up the meter for the user. The integration of digital currency payments into smart meters enables individuals to “send” electricity, gas, and water to anyone, anywhere in the world by topping their utility meters using bitcoin.

An international student who needs to top up their meter needs to phone their parents and ask them to send money. Then the parent now doesn’t have to remit anything. Instead, they can just go and top up the meter using bitcoin,said Gamaroff.

Gamaroff believes that the blockchain can be revolutionary for the energy sector. He says that users in the far south country could pay less if municipalities and utility suppliers agreed to embrace the new smart meters.

The blockchain provides a system of distributed ledgers, which replaces the human labour offered by municipalities and power company. Thus, the meters can reduce power bills and boost industrialisation as well as rural electrification.

Integrating the bitcoin blockchain into the electricity grid allows users to make automatic payments directly from their wallets. This is likely to get rid of late fees and thus reduce power debt. It also enables well-wishers to make generous contributions by paying electricity bills for schools, hospitals, and the needy.

Gamaroff adds that the smart meters are ideal for reaching the unbanked population. The programmable money nature of bitcoin, he says, will help the developing world to enjoy the integration of the blockchain to the smart grids.

To see Bankymoon’s bitcoin smart meter application in action, you can contribute to the company’s social project that enables donors to directly provide electricity to needy South African schools by sending bitcoin to the schools’ smart meters.

Consultancy services offered by Bankymoon

Alongside its bitcoin-powered smart meter project, the startup also offers blockchain consultancy services, seminars, and workshops. For example, Bankymoon helps organisations to understand the benefits and drawbacks of integrating private versus public blockchains and analyses existing systems to make valid recommendations on how to make them more efficient through the implementation of blockchain technology.

Bankymoon also develops blockchain-based systems, such as APIs that make the creation and management of digital assets easier and more user-friendly.

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Meet Africa’s Blockchain Startups: Project UBU

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A team of entrepreneurs is planning to launch a blockchain-based digital currency called UBU (Universal Basic Unit) that aims to economically empower lower income South Africans. The team says that they intend to release the beta version to the public by September this year.

What is Project UBU?

The founders note that the world has close three billion people who currently have minimal significance to the economy. Basically, Project UBU is an initiative that aims at assigning economic value to every human being. This gives everyone a chance to play a role and earn in the ecosystem. UBU is built on the blockchain and aims to push users from the poverty line and assist them to earn $2.50 to $3.00 a day.

UBU has unveiled that its founders include Altech’s CTO Steven Sidley, Tuluntulu’s CCO Justin McCarthy, Dudley Baylis of Bridge Capital and former Vox Telecom chief executive Douglas Reed.

How It Works

UBU works as a secure and convenient digital payment method. It allocates an economic value to every human, regardless of how much they earn conventionally. Then, it distributes the digital units to everyone on the network. Like other digital currencies, a continuous investment builds onto the value and sustainability of the units.

This way, the project can offer a low-cost ecosystem where users can trade their goods and services. In the end, everyone on the network ends up handling money without being taxed, because the system offers a decentralised currency.

The UBUCore, the legal entity that runs the project’s ecosystem, creates value in the UBU network by remaining inviolable and thus maintaining the project’s integrity. To sustain and create value in the UBUsphere (the ecosystem), UBU offers open options for third parties.

To boost the value, UBUCore also focuses on marketing. This includes registration of a large number of people to become UBU citizens. After the creation of more UBUs, the next step is to encourage many vendors to adopt UBUs as a payment method. This way, the network grows thus boosting the value of UBU units.

How the UBU Project Plans To Generate Revenue

To fund its operations, the UBU Project intends to take 11 UBUs for every 100 units issued to its citizens. The project may also monetise the public verified information. Such data is of great use to companies who may want to use it for market research.

In a report published by MyBroadBand, UBU Project says: “While this is not one of the goals of the Ubu Project, but a by-product, it does offer another significant long-term investor benefit.”

Who Gains?

Users can easily get their UBUs from the mobile application. As from August 2017, those who register early will get a head start due to the accumulation of units before registration and activation.

Then, the project shall assign an equal number of UBU units (worth $5) to every person. The amount shall be distributed to their e-wallets on a daily basis. Thus, the poor too will have an opportunity to access the economy, which the company believes is good for economic development.

Because the currency is decentralised, it is untaxed, and thus, individuals can exchange goods and services in a secure, cheap manner. Those at the economic pyramid’s bottom stand to benefit the most, says Project UBU.

Although UBU relies on Ethereum’s private blockchain, it’s quite different from most cryptocurrencies. Unlike others, Project Ubu will not limit the circulation of the cryptocurrency. The project will issue UBUs persistently to the growing citizenship, so there will be an increasing number in circulation. The network has a decay mechanism to enable self-stabilisation and hitting of the equilibrium.

Combating the Challenges

An obvious challenge for the project is that it will likely attract a large number of low-income, undereducated citizens. The project will, therefore, use e-wallets that are simple and light. The wallet will have minimal click functionality and instead, it will be biometric and icon-driven to promote ease of use.

To avoid making citizens seek fiat exchange solutions, the UBUsphere shall integrate with API exchanges. Other integrated systems will include the point-of-sale technology. This will allow users to pay for goods and services from local stores that accept payment in UBUs.

Ubu is expected to release the beta version in September. Meanwhile, the pre-funding is done by a Norwegian technological company. Ubu Project joins a market that has several other players including Bitsoko, and Ekasi.

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