The recently concluded Global Blockchain Congress in Johannesburg was attended by a number of upcoming blockchain and cryptocurrency companies that showcased a diverse mix of speakers, panelists, and engagements with exhibitors.
A unique participant was a Botswana-based blockchain hub Satoshi Centre, which presented its platform for fundraising for startups. A product of Satoshi Centre that was presented at the event is Plass, an application that enables individual farmers or co-operatives to manage their daily farming productions and stocks on the blockchain. The success of Satoshi Centre earned it the award of Excellence in Blockchain Incubation Facilities.
As expected some of the participants were startup companies that were primed for the new cryptocurrency-based venture funding known as Initial Coin Offering (ICO). In particular, the KuBitX cryptocurrency exchange and Subaj Global Network operating from Malta and Germany respectively were promoting their platforms for private sale investors. Also, the capabilities demonstrated by KuBitX and Subaj bagged the startups their respective awards of Most Promising Crypto Exchange and Excellence in Application of Blockchain in Consumer Rewards.
The atmosphere at the conference was further made exciting by investors and blockchain advisory firms such as the US-based Austin Texas native, Decentra Group, which focuses on advisory services for blockchain and ICO development with strong expertise in legal, marketing and funding for ICOs. The participants and organisers were also able to recognise the commitments of Decentra Group to the African continent with the award of Best ICO Services Debutant. Similarly, Cryptovecs capital and Liquid-Crypto Money, which are both based in Johannesburg also demonstrated specialisation for blockchain related investment and advisory services.
Although the conference took place in Johannesburg there was strong attendance from other regions including eastern African Blockchain Advisory firm, Azure Blockchain Consultants based out of Nairobi, Kenya. The array of investors and advisory companies confirms that the blockchain industry is gaining more interest for both adoption of applications and investments. Africa also boasts of its own favorite cryptocurrency, Monero, which is maintained by a group of developers led by a native of Johannesburg, Riccardo Spagni. Monero has remained among the top 10 to 20 global cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation.
Furthermore, at the event were other specialised providers such as the non-custodian XendBit Decentralized Exchange (DEX) and Financial Services platform. According to the founder and CEO, Bolaji Onibudo, “XendBit DEX was developed out of a growing need to de-risk cryptocurrency exchange services by eliminating the possibilities of hacks so as to ensure better security and control to users”. The XendBit platform whose services also include aid and credit disbursement through the blockchain will be fully available at the beginning of the Q4 of 2018 with its ICO launch. XendBit, which was awarded Excellence in Application of Blockchain in Financial Inclusion is also a member of the West African Blockchain Council (WABC). WABC comprises of blockchain organisations collaborating towards a blockchain ecosystem with other leading members such as Seso Global, a mortgage blockchain platform. The continent is also attracting other foreign blockchain practitioners like Australia’s Lavish Crypto, which received an award of Excellence in Application of Blockchain in Tourism.
On blockchain education, the continent is also exhibiting a number of active providers such as Blockchain Academy of South Africa, Cape Town-based Cryptotraders and Code Lagos sponsored by the Lagos State Government of Nigeria. Coincidentally, African governments are also making necessary investments in blockchain technology such as the South African Reserve Bank’s recent announcement of a successful trial of its blockchain-powered interbank clearance and settlement system.
In a similar vein, in an attempt to improve revenue assurance, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) concluded a proof of concept in Blockchain Application for its Excise Trade Department. The NCS Excise Trade Blockchain was designed and co-developed by Blockchain Asset Management based out of Lagos, Nigeria in partnership with the Oracle Blockchain Service. This further suggests that the blockchain landscape in Africa is attracting big tech giants like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM who are all now looking to offer solutions. This might also be attributed with Africa not having a strong legacy system in place, as is the case with the developed world, which potentially makes Africa more primed for blockchain adoption.
This article was contributed by Bolaji Onibudo, founder and CEO, of XendBit.
*Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned company, product or service. BitcoinAfrica.io is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any loss or damage caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, product or service mentioned in this guest post.*
Zippie Rolls Out Blockchain-Based Mobile Solution for Africa
Blockchain startup Zippie has rolled out a blockchain-based mobile solution for Africa in collaboration with Zambia’s AfriDelivery, Musanga, and Tigmoo. The three online companies will use the Zippie mobile blockchain platform to reward their customers for making purchases, giving referrals, and using delivery services.
Rewarding Customers via Zippie
AfriDelivery, Musanga, and Tigmoo will start rewarding customers with airtime using the Zippie blockchain-based mobile platform enabling them to have more customers and to maintain the most loyal ones.
The rewards wallet is accessible on the companies’ websites or apps allowing customers to receive airtime in their blockchain wallets. Customers can also send this airtime to other people by sharing a payment link through chatting apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
“We are focusing our efforts on the continent where even the smallest earning opportunity can make the biggest impact. The rapidly growing smartphone adoption and online commerce, the young entrepreneurial population of which most work in the informal sector, and the leadership in taking mobile money into use offer a fertile ground for Zippie to take off on the continent,” said Pasi Rusila, COO and co-founder of Zippie.
Zippie is a white label super app whose goal is to democratise opportunity for everyone by enabling online businesses to reward their users.
Scaling Zippie’s Adoption in the African Market
According to Rusila, the first three partnerships will help Zippie to sell its blockchain solution to other online businesses.
“The market entry provides us the opportunity to get the Zippie platform to the hands of thousands of end-users within months. This enables us to gather the always-so-critical user feedback and steer the product development in the right direction, fulfilling genuine market needs,” he stated.
The company is confident that Zippie will have a positive impact on the lives of Africans by seamlessly transferring value between businesses and people.
“We are pleased to say that there are numerous other partnerships in the pipeline in several countries ready to start rewarding their users with mobile airtime and other valuable items,” Rusila added.
With Zippie, users are guaranteed security, the elimination of middlemen, and free sharing of rewards. On the other hand, the process of integrating Zippie with a product is easy. Businesses are, therefore, assured of a seamless integration process.
According to UNCTAD, e-commerce in Africa is still lagging behind compared to the rest of the world. Zippie could be a solution that pushes more Africans to shop online.
Medici Land Governance Signs MoU with Liberia’s Ministry of Finance to Digitise Government Services
Medici Land Governance (MLG) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in Liberia. The aim of the agreement is to explore the potential for the digitisation of current government services and the creation of e-government platforms.
The Pilot Project
The pro bono pilot project will support the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and the Pillar II (Economy and Jobs) in the PAPD agenda. This is agenda is a Liberian government initiative.
Additionally, the pilot project will investigate how to shift Liberia to a digital and blockchain-focused economy and how to enable interoperability among government services.
MLG will also train Liberians through knowledge transfer as well as create jobs during the initial phase of gathering data and after the implementation stage where trained personnel will be needed to maintain the system.
Through the pilot project, Liberia joins countries like Rwanda and Zambia who are undertaking blockchain projects in partnership with MLG.
Ali El Husseini, the CEO of MLG, said: “Medici Land Governance’s work is a major component of Medici Ventures’ goal to create ‘a blockchain tech stack for civilization. Liberia is well-positioned to explore implementing a blockchain backbone for e-government, which connects the various government ministries as their services are digitised and brought online. This pilot project is an excellent opportunity for Medici Land Governance to demonstrate how we can tailor our products and services to the needs of Liberia’s government and economy.”
MLG is a blockchain subsidiary of Overstock Inc., a Utah-based online retailer and technology company.
Digitising Liberia’s Economy
According to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, the agreement with MLG is a sign that Liberia is ready to digitise its economy and move government services to a digital platform.
“We believe that the free pilot project when implemented, will showcase Liberia’s readiness to digitise the economy and migrate to an e-government platform that will facilitate full interoperability of the Government of Liberia services and systems,” he said in a press release.
Medici Ventures aims to introduce blockchain technology to existing markets in order to “eliminate middlemen, democratise capital, and re-humanise commerce.”
Patrick M. Byrne, Chairman of MLG and founder and CEO of Overstock, observed: “In 2019, I have been pleased and honoured to see African nations growing enthusiastic about the possibility of using blockchain to accelerate their development. Liberia now becomes the third African country to agree to give [our suite of blockchain-based land governance products] a try.”
South African Reserve Bank to Conduct Central Bank Digital Currency Feasibility Study
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is set to conduct a central bank digital currency (CBDC) feasibility study according to an expression of interest (EOI) issued on April 29, 2019. Through the EOI, SARB is looking for solution providers to offer technological infrastructure and skills to the project.
The CBDC Feasibility Project Charter
Developed in May 2018, the CBDC Feasibility Project Charter aims “to investigate the feasibility and desirability of central bank issued digital currency to be used as electronic legal tender, complimentary to cash.”
Additionally, the purpose of the feasibility project will be finding out how issuing a CBDC can support SARB’s vision of leading “in serving the economic well-being of South Africans through price and financial stability.”
The establishment of this project was as a result of a mandate the Currency Management Department of the SARB gave in 2016. The order required the selected team to investigate the case of a CBDC issued and backed by SARB.
According to the expression of interest, the CBDC feasibility project will be carried out in a contained innovation lab environment. The innovation lab will comprise of software, technical skills, infrastructure, and business skills. However, SARB makes it clear that the CBDC feasibility project is exploratory in nature and does not constitute any long-term plan or commitment to issue a government-backed digital currency.
The study only focuses on issuing the CBDC as an electronic version of cash as opposed to a universally accessible form of central bank reserve money or a central bank issued version of commercial bank account money.
CBDC Project Stages
The feasibility project will be carried out in the innovation lab in two stages. The first stage will be internally conducted and will entail testing principles, validating the feasibility of recommended technical solutions, and increasing the body of knowledge.
The second stage will extend participation to external banks and mobile network operators and potentially to payment service and niche technology providers. In addition, the set of use cases will be increased to incorporate the full value chain so as to establish the possibility of the solution to satisfy SARB’s objectives.
In the EOI, SARB makes it clear that there is no preference of basing the project on a distributed ledger technology platform, the blockchain, or existing traditional technology.
“It is envisaged that a solution could be based on any one or a combination of technologies,” SARB explains.
Some of the policies that will guide CBDC include:
- Only SARB must issue the CBDC as legal tender
- Commercial banks must issue the CBDC under SARB’s regulatory oversight
- Must enable the issuance and distribution of CBDC to commercial banks or licensed service providers
- CBDC must be issued on a one-on-one parity with the rand
- CBDC transactions must be free or low-cost to consumers
- CBDC must provide an incentive to increase its use
- CBDC must be accepted as a means of payment by all businesses and the government
- Consumers must be able to make transactions with CBDC without the need for a bank account
- CBDC must not be easily counterfeited
- CBDC must be scalable
- It should be possible to cancel a CBDC serial number that is proven to be a counterfeit
The CBDC feasibility project comes after the successful trial of SARB’s blockchain-based Project Khokha. Once the project is complete, SARB will decide on the next steps to take based on the outcomes.
Applications of the expression of interest will close on June 6, 2019, at 11:30 am.
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