Blockchain and Africa Focus: This event held on 23 November, organised by Richard Tandoh Chair Star 100 with Keynote and panel moderation by Hamish Thomas, Partner & EMEIA Financial Services Leader, EY.
Keynote by Hamish Thomas set out some of the challenges of applying the technology and examined the opportunity and risks. His role as the Chair of the EY FSO Blockchain Working Group and working with clients has given him a perspective on the changing financial landscape.
Use cases given on Marine Insurance: Work with Maersk to manage risk and transactions.
Regulation: Global bench marking with University consortium.
Characteristics of the technology:
Blockchain is an extension of Cryptocurrency, which is based on the Cryptography framework.
P2P network: create new business models and reshape financial transactions
Financial Issues: Risk, Speed, cost, fraud, governance, liquidity management
HR/People dimension: legal, fraud, management
Please see link shown here for a quick 2 min non-technical intro from iftf.org
The Panel started with founders providing a range of Africa-based applications of the technology, including the provision of financial services, land registration and tackling blood diamonds.
Blockchain Panel: Land registration to tackling blood diamonds
Panelists (L to R), Quan Le, Founder, Binkabi; Dr Maria Vigliotti, CTO, SESO Global; Charlene Chen, COO, BitPesa; Edward Mendelson, Sustainability Project Lead, Everledger.
1. Binkabi platform accelerates global agrotrade commodities secured by their ‘Barter Block’ innovation. It provides FX savings to African SMEs, expand their options to obtain finance and insurance solutions and helps expand their global market reach.
2. SESO Global provides a commercial solution to ‘tribal land’ registeration problems in Ghana, S. Africa using verified sources to create a secured ledger that is immutable.
3. BitPesa is a Pan African (B2B) FX Platform which provides remittances and bitcoin. Focus on the frontier markets Kenya, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria offices with widespread operations.
4. Everledger approach is to use ‘physical object provernance’ and create compliance ledger which is used to identify conflict minerals.
Insights from Panel moderation
1. African Central Banks have taken action on Cryptocurrency Regulation. eg. BitPesa works with Central Bank Nigeria.
2. Object provernace requires checking the veracity of information input and compliance standards. The stakeholder process is essential to manage this.
3. Trusted sytems: There are differences between public and private/commercial platforms. Global Trading platforms that use real world (B2B) transactions would require mainstream adoption of standards.
4: Further Applications: Solve solar power energy distribution, Enhance social mobility using HR/Academic trusted ledgers and trusted identity, address inefficiencies in healthcare by providing ‘ledger smart contracts’ for health insurance.
Highlights from Audience Q & A
1. Commercial use for arbitration using permission ledgers and governance provisions that underlay the ledgar (paid KYC, sanctions). Accountancy and Legal professionals would find this useful.
2. Financial Institutes, Banking and Insurance, can now quantify risk with the creation of new asset classes enabled.
3. Process in place for data credibility, using digital technology. e.g. End user can buy with confidence (land transactions).
4. Technology is still in its infancy, World Bank estimates tipping point is 2027 when 10% of World GDP will be on platform.
Problems associated with African (frontier) markets are that payments are painful and expensive. e.g. While average remittance costs to Africa is 12%, this is 6% for the rest of the world. Tech application would be best served avoiding Western (intermediary) capital hubs. e.g. direct business transactions between Nigeria and China would simulate both economies by reducing transaction fees by about 60% and avoid fluctations on the US dollar economy.
How to accelerate African ecosystem adoption
Live-stream interview with John Karanja Bit.Hub Africa on the adoption of Bitcoin in Kenya/East Africa. Nairobi is considered the global hub of mobile money with the innovation of MPesa and its rapid adoption of BitPesa.
Low hanging fruit would be the financial and energy services sector.
1. Bitcoin adoption would bring critical mass to serving unbanked.
2. Bring disruption to the banking and capital monopolies.
3. The millenial generation are at the forefront of this adoption .
4. Zimbabwe already has an active Bitcoin market