BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTO- CURRENCY IN AFRICA
By Paul Ndiho
Blockchain and crypto-currency are two rising social media buzzwords. Social Media trends show a increased interest in the technology, especially coming from Africa.
At a recent Africa Technology Summit in London, African tech players, international investors, critical decision and innovators – kicked-off the event by opening the market at the London Stock Exchange and talking about the future Blockchain and crypo-currency on the continent.
Exporting tech solutions from Africa to the rest of world is likely to become more and more common – according to Tunde Kehinde, head of a digital platform which helps small and medium enterprises access to credit in just one day.
”The traditional way of getting credit assembly is not working. Why don’t we use technology and data to make loans without collateral, do risk-adjusted pricing, and more or less help any SME access the funds they need to grow.”
Elizabeth Rosiello, CEO and founder of Bitpesa, says Africa still isn’t at the same level as the rest of the world in terms of cryptocurrency use.
”In Africa, regulation has been a little bit slow and unclear, and in general, there are less financial institutions, there are fewer fintech companies. So there’s just less opportunity to purchase.”
Limited access to smartphones, stable power supplies, and internet connection are just some of the stumbling blocks in the way. But with smartphone usage expected to jump exponentially to 67% by 2025, many investors are optimistic.
”We still have the challenges of governments inability you know to get with the program and raise the game so to speak. But yes, I’m quite optimistic about 2025 given the level of youthful energy that is going into solution creation.”
Meanwhile, social media giant Facebook has revealed plans to launch a crypto-currency called Libra, the latest development in its effort to expand beyond social networking and move into e-commerce and global payments.
” Crypto is still a niche topic, not a lot of people know about it, not a lot of people own cryptocurrencies, and it’s the idea that Facebook could expose millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, or even billions of people to the idea of cryptocurrency and get them interested in the space, that’s really exciting to me”
Facebook is linking with 28 partners in a Geneva-based entity called the Libra Association, which will govern its new digital coin set to launch in the first half of 2020.
” One of the beauties of the cryptocurrency markets is that they’re open markets and anyone can participate, and anyone can create a new cryptocurrency, or fork an existing one, and compete on an even playing field. And, so, I think Libra will be competitive.”
Facebook has also created a subsidiary called Calibra, which will offer digital wallets to save, send, and spend Libras. Calibra will be connected to Facebook’s messaging platforms — Messenger and Whats-App, which already boast more than one-billion users.
The California-based company, has big aspirations for Libra, but consumer privacy concerns or regulatory barriers may present significant hurdles.