The 2nd Annual Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two day event was co-hosted by Bitcoin Events Pty Ltd and Absa, a member of Barclays bank. Barclays Africa was the first bank based out of Africa to join 41 other banks to form the R3 blockchain technology company consortium.
The event brought together industry experts and leaders from around the globe, to debate real-world problems, and the solutions that digital currencies and blockchain technology can offer. The topics focused on the social, economic and political impact made by this cutting edge technology, and how it can aid development. Several African countries were represented, including Botswana, Kenya, Ghana and Zimbabwe, among others.
The event speakers are considered successful start-up creators, who have experience with VC funding, legal, and compliance challenges. “We selected a combination of speakers who have started successful startups who can talk about bitcoin the digital currency,” said Sonya Kuhnel, one of the event organizers. “We will also have discussions on other blockchain technology and the differences between permission-ed and permission-less blockchains.
Among the speakers were Elizabeth Rossiello, the CEO and Co-Founder of BitPesa, a remittance platform using Bitcoin’s distributed ledger to offer a cheaper and faster means to send money to East Africa. Solutions such as BitPesa may alleviate some of the recent financial woes in countries such as Nigeria, where falling oil prices have been undermining economies. Nigeria’s Central Bank also banned the use of its debit and credit cards for overseas purchases earlier this year, which has made it difficult for businesses and customers to make overseas purchases.
Tiana Laurence also spoke at the event. The Chief Marketing Officer at Factom, a scalable data layer for the blockchain, will be focusing on innovation and helping developing nations with land titles and government transparency.
The event was organized by Theo Sauls and Sonya Kuhnel of Bitcoin Events Pty Ltd, who are both members of the Cape Town Bitcoin community. Kuhnel and Sauls believe the technology can provide many benefits for people in Africa, especially in the remittance market, but also with financial inclusion and transparency of ownership.