Innovation

Everything you wanted to know about blockchain (but were afraid to ask)

The Blockchain Africa conference in March is a three-day event for those interested in the future of fintech.


6 January 2017
Hot topic: A file photograph from last year's Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference in Johannesburg.

This year’s conference, to be held at the Focus Rooms in Sunninghill, Johannesburg, offers a platform to showcase the use-cases, opportunities and challenges that blockchain technology and digital currencies face in Africa. The discussions will encompass identity, payments, remittances, and settlement and clearing, to name a few examples.

There’ll also be dialogues around smart contracts and blockchain-as-a-service, and industry experts will discuss regulation, security, scalability and tax compliance.

Sonya Kuhnel from Bitcoin Events, and organiser of the Blockchain Africa Conference 2017, says she is excited by the innovation and disruption the technology affords, as it offers new entrants and incumbents the opportunity to provide services and products to customers that are cheaper, faster and more efficient.

“The conference helps provide education, networking opportunities and discussion between people in the industry and those interested in the technology,” she says.

Who should attend?
Kuhnel expects executives from financial institutions, the insurance industry, as well as those in software development and enterprise development to attend. Legal firms and consultancies are also expected to benefit, as will blockchain and digital currency startups.

She adds that a number of blockchain-based companies in the United States and Europe have also expressed interest in attending.

At the conference in 2016, almost a quarter of those attending were from the banking sector, with strong representation from the South African Reserve Bank, the SA Financial Intelligence Centre and BankServ.

Kuhnel is also hoping to attract many more delegates from African countries and is reaching out to academics, governments, and tech and accelerator hubs and innovation centres in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. Those attending from other countries on the continent, excluding South Africa, will receive a 50% discount on any ticket.

Changing focus

At last year’s conference, the focus lay mostly on bitcoin. According to Kuhnel, this attracted many with technology-based backgrounds, as well as individuals who liked bitcoin because it could not be controlled by any institution.
 
Kuhnel says she is also seeing a shift in interest to blockchain technology -- hence the focus for the 2017 conference -- mostly from the financial institutions and software development providers.
 
“We’re aiming to present different types of blockchain and distributed ledger technology solutions such as Ripple, Corda (R3), Ethereum and the bitcoin blockchain.
 
Regulation and compliance are also becoming a focus point and some examples from around the world will be showcased.
 
SAP has been named as an official sponsor.
 
A standard ticket to the conference on March 2 and 3 costs R3 500, or if your company is a startup, it will cost R1 750. There is also a workshop at which training on blockchain and digital currencies will be offered. A ticket to the workshop costs R2 350.

There will also be space for exhibitors.
 
Naturally, this being a blockchain conference, payment can also be made in bitcoin.