The recently concluded Blockchain Africa Conference 2019 was declared a resounding success as thought leaders from the industry attended the blockchain event in Cape Town and Johannesburg to discuss relevant issues bordering the socio-economic impacts of blockchain technology.
Blockchain technology continues to inspire innovators across the globe to seek out new ways in which emerging technologies could alleviate major economic problems. Topics discussed during the conference in South Africa included regulation, innovation, privacy, decentralization, and use-case exploration.
During the event, Bitcoin took its share of the spotlight as one of the tech speakers Simon Dingle remarked: “No other blockchain project has proven itself in terms of mainstream adoption yet. Bitcoin is the only one!” Dingle went on to recommended revisiting Bitcoin’s whitepaper suggesting its role as intended by the creator wasn’t to change the world as some would perceive but rather having a more economic angle to its existence.
— Bitcoin Events (@BlockchainZA) March 6, 2019
On the subject of regulation, Senior Fintech specialist at the South African Reserve Bank, Anrich Daseman said:
“The Reserve Bank’s perspective is that blockchain is a paradigm shift and regulators need to adapt. SARB does not want to stifle innovation but recognizes that regulation is necessary to protect investors and those that are not educated about the technology.”
It appears as with most concerned regulatory agencies around the world, forming a crypto asset regulatory working group is a viable first approach. Further, Managing Director at ARQ, Jean Paul Fabri opined from Malta’s regulatory perspective, suggesting “the regulation is there as a filter to make sure that the investment opportunity presented by the issuer is real”.
In the areas of innovation and adoption, the event featured speakers who discussed the importance of the technology in real-world application areas such as renewable energy industry, where blockchain can be used in tandem with solar panels to both incentivize and maximize distribution efficiency to areas with there’s lack of electricity. On a panel discussion with the one-time independent director of Long Blockchain Corp Loretta Joseph, Charlene Chen and one of ENSafrica’s executive Prof Angela Itzikowitz, the subject of regulation was considered a necessity, however, provided that the regulatory structures should be fluid with innovation.
Other speakers like Monero’s Riccardo Spagni showcased the raison d’etre for the Monero platform, emphasizing the need for privacy in an information diffuse world, and hence decentralization and privacy should not be undermined. He opined that the Monero platform “allows you to take back control of your own information in a way that now laws, governments or protocols ever will”. Buttressing the privacy point, Lorien Gamaroff remarked:
“There’s no real value in crypto or cash to be anonymous. The value lies in the privacy, not anonymity, and blockchain could change this in the future.”
The conference seemed to have been a huge impact as the conference MC and CEO of VALR, Farzam Ehsani said it was inspiring and thought-provoking. Another event has been scheduled to hold next year in Johannesburg with registrations set to open later this year, it will further explore other economic and investment angles of cryptocurrencies.
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