More than 80 participants from around the world converged at Absa’s Rise innovation hub in Cape Town last week to compete in the continent’s largest blockchain hackathon.
Bitcoin, Ethereum and cryptocurrency counted among the topics covered by experts at the symposium and included Professor G-J van Rooyen from Custos Media, Monica Singer from ConsenSys which is one of Africa’s most dynamic blockchain start-ups, as well as James Kilroe from Newton Partners.
The Symposium occurred on the final day of the Unlock the Block blockchain hackathon, which was a 10 day-long event during which participants learned how to develop blockchain applications in minimum time. The hackathon initially kicked off with a five day digital bootcamp, during which participants were trained in overarching fintech trends, as well as the blockchain tools required to develop decentralised applications and protocols.
Leading South African and international businesses including Absa sponsored the hackathon and provided thought leaders and case studies for the event.
“Distributed ledger technologies (DLT) such as blockchain have the potential to change financial services as profoundly as the internet changed media and entertainment,” says Andy Baker, Joint Acting Chief Information Officer for the Barclays Africa Group, which owns Absa.
“They represent an entirely new paradigm for how we handle data, deal with clients, design our solutions and upskill our people, and we see huge potential for financial institutions in Africa to use these technologies to empower individuals and improve the lives of their customers,” adds Baker.
Hackathon showcases African developers to create local solutions for global problems
The event culminated in a 72-hour hackathon during which participants built a prototype blockchain app.
The winning team was revealed at the Blockchain Symposium, with two teams – WhenMoon? and Yuna – sharing the spoils by achieving a joint first place.
Team members of WhenMoon?, Brandon Kenley Verkerk, Christopher Maree, Iordan Tchaparov and Kavilan Nair created blockchain-based app called blockPoll. This pseudo-anonymous, online, blockchain-based voting tool that can be used to facilitate organisational-based proxy voting and polling mechanisms.
The team members of Yuna are Kungela Mzuku, Kyle Roos and Una Singo, and they created the Proof of Steak application, which is a peer-to-peer lending network that uses non-fungible tokens, backed by physical assets, as collateral.
“The event has shown us two things, firstly that the applications of blockchain technology in improving people’s lives in Africa are immense and second, it is much easier to build those applications than many people think – we just need to work together,” says Paul Kohlhaas, Founder of Linum Labs.