The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) has announced it will launch South Africa’s first digital currency hub, BitHub. It will serve to be a center point for anyone currently involved in digital currency or interested in learning more.
CiTi has already made a name itself in its nearly 20 years of serving the local South African community where it has been a pioneer of new technologies. The nonprofit organizes tech meetups and events, such as a recent virtual reality community gathering, provides resources to developers and runs an incubator for local tech startups.
“In South Africa, we are faced with different challenges from the rest of the world,” says Sonya Kuhnel, organizer of the recent Bitcoin Africa Conference and collaborator in the BitHub launch, “and understanding our market is as important as the technology behind it. BitHub will guide and mentor entrepreneurs whilst they develop and shape their Bitcoin businesses to fit our unique market needs.”
The BitHub’s first event happened today in their already established co-working space, Bandwidth Barn, where future events will also be located. The event featured several speakers from the local digital currency industry and community, including Roslyn Lavery from PayFast and Andrew van der Nest from Landmark Computers. The institute also announced it will be bringing one Bitcoin developer into their startup incubation program.Both have been instrumental in the rise of bitcoin in South Africa. Landmark Computers, a South African computer retailer, was among the first businesses to accept bitcoin in the country and continues to support its adoption. PayFast, on the other had, is the first and only payment processor to accept the digital currency, making merchant adoption much easier. The company has played a role in supporting other digital currency businesses, such as South Africa-based mobile bitcoin wallet Zapgo.
Today’s event is just one of many that CiTi plans on holding about digital currency. Each event will aim to educate participants about how digital currencies work and what they are used for; the relevant regulations startups working in this sector need to comply with; and connecting out with the country’s business leaders and demonstrating how the technology could be useful to them. The institute believes the currency and technology has many potential use cases in the African country.
“We believe that fintech innovation is going to be the cause of considerable disruption to the traditional banking model in Africa,” says Ian Merrington, CEO of CiTi. “We particularly believe that innovation within fintech has the ability to dramatically reduce transactional fees and lower barriers and the cost of remittance. The decentralized blockchain technology also has huge transformative potential. Reducing corruption is one potential application that comes to mind!”
Jeffrey Maxim is a marketer and writer studying the emerging intersection of mobile, marketing, retail and fintech. Currently living in Uruguay, Jeffrey enjoys soaking up the country’s rich culture and listening to jazz and ska in his free time. He is also a hobbyist coder learning the basics of web development. Follow him on Twitter @jeff_maxim.