John Lombela: The future of blockchain and how businesses and regulations will change in Africa

An interview with Cryptopreneur, John Lombela

Part 5 of 6

PNXT: Putting aside these challenges, what are the major barriers preventing crypto-currencies and blockchain applications from going mainstream, even if you have access to the relevant technologies?

What I’m saying to every African government is that, first of all: we must understand the premise and the promises. Most don’t realize that blockchain technology is extremely good for Africa. I met a Sheikh in Dubai in December and he said to me “If we look into it very closely, blockchain is not even immediately important for the European or for the Western market. Blockchain is a cure, a medicine, for Africa.”

Now that’s somebody who really understands what it means to invest into blockchain technology. It solves a whole bunch of problems, but also brings a whole bunch of new opportunities. I want the African continent, the African people, the African governments, and African politicians, to rather focus on what the opportunities are here. How can I leverage this technology to help grow my economy? In addition, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, how can I use this technology to stimulate growth in my economy? And because of this, what are the security risks, the concerns about losing my security in implementing this? How can I prevent that from happening?

Now, once we start asking these constructive questions, and receive constructive, good criticism, we can ask if we will be able to have a completely decentralized digital asset like Bitcoin. Because, what do you do? Wait? What do you base regulations on? I mean, what is the culture that will be brave enough to run the world? Will we regulate based on the laws that apply to America? Okay, fine, but, what about South Africa? What about the RCMP? Is it taking that into consideration? How do you think you’re going to regulate Bitcoin, based on the law in America, which should be affecting Bitcoin and so forth in the CRC?

It’s because of that that I personally don’t think that Bitcoin should be regulated. However, what should be regulated are companies like ours, or exchanges, and that means that the premise of the jurisdiction needs to comply with the most basic fundamentals of an international finance, you know, like a melon KYC, avoiding terrorism, avoiding trays of illicit activities that will become a perpetrated war. Things like that definitely should be should be banished, be completely regulated. Putting together systems in place, where we know that somebody’s not trying to defraud the country or trying to run away for tax evasion. These are the things that you regret and those exchanges are the guys who don’t need to go be audited and come under deep scrutiny for them to realize this idea.

We especially need to evolve, innovate, and change our industry, through the finance and so forth. But we still need to play by the rules, the basic, foundational, fundamental rules, that that should not deter a country’s economy or security, or a political stance, or whatever. We need to still be able to play in those games. Now, when it comes to the African market, I do believe that our developers will adapt. In Africa, or especially South Africa, often we wait to see what the Europeans are doing, or what they’re doing in the Americas before we can actually make a decision about how to go about embracing efficient technology and so forth.

Those are the things we need to have both on a government level, but also for entrepreneurs. These are people who joined to triple their capital, and say, “Hey, John, I want to put a million dollars there, because I can see the vision and script of a step ahead.” And I am looking forward to developing our economy. So, how can we make an impact? By working with groups of excellence, those are the people that I’m actually inviting, in particular, though taking command right through into the fun part. 

The fun applies the strategy, the boss is there to identify these great opportunities that are presented and we’ll be working hand in hand with those that have innovative ideas, and can thrive in Africa. And why not even be listed at NASDAQ, for crying out loud? Because people just don’t know exactly how we go about it.

Now we opened up the world because we now have access to information. So, other than that, yes, regulation is tough to tackle and can affect the adoption of new technologies, positively and negatively. Negatively, because it’s restrictive, as with all innovation, but positively because then it prevents some of the most ridiculous and treacherous activities out there that needs to go punished. So I am pro innovation but, at the same time, that innovation should be garnered within a certain context and there are many things to consider.

For example, I’m already able to buy a cup of coffee with my Bitcoin. It just doesn’t work efficiently. So can we, in parallel, implement another system that can help stimulate growth in our economy? We can run it in parallel and eventually see, over the long term, how we can seamlessly conduct a transaction and if it makes sense. Who will facilitate and, first of all, accept my Bitcoin? He’s got to be in the game. And he, the merchant, would facilitate the process to receive money in the form he’s used to and deposit it directly in his bank account. To do that, this liquidity partner has access to all the licenses and large equity pools in different jurisdictions around the world. He processes that payment on a second network that allows him to interface with the actual recipients back so he can get the monetization of my Bitcoins through the pool, through the liquidity partner on the platform, and puts it directly into his bank account.

That’s the process right there. But, in the ideal world going forward, could it potentially happen in the next two years, five years or 10 years? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer to that right now. But no significant development is occurring. The ideal world is that I walk into a coffee shop and this guy prices his coffee in Bitcoin price. But here’s where I don’t find it attractive… Because Bitcoin is an appreciating asset, I don’t want to sell it at any time, I don’t want to sell my Satoshis for a cup of coffee. Because if I started today, and the price of Bitcoin is at $10,000, I’ll pay today. If tomorrow, the price of Bitcoin is at $20,000, I’ll be like, “hang on a second, this cup of coffee I drank yesterday cost me just about twice the amount that I could have made in a great investment today.”

Continuing with the next topic…

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