John Lombela: My Blockchain Adventure

An interview with Cryptopreneur, John Lombela

Part 1 of 6

PNXT: John, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. You have been focusing, professionally, on blockchain technology and crypto-currencies for about two and a half years now. And you’ve been in the tech sector for almost a decade. Tell us about how you entered the blockchain sphere and what blockchain is all about.

So I’m a tech entrepreneur. That was the background of my training from university back in the day. And I majored in the field of software development. So I’m a software engineer and a software architect, but also a consultant focusing on deploying enterprise solutions like CRM, ERP and doing a whole bunch of customization around it.

I launched my first business in 2007, known as Jackie solutions, and eventually turned into innovation, in 2012. Every single year since, my intention was to look into new technologies that I wanted to adopt, or that I wanted to learn. Those technologies were of interest to me. And, depending on which tech I will be learning about, I use the technology itself in South Africa and build services around it for my customers, or even identify exactly what is needed out there to lead some efforts in use-cases for the technology.

I can actually offer services or build products and services around it. Now, it all stems all the way back in 2011, when I joined the Standard Bank Group, as a senior manager, for about two years. The aim of the focus for me there was within corporate investment banking, and my consulting practice was still running at the same time. So it was running while I was focused on it for the next two years as a bank, I fell in love with the world of finance, the world of investment banking, and my internal clients were mainly in the division of corporate governance compliance, and the guys liked what we were providing, in terms of solutions for AML and KYC, legal and fraud aspects and all of that kind of stuff.

So that’s what I learned over the next two years within Standard Bank, between 2011 and 2013. During that time, I remember seeing a lot of the adverts around Bitcoin on my Facebook feed. Bitcoin was the first buzzword that I heard about, but maybe it was just at that time within the Southern African region. But at least for me, as an as a tech individual, I immediately understood that Bitcoin was some sort of a digital currency. But I wasn’t really too much into that aspect at all. And I did not even have any research to understand what Bitcoin was all about. That was only until about 2013…

I remember traveling in New York, with my wife on vacation, where I started hearing the buzz word that was blockchain, or blockchain technology. I couldn’t yet understand the similarities between Bitcoin and blockchain back in the day, but, to me, blockchain was something tricky that I wanted to get to learn and understand what it’s all about.

So I could either build solutions or services around it, for me to incorporate as part of my offerings to my clients, and then I realized that it was so much more than that.It was bigger than what I anticipated. And that’s when I started digging deeper into the whole Bitcoin aspect as well.

I came to realize that, before Bitcoin can actually be considered as what it is today, there needed to be frenzy around being able to make money out of it, or digital currency of some sort. I realized Bitcoin was, first of all, a technology, but also a technology that had purpose. And it is, in fact, what people don’t understand. Is that Bitcoin gave birth to the whole aspect of blockchain. The blockchain is just a name that emanated from the actual underlying logical process required to secure transactions by recording each one of these transactions in what is known as a block. And those blocks form a chain. And essentially, it’s a chain of records that wouldn’t be deleted or would be completely immutable. And this chain of blocks is what we know today as blockchain.

So essentially, blockchain is like a string of different blocks that allow for each one of these transactions to be recorded on that distributed ledger. That term usually refers to that cryptographic token that represents a unique single transaction that can never be changed or tampered with on a particular chain.

And obviously, that goes more into the whole technical aspects as to how this gets done. And those are the things that get me so excited about the whole Bitcoin and blockchain thing.

When I started reading deeper and deeper into the Bitcoin white paper, which was, first of all, the first cash electronic system, peer-to-peer between two parties. Where, now, this chain of blocks, or the blockchain, has became the central piece, the gatekeeper, forcing trust between two parties who are deciding to the form a relationship. And so that was the time, in 2013, that I started really getting more excited about the whole technology, I got more and more intrigued.

Also, a lot of people around the world, especially in South Africa, were catching on. So they’re talking to me and telling me “Hey, John, you can make money off of Bitcoin.” “This is exactly how you can make money.” But many of them, including one of my friends,  a developer, failed to truly explain to me why it was such a hit until I decided to start reading myself. The one thing that people focused focus more was on the network marketing side of things.

And I realized that Bitcoin was more than money. It was, first of all, a piece of technology. And the remuneration aspect to the miners required a sort of incentive that would keep people excited about the ecosystem, and continuously lend their resources, power and money and so forth, for them to be able to make the blockchain network as extremely secure and private, and the decentralization… and bringing all the different beautiful things that it promises today, all around the world. And, for them to be incentivized, that’s what the notion of the token economy about. The coin, as a digital currency, came about through the incentives.

So the blockchain was the most important aspect. The whole mining aspect is that to be able to mine or to make new coins, given as a reward to the miners, means that the miners now can actually put these coins into circulation, through various exchanges and whatnot. So it goes a lot deeper than that. But my involvement in the whole blockchain and Bitcoin stems from my understanding of those technologies already way back in 2013.

Continuing with the next question…

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