LEE NAIK, MD of Accenture Digital for South Africa believes the next era in banking will be Blockchain, as among other things it allows faster and more secure transactions, comprehensive audit trails and greatly reduced costs.
An internet of finance. The renaissance of money. If the previous decade was the age of mobile banking, the next looks set to be the era of Blockchain. No other technology has more potential to change the very face of how banking takes place.
People get tangled in the technical side of what Blockchain is – skip to 29:00 of this podcast for a fantastic explanation from Stuff editor Craig Wilson – so I want to rather focus on the incredible implications of this technology.
Currently, our model for managing the flow of money is antiquated. Transactions take place across multiple payment engines that all need central brokerage, which takes time, incurs cost and introduces needless complexity. As a decentralised ledger of transactions, Blockchain introduces a standardised framework for transactions rather than the individual payment ‘language’ of each bank.
Just how much of a game-changer is this? Just think of the Tower of Babel. Taking place in a time where everyone spoke the same language, humanity came to an agreement to build what was effectively an Old Testament version of the Burj Khalifa. God, realising what was about to happen, said a few holy words and caused the builders to suddenly speak a multitude of extremely confusing languages so they couldn’t cooperate properly.
The story shows the power of having a single unified language. A real life example would be the use of Sanskrit throughout the ancient world. Blockchain shows the same promise by offering a lingua franca for transactions across different banks and nations.
This is what makes the technology such a game changer. As a vehicle for universal, transparent communication, Blockchain’s potential for innovation is huge. Just like the Babel story, it allows us to reach right up to the heavens.
A world shaped by Blockchain
What does this mean for the business world? At the moment, no-one’s entirely sure, although it’s sure to be disruptive. Blockchain’s decentralisation and community-based assurance means it allows for faster and more secure transactions, comprehensive audit trails and greatly reduced costs, among other things. I’m incredibly excited about the potential applications across all industries.
Banks take note: Blockchain is effectively borderless, potentially enabling instant money transfers from any location. With Africa standing out as one of the largest and fastest-growing remittance markets in the world, Blockchain could potentially free up billions in costly brokerage fees. Numerous start-ups and some large banks are already testing out Bitcoin and other Wallet services in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
Then there is the possibility for smart assets to drastically change models of ownership. Blockchain currencies like Ethereum and Ripple could allow for the risk-free exchange of real-world assets in a single transaction. Imagine being able to enter into an instant smart bond that pays for itself and has a risk-free interest rate.
It’s not just banks that will feel the effects either. A Blockchain-based energy network for example could effectively allow consumers to bypass traditional utilities providers and enjoy ‘peer-to-peer’ electricity. Need some energy? Who needs a service provider when you have a neighbour with solar panels willing to sell.
And that’s just a tiny sampling of potential use cases – there’s the possibility of specialty lending, tamper-proof digital record-keeping, transparent e-voting and much, much more. Here’s what I believe enterprises should be doing in order to sniff these out.
Just do it
Not every application is necessarily suited for distributed ledgers. There’s just one way to find out – by jumping into the sandbox and playing around with the toys available. Dedicate some resources to testing out possible use cases and developing potential proofs-of-concept. Partner with FinTech companies and start-ups who already have some Blockchain knowledge and set up a space for experimentation, free of the pressure of short-term monetisation.
Join the community
The best way of keeping ahead of the Blockchain curve is to become part of the conversation. There’s a thriving cryptocurrency community out there that covers every industry and talking point. Immerse yourself in the discussions and you’ll be up to date on what the evangelists, sceptics and early adopters are really thinking.
Start having the conversation
One of the biggest obstacles to mainstream Blockchain adoption is that of regulation. Similar to Uber, which faces regulatory roadblocks in many of the countries it launches in, Blockchain players will also have an uphill battle to fight. In Africa especially, legislation tends to be somewhat silent on the basics of IT systems. Similarly, there needs to be an understanding among your own staff on what Blockchain is, how to use it effectively and what exactly it can do. Start preparing the narrative now so that the educational foundation is there when the time comes to launch distributed ledger applications into operation.
Go for glory
Blockchain isn’t going to become mainstream overnight, but many companies – from small start-ups to major financial institutions – are already testing use cases in an attempt to be first to market. It’s tempting to either try outrace the competition or sit back and wait until use cases are fairly established to swoop in as a best in class alternative. But why not both? It’s always preferable to be a disruptive force, but this calls for a strategy that is as bold as it is structured. Start with what your customer wants, utilising existing use cases – other organisations’ as well as your own – as tools to build experiences that go above and beyond.
Have you begun to explore the possibilities for Blockchain in your enterprise? How far along is your industry in the adoption of cryptocurrencies?
South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.
With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.
Valentine’s Day came a distant second.
After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:
- “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
- “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
- “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
- “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
- “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
- “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
- “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday
Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:
- “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
- “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
- “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
- “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
- “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday
Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40
Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.
Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9, Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.
So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.
But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.
Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”
Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-Puncha. Junior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.
Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.
Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s
AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.
The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:
|Lullaby from the Crypt||Keenan Lott & Raven Davids||Animation|
|Ko Ga Cherenyane||Sibonokuhle Myataza||Documentary|
|Mallemeule||Jaco Van Bosch||Drama|
|Canal Street||Brodie Muirhead||Drama|
|On the Fence||Warrick Bews||Drama|
|The Righteous Few||Lindo Langa||Drama|
|Hlogoma Peak||Luke Ahrens||Drama|
|Frozen Flame||Cameron Heathman||Animation|
|Wolf||Brett van Dort||Fantasy|
|The Walk Home||Sisanda Dyantyi||Drama|
|Doreen||Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose||Drama|
|Sicela Amanzi||Mlu Godola||Drama|