VCASH has announced the creation of a Blockchain lab, separate from its operations, to experiment on how the technology can help the financial sector of one of the biggest market in Africa, Nigeria.
VBE (VCASH Blockchain Experiment) will bridge the knowledge gap with the goal to place Nigeria at the forefront of this rapidly evolving technology.
Peter Ojo CEO/CTO of the company, VTNETWORK Limited, recalls Nigeria’s slow adoption of technology. “There was a time in Nigeria when electronic communications were not considered legally binding, and banks specifically advised customers against conducting business on the internet. We must get out of the mindset that protects the vested interests of the status quo and VBE will help do this.”
“With blockchains, our focus is to provide young entrepreneurs the opportunity to innovate and build the ecosystem that is relevant to their local realities,” said Ojo. He added there are “immense opportunities” in the areas of Health services/Patient records management, Financial services such as Real Time Gross Settlement and Real Time Net Settlement, Immutability of stored or debit card value, Identity verification, property titles, social security, credit bureaus and insurance, to mention a few.
There is intense interest from central banks in blockchain and cryptocurrency applications with many central banks announcing research initiatives. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has set up an industry committee with a road-map report expected by the end of February 2018.
Market leaders are convinced of the potential of blockchain tech. Visa, Kodak, Barclays, Moneygram, Goldman Sachs and Japan’s Central Bank are just a sampling of high-profile institutions working to unearth the potential of Blockchain. “We will look at industry collaborations, such as the CLS Blockchain Consortium, and leading platforms such as Ripple and Stellar, as components of a way forward,” said Ojo.
In creating VBE, VTNETWORK’s goal is to ensure that Nigerians do not miss out on the knowledge opportunities in this sector. When CBN licensed the business for mobile payments in 2012 the company benefited from its technical foundation; it had started much earlier by building its platform in-house specifically for Nigeria and had experimented with e-commerce payments several years prior. In the past 24 months, the business has processed over ₦247 billion in transactions. The company is also working with partners to increase the volume of remittance to Nigeria banks by introducing cutting-edge technologies to cut the agent time by 90 % in developed countries.