The Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa, Lesetja Kganyago has announced the bank is very much open to blockchain and cryptocurrency.
He revealed, while delivering a speech at a cybersecurity conference held in Johannesburg recently, that the bank is exploring the technology and interested in innovations that may stem from its development.
“As a central bank, we are open to innovations despite the different opinions of regulators on matters such as cryptocurrencies. We are willing to consider the merits and risks of blockchain technology and other distributed ledgers,” Kganyago said.
Just two years ago, the bank released a paper on what it thinks about digital currencies. The paper was a warning note to consumers – it said digital currencies should be avoided because of its risks and whatnot.
The Governor’s announcement shows the bank as had a change of heart and now recognize the impact the new technology can have on the banking sector in the country.
The central bank isn’t the only institution looking to harness the technology for the greater good.
Absa Bank recently joined the R3 Blockchain Consortium as it looks to develop Africa’s first distributed ledger-based banking solution.
The bank’s parent company, Barclays Africa Group, has been experimenting with blockchain technology for a while now. It launched an Africa-wide blockchain supply chain challenge in partnership with Rise last year.
The challenge was eventually won by Markit Opportunity, a Kenyan e-commerce platform with a social mission to connect buyers and sellers.
Also, the bank co-hosted the second edition of the Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa on 3-4 March 2016.
With these developments, one can conveniently say South Africa is leading the way in exploring the new technology on the continent. Will others follow suit? Time will tell.