Bitcoin’s Shoulders: My Vision for Blockchain in Nigeria

Weekly Local Bitcoins Volume (spike is an aberrant from August 1 during major hardfork). Source: https://coin.dance/volume/localbitcoins/NGN
  • “The Commission, wishes to alert the public that none of the persons, companies or entities promoting cryptocurrencies has been recognized or authorized by it or by other regulatory agencies in Nigeria to receive deposits from the public or to provide any investment or other financial services in or from Nigeria. The public should also be aware that any investment opportunities promoted by these persons, companies or entities are likely to be of a risky nature with a high risk of loss of money, whilst others may be outright fraudulent pyramid schemes.”
  • Land title application: one of the more challenging problems in Lagos (Nigeria?) is the storage, access to, and registration of land deeds. It’s very difficult to ascertain ownership and figure the corresponding history of land transfer; the blockchain is the perfect solution for this kind of problem. In fact, many cities are already looking into this including Dubai and Andhra Pradesh, India.
  • Proof of Concept Digital Currency free from government’s monetary policy and legacy banking. Nigeria is one of the places in dire need of this: citizens need a stable currency system that is independent of the government’s choice of monetary policy, exchange rate policy etc and can serve as a reliable and fungible means of exchange. Transactions can be public and even serve as basis for lending; transactions can be anonymous or semi-anonymous or completely open; transactions can also be almost-zero cost and can be as simple as pressing two buttons on an app on your phone.
  • Store of value: people in different parts of the world including Zimbabwe and Venezuela already store their incomes, savings and wealth in bitcoins in order to protect from inflation, hyperinflation, government exchange rate controls and other deleterious economic situations.
  • ICOs and Crowdfunding for various projects.
  • Elections. The potential for this is astounding, although most of the tech is, again, nascent. We can build cryptographically secure voting systems on the blockchain with properties that include all votes being transparent yet identities being hidden; this can go a long way in preventing and combating rigging: “voting privacy but verifiability”. Innovations like zk-SNARKs allow us to prove that certain things are true (e.g a citizen voted for Azikwe) without revealing any extra information (e.g not revealing voter’s identity). More on zero-knowledge proof and Moscow’s blockchain voting system built on Ethereum.
  • Currency to replace or complement paper money and fiat.
  • Democratization of Venture Capital (VC) and Private Equity (PE) investment and capital returns via ICOs
  • Privacy and anonymity — as desired
  • Complete transparency — as desired
  • Fixed monetary policy (that can be agreed upon beforehand or modified unanimously)
  • Evasion of bad government and Big Brother
  • Smart contracts
  • Immutability (unchangeable historical records).
  • Unlocking new business models (what are you?)
  • Scams (MMM etc)
  • Terribly structured ICOs with terms that favor the rich or with founders looking for get-rich quick schemes
  • Government and over-regulation
  • Security and hacks
  • High barrier to entry which might exclude some segments of the population and revert us to centralization in certain aspects
  • Latent adoption and unequal distribution of wealth and power
  • Uncertainty and new space
  • Ignorance and gullibility
  • Purist concerns: you might have libertarian dreams of a world with even better governance across industries, economies, and money. You might be tired of the status quo and ready for an Exit. The blockchain seeks to eliminate barriers to entry and attempts to decentralize power by democratizing voting, control and governance. It’s a truly fundamental paradigm shift.
  • Smother Marginalization: Africans and Black people in the diaspora have been heavily underrepresented in most of the recent tech waves. From latency in the adoption of technology to reduced access to funding to barely existent returns from VC and other internet-era successes, tech has been fertile ground for increased marginalization; in fact, tech’s exponential growth by nature ensures that gaps keep getting wider. As we approach the cusp of another tech breakthrough, it is essential that Africans and African countries are positioned to share in the successes, and are armed to fight to create opportunities through which the citizenry can be leaders in the space. To feed off Andela’s maxim: “brilliance is equally distributed but opportunity is not”; this is one space in which Early Adopters and the Early Majority become gatekeepers and it’s important to recognize that this is of course still a predominantly white and Asian male space.
  • Investment: I don’t need to show you all those funny log graphs. Money dey there — for the patient.
  • Open source your code (community reviews help to prevent hacks and ensure more rigorous testing and enhance trust).
  • Educate: help defuse scams, don’t promote, list or encourage scams, encourage users to learn
  • Privacy and audit reviews: be transparent about proper security mechanisms put in place to store and safeguard users’ funds and to ensure there are fail-safes in the events of hacks, DDoS and other actions of malicious agents (Coinbase has a brilliant blogpost detailing what they do).
  • Compliance: it’s important to not alienate governments and to work hand-in-hand to influence policy positively, maintain transparency and educate government and media on blockchain technology and its potential. Even preemptive steps like helping to properly calculate earnings and encouraging tax filings (for your users) might be steps in the right direction.
  • Accessibility: as blockchain spreads, most of the world remains in the dark. And as we continue to see great imbalances in the rewards for Early Adopters, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that as few people as possible are marginalized. Exchanges have the responsibility of thinking about the marginalized as center in the development, adoption and expansion process. They absolutely shouldn’t be an afterthought.
  • Read
  • Read a lot
  • Evaluate your risk: invest and adopt
  • Read and research

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