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Blockchain hackathon: Solving Africa’s financial problems

Published on September 18th, 2018

Rehive and BCX recently hosted one of South Africa’s biggest blockchain and fintech “hackathons In this case, it was over one intense weekend in which participants ranging from software developers, entrepreneurs and designers, raced each other to come up with viable solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing financial problems.

What made this particular fintech hackathon unique was the focus on solving African problems by leveraging blockchain technology. Rehive was used by several teams as an application layer on Stellar for issuing assets, hot wallet management and account creation. Read more about Rehive’s Stellar Service.

The hackathon also incorporated some education and rapid learning sessions. Blockchain Academy led a 2-hour deep dive session covering topics as detailed as cryptography, bitcoin mining, mining pools and bitcoin transactions. Rehive then presented both a fintech and crypto workshop which equipped participants with a platform and toolkit for making development on a complex underlying technology both simple and possible.

Judging panel

The judging panel comprised five judges, each of whom brought their own in-depth industry experience and specialist knowledge to the table. We had the co-founders of Pineapple, South Africa’s first decentralised peer-to-peer insurance platform, Ndabenhle Ngulube and Matthew Smith as featured judges, along with Mandla Magagula from RMB’s Foundery and Jacques Booyens and Keru Naidoo from BCX.

Of the ±80 participants, 15 teams pitched their products on the Sunday morning. Their presentations were judged based on an even split of product (33%), technology (33%) and pitch (33%). Participants had only 5 minutes per team to convince the judges of the validity of their ideas. The following teams featured in the top spots.

(1) Usizo | First place | R20k

First place was taken by Usizo, which means help in Zulu. The team have put together a web-based and mobile app to create a donations marketplace which connects patients who are suffering from a range of conditions with donors wishing to make a difference in the lives of others in a transparent and auditable way. You can learn more about their product here.

(2) Skoloto | Second place | R15k

Skoloto is a peer-to-peer lending platform that targets the informal financial market. Because it’s difficult to obtain a loan from a formal financial service provider without a credit record, millions of South Africans remain unbanked. As a result, peer-to-peer lending happens in cash between individuals who rely on relationships or word-of-mouth for their “credit score”.

Skoloto’s mobile application includes a rating system for users wishing to lend or borrow from individuals outside their existing ecosystem as well as transaction record keeping. Over time, an individual’s profile on Skoloto may serve as valid transactional data for an informal but factual credit score for these unbanked individuals to obtain loans.

Third place was shared between two teams, who each took half the prize money.

(3) Sequoia | Third place (1/2) | R5k

Sequoia is a financial management application that teaches users to budget and rewards them for reaching their goals. Sequoia embodies Warren Buffet’s quote, “If you can’t buy it cash, you probably shouldn’t” by encouraging users to save rather than spend.

(3) Sigma | Third place (2/2) | R5k

Sigma built a marketplace for crowd-purchasing goods in bulk. Their model encourages the public to collectively purchase products that are offered by merchants or retailers in bulk volume. This helps the retailers sell large amounts of product at a price that’s cheaper for the group who collectively purchased the stock than if each individual had to purchase their desired units of that stock separately.

Two additional teams featured as top teams although they just missed the podium.

(1) Grapevine | USSD service for sending money via a blockchain.
(2) AssetWise | Upload, track and manage assets on a blockchain.

All in the all, the weekend was a great success and participants walked away with better knowledge about the fintech space, the financial problems facing Africa and the innovative ways in which the fintech community is solving them.

*see original article here