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Bitbarter CEO believes Nigerian banks value blockchain. But do you?



Since the launch of Bitcoin, the first and most successful cryptocurrency, in 2009, we have witnessed the emergence of several blockchain technologies.

The success and potential of blockchain have garnered positive feedback from around the world, highlighting its significance.

For instance, the World Bank expressed its intention to explore blockchain technology in a report, recognizing its significant advantages. 

The technology’s immutability, permanence, and security could empower both the World Bank and its beneficiaries to maintain an unalterable record of transactions throughout the lifecycle of development projects funded by the World Bank.

Notably, companies such as JP Morgan, Microsoft, Google, and banks in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and other nations have also begun exploring and implementing projects using blockchain technology. 

However, the use of cryptocurrencies, which are based on the same technology, has faced mixed reactions due to criminal activities within the industry.

In August alone, $45 million was reported stolen in the industry, with nearly $1 billion stolen between January and August 2023. Does this render the entire blockchain industry and its applications insignificant?

During a panel discussion at SiBAN’s Digital Assets Summit, Etienne Okeke, the CEO and founder of Bitbarter, expressed his perspective on blockchain and cryptocurrency. 

Despite the prevalent negative media coverage, Mr. Okeke, drawing from his experience as a former blockchain developer in a Nigerian bank, considers this technology to be highly valuable.

In that role, he worked on various blockchain projects, some of which customers used without realizing the underlying blockchain technology. 

For instance, he gave an example of a decentralized exchange where employees could trade the bank’s shares, illustrating the potential uses of blockchain technology beyond cryptocurrencies.

However, he added that while banks try to distance themselves from cryptocurrency, they miss out on the numerous opportunities in the space. 

Private/public sector collaboration

He went further to say that the symbiotic relationship between the private and public sectors in the blockchain ecosystem is important. 

The founder noted that this collaboration is useful in advancing adoption and educating the public about blockchain technology.

He also commended recent government initiatives in Nigeria aimed at embracing blockchain technology, recognizing the steps taken to integrate this transformative technology into the Nigerian landscape. 

While some may criticize the quality of these steps, Etienne revealed that progress is being made and that these efforts are steps in the right direction.

The Nigerian government released its first blockchain policy framework earlier this year under the guidance of NITDA. NITDA stands for the National Information Technology Development Agency in Nigeria. 

It is a government agency responsible for planning, developing, and promoting information technology (IT) policies and initiatives in the country. 

NITDA plays a crucial role in implementing the Nigerian government’s IT development strategies, fostering the growth of the IT sector, and ensuring that IT is effectively utilized for national development and digital transformation.

Private sector inspires innovation more than the government

The CEO mentioned that it is no news that governments often lag behind the private sector in terms of vision and innovation. 

He added that innovation frequently originates from individuals and entities in the private sector, working tirelessly to bring new ideas to life. 

These visionary innovators often operate from home offices, basements, or garages, embodying the spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity.

He hinted that the role of the government is not necessarily to lead the way but to facilitate and regulate the innovations emerging from the private sector. 

Government policies and regulations are designed to ensure that these innovations are harnessed for the greater good and that users are protected. Ultimately, these policies are crafted with the welfare of the public in mind.

He said that the government’s involvement should focus on creating a conducive environment for innovation to flourish. 

This includes providing support and provisions for various operators within the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

Read also; Do we need more African crypto exchanges? Boundless Pay CEO speaks


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