T:WTF 013 – Elizabeth Rossiello and The BitPesa Hustle

Elizabeth is the Founder and Ceo and BitPesa. And the one message that came through found and clear was Hustle.

Building a blockchain based business does not have a business model. It’s new and groundbreaking. And you have to break down new doors and new ways of doing things.
Elizabeth deep fives into BitPesa. She gave us a great overview of the challenges that she faced getting Bitpesa going. She also talks to us about where she is taking the business.

But What Is BitPesa?

BitPesa is a Foreign Exchange and Payment platform. They focus on what’s known as a Frontier Market.
A Frontier Market is a type of developing country. It that’s more developed than the least developing countries. But is too small to be generally considered an emerging market.
BitPesa was the first company in the world to connect bitcoin to mobile money. This happened in 2013, originally in Kenya. In 2015 BitPesa received a license from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. They now facilitate payments directly into G20 currencies.
This kind of growth requires hustle, hard work, clear focus and an amazing team that makes this happen.

The problem that BitPesa is Solving

Trading in African currencies makes it difficult to do business in Africa. BitPessa is a B2B platform and they offer a hybrid model of traditional and crypto- trading. They focus on making it a lot easier to do business in African currencies by increasing liquidity and reducing the cost.
This allows businesses to take control of their payments at a lower cost and greater speed. This includes paying staff, to suppliers or service providers or to collect monies from African customers.

T:WTF 012 – Marvin Colby talks about Social Impact & the blockchain

Marvin Coleby is an advocate for blockchain’s potential in emerging markets. He is building the first tokenised impact exchange (A blockchain  impact investment solution). The idea is to democratise private investments in emerging market companies. His core focus is on Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

We loved this conversation. Marvin shared a balanced and honest of view of where the blockchain is now. We looked at where the blockchain is going, and what the current challenges are. In the context that the blockchain will disrupt everything – this was important!

Given the huge excitement and obvious potential, Blockchain is still a new technology. We have a long way to go with it. It is something that we are still experimenting with it and we have a long way to go.

Blockchain: Efficiency vs Trust and Value

Efficiency vs trust and value are two ways to look at what Blockchain technology can give us.

Efficiency works in a system where trust already exists. This could be in the financial markets and governmental operations. A country like Sweden would be a good example.

Yet, when people do not trust the current conditions, the blockchain offers a solution. South Africa is a great example of this.

This becomes important given the value of decentralisation offers. The efficiency and trust a blockchain can create a more fair, equal society. Marvin also explains this in the context of Tokens, smart contract, and digital assets.

Whats Marvin Doing In South Africa?

Marvin is building the blockchain solution for impact investing. He wants to make it easy for people to invest to create impact. His vision is to create a world, where people are economically incentivize to achieve as much impact as possible.

Marvin believes that there’s a shift in the world happening. We are moving away from prioritising profit to more responsible practices. We also see consumers are demanding more accountability and the way we need to do things is evolving.

Impact investing provides a set of smart contracts that executes investment terms. This will be between an investment fund or investor and based on verifiable data. But this is not only about the investor. It is about internal performance and the way we measure and incentivize teams to perform.

Blockchain and IoT

Marvin makes the point that Blockchain is useless without IoT. IoT provides many of the data points that will verify and execute the smart contract. This is an important point and will be massive going forward.

Marvin also point out the 3 blockchain Waves as:

  1. Bitcoin was the first
  2. Etherium the second
  3. The third will be IoT blockchain based solutions.

Marvin goes into detail how these smart contracts work. He points out the value that they create and why they are so powerful. We used tax and the role of the taxpayer as an example.

Blockchains are Digitising Human Behavior

Marvin makes the fascinating point. Blockchains are the digitisation of human behavior. It provide’s the framework on how you build networks in a digital economy?

At the moment we are making a lot of assumptions. The hypothesis is that we will behave the same way in a digital economy as we do in a non-digital economy.

But we know this is not true. Humans are not robots. We don’t all respond to the same stimuli in the same way. You cannot predict how people from different cultures, countries, environments will behave.

We also talk the role of private and public blockchains, and the role decentralisation and the security behind both. We look at what tokens means and dig into the world of ICO’s. And the challenge of scale.

Marvin Background

He co-founded a blockchain venture studio. They led research and development initiatives for blockchain innovation. The focus was on emerging markets in real estate, capital markets and governance.

Prior to this, Marvin worked as a lawyer. He was part of the Venture Technology and Emerging Growth Companies group of Dentons. Dentons is the largest international law firm in the world.

Marvin also worked at the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization. He consults to governments on innovation strategies. He is an advocate for blockchain’s potential to create social impact.

Background noise

Apologies for a bit of background noise at the backend of the conversation. The caterers got excited about swapping out morning tea for lunch.

The Blockchain Africa Conference

Blockchain Africa Conference
Blockchain Africa Conference

The WTF #ThinkDigital Podcast spent two days interviewing many of the groundbreaking speakers at the Blockchain Africa Conference (#BAC18). The big topic was inter-operability and how the blockchain is maturing.

T:WTF 011 – Tricia Martinez and the first zero-fee money app

Digital Currencies in Emerging Markets for the Underserved

Access to digital currencies is a real issue! Too many people have suffered the lack of financial inclusion. This is due to high costs and limited infrastructure. In fact, the number is close to 3.5 billion consumers unbanked and underserved. This is the financial problem that Tricia Martinez and her team at Wala are trying to solve.

A Bit More About Tricia

She is a serial entrepreneur and behavioral economist. Solving this problem is the focus of her work and life’s mission. After moving from the US to work in Barclays Rise, she moved to Cape Town. As Tricia explains, in this interview it was a brilliant move and she is helping her win in solving this problem. Digital Currencies in Emerging Markets for the Underserved.  This is an important topic? Half the world’s population still operates outside the formal financial system. A number that is too high, thanks to high cost and limited accessibility.

How Is Wala Solving The Digital Currencies Challenge?

Talking Digital Currencies on the WTF #ThinkDigital Podcast
Tricia Martinez from Wala with the #WTF #ThinkDigital Podcast team: @Brett_StClair & @michael_cowen

Tricia and her team use the best of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and tokenization. By creating Walla, Tricia and her team launched the Dalla token.  We all know how high the financial costs can be. We also know how much of a pain it can be.

This can be from the actual cost of accessing products and services; to deposit fees, or withdrawal fees, and payment fees. We have all felt this pain.  The bottom line is that anything a consumer wants to do and finance, they pay for it. This disincentivized participation in the system.

When Tricia and her team looked at this problem, they decided to create a platform that bridges that gap. Wala works between a bank and a consumer. To get a better understanding – in Tricia’s own words – listen up! Tricia goes into much more detail in the podcasts. And once you have finished you can find more info about Wala on their website or follow them on Twitter.

The WTF #ThinkDigital Podcast spent two days interviewing many of the groundbreaking speakers at the Blockchain Africa Conference (#BAC18). The big topic was inter-operability and how the blockchain is maturing.


T:WTF 010 – Lorien Gamaroff – Bitcoin Guru and Centbee Founder

You know the podcast has been good when the guest is the MC and is late for his own party! That was Lorien Gamaroff a Bitcoin and Bitcoin Wallet expert!

And boy did Brett and I laugh!

But What Makes Our Bitcoin Local Boy Not So Local?

Chatting with Lorien was a fountain of insight and info. By his own admission, he focuses on the crypto side of things. Why? Well, the idea that no central bank can control, manipulate and corrupt the currency is too big to ignore.

I agree. But Why?

Money is central to everything that we do. It is the oil that drives our economies. It is the current fuel that drives the economic growth. And it is the level that our governments use to control Monetary Policy.

You change how money work and the motivation behind money, and you change everything. As Monica Singer says; capitalism is defined by a ledger. And it’s why Andrew Keys says that the Blockchain will change everything.

A Few Lindens for A Few Bitcoin

Lorien shares a wonderful story about how he got hooked with his first bitcoin – when it was still less than a dollar. He built some solutions on Second Life. This earned him some Lindens and he had to go through a virtual adventure to swop them for Bitcoin. Go listen for more on this :).

The World’s Most Awesome Bitcoin Wallet

Lorien wanted to build the Bitcoin Wallet that he would want to use and founded @CentbeeWallet..

The core idea behind @CentbeeWallet Bring Bitcoin to Africa. It looks at moving the very real issue of remittance for African Markets and operates as a mobile money. It has some integrated features like gift card purchases.

Whats great is that @Centbee maintains an open-source Bitcoin Cash merchant payment system. This is for brick and mortar retailers.

How Satoshi Invested In The The Most Awesome Bitcoin Wallet!

Lorien also talks about the August split between Bitcoin core (the mainstream) – which is the BTC that you trade – and Bitcoin Cash. He’s behind Bitcoin Cash – which makes him a bit of a contrarian.

Lorien shares how he gets Craig Wright as an investor. Craig Wright, an Australian, came out a few years ago claiming to Satoshi. Of course, there are many who don’t believe this.

The Austrian School of Economics

Lorien also digs into the speculative nature of Bitcoin. He breaks down what it means and the economic model that it’s following. He shared a fascinating story about an Economist Cover story. It foretells a new currency in 2018.

Here is an image of the Economist Cover.

The blockchain use case vs the business case.

Lorien digs into the difference between use case √s the business case. This is a very important point and something to be considered. Lorien shares his reason why he sees digital currency as the most important element of the blockchain.

Something to ponder on!

The Blockchain Africa Conference

Blockchain Africa Conference
Blockchain Africa Conference

The WTF #ThinkDigital Podcast spent two days interviewing many of the groundbreaking speakers at the Blockchain Africa Conference (#BAC18). The big topic was inter-operability and how the blockchain is maturing.

T:WTF 009 – Nico Steyn on IoT, Why It’s Important, and Where It’s Going!

The Internet of Things. IoT for short. It can be a big buzz word but the implications of IoT as we evolve technically is huge.

Breaking Down The IoT Picture

We chat with Nico Steyn, the Founder, and CEO of IoT.nxt about IoT, where it is going and what it means. It’s a conversation, idea, and concept that you need to get your head around. And the sooner the better.

Today, no-one will be fired for NOT implementing IoT. This puts IoT into a certain perspective and how far we still have to go from here.

If you are wanting to get your head around this subject, this podcast is a great start. In it, we covered a wide range of areas; from edge computing, interoperability, big data, cloud, blockchain among many other areas.

An Agnostic, Interoperable IoT

Nico and his team have built IoT.nxt by focusing on a critical problem. They have built a framework that makes the efficiencies, cost savings and increased revenue from IoT a reality for businesses.

Critical to Nico’s approach is the delivering an agnostic technical solution. This will overcome the challenge of connecting different devices or systems. This delivers on the on the interoperability and interconnectivity.

A WTF LiveCast

A Live Podcast that Explores how to do the future in front of a live audience. This was our first Livecast and we chose the world of IoT as its such a big topic that will be a massive focus going forward.

Thanks for Listening!

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T:WTF 008 – Hyperledger – The Opensource Blockchain

Marta Piekarska is the Director of Ecosystem at Hyperledger – and whats really cool about the Hyperledger Blockchain is that is an open source blockchain platform.

Wine and The Hyperledger Blockchain

That’s where we started the Hyperledger conversation.

The Hyperledger blockchain allows you to track everything about wine. You can track the provenance of grapes, the age, quality – anything. It provides full traceability through the supply.

This means you will be able to scan a product anywhere in the world and see the details. Verified through a smart contract.

Marta goes down into the details of this. Fascinating! She also references the big brother example of this; Blood Diamonds.

We all know of the pain and the size of the problem. Yet, Everledger is redefining the Diamond industry. It’s a project that built on Hyperledger and SAP. It allows you to trace and verification what diamond is from where,

An Evolution, Not A Revolution

As Brett points out this, pulls together many things: IoT, Big Data, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning. It’s a great point.

Marta makes the point that Blockchain needs to be an evolution – it needs to plug into what you have already. This is a very different way of thinking.

But What Is Hyperledger

Hyperledger is an open source collaborative, hosted by the Linux Foundation. It creates permission based Blockchains for enterprises.

It brings together leaders in finance, banking, IoT, supply chain, manufacturing, and technology.

Marta’s talk showed how this next-generation blockchain is dedicated, adapted and scalable for professional applications.

Opensource and the Blockchain Baking & Cookie Example

Opensource is powerful. It takes the common – or baseline elements of a process, makes it freely available. This allows you build your unique value on top of it and commercialise it.

History has proven that it works.

It is a truly distributed system that balances centralisation and decentralisation. Marta used a great example to help us understand how to use the Hyperledger Blockchain. She talked about baking and cookies.

In essence, Hyperledger provides the piping. This allows a consortium – banks, insurance companies etc – to build a common foundation. They are then able to leverage this through their unique IP or customer experience.

The bottom line is that you can make huge cash while contributing to the greater good!

The Permission vs Permisionless, Public Vs, Private Blockchains Spectrum

There is a spectrum of blockchains. Go listen to get a better understanding.

Marta breaks down the difference using medical records and her desire for a Harvard Degree. A mind-blowing discussion that comes down to incentives and personal motivations around consensus.

Hyperledger has built their own blockchain. It’s not about the currencies and they have built permission-based blockchains.

If you want to learn more about Hyperledger, you can do the free online course.


The Blockchain Africa Conference

Blockchain Africa Conference
Blockchain Africa Conference

The WTF #ThinkDigital Podcast spent two days interviewing many of the groundbreaking speakers at the Blockchain Africa Conference (#BAC18). The big topic was inter-operability and how the blockchain is maturing.

T:WTF 007 – Peter Manning and The SARB Blockchain POC

The Blockchain Will Disrupt Everything. The reason? It’s a distributed ledger and everything in capitalism is built on a ledger. Blockchain gets to the very foundation of what capitalism is built on. Project Khokha is proof of how disruptive it can be.

Project Khokha: The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Blockchain POC

The pilot project was called Project Khokha. And it was a quick job – as Peter explains. The decision was made and they had to hustle to get the POC done in a couple of months. There were certain criteria that the Consensys Team has to make sure they hit.

The pilot focused on the real-time settlements between the central bank and the different commercial banks. As Peter shares, the current settlement technology (SAMOS) works very well. It does not to change.

So the question is why? And how disruptive can the really be?

There were 7 commercial banks in the Project Khokha POC project. The Central bank facilitates the settlements between each bank. So, if I bank with FNB and you are with Standard Bank, the reserve bank will manage the settlement process.

So with each bank having a ledger account with the SARB and SARB has a mirror account with each bank. With 7 commercial banks, it means we have 14 different ledgers.
Once Ledger, Real-Time Settlement. Privately.

What Peter and his Project Khokha team were able to do was consolidate the different ledgers into one ledger. They were able to run it in real time with the right privacy levels.

This is a very big deal. It means that auditors are no longer needed to check that the transactions are correct. They are verified in real time. It means that the risk of problems, errors and possible theft is dramatically reduced. No lawyers arguing over risk issues or lost money.

It Will Take Just One

While this is still a POC project, the genie is out of the bottle. It will take just one Central Bank to embrace this fully and we will see the change start happening. For us its a question of when. Not if. As we said, the blockchain will disrupt everything!


A Little Echo

The way we record our podcast is that we record live at different locations. We have a little mixer and some pretty good microphones. That said, every now and then we get caught up in a room with a bit of an echo – which is what happened here. So for any of the initial sound quality issues, we apologise.

Thanks for Listening!

If you loved the show, please share your thoughts and give us a shout out on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


The Think WTF podcast is available on several podcasting platforms. Please subscribe to the platform that you love to use.

iTunes | Overcast | Spotify | Sticher

To help out the show:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one.

T:WTF 006 – Peter Munnings on the Blockchain, Central Banking, & Fiat Currency

Will a Central Bank Blockchain change they way money works? And how disruptive will it be?

It’s an important question given the truth that most people do not understand money. They cannot answer the simple questions like; What is money and where does it come from?  Perhaps this is best summed up by Henry Ford;

It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

Satoshi Created Bitcoin to solve the money problem.

Satoshi created the Bitcoin token and blockchain in direct response to the 2008 financial collapse. The design of Bitcoin is to solve the money problem.

To put this into some perspective, think of money as collateralised debt. Commercial banks have the power to originate or create money. We call is the fractional reserve framework. This means that you are not borrowing someone else’s saving. Rather the bank is creating money out of nothing based on a reserve percentage.

Positive Money breaks down of how banks create money and what the issue with debt is.

Central Banks and Blockchain!

The Central bank does not originate money in the form of commercial debt. The central bank does print real money in the form of cash. What you carry around in your wallet. They are also responsible for the countries Fiat Currency.

But what happens if Central Banks started putting their fiat currencies onto the blockchain? This has the power and potential to change everything.

In this What’s The Future podcast, we chat to Consensys’s Peter Munnings. Peter is building some amazing blockchain technology within the banking space.

We dig into this subject and it opens up some very interesting possibilities. Here is some stuff that you will get of this podcast:

  • Peter goes into a bit of background into the growth of Consensus, the work they are doing.
  • What happens when you issue a countries currency onto the Blockchain. What are the implication and the compliance frameworks that it needs?
  • Peter breaks down wholesale banking. This looks at inter-banking payment facility through Central Banks. The idea is to increase resilience and reduce costs. This leads to the cross-border payments cross borders.
  • Of course, we spoke about how a Central Bank’s Blockchain can solve SASSA and Fees Must Fall. The big issue is the last mile and giving people access to their money. A lot of work is being done in this area and its a matter of time.
  • What is the implication of full reserve banking? This is a move away from a fractional reserve banking system. The implication is huge. And it is now possible with Blockchain technology. This will stabilise the boom-bust cycle that we currently experience. What happens when we turn money from a Liability to an Asset.
  • And what happens when we have one ledger system rather than multiple ledgers. Every intermediary in the banking chain has their own ledger. A Central Bak Blockchain can streamline this into one ledger.

T:WTF 003 – Why The Blockchain Will Disrupt Everything

Monica Singer is the creator of opportunities for Consensys South Africa. She is a strong advocate for building blockchain solutions after her experience at Strate.  And it’s no wonder when you think about how it will redefine how we live our lives.

Andrew Keys and Monica Singer Explain Why The Blockchain Will Disrupt Everything

In this Podcast, she gets to introduce us to her “Boss”. Andrew works at Consensys and has been there since the beginning (he even denied he was employee number 1). As he explains Consensus is a Holacracy (Google it), you get his Andrew’s reaction. But Holacracy aside. Andrew was an explosion of information! He gave us a brilliant break down why the Blockchain will disrupt everything. He also shared what the Consensys Vision is and why they are so passionate about changing the world.

The Internet’s 94 of 96

Andrew points out we are in the internet’s 94 of 96. This makes the blockchain and exciting, yet untested model. It has the potential to solve the world’s most common problem; The Geni Co-efficient! He explains 85 individuals have the same amount of wealth as 3,5 billion people. He goes on to explains that trust is everything. Yet, until now, trust needs to work through an intermediary. He is working on commoditising trust. Freaking nuts right! Andrew also explained how the world we are moving into is broken into 3 foundational aspects:

  • Self Sovereign Identity
  • Peer to Peer Interactions
  • Natively Digital Assets

Why is this important?

It will open up a whole new world of commerce. It builds the critical element of trust. And with the growing interoperability of the Blockchain, it will affect you! And this is why you have to learn about this. Monica makes the profound point that capitalism is based on the recording of The Ledger. And she will know! She is a Charted Account, an ex-World bank employee and previous CEO of Strate. Strate the intermediary that runs the JSE backend and is where Monica built a blockchain. In this podcast, Andrew’s expands on his talk that The Blockchain Will Disrupt Everything.

Watch Andrew’s Keynote

Here is Andrew’s shortened bio:

Andrew drives the enterprise business development strategy for ConsenSys and co-founded ConsenSys Enterprise, to create Ethereum blockchain solutions for Fortune 500 companies and governments. Andrew co-created the first Ethereum Blockchain-as-a-Service offering with Microsoft and catalyzed the creation of Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, an open-source cross-industry initiative focused on permeating Ethereum technology through enterprise environments.

Andrew keys and Monica Singer at the Blockchain Africa Confrence
Andrew keys and Monica Singer from Consensys talking about blockchain disruption

The Blockchain Africa Conference

Blockchain Africa Conference
Blockchain Africa Conference

The WTF #ThinkDigital Podcast spent two days interviewing many of the groundbreaking speakers at the Blockchain Africa Conference (#BAC18). The big topic was inter-operability and how the blockchain is maturing.


T:WTF 002 – Practical Insight on Building an IoT Startup with Mark Allewell

No one has been fired for not implementing an IoT solution. That’s how new this technology and thinking really is. And it’s why we wanted to talk to Mark Allewell. He’s the founder and CEO of IoT business Sensor Networks.

Iot Is a big issue – especially for Brett who digs deep into using Googles IoT Core through our digital interventions. But he’s a geek. What I like about IoT is how it redesigning the way networked intelligence works and moving intelligence to the edge.

The Idea For Network Sensors

Mark for stumbled into the idea of what would become Sensor Networks while taking the time out to travel the world. Mark had sold off tourism Radio and needed a timeout and was travelling the world.

The idea behind Sensor Networks is to help insurance companies reduce risk, through smart sensors. Its a highly focused business and Mark is dogmatic about what he says no to. It was this attitude and approach to business that was really inspiring about this conversation.  

Entrepreneurial Wisdom

Brett and I love talking to entrepreneurs. Yet through these chats, we do see the difference between an entrepreneur who is truly enterprising and one who is just ticking over.. Mark is one of the former. He has taken his battle scars and turned them into real wisdom.

What was an unexpected outcome of this chat was the wisdom Mark shares a lot of his entrepreneurial experiences. He talks about the key lessons that he learned along the way, He expands on how he’s evolved into the IoT/Technology space.

Mark offers some very practical, solid advise around getting the business going, raising the cash to grow the business.

This is one of those good podcasts that Brett and I turned to each after said. Boom. That’s as a ripper.

Find Mark

If you want to find more info on Mark and Network Sensors, please click on the respective links:

Linkedin | Twitter | Company Website

Thanks for Listening!

If you loved the show, please share your thoughts and give us a shout out on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


The Think WTF podcast is available on several podcasting platforms. Please subscribe to the platform that you love to use.

iTunes | Overcast | Spotify | Sticher

To help out the show:

Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one.

What’s Your IoT Strategy?

Need An Inspirational IoT Keynote?

50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. 7 times more than humans on planet earth. Brett St Clair breaks down what is driving this trend in this IoT Keynote. He looks at why are we seeing this explosion and what industries will be impacted by these sensors? Here is what you can expect to learn from this keynote:

  1. Understand why IoT is exploding
  2. Understand which industries as seeing the greatest benefit
  3. What other trends will accelerate because of IoT
  4. How does your business benefit from IoT
  5. How does this impact our everyday lives

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