In recent weeks, plenty has been said about the possibilities of reshaping the economic system using innovation and technology. In the latest episode of #FinancialFox, we caught up with Charles Hoskinson, founder of IOHK and Cardano, to hear his thoughts on the current concerning socio-economic situation brought about by the pandemic, and his plans for Cardano moving forward.
Charles is not just the co-founder of cryptocurrency Ethereum and the founder of Cardano; he is a charismatic figure, highly influential in the crypto community, not to mention a natural visionary when it comes to the power of technology to build a better world. Speaking of the pandemic’s dramatic economic impact, especially for small and medium businesses and in developing countries where debt is increasing dramatically, Charles criticises the current financial and economic system, particularly measures like quantitative easing, which he thinks are unsustainable and harmful to the global economy.
Watch the full interview with Charles Hoskinson here:
The impact will be even stronger on smaller businesses. As Charles sees it, there is an ‘asymmetrical economic depression’ ahead because larger businesses will continue to make profits and have access to credit lines and financial resources. However, a stronger and fairer economy can be built by leveraging the potential of blockchain and decentralisation, in what he calls monetary innovation, given that cryptocurrencies offer an alternative credit system.
He also believes that there will be a significant push for crypto technology in the developing world in the near future, as we see that their economic structures tend to be more fragile and vulnerable to crisis and debt. New technologies are leapfrogging to quickly bridge this gap.
Endorsing Charles’ philosophy, there have been moves from IOHK and the Cardano Foundation to spur research and development in blockchain and technology innovation. IOHK has recently donated $500m, in ADA, for the University of Wyoming for blockchain research and development in academia, one of the core values of IOHK. The state of Wyoming is known for its progressive approach to crypto legislation, as reported by CoinTelegraph.
The research lab activities are focused on three main elements: software development, pilots, and research on a new crypto-native microchip. The greater purpose of the grant is to look at ways of optimising supply chain systems with more transparency and efficiency.
Cardano expands its presence in Africa
For years, IOHK and Cardano have pushed for innovation in Africa and have established key partnerships on the continent. Currently, Cardano reaches 54 countries in Africa, committed to building blockchain governance to future-proof the region’s sustainable growth and development.
In November last year, the Cardano foundation announced it has joined forces with various leading institutions such as the African Leadership College, the University of Mauritius and the Swiss Blockchain Federation, among others, to lay the groundwork to future-proof the blockchain industry in Mauritius.
Charles believes Africa is an exciting and promising place to do business and employ technology solutions. The African population is young, keen on embracing technology tools and open to a change in the system that will give them better future prospects and economic opportunities.
In other African countries like Ethiopia, Cardano has engaged in financial inclusion programmes, particularly for small farmers and businesses, where blockchain technology and digital currencies can streamline transactions, increase production and facilitate trade.
More recently, Cardano has identified South Africa as a key market for the cryptocurrency to build a network of governments, institutions and enterprises using Cardano on the African continent. The newly established South African National Blockchain Alliance (SANBA) is an ally of the Cardano Foundation and was created to push innovation and employ blockchain in its efforts to boost socio-economic growth. SANBA, supported by the South African government, is a partnership between the state, business community, academia and civil society to fast-track the use of blockchain in South Africa.
Among the possible applications of Cardano technology are tools for developing greater transparency to reduce fraud, building digital identities for municipal services and bolstering developing economies with virtual currencies. “The potential collaboration with SANBA is the first step in delivering game-changing technology to enhance Africa’s dynamic and diverse economies,” reads the official statement from the Foundation.
Beyond government initiatives and partnerships, Cardano has very active communities in Nigeria and Rwanda.
Nathan Kaiser, Chairperson of the Cardano Foundation, says: “Legislation is key to adoption and real use cases of blockchain. The Cardano Foundation is proud to be at the forefront of shaping blockchain-enabled sustainable growth in Africa. We are open to working with the continent’s countries to establish robust governance policies and assess existing laws and policies.
“Our aim is to help African nations to shape legislative and commercial standards while ensuring accountability, which in turn will create new jobs and ensure sustainable growth. Blockchain will afford African countries to diversify their economies and help the continent to increase its innovation and investment attractiveness.”
IOHK and Cardano Foundation are not alone in the mission to bring crypto to Africa. Binance, the largest cryptocurrency trading exchange, is also targeting African countries for cryptocurrency adoption. Emanuel Babalola, Binance’s Business Manager in Nigeria, says that most crypto users in the country are school students, showing the appeal of digital currencies for younger generations.
“People use cryptocurrency as a remittance gateway as well as a hedge against any devaluations of local currency, plus speculative trading,” said Yele Bademosi, co-founder of the Binance-backed social payments startup Bundle.
Sustainability is key for future growth
Just as important as building a resilient economic system is ensuring sustainable practices, both financially and environmentally. Charles believes that projects need to be sustainable to last and nurture the economy. Change requires a shift from the current heavily centralised order into more autonomy and decentralisation.
“I think it is a great life lesson to grow stuff, even if it is a small plant on your desk. It changes your perspective,” says Charles, making an analogy with his own farming. “When you grow things, it takes months and months for you to see the result. You can do things that will damage your soil if you are not clever about it. I think this is a great analogy for sustainable protocol design and company design.”
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