BlockDown 2020 is bringing the best brains of the blockchain to the mainstage in a virtual 2-day conference. As BlockDown 2020 media partners, we will bring you a rundown of exciting stories from talks, fireside chats, panel discussions as we cover blockchain technology during and beyond COVID-19, news from the DeFi world and more. Stay tuned!
On the first day of the power-packed virtual conference, we attended “A panel with different Akoin partners”.
Esteemed panelists included:
Jon Karas: Infinity Management President & Co-Founder
Lynn Liss: Akoin’s Chief Operating Officer & Co-Founder
Mike Tankel: To Be Continued LLC
Tom Meredith: Founder & CEO BitMinutes
Xander van der Heijden: Founder & CEO UNL
The Akoin DApp ecosystem
Jon Karas: There are 2 basic pillars of the Akoin business:
- Token: It has an internal conversion mechanism from prepaid cell minutes to a basket of fiat currencies and also to several cryptocurrencies.
- DApp store: An ecosystem of DApps (and eventually apps as well) built primarily on the blockchain.
Supercharging the partners
Jon Karas: Mike works with DApp partners to enable and scale them. When we look at DApps we do not let the technology intimidate us. We look for ways it helps our audience, how it connects them with opportunities, how we can create a meaningful story with them.
Lynn Liss: Akon shared the concept of prepaid minutes. People hold as much as a million minutes! This is better than their local currencies and they trust it. The challenge is how to take those prepaid minutes and do it better.
Tom Meredith: BitMinutes is a token of value represented by minutes. We are calling it a universal prepaid minute. In Africa, people do not want to become banked or become financially included. All 54 countries have their currencies. You need an actor from a money transfer perspective. There is not much liquidity between Zimbabwe or Congo. Now, of course, there is the US dollar. Everybody uses it as the intermediary currency. This is because that’s where the liquidity is. BitMinutes is equal to your currency. You can send it in real-time. BitMinutes is a stablecoin. It is a unified means to move the currency.
BitMinutes in Nigeria
Tom Meredith: We have our biggest footprint in Nigeria where we had been trying to solve the last-mile problem. You got to have a network of trusted agents. Anyone can pay cash to buy BitMinutes. Moreover, it can be converted to Akoin. Anyone can use the marketplace and services. If you want to take out cash from the marketplace, you can do so. It is as secure as possible. With this, we think we have solved the last-mile problem.
We had previously covered BitMinutes in our Akoin project overview last month.
Lynn Liss: Someone needs to secure 100 dollars to build up their local store. It will be through the same model, which Tom described, that a person can get microloans. The last mile is perfectly correlated to UNL.
Xander van der Heijden: Address is part of your identity. If you don’t have an address you can’t have a bank account or you can’t vote in many countries. UNL is a universal addressing platform for navigation and location-based services. Our goal is to give anyone anywhere to give a universal address. The partnership enables us to include everybody in Africa in the digital economy. In a digital economy, you need a digital currency and a digital address.
Mike Tankel: We joined with UNL to assemble a team of global artists, including Akon and Pitbull. They will offer a rolling series of shows. The show will be streamed across the world. There will be videos of messages of empathy. Hometown stories. The fund will be used to provide food, supplies, comfort to all those who need it.
Xander van der Heijden: We were asked to use our infrastructure to help the Indian government build an end to end solution for COVID-19. The community, citizens and government will share and collaborate data. We proposed to Akon and the team to set up a non-profit organization to see what we can do and make it bigger. We built a foundation called Human Unlimited. It will continue even after the pandemic subsides.
Lynn Liss: The website has been launched today Humanunlimited.org. We are also working on a Senegal-specific COVID program.
Countries where Akoin has the biggest reach
Jon Karas: At a corporate level we focus on are Kenya, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa. Ultimately the goal is to reach all 54 countries.
Tom Meredith: We have an agent network already built in Nigeria. We have excellent relationships with a bank in Kenya which covers the eastern part of Africa.
Get involved with Akoin
Lynn Liss: We will be launching a DApp builder tool. We have a cool partner who will create drag and drop screens. They will help in creating basic online storefronts.
Blockchain Akoin uses
Lynn Liss: We have launched on Stellar. We liked their anchor network solutions. It is important to convert back and forth between currencies and also into the market. I think Stellar should market the anchor network more. Also, regarding Stellar’s commitment to Africa, their team is phenomenal. They are always there and we are big fans.
Tom Meredith: The Stellar exchange is a decentralized exchange for trading pairs. We created atomic swaps. Akoin will integrate it shortly.
Jon Karas: Integration with Stellar has been seamless and it’s fantastic.
Previously in the conference, we covered the Q&A with Akon and the Akoin team. In other news, you can check out how blockchain is influencing the applications designed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Also, read more news from the BlockDown 2020 conference.