Founded just three years ago, South African company Block Markets Africa is today working alongside two global consultancies to support an investigation by the South African Reserve Bank and leading financial institutions into the impact and benefit of blockchain technology on the future of financial markets and their systems.
Established by Cape Town-based entrepreneurs Greg van der Spuy (33) and Tobie van der Spuy (39), Block Markets Africa (BMA) brings to the initiative their extensive experience with blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and decentralised finance markets. BMA’s experience in the local banking technology sector through previous blockchain-based projects with Rand Merchant Bank and other financial institutions has positioned the company well to translate the new technology to the traditional financial sector.
“We try to straddle the two worlds and focus on how they can work together,” said the Van der Spuys.
BMA has come into prominence after being contracted by the Reserve Bank to build blockchain platforms to test whether this technology can be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of certain types of traditional banking transactions.
The contract supports what is known as Project Khokha 2, which is being undertaken as part of the Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG) Innovation Hub. This has been established to respond to changes in the financial sector driven by financial technologies. These range from blockchain to artificial intelligence, big data and robotic process automation. Khokha is a Zulu term meaning “to pay”.
Members and participants
Members of the IFWG are the Reserve Bank, the Competition Commission, Financial Intelligence Centre, Financial Sector Conduct Authority, National Credit Regulator, national treasury and the South African Revenue Service. Formed in 2016, the IFWG focuses on promoting responsible innovation in the South African financial sector.
In addition to IFWG members, participants in the IFWG’s Project Khokha 2 include Absa, FirstRand, Investec, the JSE, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Strate.
BMA is one of three companies providing specialist services to Project Khohka 2. The other companies are multinational professional services firms Accenture and Deloitte. BMA was selected to deliver two of the four advertised contracts to support Project Khokha 2.
Project Khokha 2 is exploring the policy and regulatory implications of innovation in financial markets driven by distributed ledger technology (DLT), in which blockchain plays a major role. Project Khokha 2 will issue, clear and settle debentures on DLT using tokenised money to inform policy and regulatory reflections.
Block Markets Africa has been selected to produce the DLT-based debentures as well as the wToken for the project. “BMA’s experience in tokenising and trading financial instruments across various DLT platforms will help create a Khokha network to interconnect the DLTs on the project,” said the IFWG. (For detailed information, see this IFWG document.)
Meet the Van der Spuys
Though they share the same surname, Greg and Tobie van der Spuy are, surprisingly, not related. They met for the first time in 2017 and decided to merge their past experience in blockchain and fintech by founding BMA. Greg van der Spuy brought to the company 10 years of experience in blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. Tobie van der Spuy contributed 20 years of experience in fintech markets, the past four years of which have focused on blockchain.
Describing himself as a “serial fintech entrepreneur”, Tobie van der Spuy has extensive insight into the tokenised and crypto asset markets ranging from operating crypto exchanges to digital asset wallets, algorithmic trading funds, and token issuance and trade market platform developments. He also has specialist knowledge in the mobile operator, banking and mass-market retailer ecosystems.
Among his past experiences, Greg van der Spuy has built tokenised trading markets, managed and built commercial-sized cryptocurrency mining operations, managed private investment portfolios derived from blockchain-based investments, and participated heavily in protocol development and research on distributed ledger technology – including blockchain-based applications and their integration into legacy systems.
For more information on BMA, please visit blockmarketsafrica.com.
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