The first African Bitcoin Academy launched at the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town. Started by Sonya Kuhnel, one of the first women involved in Bitcoin in South Africa, she comes from a strong development and technical background and has been interested in digital currencies since late 2013.
She created a bitcoin payment company that was the only affiliate partner of BitPay in South Africa. The company allowed merchants to accept Bitcoin as a payment method on their websites using BitPay's API and plugins.
"When I first started in the bitcoin space, I encountered significant resistance towards digital currencies from individuals and businesses in South Africa," says Kuhnel. "The level of understanding of bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain, proved to be a real challenge and I realised I would have to first educate the marketplace before there would be any significant uptake of the digital currency and the cutting-edge technology behind it."
She started Bitcoin Events in 2014, holding its inaugural Bitcoin Africa Conference in Cape Town in April 2015. The conference was a success, with top international and local speakers such as well-known technology entrepreneur Vinny Lingham, Co-founder and CEO of Gyft, who was the keynote speaker at the conference. Other speakers included Simon Dingle from BitX and Brock Pierce, Chairman of the US Bitcoin Foundation.
At the conference, Kuhnel met Ian Merrington, CEO of the Bandwidth Barn and Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), one of Africa's oldest incubators, which has added a strong focus on innovation, particularly around Fintech.
They collaborated on the successful launch of BitHub at the Barn in May 2015, which promotes digital currency and block chain development. It recently hosted the Bitcoin Cape Town Meetup group.
Preparations are underway for the next Bitcoin Africa Conference to be held in Johannesburg on 3-4 March 2016. Kuhnel will be bringing in top local and international speakers to build on the foundation that the Bitcoin Academy is laying. For more information, go to ttp://bithub.co.za.
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