The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) has announced the launch of South Africa’s first digital currency hub and incubator, an initiative aiming to support the local cryptocurrency community and foster the digital currency eco-system.

BitHub logoCiTi, a government-backed non-profit organization that supports local tech startups, has showcased its intention to encourage development and innovation in the digital currency space through its latest initiative called BitHub.

“BitHub will be the physical space where coders, designers and developers can meet, work out of and collaborate,” Ian Merrington, CEO at CiTi, said in a release.

He explained:

“There are many viable digital currency ideas in South Africa that are not coming to market because they lack the infrastructure and support to take it further. BitHub is that space.”

According to Merrington, financial innovations have the potential to dramatically reduce financial exclusion, notably by lowering transactional fees, barriers and cost of remittance.

Bitcoin’s blockchain, on the other hand, “has huge transformative potential,” with one possible application being reducing corruption, he said.

Sonya Kuhnel, organizer of the Bitcoin Africa Conference and collaborator in the BitHub launch, pointed out that, although the large proportion of unbanked and the massive remittance industry in South Africa and Africa represent massive opportunities for innovation and business development, these markets still face different challenges from the rest of the world.

She noted:

“Understanding our market is as important as the technology behind it. BitHub will guide and mentor entrepreneurs whilst they develop and shape their Bitcoin businesses to fit our unique market needs.”

BitHub, which is serve as a digital currency hub and incubator, is set to officially open its doors on June 11, with a launch event that will feature keynotes from prominent tech entrepreneurs and executives.

The confirmed speakers include Andrew van der Next from Landmark Computers, the first company in South Africa that accepted bitcoin as payment method both online and in-store; and Roslyn Lavery from PayFast, the only payment processing company to date that has integrated bitcoin.

Apart from the BitHub launch, the purpose of the event will be to educate participants on digital currencies, inform them on the regulation of the space, and foster general acceptance from industry leaders.

Merrington concluded:

“We believe this is the future of economic development, and innovation, in this country, which is why we are putting money where our mouth is and, not only are we providing the physical space and infrastructure to developers, will also be incubating a Bitcoin developer out of the Barn at the Woodstock Exchange.

“These are exciting times, and we are pleased to be at the forefront of this technological evolution.”