The spread of coronavirus has impacted events around the world, including the Africa Blockchain Conference 2020.
On Wednesday the organisers decided to forge ahead with the event despite fears that delegates would not be able to attend due to canceled flights. The same day host country South Africa confirmed six new coronavirus infections bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 13.
Nevertheless, the conference kicked off albeit with low attendance. Around 500 delegates were reportedly expected to attend the two-day summit but only 230 people had confirmed their attendance by the time the event commenced, according to the organisers. Several day-one keynote speakers were stuck off the official programme, including Cardano founder, Charles Hoskinson, who canceled his trip to South Africa entirely.
Conronavirus could disrupt crypto trading
One of the keynote speakers who attended the event was Tony Vays, a renowned cryptocurrency investor and contributor in the blockchain space. During a panel discussion, Vays weighed in on the global coronavirus crisis arguing that the pandemic could potentially impact cryptocurrency markets.
“I could see that as being pretty bad for Bitcoin. We are already seeing massive global economic disruption that is affecting global markets,” he said.
“If there is a huge economic disruption, company’s close and people stop investing. People won’t be speculating on Bitcoin. If you lose your job, you’re not going to be buying Bitcoin, you’ll probably sell it to put food on the table.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Richard de Sousa, founder of local cryptocurrency exchange, AltCoinTrader, who expressed concerns about the anticipated impact of coronavirus on the global economic markets.
Binance building presence in South Africa
Binance, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, announced at the event that it plans to establish a solid presence in South Africa (SA) in the coming months. First on its list is the plan to launch a fiat gateway for South Africans to trade cryptocurrencies more conveniently and at lower costs.
“Africa illustrates one of the largest demands and instrumental use cases for cryptocurrency, notably for financial access. According to the World Bank, approximately 66% of Sub-Saharan Africans are listed as unbanked. So instead of trying to bank the unbanked, let’s try and Bitcoin the un-Bitcoined,” said Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao in a pre-recorded message to the conference.
Binance launched a similar service in Nigeria last year in partnership with payment gateway Flutterwave. The service allows for direct fiat-to-crypto trading pairs for Nigerians including Bitcoin (BTC), Binance USD (BUSD) and Binance Coin (BNB).
Meanwhile, trading support for the South African rand will be launched in the next few weeks.
During the conference, Binance also pledged to donate $1 million through the Binance Foundation to support the growth and advancement of blockchain education in South Africa.
Binance aims to partner with local organisations in order to deliver effective educational programs to drive the development of blockchain in South Africa.
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