Brian Dennis is a familiar name in the Nigerian Twitter space. But away from the ‘Twitter Influencer’ lifestyle, he’s transitioning to being an important figure in the African blockchain space. In a chat with Technext, the Head of Bitmama narrates his journey into the world of crypto and shares his thoughts on the state of the technology on the continent.
According to Brian Dennis, his journey into the blockchain world started with a need for utility. He was trying to help a friend abroad send money to his mum urgently in late 2018.
“So we were exploring how we could send the money so he said one of his colleagues suggested bitcoin. I’m like okay I’ve been hearing about it but I didn’t know the possibilities and how it worked. I said okay give me a moment, I acted like I knew what he was talking about. I did my research and in thirty minutes I was back and said yeah it could work. In less than one hour I created a wallet address, he sent me bitcoin and I sold it and sent the fiat to his mother and the whole process took like 15 minutes. Me receiving the bitcoin and from me selling it and his mom receiving the money. I was like wow and that opened my eyes into the blockchain.”
Subsequently, Brian Dennis understood that bitcoin is just one part of the blockchain. He dived deeper, started teaching people and built a large community. To him, the interesting thing about the blockchain is that it is borderless and permissionless.
“When my friend wanted to send money via moneygram or Western Union, it would have taken me quite a number of days to achieve that and he did that by sending me bitcoin without any middleman.”
Brian Dennis says transitioning from a popular Twitter figure to the blockchain world was pretty easy for him because it’s an industry he particularly enjoys talking about.
“There were very few voices at the beginning but now it seems many people are talking about it. It’s an industry I particularly enjoy talking about . If you ask me about crypto if I wake up from sleep I’m readily available to answer. It felt natural that yeah I talk about it a lot, so I found a new niche. That’s how it looked.”
Brian Dennis on Bitmama and Centralised Exchanges
As the Head of Bitmama, one of the leading native crypto exchanges in Africa, Brian Dennis says the crypto firm isn’t looking to be like every other. The company’s focus is to solve real-life problems like payments of utility bills with crypto cards.
“We want to bridge that payment gap between crypto and the regular things you pay for. In essence, we can be referred to as a crypto bank because we’re providing services that banks would normally provide. We are all about solving real problems with the blockchain.”
He further emphasizes the need for centralised exchanges, especially when users’ funds’ safety is important.
“The reason why companies like us exist is to provide an alternative. Keep your funds with us. We are responsible and take care of your funds. Centralised exchanges exist and will continue to exist. What CExs have to do is to build trust and we are going to come out of it. In the future there might not be a need for centralised exchanges but for now we need them 100 percent.”– Brian Dennis.
As the founder and CEO of Bitmama, Ruth Isalema, stated last week, Brian Dennis reiterates that Bitmama has no funds stuck on FTX. It has no affiliations with the imploded crypto firm or any companies they are aligned.
Blockchain in Africa, regulation and the future
Africa is one of the regions playing a significant role in the blockchain space, and there are projections that it will improve. But for full adoption to be reached, Brian Dennis opines that blockchain must be presented to Africans differently.
“I think that we are ready. The most important thing is how we present the blockchain. If we’re presenting blockchain to Africa as crypto, we are going to miss it, honestly. We need to present it as a technology that we can use to solve problems that we can see around you.”
Brian Dennis sees, from a different perspective, the issue of people building web3 products because they mostly build products that have no impact on people.
“Why’re you building a metaverse? A blockchain republic? Come on, man; you’re not solving real-life problems. You’re not doing anything that’s going to impact the life of the people directly. You’re just building a fantasy product that you and your community members will hype and say it’s great, but no one will feel the impact in society.
To Brian, we should build products that everyone can use if we want to drive mainstream blockchain adoption. Also, the focus should be on the blockchain as a technology rather than the crypto part. He told me he’s a big fan of regulation because of issues like the SBF-orchestrated FTX debacle. However:
“I feel we shouldn’t regulate to the point where we become like the ordinary banking system, that totally defeats the purpose. I feel blockchain itself can exist without regulation, but exchanges as long as they’re handling user funds should be regulated. Reason is that if you open your doors to regulation you open your doors to adoption because the government would say okay this is what you need to do and then we would allow you to operate. If there was proper regulation, what happened with FTX wouldn’t have happened. Users would have had a way to have their funds protected.”
As we advance, Brian Dennis says Bitmama will keep evolving.
“We want to be the go to place for anything web3 as well as its utility. A lot of exciting updates are coming from Bitmama but we’re taking it one step at a time. This December we should have some major announcements.”
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