In what might be the end for stockbroking firms in Nigeria and Africa at large, Veritaseum, a United States-based blockchain technology firm has hinted that the introduction of blockchain technology into Africa’s capital market will eliminate the services of middlemen and thereby reducing transaction time.
Reggie Middleton, the Disruptor in Chief as he likes to call himself, in an exclusive interview at the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) annual conference themed ‘Champions on the rise: Africa’s ascension to a more sustainable future’ held at the Lagos Oriental Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos, revealed that several stock exchanges in Africa are in talks with his firm and on conclusion could see the markets adopting blockchain technology for trading processes.
“I am looking at signing agreements with several exchanges and I feel we are very close, I don’t want to reveal other private information and I expect them signed before I go back to New York.” – Middleton
Middleton – who was also a panellist during the ASEA Conference’s Pathways to Inclusive Growth in Africa: Digital Finance, Financial Literacy, Inclusion and the Democratisation of wealth Panel discussion – said if stockbrokers across Africa don’t diversify, they might be phased out as a result of this disruption.
The game changer
A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography (the practice of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties). Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree root hash).
By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires a consensus of the network majority.
If the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) eventually introduces this technology into its trading processes, it will eliminate stockbrokers as middlemen, thereby leaving public and retail investors to directly buy and sell stocks during trading sessions. Except stockbrokers in Nigeria diversify, it will be difficult for them to function with the emergence of blockchain in the stock market.