04 Feb Open Letter to Jack Dorsey: Fair and Square? Patents and African Payments

Jack Dorsey Twitter

Hey Jack

Awesome stuff you doing with crypto and transformation of the world of payments.  Thank you for your amazing contribution. I'm sure I speak for many of us Africans when I say we are looking forward to having a person of your calibre and stature applying your mind to the optimisation and lubrication of payments across our continent.  

Square's recent patent caught my eye  . . to be honest I haven't completely researched it, but on a high level I share some concerns and am interested in your thoughts and perspectives, and feedback from our emerging fintech and paytech community.  

The patent at a high level seems to be that there could be a payment in fiat, converted and transitioned using crypto, paid out in fiat, and a level of privacy involved.  

Over the past year during my MSc in Digital Currency projects, in consultation with my classmates and my African Payment Solutions business partners I have been constructing a very similar model which we are excited to make a reality.  We registered African Payments Exchange Limited and domain apx.africa as part of the process.

In simple: any choice of currency in, a hub with smart contracts to provide autonomous routing, and conversion to choice of currency out in real time.  It could take some time to develop based on available resources, but we are excited to to make it a reality. Especially for Africa where currency uncertainty and cross border transacting between 50+ countries and with the rest of the world is quite a challenge, along with the myriad of jurisdictional legal and technological constraints.

On the one hand, its easy to think up something but implementation is key!  A patent kind of puts a stop to that. Then I was thinking about this new way of being . . decentralisation, open source, collaboration etc . . an explosion of innovation, opportunity and creative disruption.   Don't you think patenting is kind of not in the spirit of things? (A la Schnorr which was useless to mankind for 20 years and is now becoming a big part of our digital reality.)

You are a leading light in this global transformation and new way of being - a world where everyone has a fair chance and equal opportunity.   Don’t you think patenting by large scale too-big-to-fail organisations flies in the face of this amazing new way of being? Could this be a second (big tech) colonisation of Africa?  How could we apply our minds to Africa becoming a bastion of this awesome new way of being - levelling the playing fields and giving the people of Africa a fighting chance in the global economy. 

Welcoming you to Africa!   Wishing you a wonderful stay here! 

All the best

Robin