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Benjamin Fernandes is a Tanzanian award-winning speaker and entrepreneur. Benjamin is the founder and CEO of NALA, one of East Africa’s largest consumer fintech companies. Their first domestic payments product grew to 250,000 customers in a year and now they are building a new cross-border money transfer app — which allows people to send and receive money from the UK & US to Africa. NALA was the first East African company to be selected to go to Y-Combinator.
NALA has also attracted investments from leading global VC funds such as Accel Partners, Bessemer, and Y-Combinator. Benjamin holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business and an Exec Ed from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Prior to NALA, Benjamin used to be a national television personality in Tanzania then after that, worked at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the United States. In 2020, Benjamin was listed as the 15th Most Influential Tanzanian in the country.
Dr Shlomit Azgad-Tromer is the Founder and Chief Legal Officer of Sealance, a blockchain-native compliance solution for virtual asset transactions. Shlomit has dedicated her career to understanding corporate and securities law, corporate governance, corporate bankruptcy and financial regulation. Her research on financial compliance has been published in Harvard Business Law Review, NYU Law Review and AULR.
Prior to Sealance, she was General Counsel to one of Israel’s largest institutional investors. Combining her expertise in corporate law, financial regulation and interest in consumer protection and privacy, Shlomit founded Sealance to pursue the opportunity to address the regulatory gap in the financial compliance of virtual assets using privacy-preserving cryptography.
I started my career in the early days of the web. I was excited by the promise and power of open networks to improve all aspects of society without necessarily thinking through the consequences of what that meant.
One day, a friend lent a copy of Hernando de Soto’s Mystery of Capital, a book that would add depth and purpose to my career path. One of de Soto’s key messages was that technology, be it legal, financial, or otherwise, can have serious unintended consequences people’s underlying humanity, culture, and traditions are not considered.
I believe fintech and crypto technologies can have profound impacts on improving people’s lives around the world, but it requires careful thought on how to roll it out. This paradigm stayed with me and led me to spend more than 20 years working around the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa on fintech and crypto.
Before founding Notabene, I founded Kipochi, one of the first attempts at turning Bitcoin into mobile money in Africa, and uPort, where my Notabene co-founders and I worked to build foundational decentralized identity technology.
Notabene’s vision is to help make crypto transactions a part of the everyday economy. We specifically focus on enabling businesses like Luno and individuals alike to use crypto with confidence and ease.
Right now, we help companies implement a new regulatory requirement known as the Travel Rule. Essentially, this requirement requires crypto companies to collaborate privately on identifying each other and each other’s customers before performing a crypto transaction. While this is intended to stop fraud and corruption, it is also essential for end-users to confidently send funds to the correct recipient.
Enable crypto transactions with confidence and ease
We’ve been heads-down building the last two years, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. During that time, crypto has continued to spread around the world. Now more and more traditional institutions and fintechs are gearing up to bring crypto-based products to a much wider audience than ever before. We see ourselves as having an essential role in supporting this development.