Daily Review: First Digital Free Trade Area Africa Will Roll Out 2018

Africa, a highly diverse in business opportunities continent, is the largest unserved market that has dropped out of sight of the global financial system. With the latest news, Africa takes a significant step forward in attracting business and creating a conducive environment for innovators to explore opportunities on the continent and bring talent, technology, and capital.

Pick #1. Africa’s first digital free trade area for rollout in 2018

Businesses within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) could save up to $450 million in clearance documentation once the bloc adopts blockchain technology for clearing imports. Comesa is looking to roll out a digital free trade area – the first in Africa – modeled along the Malaysian Free Trade Zone, where parties to a transaction are connected in real time through a web of ledgers that are secure.

The application also supports the generation of an electronic certificate of origin whose authenticity can be verified using national information technology systems.

This will be a marked break from the current practice which involves manual applications and physical presentation of documents to tax bodies and other government agencies that cause businesses delays.

Trade financiers could be the biggest losers once the system is in place.

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Pick #2. Internet of Things sandbox opens in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Information Technology Agency (ITA) is partnering with the USC Marshall School of Business and the Viterbi School of Engineering to use parts of the USC campus as a sandbox for emerging IoT technologies. The collaborative venture is called the Intelligent IoT Integrator, or I3 Consortium, and is hoped to be a launchpad for smart city technologies that will eventually be deployed by Los Angeles and by private companies.

I3 has three primary goals, according to USC Marshall’s website. The organization, which was officially launched on Nov. 16, works to promote community-based IoT networks, to offer an environment for experimentation and to be the distributor of software and information for the city and smart city industry.

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Pick #3. Amazon considers entering InsurTech market

Amazon has already begun offering some types of insurance policies. This is through ‘Amazon Protect,’ a product that provides extensions to manufacturers’ warranties, insuring against accidental damage, breakdown, and theft. With this offering, when buying appliances like washing machines, mobile phones, tablets, televisions, kitchen appliances, and other electronic goods, shoppers are prompted if they want to add Amazon Protect coverage to their shopping basket at the time of checkout.

Amazon is expected to soon go beyond this product-related offering. The company has begun advertising in the European Union product for people with insurance and InsurTech experience. The online retailer states it is launching a new business and will be creating a new palette of services.

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Pick #4. Goldman Is Setting Up a Cryptocurrency Trading Desk

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is setting up a trading desk to make markets in digital currencies such as Bitcoin, according to people with knowledge of the strategy. The bank aims to get the business running by the end of June, if not earlier, two of the people said. Another said it’s still trying to work out security issues as well as how it would hold, or custody, the assets.

Goldman Sachs is now assembling a team in New York, one of the people said. While the bank hasn’t made a decision where to house the desk, one possibility is that it will operate within the fixed-income, currencies and commodities unit’s systematic trading function, which conducts transactions electronically, two people said. Darren Cohen, in the firm’s principal strategic investments group, is also looking at opportunities, another person said.

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