Our adjudicator Chipa Maimela shares with us their experience of Avantcore (Pty) Ltd

Winner of the Excellence in the Management of Systems award for 2018, category for emerging enterprises

Love it or hate it, digital assets are here to stay

Whether you love to hate it or love to love it, digital assets are not a fad. There are billions of dollars in digital assets already being moved around the digital universe every day and the industry is only going to grow, says Nicholas Allen, CEO of fintech research and development (R&D) house Avantcore, based in Kloof near Durban.

“A parallel financial universe is currently in the process of being established; a paradigm shift is going on,” he says, referring to the host of fintech exchanges, platforms and products springing up around the world and turning traditional trading and transactional models on their heads.

“With traditional­­­­­­ models, there always needs to be a third-party intermediary. With the emergence of digital assets, value can be transferred between two individuals, without any intermediary,” says Nicholas. “This is uprooting the way business is done, not just in banking and financial services but in many other industries too, because end-users can interact directly with each other.”

Clearly, there is a vast gap between the conventional centralised world and the new decentralised world of digital ledger technology (DLT) – or blockchain as it is more commonly known. The niche that Avantcore occupies is right in the middle; it seeks to build products for businesses to bridge the gap between the two worlds.

There is risk in the DLT sp­­ace, of course, just as there is risk in the old centralised financial world, and businesses understandably tend to be both eager to and apprehensive about crossing the digital divide.

“The challenge is to get the balance right by staying agile and nimble while keeping control of processes,” says Nick. “this is why everything we do involves identifying what possible failure modes there could be, understanding the repercussions and preventing failure from occurring.”

For example, one of the products Avantcore has developed for a client is a digital asset management engine that draws on and analyses massive volumes of data from multiple sources, checking and double checking its accuracy and reliability.

Avantcore implements rigorous processes and systems for conceiving the required architecture and developing and testing DLT solutions and products, including thorough design processes, structured development models, code reviews and evaluation frameworks. This balance between creativity and innovativeness, on the one hand, and structure on the other, is starting to resonate with businesses considering taking the next fintech steps. There is still a long road to travel before this fintech finds general acceptance in business, Nicholas says, but progress ­­is evident. “We have been pleasantly surprised to see how large corporations are interested in and working to get clued up about DLT and the emergence of digital assets as an asset class. They may not be advertising it but they are interested.”

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