Civic CEO Vinny Lingham addressed the potential of cryptocurrency projects and investments at Blockchain Entrepreneurs Club South Africa’s (BECSA) Chain Reaction event in Johannesburg on 15 October 2018.
The Chain Reaction event hosted a number of high-profile speakers, including Monero lead maintainer Riccardo Spagni and Luno country manager for South Africa Marius Reitz.
Lingham spoke about his approach to cryptocurrency investment and how blockchain startups should get off the ground.
He also mentioned his role in conversations with SARS, the Reserve Bank, and other government entities about the regulation of cryptocurrency in South Africa.
Lingham said that startups looking to get into the blockchain space through an innovative product or service should follow the basic rules of successful business.
“Start off with what is the problem you are trying to solve and think of how your innovation can solve that problem,” he said.
“You shouldn’t do this stuff for the money, you should do it because you’re passionate about what the goals of the project are.”
Lingham also outlined his personal interest in cryptocurrency projects, mentioning sectors of the industry that he was most excited about.
“I think security tokens are really exciting,” he said. “I think these will become increasingly relevant over the next 3-5 years.”
Lingham added that he was also interested in applications that use Ethereum’s ERC-721 tokens, as these have a variety of applications.
“ERC-721’s are also exciting,” he said. “As a Magic: The Gathering player, I am a big collectibles guy, and I am very excited about that sector.”
Lingham’s pitch to SARS
Lingham said that regulation has become a necessity due to the volatility and public trading of cryptocurrencies, and he has given his expertise to regulators around the world to aid them in formulating rules around the trading of cryptocurrency.
He said that he sat down a while ago with SARS and other entities to weigh in on the regulation discussion, although the idea he pitched did not really take with the regulators.
“My pitch to them was that they don’t know where cryptocurrency is going to go – it is very volatile,” Lingham said.
“The proposal was to charge a flat tax upon entry, where you would put money into Luno, be charged a sales tax on the amount you invested, and whatever profits or losses people make, that is their problem,” he said.
However, SARS did not exactly embrace this simpler method, instead opting to tax earnings using both income and capital gains tax regulations.
“Like any good taxman, they want to earn as much as possible,” Lingham said. “I think they thought that this stuff is going up too fast, and they must try to take capital gains and get bigger numbers.”
He said that while the blockchain space requires regulation now that it is a global phenomenon, it is difficult to implement rational regulation when government is involved.