A new generation of companies in sub-Saharan Africa has been working to leverage blockchain technology to offer innovative services for businesses in a variety of sectors including finance, supply chain, security, e-commerce and agriculture. \n\nWhile wild fluctuations in the value of bitcoin may grab headlines, the blockchain programming architecture underlying cryptocurrency is being used to make critical enterprise business processes more efficient and secure.\n\nBlockchain is a distributed electronic ledger built on a peer-to-peer system designed to create a record of transactions, each cryptographically linked \u2014or 'chained' \u2014 to the previous one. The blockchain distributed ledger architecture helps secure the integrity of data.\n\nSmart contracts \u2014 automatically executing transaction applications \u2014 are hosted on blockchains to simplify and secure multiparty operations. Smart contracts often incorporate blockchain tokens: essentially, strings of characters that represent physical or digital assets.\n\nBlockchain is not a new concept in Africa. Blockchain-based applications are already helping to boost Africa\u2019s socio-economic development and operational systems, according to the African Union Development Agency in a recent report. " Blockchain technology can support Africa\u2019s financial digitalisation and this digital revolution can rescue numerous of Africa\u2019s economies. Such a digitalisation process is effectively enhancing service delivery with certain products and services through efficient institutional digitalisation processes and data management technologies,\u201d the report said. \u201cThe adoption and adaptation of blockchain technologies can help institutions manage and formulate robust supply chain systems for the African continent.\u201d\n\nHere are a half-dozen, blockchain-based startups seeking to innovate services in a range of business sectors.\n\nSureRemit\n\nYear Founded: 2017\n\nHeadquarters: Lagos; San Francisco\n\nCo-Founders: Adeoye Ojo\n\nWhat they do: SureRemit is using tokens on its blockchain platform to enable money remittance to and from Africa. Africans working in different parts of the world can purchase the tokens, which can be redeemed in exchange for goods for their African-based recipients. The system allows users to bypass expensive remittance and exchange rate fees.\n\nCompetitors include: PayTop\n\nCustomers: Individuals\n\nWhy they're a top blockchain startup: Money remittance is a huge market opportunity in Africa. Using blockchain and tokens, SureRemit enables low-cost remittance to the continent. This in turn lowers the barriers to funds transfer that most traditional remittance companies still have.\n\nHouseAfrica (PropVat)\n\nYear Founded: 2019\n\nHeadquarters: Port Harcourt, Nigeria\n\nCo-Founders: Uba Nnamdi, Ikokpu Ndifreke\n\nWhat they do: Property verification is still a hurdle in Africa. PropVat, the application built by HouseAfrica, offers a blockchain platform where properties can be verified and valued by estate surveyors and refinance agents. This allows African property owners to get access to loan facilities that typically require collateral like property. "Property details and transactions are encrypted and recorded on the blockchain for easy reference in the future," the company says on its website.\n\nCompetitors include: Real estate transaction platform Seso Global\n\nCustomers: Individuals, property owners\n\nWhy they're a top blockchain startup: Many African families do not have land titles for the property they own. Owners of such properties typically cannot use them to access credit. PropVat is designed to help property owners turn these 'dead' assets into something they can access credit with.\n\nBinkabi\n\nYear Founded: 2017\n\nHeadquarters: London\n\nCo-Founders: Quan Le, Dr Andrew Nevin, Manrui Tang\n\nWhat they do: Blockchain in agriculture is a rare phenomenon in Africa. But making farm produce a digital commodity can help trade happen faster and securely. Binkabi has built a supply-chain trading and financing platform for farm commodities, allowing produce-related transaction to take place via smart contracts. Apart from this, farmers can apply for loans after tokenizing their produce (representing the value of goods via blockchain tokens), through Binkabi warehouse-receipt financing.\n\nCompetitors include: Afriex Nigeria\n\nCustomers: Farmers\n\nWhy they're a top blockchain: Although headquartered in London, the company is heavily focused on the African market and helps farmers in West Africa to tokenize their farm produce.\n\nTari Labs\n\nYear Founded: 2018\n\nHeadquarters: Johannesburg and Oakland, California.\n\nCo-Founders: Dan Teree, Naveen Jain, Riccardo Spagni\n\nWhat they do: Tari is a digital-asset platform powered by blockchain. The company allows anyone to build complex rules for digital assets. "Tari enables the management, use and transfer of nearly any kind of digital asset you can imagine \u2014 from tickets to loyalty points to virtual goods and more \u2014 and offers unparalleled monetization opportunities for creators," according to the company's website. Users can transfer these assets across the Tari blockchain.\n\nCompetitors include: Ripple, XRP Ledger and other digital asset management companies.\n\nCustomers: Internet-based companies\n\nWhy they're a top blockchain company: Tari has developed a way to digitize digital products such as event tickets and loyalty points and make them transferable to other parties, unlocking monetary value for the owners of these products.\n\nTracr\n\nYear Founded: 2018\n\nHeadquarters: South Africa \/ London\n\nFounder: De Beers Group\n\nWhat they do: Diamond trade has been dogged with products from conflict zones. Tracr helps diamond merchants to verify the authenticity and origin of the diamond. Tracr uses emerging technologies \u2014 including blockchain, IoT, and AI \u2014 to create and track digital assets that represent physical diamonds registered on the Tracr platform.\n\nCompetitors include: A variety of track and trace and supply chain management software applications from vendors including SAP, Infor and Oracle, though Tracr has been backed specifically for the gems business.\n\nCustomers: Jewel dealers\n\nWhy they're a top blockchain startup: Backed by global jewel company, De Beers Group, which has an especially large presence in South Africa, Tracr has attracted major diamond retailers such as Alrosa, Signet Jewelers, Finestar and Rosy blue.\n\nUtu Technologies\n\nYear Founded: 2017\n\nHeadquarters: Nairobi, Kenya\n\nCo-Founders: Jason Eisen, Bastian Blankenburg\n\nWhat they do: The company has developed a blockchain-based system that it calls a "trust engine" to ensure that reviews and ratings of businesses on the web cannot be manipulated. Its UTU protocol rewards reviewers with UTU Trust Tokens that can be exchanged for UTU Coins, used as a form of payment within the UTU app ecosystem and participating vendors.\n\nCompetitors include: No direct competitors, though there are various social media management apps on the market.\n\nCustomers: Organizations, internet-based companies\n\nWhy they're a top blockchain company: UTU has devised a one-of-a-kind recommendation engine fueled by user\u2019s anonymized data to increase trust on the internet. They have worked in industries including payments, ride-hailing and e-commerce.\n\nMazzuma\n\nYear founded: 2015\n\nHeadquarters: Accra, Ghana\n\nCo-founders: Kofi Genfi and Nii Osae Dade\n\nWhat they do: This Ghana-based blockchain company enables payment and remittance for Africa. Traditional payments in Africa have many middlemen including banks. Mazzuma enables peer to peer payment embedded on a blockchain platform bolstering trust in the absence of a centralized system. Mazzuma offers and API to help integrate its systems into e-commerce applications for stories and is building a developer ecosystem. \n\nCompetitors include: Legacy banks like Standard Chartered that are offering new forms of payment systems; other start-ups in this market such as Opay, which lets users send and receive money, order groceries and pay bills. \n\nWhy they're a top blockchain company: Mazzuma is backed by a collaboration between the Binance Smart Chain\u2019s $1 Billion Growth Fund and CV VC to drive blockchain adoption in Africa.\n\nCarma\n\nYear founded: 2020\n\nHeadquarters: Lagos, Nigeria\n\nFounder: Ted Martynov\n\nWhat they do: Carma is introducing a data sharing marketplace where institutions can exchange customer data in a legal and secure platform. Confirming customer data from different sources offers a trusted solution in credit scoring and KYC. One of the cases uses in Nigeria, where it operates, is to give assured credit information to financial institutions.\n\nCompetitors include: Mazzuma\n\nWhy they're a top blockchain company: Carma's data marketplace services enterprises in sharing pan-industry, real-time data in a format of data one-stop-shop on a paid basis.