Serge Belamant: Inventor of the First Blockchain Debit Card

Serge Belamant is the inventor of the first commercial blockchain application. In 1989 Serge Belamant started his own company Net1 Technologies in order to capitalize on distributed transactional system technology. One of his early financial system patents was for the Funds Transfer System or FTS.

The Funds Transfer System was awarded the United States Patent 5175416 in 12/29/1992. He has other patents in the field of banking including secure financial transactions and verification of a transactor’s identity. His Funds Transfer System matured and started to develop commercial viability and by 1995 Serge Belamant was working with Visa to develop commercial applications for his FTS protocol.

Net1 grew quickly by providing monetary services for over a million unbanked South Africans living in rural areas of the country. As a financial system, FTS started to mature and it was developed into the Universal Electronic Payment System or UEPS. The UEPS as developed by Serge Belamant is a predecessor of the current blockchain protocol as we know it today.

The payment system he invented used smart cards to store value similar to a Bitcoin wallet. The transactions could be made both online and offline. Another similarity to the blockchain is that the financial transactions in UEPS are transparent and allow for transactional validation and recovery. The smart cards stored the account balance and pending transactions until they are connected to the POS system to finish the validation of the transactions.

His company, Net1 Technologies, and the Universal Electronic Payment System have evolved even more over time. Now they provide a debit card that uses the blockchain ledger as well as fingerprint biometrics encoded into the card for security. The accounts also can be accessed via mobile phones and provide access to banking services including loans, insurance, and other prepaid services like utilities and cell phone service.

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