Bitcoin & Blockchain Beirut Labs, BBB for short, is a community of volunteers and researchers as well as experts who have been the voice of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency in Lebanon since 2016. The aim of the community is to distribute education, exchange experience, and enhance the promotion of technology in Lebanon.
Since 2016, BBB has been holding monthly meetings to bridge the gap between education and awareness. By conducting presentations, workshops, and discussions, their goal is to create a diverse body of academics, programmers, technology entrepreneurs, experienced financial advisors, and journalists.
Randa Al Rifai, founder of the BBB, created the community to “bring like-minded people together.” In addition to offering sessions, she also organizes events to speak about the subject.
In addition to her banking career, she has a passion for technology. She was the first woman in the Middle East to receive a Certificate in Digital Currency and the first Lebanese to initiate a like-minded blockchain and cryptocurrency community. Since then, she’s helped educate individuals about digital currencies and blockchain, which led her to found the first Lebanese Association for Digital Transformation, LADT for short.
Crypto Heroes caught up with Randa Al Rifai to ask her some questions about blockchain integration in Lebanon.
What’s the difference between BBB and LADT?
“BBB Labs is the think tank community where anyone can become a member. Meetings are usually held here to exchange and spread knowledge about blockchain and cryptocurrency. LADT is the official NGO aiming to educate university and high school students, as well as entrepreneurs and public authorities. The NGO also aims to advise and support projects to strengthen digital transformation. It thereby promotes the widespread adoption of digital transformation in the public and private sectors of Lebanon.
“Both, the BBB and the LADT community have the mission to educate and materialize the blockchain potentials through various business models.”
How would you describe your team?
The diverse team – or community, as Randa Al Rifai likes to call it – consist of experts, researchers, and volunteers.
“We are a group of like-minded people who share the same vision but with different resourceful backgrounds. We are Bitcoin and digital currency enthusiasts who are actively spreading knowledge and shedding light on their positive traits.”
How aware are Lebanese citizens of blockchain and how open are they to it?
“A few people are aware of blockchain, but it is increasing positively. Before BBB, there was no group supporting this matter, which is why I decided to start one. My objective is to illuminate Lebanon as part of the tech map in MENA.
“We have a huge number of talented people who are already initiating startups based on blockchain. I have seen innovative ideas and startups, especially among university students. They are heavily engaged and eager to integrate this innovation into their daily lives.
“Lebanon is attracted to this change. I’m positive that in a few years we’ll be able to see good results. Such topics, and in particular the digital transformation involving different stakeholders, are being continuously supported.”
How are you planning on integrating the “economic development” into universities and youth programs?
“We are currently offering the first certified course for blockchain and cryptocurrency students at Middle East University. It is the first university in Lebanon to offer this certified course, starting on June 17, 2019. Students of business, computer science, engineering, and economics can take this course. Currently, most MEU students taking the course are MBA students.
“I lecture one week of this 3-week course during which I deliver the theoretical and scientific part.”
The course is held in English … for now. Randa Al Rifai also plans on expanding her program to other countries in the Middle East.
Are youth programs catching on?
“In July 2019 I will be delivering sessions on the same topic for Teens Who Code, a summer camp for teenagers. It is both exciting and challenging to educate young people about this new technology, which will open up new opportunities in the near future. But by educating them, we can guarantee a developed education for the new generation.”
Randa Al Rifai encourages the Ministry of Education, along with schools and universities, to integrate this into their academic curriculum, adding, “We are ready to fully support it.”