How Africa’s Bowmans Uses Own Cryptocurrency To Reward Staff

Earlier this year, leading Pan-African law firm, Bowmans, launched its own cryptocurrency, BowMoney, which is based on the Ethereum blockchain.

The firm, which has offices across Africa and over 170 partners, is primarily using the BowMoney digital tokens as a staff reward and engagement system. And, by what the firm says, it’s been a great success.

Employees can use the system to nominate their co-workers for reward and recognition ‘when they demonstrate the firm’s values in the workplace’. They do so by transferring BowMoney, the firm’s private blockchain value token, from one employee to another via a user-friendly web front.

Along with this transaction, the person doing the transfer chooses the applicable corporate value, and provides a brief motivation for the nomination.

A running leaderboard is displayed on the same internal website showing the employees with the most BowMoney per corporate value. This leaderboard is reviewed every quarter and the top nominees are awarded prizes.

Artificial Lawyer caught up with Lee-Ann Greyling, Group OD and Learning Manager, based in the firm’s Johannesburg, South Africa, office to hear about how the experiment has gone since its launch this summer.

How much BowMoney has been distributed so far? And how has the system worked?

Over 8,000 BowMoney has been distributed to Bowmans employees. A total of 1,110 BowMoney have been transferred between employees. 55,141 BowMoney has been mined from the BowMoney ethereum blockchain.

The web application is backed by a single geth node running an ethereum blockchain. The application is integrated with the corporate AD network context which allows any Bowmans employee to log on and transact.

Each employee has an ethereum wallet and is donated 10 coins initially, for every 7 approved transfers they are credited with another 10. Each transaction is recorded on the blockchain as a token transfer between the users’ wallets.

To ensure a responsive web-ui the the blockchain is cached regularly into a SQL DB. The integration from the blockchain to the .net application is done through the geth api using an RPC web service. To ensure rounded coin balances for users, the gas deficit is corrected on a regular basis from the coin base wallet.

To avoid the increasing block difficulty when mining the ethereum block chain, transfers are queued in geth and the rate at which new blocks are attached is regulated.

Has its value changed since its launch?

Lee-Ann Greyling, Bowmans

The value is subjective. Technically speaking the coins have intrinsic value based on the winning prizes. Since the prizes have a monetary value, you can speculate that each coin represents a portion of this value.

Hypothetically, if the prizes are worth R100,000 and 1000 coins have been distributed, each coin is worth R100 (US$7.30 approx). As we distribute more coins the underlying value (the prizes) remains the same.

So technically the coins depreciated as more coins were mined with the same economic backing. Using this logic, the value of the each coin was significantly less at the end of the program than at the beginning.

Can people outside the firm use it, e.g. a client to buy services from Bowmans.

No, it is a private block chain accessible by only authenticated Bowmans users.

What has been the reaction of the staff/lawyers?

We have had over 1,000 nominations. Given the fact that the programme has only been running for four months, we think it has achieved our objective of helping to foster our internal values campaign.

What is more, is that we have presence in four different countries [in Africa], spread across a number of offices and it has furthered our focus on being more integrated as one firm. The BowMoney campaign was an effective way of recognising people for demonstrating behaviour aligned to our firm values.

On the 8th of December, we have our awards ceremony where our top nominators, individual value winners and overall winner will be announced.

Our winners represent three countries, so again promoting integration. The overall winner is someone who has consistently displayed behaviour across all our values, who has been nominated in various categories and who has been active awarding nominations to others as well.

Johannesburg, South Africa

How do you view the success of BowMoney?

The bottom line is that colleagues have engaged with this platform and used the platform to recognise each other. Shaping and refining our culture, recognising, and applauding those that embrace our values is an ongoing journey. This is a step in the right direction.

Using blockchain technology for a reward and recognition programme has been successful, because it is a simple, intuitive concept that uses innovative technology.

All employees can see how many coins are being awarded and to whom. There has been good participation because people can log onto the site at any time and see who is leading in which value category and why.

Thank you! And good luck with such an innovative blockchain development!