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Tunisia to become first in the world to issue its national currency via advanced cryptofinance tech

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Tunisia will be the first country in the world to issue its national currency via advanced cryptofinance technology according to Monetas CEO Johann Gevers in an interview with TechMoran on Mobile Money & CryptoFinance .

Below is the entire interview we had with him.

Why Africa?

The Monetas platform allows for a vast array of applications in many markets. We are focusing our initial deployments on Africa where this technology can benefit the largest number of people, in a continent where transaction costs are highest and access to banking is very low.

Africa is the prime candidate, and because of this mobile financial services have been very successful in eastern Africa.  We believe that mobile financial services are rapidly growing in the region, and Monetas software grants individuals with economic freedom and prosperity through the use of a transaction platform that is magnitudes cheaper than any alternative, interoperable across mobile networks,  and can process new financial tools.

Powering the financial inclusion of 2.5 billion unbanked people worldwide will begin in Africa, we will then go onto expand throughout Latin America, followed by South East Asia.

Tunisia is the first country to use Monetas technology and we are currently working with several African partners to provide coverage to 12 markets in 2016. These partnerships will  bring more than 300 million people into an incredible future of financial inclusion.

Founder and CEO of Monetas

Was the recent launch for remittance only or users cause the service to pay for bills and service or day to day transactions?

The Monetas deployment in Tunisia is the first application for a full ecosystem of digital payments. With the La Poste Tunisienne android application powered by Monetas, Tunisians can use their smartphones  to make instant mobile money transfers, pay for goods and services online and in person, send remittance, pay salaries and bills, and manage official government identification documents.

How unique is Monetas from other players in the same field?

The Monetas system is a unique combination of cryptofinance technologies providing a faster, cheaper and more secure service than any other system. The cryptographically secured digital notary, a conceptual model which has been used successfully for several millennia, provides the flexibility and power to process any kind of financial or legal transaction in real time and at negligible cost, as well as interoperability with other distributed ledger technologies and mobile networks. The digital notary is not a financial intermediary, and never touches customer funds. It instead acts as a traditional notary would, thus eliminating the need and costs associated with financial intermediaries and central ledgers.

What strategy is monetas going to use to acquire customers, now that’s late to launch in the African market?

In Tunisia, Monetas has launched in partnership with the National government Tunisian Post office, La Poste Tunisienne (LPT) , and Tunisian technology startup DigitUs. The Tunisian Post is the backbone of the current payment infrastructure and together with Digitus, will address and acquire customers into the ecosystem, initially transitioning the existing 600,000 users of national digital eCurrency (eDinar) onto the new technology after due diligence is complete.

Digitus is currently working to create a complete ecosystem for the application in Tunisia, and is working to increase the functionality of the mobile wallet through product offerings (in addition to basic payments) such as insurance and ecommerce.

Bitcoins are an opportunity but many regulators across Africa are against legalizing them, how do you aim to trade in them with these obstacles?

There a no plans for bitcoins to be traded on the Monetas platforms to go live in 2016.

Why did you choose Tunisia as your launch country in Africa?

Currently more than 3 million adults in Tunisia lack access to basic financial services. Extensive research, as reported in a World Bank report, shows that these Tunisians have active financial lives, yet are forced to resort to informal financial services that may be risky and costly. The Tunisian National Post Office, La Poste Tunisienne, was a prime candidate for partnership with Monetas because they were looking for innovative solutions to increase access to financial services for the citizens of Tunisia. Of the Tunisians who do have a bank account, 90% have an account with the Tunisian Post, as such they are in the position to drive this project.

How will cryptofinance reduce the cost of mobile money and drive financial inclusion in Africa?

There are now more than 300 million mobile money accounts, with nearly half of those being added in the last 2 years. This still, only represents about 8% of mobile connections where mobile money is present. The tremendous success in the sector is just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly ¾ of the population of Kenya has a M-Pesa account, despite this, 99% of transactions are still executed in cash adding friction to transactions and stifling economic growth. The primary limiting factor to mobile money services currently is that costs are highest where transaction number is greatest; 80% of transactions in Kenya are under $5. After money is received on M-Pesa, people cash out. To go to the shop, pay for a taxi, or complete any transaction under $5 is prohibitively expensive.

In the Monetas system, transaction costs will never exceed 0.9% of  transaction or $0.30, whichever is less. This allows individuals to remain within the digital ecosystem, avoiding a costly exit into cash.

In addition, there is no need for expensive hardware such as point of sale systems. All functionalities on the Monetas platform can be accessed directly from a smartphone.

Why do you think governments globally are still skeptical about cryptofinance and what can be done to change this?

The Tunisian Government are fully aware of the tremendous potential cryptofinance provides to improve financial security and prosperity. The rollout in Tunisia, in partnership with the National Post Office, La Poste Tunisienne, is supported by both the Government and the central bank.

At Monetas, we are looking to inform governments and interested parties of the capabilities this technology has to power financial inclusion. Our team will have a large presence at the global conference for digital technology, CeBIT Hannover in March, where we are inviting members of Governments and Central Banks to join us.

Challenges Monetas has faced before launch in Tunisia or anywhere in the world due to cryptofinance?

Tunisia will be the first country in the world to issue its national currency via advanced cryptofinance technology.