At DéMars our focus has always been on reducing the friction of cross border payments. Especially to and within Sub-Saharan Africa. We are inter-African migrants ourselves and some of us have spent many years away from home.
This is a cause which is very close to home.
In 2018 we made a mistake by focusing too much on technology. We tried to solve a number of the technical issues with distributed ledger technology, such as the data throughput of a blockchain network transaction. Our hearts were in the right place – we are very conscious of the high cost of mobile data in our region. Though the reality is that there are a number of very good technical solutions currently in existence and we should rather have focussed on delivered a business solution and not a technical solution.
The crypto winter hit hard.
Which in retrospect has been a blessing. We open sourced our research and after a very thorough analysis of all the technical options, decided to build on Stellar. Why Stellar? Well that deserves an essay on it’s own.
Simply put, it’s designed for payments – and it’s open source.
In March we released a mobile wallet App for android phones. To which the response to date has been phenomenal. In two months of testing, the App has been downloaded in almost 30 countries. With zero advertising. We’ve made a number of improvements over this time and the App is now ready to go into production. Our Anchored asset, South African Rand (ZAR), our reward token (DMC) and Tempo’s (EURT) asset have been pre-loaded. The latter for our large (and totally unexpected) Spanish client base.
So what’s next?
Our focus can broadly be split into three “pillars”. Applications, Anchors and Integrations. There is a fourth pillar, liquidity, which is the something which haunts all altcoins. Stellar is not immune, but combing through the ledgers, the network’s liquidity is increasing at an exponential rate and by focusing on the aforementioned three pillars, so will the liquidity in our geos.
The DMC android App, though production ready, is still far from where we want it to be. Users can expect a number of changes to the Asset exchange interface and the initial account set up. We’ll also be launching an agent program, whereby Users can grab a link and earn from referring friends and signing up merchants.
Our App platform has been built to scale across devices and operating systems, so Users can also expect a number of different OS releases in the second half of the year.
Anchors are entities, with regulated fiduciary responsibility, which issue “credit” onto the network. It is our stated aim to either operate or partner with Anchors throughout the African continent.
We’ve already starting in South Africa and have launched a South African Rand (ZAR) Anchor.
Which is now in alpha. i.e. It’s an OTC – ZAR/XLM and ZAR/DMC trading desk. Offering South Africans access to the Stellar network via domestic banking channels.
We’ve also begun negotiations to establish Anchors in four other countries. Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Rwanda.
In the event we are unable to establish trustlines and integrations with “hard currency” Anchors, we will set up a hard currency Anchor under a UK e-money license in London.
Connecting Cape Town to Cairo.
It goes without saying, that operating an Anchor is extremely difficult and nigh impossible if there are limited “pay in” and “pay out” points. These are essential elements of the entire value chain. Banks, mobile money operators and merchant processors, to name but a few, are all essential participants in the ecosystem.
Our first integration is with our banking partners in South Africa. Thereafter we’ll conduct integrations with banks and mobile network operators in Zimbabwe.
Let’s look at the example of the Zimbabwean Uber driver in South Africa, who wants to send R100 to his family back home, who live in a rural area where there are no banks or money transfer operators. Currently this is impossible, as R100 is below the minimum threshold for an international transfer.
Two Anchors, Two Integrations and One Smartphone App make this a reality.
The remitter can download the DMC App to their smartphone, add our ZAR (SA Rands) and RTGS (Zim Dollars) Assets, purchase ZAR assets through our South African banking partners, instantly exchange them for RTGS assets. Which may be withdrawn into a mobile money solution on a feature phone in rural Zimbabwe.
Within minutes the beneficiary will be able to spend the money.
Our roadmap is clearly not short of ambition. We’re a team of “doers” and we have complete faith in our ability to action and execute this plan. It’s crystal clear what needs to be done.
Though we can never lose sight of why we are building out this network. It’s for the Users – the remitter and beneficiaries. The payor and the payee.
The power to be able to send less than $10 back home, at less than 1%, in real time, with no requirement to have or hold a bank account, will most certainly mean more meals on tables. More money for school fees and medical bills.
Those with less deserve more.