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johanngevers
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I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:29 am

I'm a South African-born entrepreneur with a lifelong passion for helping create a better life and world for everyone, by building essential infrastructure for a free society. CryptoFinance presents us with a unique opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of life of people everywhere – see The Age of CryptoFinance – How CryptoFinance Will Transform the World.

I founded Monetas in 2012 to bring the world's most advanced financial services to everyone with a mobile phone, including the world's 3.3 billion unbanked and underbanked adults. Our mission is to build tools and systems that enable individuals to live in freedom and to generate limitless prosperity – see Monetas – Why We Do What We Do. We recently launched a pilot of our platform in Tunisia, with the commercial launch targeted for March 2016. And we've already signed deals to bring our platform to twelve additional countries in 2016, covering 300 million people. Monetas won the Swisscom Startup Challenge 2015 and will be featured prominently at CeBIT 2016.

Successfully realizing the promise of cryptofinance is much bigger than any one person or company – it requires a large community of talented entrepreneurs and a thriving ecosystem. We need vibrant cryptofinance clusters in friendly jurisdictions. I chose Zug, Switzerland as an ideal location for the world's first Crypto Valley. We've already attracted a growing number of leading cryptofinance companies to locate their global headquarters here, including Ethereum, ShapeShift, and Xapo.

The cryptofinance industry also urgently needs a clear, business-friendly legal framework, so in 2014 I founded the Digital Finance Compliance Association to develop such a framework. We've made excellent progress – we expect our framework and self-regulating organization to be approved by Swiss regulators in 2016 and to serve as a model for cryptofinance regulation worldwide.

To help nurture the Swiss cryptofinance community I co-founded the Bitcoin Association Switzerland in 2013, and am co-organizer of the Bitcoin Meetup Switzerland.

A decentralized financial system is a key pillar of a free society, but there are three important additional pillars – see The Four Pillars of a Decentralized Society. Monetas is focused on decentralized finance. To help establish decentralized law, I developed a pioneering new legal system for a free society – for a preview of some of the elements, see The Freedom Universal and the choice of law and choice of forum provisions at Legal Contract Innovations. These are ambitious, generational projects that I expect to devote the rest of my life to.

We live in an incredibly exciting time in history. Never before have we held such power to positively transform the world. If we work together, intelligently, we can do it. Onward and upward!
Last edited by johanngevers on Tue May 10, 2016 2:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:53 am

Hi Johann,

I have two questions:

1) Switzerland has a reputation for good privacy laws, however it is my understanding that in recent years that has been somewhat degraded. What do you see as currently placing Switzerland as the ideal location to create a cryptofinance community? To what extent do you see computing/data/crypto laws as being more or less important than banking/finance laws in this industry? Are you concerned that other Western governments have forced the Swiss government to break some of their principles, and what do you see as the future of that trend/the manner economic and political pressures they face today and in the future?

2) I don't know how much of this you are able to disclose, but I am curious how exactly the platform/application manifests? Is it SMS based like some existing banking services? How are the wallets/data kept? Are there escrow services? Does it try to provide banking services, or is it purely for transactions? How does it interact with paper currencies? What might be the most comparable type of company to Monetas in the non-cryptocurrency world?

Thank you for the AMA!

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:56 am

Hi Johann

Can you share a little bit about the moment you came across bitcoin? Particularly when you started to see the potential of this technology and how it could transform society?

Has the way you view bitcoin technology changed over time?

kind regards

Sambodhi Prem

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:20 pm

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 1:58 pm

Thanks for this.

What strategies is Monetas taking to manage:
1) The instability of many of the countries it is planning to roll out it (e.g. troubles in Tunisia)?
2) The related constraints that partnering governments/institutions will place on the system due to security fears, money laundering concerns etc. Do you envision the systems being locked primarily to national currencies, or will currencies like Bitcoin, Gold, USD etc be soon available to be used on the systems. How do you envision systems across different countries interacting?
3) The challenges of incumbent mobile-money and remittance companies.

Will there be APIs available for third-party innovation on the system? What is the planned nature of the notary server(s) - how is Monetas progressing in its plans for true decentralisation? We'd also be interested to hear of the progress in Tunisia since the announcement of the agreement some months ago.

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:03 pm

Hello Johann and thanks for doing this AMA.

1) Which companies are Monetas´ main competitors in the industry? Blockstream? Lightning network? And why is Monetas a better solution?
What do you think about Chris Odom´s new company Stashcrypto.com? As far as you both use a similar technology, do you see each other as partners or competitors? Do you plan to work with Chris again in the near future?

2) Could Monetas system help Bitcoin to scale? Bitcoin is able to process only 7 transaction per second now, how many tps is able to process the Monetas system? VISA handles on average around 2,000 transactions per second...

3) I´ve noticed that winning the Swisscom challenge included a trip to Silicon Valley and meetings with acredited investors. Did Monetas make any investment deals with big VC´s there or valious network relations for further deals?

4) The commercial launch targeted for March 2016 is only for Tunisia? When will the Monetas mobile app be available to download from Google Play or the App Store for any user in the world? After Africa, are you planning to launch in South America? When?

5) I think Crypto Valley is a very good idea. However I´ve seen that Shapeshift and Xapo don´t appear in the Digital Finance Compliance Association and in the Bitcoin Association Switzerland websites, are they active members in Zug or they just have their headquarters there and nothing else?
What iniciatives or actions do you all carry on to develop the CryptoValley as an important cluster in Europe?

6) Is it easy for Monetas to find good talent in Zug? Most of the brightest people of the world are working in Silicon Valley, how can you compete with them? Do you have a high rotation of employees in the company or the people you hire stay with you for years? I imagine that there is also a battle for the existing talent in the CriptoValley between Xapo, Ethereum, Shapeshift, ... and Monetas. However, are you partnering anyhow to push the industry forward together?

7) We almost hear everyday about some big companies (Coinbase, Circle, Xapo, Blockstream, Uphold, ...) in the news, but a very few information appears about Monetas. Is it because you´re keeping a low profile because you want or because you don´t work the PR and social media channels properly?

8) What´s your vision for Monetas and Bitcoin for the next 5-10 years from now?

Keep up with the good work!

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:19 pm

Hello Johann

I was re-reading Antifragile by iconoclast thinker Nassim Taleb recently. He writes
"Never ask anyone for their opinion [...] Just ask them what they have -or don't have- in their portfolio"
I have come to think it's a very relevant question and you can better weight people's opinions having an idea of how many Bitcoins they hold (or do not hold.) So Instead of asking their opinion on bitcoin, I'm now asking every participants the same question:

- Do you mind to tell us which percentage of your personal net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 2:33 pm


1) Switzerland has a reputation for good privacy laws, however it is my understanding that in recent years that has been somewhat degraded. What do you see as currently placing Switzerland as the ideal location to create a cryptofinance community? To what extent do you see computing/data/crypto laws as being more or less important than banking/finance laws in this industry? Are you concerned that other Western governments have forced the Swiss government to break some of their principles, and what do you see as the future of that trend/the manner economic and political pressures they face today and in the future?
Thanks for your very interesting questions!

1) Switzerland has been put under tremendous pressure by the US, the EU, and other countries, including threats to cut Switzerland off from SWIFT (which would cripple its financial sector) and to confiscate its international assets (which are immense). What's amazing is the degree to which the Swiss have resisted this pressure, have not changed their constitution or their privacy laws, but have instead made only relatively minor concessions that affect primarily citizens of the US and a few other countries who hold Swiss assets, not the rights of the Swiss themselves. The Swiss system of direct democracy combined with decentralized local government and the principle of subsidiarity, provide powerful protections against the negative trends we see in the world today. I am very confident Switzerland will not just survive, but continue to thrive. I am optimistic about the future not just of Switzerland, but of the world. Yes, we're going through challenging times, but it's precisely in times of crisis that new solutions are devised and the foundations of better systems are built.

For the advantages of Switzerland as a jurisdiction for cryptofinance, see the Crypto Valley link in my introductory post above.

Your comment of "(computer) code as law" is on point. I am convinced that secure computer algorithms will displace more and more of the conventional legal system. In fact, the Monetas platform is, at its core, a smart contracting platform, and our vision is that it will enable more and more legal agreements and transactions to be defined, executed, and enforced in a decentralized way by private parties, instead of via coercive centralized states. In other words, it will enable a private law society.
Last edited by johanngevers on Sun Dec 20, 2015 1:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:09 pm

2) I don't know how much of this you are able to disclose, but I am curious how exactly the platform/application manifests? Is it SMS based like some existing banking services? How are the wallets/data kept? Are there escrow services? Does it try to provide banking services, or is it purely for transactions? How does it interact with paper currencies? What might be the most comparable type of company to Monetas in the non-cryptocurrency world?
2) First, we are purely a software development company – we don't operate the software, and are not a financial services provider. We license our software to operators and financial services providers, who earn most of the revenue generated by our platform.

Second, our platform is a universal smart contracting platform, in other words, it can handle every type of contract humans can invent. (It is Turing complete.) Everything in commerce is a contract, so our platform enables all types of commercial (financial and legal) transactions. That includes escrow contracts in which secure software escrow replaces expensive (and not always trustworthy) human escrow agents.

Third, our contracts are cryptographically secured to prevent fraud. Cryptographic security is the game changer through which the emerging cryptofinance industry is revolutionizing global finance. Cryptographic security means untrustworthy people can be replaced with trustless technology. In the Monetas system, all transaction messages are encrypted.

So our platform is essentially a cryptographically secured smart contracting platform. Each contracting party uses our client software (a mobile or desktop app) to cryptographically sign the transaction, and a notary operator uses our server software to "witness" the transaction by also cryptographically signing it. Each party retains a cryptographically secured record of the transaction in its own digital wallet. So the transactions are private and decentralized.

All transaction systems have this design of "transaction parties plus a notary" – even blockchains. In the case of Bitcoin, the miners act as a distributed digital notary. The core difference between different transaction systems is the design of the notary itself. In consensus systems such as Bitcoin and Ripple, the notary function is distributed and probabilistic. In systems such as Monetas, the notary function is singular and deterministic. These two types of notary designs – consensus systems vs deterministic systems – have radically different performance and scalability characteristics. These different types of systems are complementary and synergistic – blockchain systems are ideal for secure digital asset storage, while off-blockchain systems like Monetas are ideal for highly efficient, secure digital transactions. In other words, store assets securely on-chain, and trade them securely and efficiently off-chain.

Our software can be used across the entire spectrum of commerce, including banking services, securities exchanges, etc. We have an open design that works with all types of currencies (fiat, commodity, and crypto-currencies), all types of assets (digital and physical), across devices, operating systems, telco providers, and national borders. This is why we're getting such strong interest from numerous partners, and are seeing rapid adoption by a growing number of countries.
Last edited by johanngevers on Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:28 pm

Hi Johann

Can you share a little bit about the moment you came across bitcoin? Particularly when you started to see the potential of this technology and how it could transform society?
Has the way you view bitcoin technology changed over time?
I first got involved with digital finance in the late nineties as part of a startup that had very similar goals to the cryptofinance startups of today. Back then, Nick Szabo, Ian Grigg, and several other early thought leaders were building the conceptual foundations, but the technology wasn't ready yet, so we went on to other projects. In 2011 I started reading about Bitcoin and in January 2012 I decided the time was ripe for doing something in this space.

My view of bitcoin technology hasn't fundamentally changed over time, but one thing has become very clear to me – technology alone isn't enough. We believed back in the nineties that the internet would free the world. And as we all know today, the internet has become a potent tool for universal surveillance in the hands of the omnipotent state. What is even more important than technology is good values, and living those values deeply and consistently. For example, a knife is a technology. In the hands of a surgeon, it can save someone's life – but in the hands of a murderer, it can kill. So technology is neutral – it is the nature of our values that determines whether a given technology will be an instrument for good or for evil.

For this reason, it is very important that we think deeply and clearly about the long-range consequences of how we implement and use our technologies. At Monetas, we are constantly working hard to think deeply and choose carefully in the development of our technology and in our business strategies, to ensure that our technology and our business will help people instead of harm them. This is not easy – it often means taking a road that is less popular, that goes against the trend, that makes business harder in the short term. But we didn't start Monetas primarily to make money or take the easy way out. We started Monetas with a clear vision of a better, freer, more prosperous world. (And if we succeed in enabling individuals to live in freedom and generate prosperity, we will make plenty of money.)
Last edited by johanngevers on Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 3:46 pm

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Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:13 pm

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 4:36 pm

Congrats on the big win at the Swisscom startup competition, Johann, it's quite impressive to see how you have brought Monetas along, and I think you guys could easily break into the mid-cap fund market in the new couple years. Are you guys fully focused on the recent product launch in Tunisia, or are you also preparing for other markets / product launches at this time?
Last edited by Tectract on Mon Feb 01, 2016 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:34 pm

@Johann, Thanks for all your amazing contributions in the space!!

Questions:

When do you SLEEP!!!! ;)

Serious Questions now:

Can you explain why banking the un-banked is important?

Can you elaborate on how division of labor builds cities/communities and where we would be without it?

Would you be willing to do a 15 minute hangout session at one of our Bitcoin Meetups?

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 5:36 pm

Is Monetas still building Open Transactions or is that happening with Chris under Stash? Since the split, and the lack of any usage of either platforms, what is exactly is Monetas, OT, Stash and when we will have something that can actually be useful to everyday bitcoin users? Do you see your platform as a better way to ultimately implement ethereum without the need for a blockchain?

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:13 pm

Sorry, one more question.

Do you have any helpful contacts for setting up a legal entity (incorporating) in Zug, Switzerland? Any Firms or websites you might suggest as helpful?

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 7:05 pm

Taking care of business, back in a few hours.
I'm seeing some good questions – keep them coming!
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:56 pm

Thanks for this.

What strategies is Monetas taking to manage:
1) The instability of many of the countries it is planning to roll out it (e.g. troubles in Tunisia)?
As mentioned in my intro post, we only develop the software, we do not operate it. So dealing with local operational issues is primarily the responsibility of local operators who license our software from us. It's similar to the case of bitcoin, where the software is downloaded and operated by miners all over the world, who each have to deal with their local conditions. So the operation of the Monetas network is decentralized and distributed among many independent operators. Also note that the news media vastly exaggerate problems. For example, we are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be the victims of terrorism.
2) The related constraints that partnering governments/institutions will place on the system due to security fears, money laundering concerns etc. Do you envision the systems being locked primarily to national currencies, or will currencies like Bitcoin, Gold, USD etc be soon available to be used on the systems. How do you envision systems across different countries interacting?
Our system is open and works with all types of currencies, instruments, devices, networks, etc. Our initial focus is on traditional currencies, because that's what the vast majority of people still use today. However, we will roll out commodity currencies (gold, etc.) and cryptocurrencies on our platform as well. In fact, Bitcoin integration is coming in 2016.

Our licensees need to comply with local laws, but the fundamental openness of our platform, combined with our built-in markets and trading functionality, means there will be increasing competition between jurisdictions via jurisdictional arbitrage, and between currencies and other financial instruments. We foresee a massive pooling of global liquidity on our platform, which will lead to narrower spreads and more efficient markets.
3) The challenges of incumbent mobile-money and remittance companies.
Legacy remittance and mobile money companies can acquire a competitive advantage by integrating our technology into their business and dramatically reducing their costs (both infrastructure costs and compliance costs), while adding advanced functionality not available on any other system today.
Will there be APIs available for third-party innovation on the system?
Yes, we are committed to a platform strategy, which means we will produce well-documented, well-supported open APIs so entrepreneurs and developers can innovate on top of our platform to create millions of new businesses, in a similar way to how the iPhone is a platform for millions of innovative new apps.
What is the planned nature of the notary server(s) - how is Monetas progressing in its plans for true decentralisation?
The notary operators are all independent businesses, but they will cooperate in regional and global networks, just like bitcoin miners cooperate today. We are giving a lot of thought to various kinds of strategies (software design, business design, contract design, etc.) to ensure that our network has a healthy degree of decentralization and resistance to various types of attacks (technology attacks, legal attacks, political attacks, etc.).
We'd also be interested to hear of the progress in Tunisia since the announcement of the agreement some months ago.
The pilot test in Tunisia is now underway and will be completed in early March, followed by a countrywide commercial launch later in March.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:20 pm

Hello Johann and thanks for doing this AMA.
1) Which companies are Monetas´ main competitors in the industry? Blockstream? Lightning network? And why is Monetas a better solution?
What do you think about Chris Odom´s new company Stashcrypto.com? As far as you both use a similar technology, do you see each other as partners or competitors? Do you plan to work with Chris again in the near future?
You're welcome :-)

As I've said at several conferences since 2013, the cryptofinance space is a huge greenfield today. It's like the internet in the early nineties. Our primary concern today should not be about competition, but about nurturing more startups in this important and exciting space, building synergistic partnerships, and pooling resources towards common goals such as business-friendly regulations.
Even if someone else started a business today with identical technology to ours, there are so many different ways to apply this technology that there is plenty of space for multiple companies using the same technology, without anyone stepping on anyone else's toes. We have far more inquiries from potential partners than we are able to service.

Regarding competition, there's a popular misconception that business success depends on who has the best ideas / technology. Hence the obsession with "intellectual property" and patenting one's ideas so no competitor can use them. But the phenomenon of simultaneous invention shows that at any given time and place, particular ideas / technologies are usually widely available from multiple independent sources. In fact, if you walk into a Silicon Valley VC office with your bright idea and ask them to sign an NDA, they'll laugh at you and say they've probably heard your idea from at least twenty other people before you. They're far more interested in the team that's going to turn that idea into a successful business.
In fact, the history of startups shows that a startup team will often start with one idea, then "pivot" in a different direction, often multiple times, until they evolve something that works well in the real world. And the thing that evolves is not an idea, or even a technology, but a complex, multifaceted business process that's hard to capture in words, let alone copy. At the heart of this business process is a strong team that builds strong relationships with business partners and customers through quality products, excellent service, and ongoing innovation, which results in a strong culture and brand that distinguishes it from all other businesses. That's the real competitive advantage, and that's very difficult to copy.
In short, the real secret of business success is not ideas, but execution.

Now looking at the cryptofinance space, one can distinguish two basic categories of technologies, which I've described in my Age of CryptoFinance talk linked in my intro post above:
1. blockchain technologies (and probabilistic consensus systems more generally, which includes systems such as Ripple), and
2. off-blockchain technologies (deterministic non-consensus systems) such as Monetas.
The blockchain space is getting a lot of attention, but there is almost no attention being paid to the off-blockchain space in which Monetas operates. So we are not aware of any significant competition in our area and market strategy.

Just to say again what I've said many times before, blockchain and off-blockchain systems are not competitive but complementary and synergistic. A complete ecosystem needs both a secure asset storage layer, and an efficient trading layer. Blockchain technologies provide secure digital asset storage, but they are not efficient. Off-blockchain technologies provide secure, efficient trading of assets. By integrating blockchain with off-blockchain technologies, we can have the best of both worlds.
2) Could Monetas system help Bitcoin to scale? Bitcoin is able to process only 7 transaction per second now, how many tps is able to process the Monetas system? VISA handles on average around 2,000 transactions per second...
Yes, absolutely. The Monetas platform executes transactions about 1,000 times faster and 1,000,000 times cheaper than the Bitcoin network. And we have no upper limit for transactions per second. In fact, our technology is so efficient that we've calculated we can run the entire world's transactions – literally trillions of transactions – on a single tower of servers that's the size of a large refrigerator. And if you need to run more transactions, you just add more servers. So our technology is ideal for addressing transaction scalability. By integrating blockchains with the Monetas system, they can offer both secure storage of digital assets, and secure, extremely fast, extremely cheap trading of those assets with unlimited scalability. This way, you have a system that does not need to compromise on secure storage or efficient trading.
3) I´ve noticed that winning the Swisscom challenge included a trip to Silicon Valley and meetings with acredited investors. Did Monetas make any investment deals with big VC´s there or valious network relations for further deals?
We're an unusual company that innovates in every area – not just our technology, but also how we structure and operate the company, our business and market strategies, etc. For example, we like to keep things really simple, with healthy incentives that align everyone's interests in the same direction. I mentioned above that we have a single class of shares with identical rights for all shareholders. Most VCs, especially in Silicon Valley, like to structure complicated deals that give them special privileges over other, earlier shareholders. So Monetas does not fit the template approach of most VCs. It requires someone who is willing to think outside the box to really understand what we're doing and why. We're now in discussion with a large, prestigious Swiss VC whose values are closely aligned with ours. They are likely to take a substantial chunk of our next funding round.
4) The commercial launch targeted for March 2016 is only for Tunisia? When will the Monetas mobile app be available to download from Google Play or the App Store for any user in the world? After Africa, are you planning to launch in South America? When?
Yes, the March 2016 commercial launch is only in Tunisia. But it will be followed shortly afterwards by commercial launches in a series of additional countries starting in Q2/2016. By the end of 2016, we expect to cover more than 300 million people in Africa. We are in discussion with potential partners in Latin America and Asia but don't have any announcements as yet.
We are planning to launch a global digital gold currency later in 2016 that will give access to the Monetas platform to any user in the world. The app will be available for download from Google Play and the Apple App Store.
5) I think Crypto Valley is a very good idea. However I´ve seen that Shapeshift and Xapo don´t appear in the Digital Finance Compliance Association and in the Bitcoin Association Switzerland websites, are they active members in Zug or they just have their headquarters there and nothing else?
What iniciatives or actions do you all carry on to develop the CryptoValley as an important cluster in Europe?
ShapeShift has already said they'll join the DFCA, and we've had early discussions with Xapo. We have a variety of initiatives to make companies aware of the benefits of locating in Zug, and we help them get set up here by introducing them to leading service providers, friendly local authorities, etc. We've trained local legal professionals, tax professionals, and local authorities on cryptofinance technologies and the importance these technologies hold for the future of Zug, Switzerland, and the world. We're doing the same with leading Swiss banks. In addition, we're actively working on creating a business-friendly regulatory framework for Switzerland, and some of our recommendations have already been written into law. Our efforts are increasingly being recognized at all levels in Switzerland and beyond.
6) Is it easy for Monetas to find good talent in Zug? Most of the brightest people of the world are working in Silicon Valley, how can you compete with them? Do you have a high rotation of employees in the company or the people you hire stay with you for years? I imagine that there is also a battle for the existing talent in the CriptoValley between Xapo, Ethereum, Shapeshift, ... and Monetas. However, are you partnering anyhow to push the industry forward together?
We have a hybrid team model that includes both offices and remote working arrangements. Half our team is based in Zug, the other half is distributed around the world. We hire the best people we can find, regardless of geography. We started Monetas to make the world better for people, and that includes the people inside Monetas – we put a lot of thought and resources into making Monetas a great place to work for our team. This includes important, challenging, interesting work, an open, participatory culture, supportive leadership, good salaries, attractive working environment, flexible hours and work-life balance, team events (we went skiing together last weekend), attending leading tech and industry conferences, opportunities for personal growth and development, and so on. We only really started building our engineering team in April 2014 when our CTO Muharem Hrnjadovic joined Monetas. We've built an awesome team culture since then, and are investing to make it truly great in years to come.
7) We almost hear everyday about some big companies (Coinbase, Circle, Xapo, Blockstream, Uphold, ...) in the news, but a very few information appears about Monetas. Is it because you´re keeping a low profile because you want or because you don´t work the PR and social media channels properly?
There are different approaches. The Silicon Valley approach is to create a lot of sensation and use that attention to raise a lot of money before you even have a MVP. Then you use the money to build the MVP. Then you exit and start another company. The Swiss approach is rather more quiet and conservative. We prefer to build a real product with real customers before creating a lot of sensation. Now that our product is real, and we have real customers, you're going to hear more about us. But it's important to note that we're primarily a B2B company, not a B2C company. So our marketing strategy is focused more on partnerships than on consumer awareness. We have a white label strategy, so consumer awareness is primarily the job of our partners.
8) What´s your vision for Monetas and Bitcoin for the next 5-10 years from now?
Keep up with the good work!
Our primary focus for the next few years is rolling out our platform to the 3.8 billion unbanked and underbanked adults of the world. That's a huge market. When that strategy is well underway and we have the needed resources, we'll consider additional markets.
Bitcoin's market cap is roughly USD 7 billion today. That's a thousand times less than the market cap of gold, which itself is a tiny fraction of global financial assets. Here's a great visualization: All The World's Money and Markets.
So Bitcoin's market cap needs to grow hundreds of times before it becomes a big player in the mainstream global economy and the price becomes more stable and is widely used as a unit of account. This will take years. There'll be more bubbles and crashes along the way.
But ultimately, I'm sure cryptocurrency will win (whether that's Bitcoin or some yet-to-be-invented superior cryptocurrency). Because the laws of economics always win, and cryptocurrency is better in every way than traditional fiat and commodity currencies.
Last edited by johanngevers on Sun Dec 20, 2015 2:28 pm, edited 8 times in total.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Dec 18, 2015 11:38 pm

Hello Johann

I was re-reading Antifragile by iconoclast thinker Nassim Taleb recently. He writes
"Never ask anyone for their opinion [...] Just ask them what they have -or don't have- in their portfolio"
I have come to think it's a very relevant question and you can better weight people's opinions having an idea of how many Bitcoins they hold (or do not hold.) So Instead of asking their opinion on bitcoin, I'm now asking every participants the same question:

- Do you mind to tell us which percentage of your personal net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?
I agree with Taleb.
I've invested virtually everything I have in Monetas. So our shareholders know that I am 100% aligned with their interests, especially given that we only have a single class of shares with identical rights for everyone, including me, the Monetas team, and outside investors.
Of my non-Monetas assets, the vast majority is in Bitcoin.
Last edited by johanngevers on Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Sat Dec 19, 2015 12:06 am

@Johann, Thanks for all your amazing contributions in the space!!
You're welcome :-)
When do you SLEEP!!!! ;)
LOL! It's a constant challenge, especially since I am at my best when I consistently get a good 9 1/2 hours per night.
These past four years, I've had far less sleep than I need, and almost no time for sport, social, vacation, etc. One pays a price for such a maniacal schedule, and my top New Year's resolution is to achieve a healthier balance of work, love, and play in 2016.
Can you explain why banking the un-banked is important?
- From the perspective of the unbanked, their quality of life improves dramatically when they integrate in the world economy. I explain this in detail in my Age of CryptoFinance talk linked in my intro post above. Also see the Global Findex report, which is the best source of information about financial inclusion and its benefits.
- From the perspective of those of us that are already well-banked (barely 11% of the world), there is a huge benefit through the almost tenfold expansion in the size of the formal global economic network, which dramatically raises our standard of living, too.
In simple terms – think of the science, technology, products, and services that become possible when the formal global economy expands from 500 million adults to 4.3 billion adults, enabling a vastly greatly division of labor and specialization.
Can you elaborate on how division of labor builds cities/communities and where we would be without it?
See a good economics textbook such as George Reisman's Capitalism – A Treatise on Economics.
Would you be willing to do a 15 minute hangout session at one of our Bitcoin Meetups?
Yes, sure. Send me an email at johann.gevers@monetas.net.
Last edited by johanngevers on Sun Dec 20, 2015 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:31 am

Is Monetas still building Open Transactions or is that happening with Chris under Stash? Since the split, and the lack of any usage of either platforms, what is exactly is Monetas, OT, Stash and when we will have something that can actually be useful to everyday bitcoin users? Do you see your platform as a better way to ultimately implement ethereum without the need for a blockchain?
The Monetas platform has similarities to other off-chain crypto transaction systems such as Ian Grigg's Ricardo and Chris Odom's Open-Transactions, but it's a new design developed from first principles by our engineering team under the leadership of CTO Muharem Hrnjadovic. Every line of code was written from scratch in a new language with zero dependencies on OT or any other existing system.

Chris coded OT as a proof-of-concept prototype to demonstrate the possibility of certain types of functionality. It was never intended to serve as a commercial system. There have been many attempts to turn it into a commercial system, including by Monetas, but all these attempts failed. That's why Monetas abandoned OT and designed and built a new enterprise-class system from scratch. The Monetas platform is designed and built to serve as a robust, advanced transaction platform for the global economy. We're not aware of any crypto transaction platform that rivals our security, reliability, performance, efficiency, and scalability.

We are integrating the Monetas platform with the Bitcoin blockchain in 2016, thereby adding crucial functionality to the Bitcoin ecosystem. Simplicity and ease-of-use are fundamental design requirements for our apps, systems, tools, and APIs, so we think you'll love using them :-)

Monetas will not replace Ethereum or any other blockchain. As explained in my intro post, elsewhere in this thread, and in my presentations, we see blockchain and off-blockchain technologies as complementary and synergistic. Both these categories of cryptofinance technologies are needed for a complete cryptofinance ecosystem. In fact, we plan to integrate the Monetas platform with Ethereum's blockchain as soon as Ethereum's technology has matured sufficiently and has achieved significant adoption. Both Monetas and Ethereum will gain from such an integration. We admire and support the important advances Vitalik and the Ethereum team are making in this space, and Vitalik and I recently discussed collaborating more closely on various projects.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Sat Dec 19, 2015 1:40 am

Sorry, one more question.

Do you have any helpful contacts for setting up a legal entity (incorporating) in Zug, Switzerland? Any Firms or websites you might suggest as helpful?
Yes, certainly. We've built a whole ecosystem of experts who can help you with everything from incorporating in Switzerland, finding office space, developing your business model, designing efficient tax strategies, getting visas for your non-Swiss employees, introducing you to the friendly local authorities and potential business partners, and connecting you to the local crypto community.

Email me at johann.gevers@monetas.net and I'll get you set up.
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:01 am

Congrats on the big win at the Swisscom startup competition, Johann, it's quite impressive to see how you have brought Monetas along, and I think you guys could easily break into the mid-cap fund market in the new couple years. Are you guys fully focused on the recent product launch in Tunisia, or are you also preparing for other markets / product launches at this time?
Thanks! Yes, we've made enormous progress the past year-and-a-half, and the team is firing on all cylinders! 2016 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year for us, and we're extremely excited about the major milestones we'll be able to share with you the next twelve months.

As mentioned in the other replies above, we're focused on blanketing Africa (not just Tunisia) in 2016, and potentially some early forays into Latin America and Asia as well. And a global digital gold currency later in 2016. To achieve these ambitious goals, we're strongly growing our team. If you know talented, passionate people who share our values and mission, point them our way!
Johann Gevers CFA CA BCom BSc BA
CEO and Founder
Monetas, Zug, Switzerland
The World's Most Advanced Transaction Platform

johann.gevers@monetas.net
twitter.com/johanngevers
linkedin.com/in/johanngevers

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:51 am

What do you think about crypto in general

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Re: I'm Johann Gevers, Founder and CEO of Monetas. Ask Me Anything!

Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:52 pm

What do you think about crypto future

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