Q & A session with the talented Monika van Zyl & her startup Waves African Exchange below;
Q: Who is Monika van Zyl, could you give us a little insight into your background?
A: I have always had a strong passion for science, technology, and art from a young age. I grew up surrounded by books and games. I studied Theatre Technology back in the day before CGI, but then moved over to and multimedia. I worked for a post-production company for a few years before venturing off into the world of freelancing, eventually starting my own digital art studio in 2016.
Q: How long have you been in crypto/blockchain and what are your interests in this regard?
A: I have been aware of blockchain probably for a few years, but never paid too much attention to it until early 2017 when a friend of mine forced me to sit down and take note. That was the beginning of the end for me and a start of a new passion.
Q: How was Waves African Exchange conceived, when did you start thinking about the concept, could you tell us more?
A: While exploring all the blockchain payment solutions available for existing businesses I became curious about issuing my own crypto, first as a novelty and pure experimentation. While doing research I heard about Waves Platform and its 3 min token creation process. This seemed too good to be true and I immediately started researching further and created my very first token on the Waves Platform.
I was impressed by the possibilities but was greatly disappointed by the fact that I was unable to make any fiat deposits or get my account verified and had to spend large sums on fees to deposit bitcoin to get onto the platform. The penny finally dropped when I once had to pay 40% of my transaction in fees using a credit card! Something had to be done, and urgently.
Q: How did you form your team, who are your team members & partners?
A: My team mostly consists out of freelances I have had the pleasure of working with for some time. My developing team is from the Black Turtle Waves Pool with whom I have joined forces on a few interesting projects such as Waves Platform payment notification services and blockchain voting prototypes. More recently I have been joined by Gordon Bishop, my technical advisor, who has been my right-hand man all the way through the token sale process. It is great to have such a well-formed team that makes work feel like play.
Q: Could you tell us more about Waves African Exchange and your vision in this regard?
A: Waves Platform represents everything that blockchain ever promised us, decentralized, fast, cheap, and useful tool to reshape the global economy. I want to bring this promise to Africa, empower its people and challenge the status quo. I want to stimulate entrepreneurs and give them the tools to bring their personal vision to life. Without gateways to this remarkable platform, blockchain remains a dream. I want to make it a reality.
Q: What other gateways are you planning other than the initial South African wZAR Gateway, what does the future hold?
A: As our bank gives us immediate access to 7 African nations, namely; Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia we will most likely focus our first gateways there. However, we have also received strong interest from Nigeria and Malawi. Our end goal, of course is to have a gateway for every single country in Africa.
Q: What are the major benefits of Waves African Exchange over other competing products & who are your real-world counterparts?
A: Currently there are a few centralized exchanges operating in South Africa, mostly focused on Bitcoin and Ethereum, but there are no gateway options for African nations to any decentralized exchanges. Waves African Exchange gives Africans the power of keeping their funds truly decentralized an in their control by simply providing a safe and secure bridge between native fiat currencies and Waves DEX. We are also opening the power of Waves NG and custom token creation directly to Africa without having to go through costly intermediaries.
Q: Do you have a working product or prototype?
A: It was extremely important to myself to first demo a prototype before developing any type of token sale. I needed to make sure I understood the processes, the technical requirements, and any possible obstacles.
We built a simple manual gateway and did a closed test with about 25 participants for a few weeks to work out the technical concept and economics. I am glad to say that is was a great success.
Once I knew it was possible and what we needed to go ahead to improve the gateway to a fully automated and secure system, I registered the company and the bank account for the final gateway.
Q: What are the planned business products on offer from Waves African Exchange?
A: The WAXEX Rewards program was created to fund the further development of the gateway and to create an economic stimulant for businesses to adopt the Waves Platform into their existing business models.
We aim to provide support and cost-effective marketing to any business who wants to access the blockchain business solutions and tools. It’s a solution where everyone benefits; both business and customers.
Further down the line we also have a WAXEX Rewards mobile wallet planned that will verify and organize all your WAXEX rewards, providing useful information and accessibility to our participating WAXEX Rewards partner customers with store locator and special offers services.
Q: You are planning an upcoming token sale for WAXEX tokens, why a token sale and what is planned with the raised funds?
A: We have a token sale planned for 1–31 March ’18. Token sales provide a unique opportunity for startup’s and existing businesses to do effective crowd funding. It simplifies a lot of the processes and removes a lot of administrative burdens and associated costs. It provides a secure, easy to use and most importantly, an auditable system that is just not possible with traditional funding models.
Q: From an investor’s perspective, what are the benefits of owning WAXEX tokens?
A: The benefits are two-fold. By contributing to the development of the gateway you bring access to millions of new customers that were previously side-lined. This includes investors, end users, as well as new start-ups and existing business. This gives a huge boost to the entire Waves blockchain ecosystem, where everybody wins.
On top of that, we offer these new and existing businesses an effective and cost-effective way to market themselves to a customer base that already understands the Waves Platform space and can maximize on their service and product offerings. In return holders of WAXEX tokens reap the benefits of these promotions through the distributed airdrops.
Q: Could you give us more details on the upcoming Token Sale;
· When will the token sale be held?
· How can people participate in the token sale?
· Is whitelisting (KYC) required?
A: The pre-sale and private investment round starts on 1 Feb ’18 and the main token sale runs from 1–31 March ‘18.
Investors can buy the WAXEX tokens directly on the Waves Platform Decentralized Exchange with Waves or alternatively contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a private sale.
KYC is not strictly required for the purchase of WAXEX tokens via the Waves Decentralized Exchange(DEX), or through private with other cryptocurrencies sales, however purchases of $10 000 or more via direct bank deposits will require a basic form of KYC to comply with banking regulations.
Q: The SEC has been clamping-down on ICO’s, how can you reaffirm the investor in this regard?
A: A lot of the scrutiny that ICO’s have received is based on their specific business model and not related to the fact that they are offering tokens for sale. One of the first things we did was investigate the current regulatory framework, specifically South Africa’s Reserve Bank statement regarding cryptographic assets and exchanges.
Our specific token does not rely on a dividends model or intention of making gains through specific price speculation, but instead serves to provide a functional rewards platform that is not strictly linked to the sales price of the token. The tokens provide a type of membership service to rewards in the form of special product offerings and discounts and is therefore not providing any type of shareholder rights with the intention of distributing dividends or company right to token holders.
Even though KYC is not strictly required for the crypto exchanges in South Africa, as it falls outside of the Financial Services regulations, we intend to keep a good relationship with any and all existing financial services such as banks, who do fall under the regulatory framework, by implementing KYC policies with the intention of providing good faith towards existing institutions and regulators.
Q: The Crypto ICO’s are full of non-committal teams and scams, how can you re-assure the investor in this regard?
A: Waves African Exchange (Pty) Ltd is a registered legal entity in South Africa and therefore fully compliant with existing business practices and regulations. I have several years’ experience in business management and running a start-up and I am actively involved with the operations of 2 other companies for several years. Most of our existing team have worked together on numerous successful projects within the tech space in the past and have managed to build a good relationship within the blockchain space, as well as inside traditional business space. We are open and transparent and can easily be reached on various social media platforms or direct contact via email or telephone in case of any reservations or queries and references can be supplied on demand.
**Disclaimer: gordob is an advisor & investor at Waves African Exchange.