Introducing Sikoba, banking without money
Interview with Alex Kampa, researcher in monetary theory and founder of the sikoba platform. Alex’s research is distilled in his recent book “Money, Credit Conversion and the legacy of Mitchell-Innes”, Godel Press 2016.
Alex, why are you interested in money and why did you start the sikoba project?
My interest in monetary theory was sparked more than 30 years ago. I had chosen Economics as my specialisation at the Ecole Centrale de Paris, but the way money was taught did not make sense to me. Partly for that reason, I did not pursue Economics and instead pursued an MS in Statistics. At the same time, around 1987, I discovered the credit theory of money: finally things started making sense! It was the beginning of a life-long interest in monetary theory.
For the next 25 years, I had a variety of jobs, most related to IT and finance. Reading about money and studying monetary theory remained a hobby. But then, in mid-March 2015, Mathias Foehr invited me to join the “Crypto Finance Luxembourg” initiative, as it was called then. I had heard about bitcoin and other crypto-currencies so I was very happy to join. A few days later, I produced my first somewhat naïve paper on the subject: it called for the creation of local and regional crypto-currencies and for a central clearinghouse to make them inter-operable.
To cut a long story short: little by little, I became convinced that with the emergence of blockchain technology, it was time for me to try and put my ideas into practice. The result of this process is the sikoba project.
How would the world with sikoba be different from now?
Sikoba is just a tool, by itself it cannot change the world, but it could serve as a facilitator for change. If people and companies start to use IOUs and credit instead of bank money wherever possible, the result will be a much more diverse monetary and financial system.
Rather than just passively accepting the money imposed to us by the government and central banks, we would all take active decisions about what kind of money and credit we wish to use, and how. It would also be a world where the money system, being largely decentralised, would be much more stable.
Who are the people you work with and how are they helping you to realize this vision?
The core technical team consists of myself, Dr. Eyal Ron and Craig Sailor. Eyal and Ron joined the project at the beginning of February 2017. They know and complement each other very well. They have an existing blockchain development contract with the German Institute for Standardization — for which they were selected from over a hundred proposals. Although that means that they can work for Sikoba only 67% of their time, it also gives them exposure to other projects that will be useful for their work on the sikoba platform.
With you, Roland, we also have a strong and well-connected Ethereum consultant with many talents, including organising our token presale!
We are also very happy to have Bokky Khoo on board as a consultant. He conducted a thorough audit of our presale contract and has agreed to help us on specifications and architecture. With his background in finance and interest in community currencies, he is a perfect fit for our project.
My good friend Lisa Tan, who is based in London, deals with admin and accounting. She has many years of experience as Head of Finance for a UK listed company so I can rely on her completely, which is a great relief.
Finally, I want to mention my sister Elisabeth. She was group general counsel for a large corporation until a few months ago and was probably spending more time in airports than at home. But now she is again in independent practice and has had time to provide legal support as needed.
And of course we will need many more talented people joining us in the future!
How will you achieve your vision for sikoba? What is your long term roadmap?
The plan is quite simple. After the presale, we work on the minimum viable product (MVP), and at the same prepare the specifications of the full system, including all functionalities and the architecture. If possible, the MVP should already have much of the global scaffolding in place, with some key elements implemented.
We will then do a token crowdsale towards the end of 2017. After that, 2018 will be spent developing the full platform with an expanded development team. At the same time, we will aim to have evangelists on all continents to find user groups and partners. At this stage I would expect a launch by 3Q2018, although such estimates should always be taken with a large grain of sand.
As the sikoba system grows, sometime in late 2018 or early 2019, we will take the necessary steps to make the sikoba federation, which is the group of processing nodes, autonomous. By then, if everything goes as planned, the Sikoba company will have become a full member of the sikoba federation and will have developed a business model ensuring continued growth and profitability.
You are offering a presale, tell us about the rationale behind it.
Developing the sikoba platform is a very ambitious and complex undertaking that requires a long-term vision, significant financing and the ability to attract highly qualified staff.
Because there is a good dose of idealism underlying the project, it also requires a specific kind of investor. So our decision was to avoid, as far as possible, traditional venture capitalists. In addition to the significant time and documentation needed to raise VC money, we feel that having VCs as shareholders will make the project less credible with the blockchain community. It would also make it more difficult to eventually release sikoba (the platform) as a DAO with an independent existence.
On the other hand, the project is not quite ready for a full token crowdsale. So in the end, a token presale seemed a good solution.
How will the presale work?
We will do it in two phases. During the pre-allocation phase, interested parties can contact us directly to discuss the project. This will be a great way for them to find out details about the project that are not available publicly — simply because a lot is still either in draft form or work in progress. These early buyers can then send us ETH and will be sure to receive presale tokens. We will reserve up to half of the funding target for these early-bird buyers. This first phase starts today and is scheduled to last until Tuesday, 4 April — although we reserve the right to extend it for a few days if necessary.
The second phase will be a classic public first-come, first-served sale. This is scheduled to start on Wednesday, 5 April and last for three weeks, until Tuesday 25 April.
NOTE: Presale dates and terms have changed, find out more at: http://www.sikoba.com/www/presale/index.html
Who is your ideal presale participant?
It seems obvious that most of our presale participants will already have some experience with crypto-assets and crypto-currencies. The ideal participant would be someone who wants blockchain technologies to have a real and deep impact on the way the financial system works. For example someone interested in secondary or community currencies, micro-credits or finance for the unbanked.
What are the next steps after the presale for you?
We are obviously not waiting for the presale to end — we continue working. Immediately after the presale, we will know how much funds we have raised and will then decide if we have the budget to add additional talent to our team. The main goal for the next 6 months will be building the MVP, which needs to be ready for our crowdsale at the end of the year!
Disclaimer: Roland Kofler consults Sikoba, Alex Kampa is part of IBC.technology where Roland serves as community manager.