Meet Deepa Mardolkar: Chair of the Nano Foundation Advisory Board

Andy Johnson
Sep 23 · 5 min read
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A discussion on Nano: Exploring use cases and the future of micropayments

Deepa Mardolkar has led European business units across retail finance and stored value payments, in multinational organisations such as American Express, GE Money, Capital One, and most recently, Amazon. Having worked for 20+ years for organisations that use analytics to drive customer engagement on financial products, Deepa has set her sights on initiatives that deal with the social side of money.

These include the potential of digital money to drop operational costs for closed-loop micro-transactions within communities, as well as social franchise initiatives aimed at driving financial autonomy for women and young adults. As the Chair of the Advisory Board for the Nano Foundation, Deepa will help structure and scale use cases in the existing community of users, as well as with partner organisations looking for instant settlement solutions.

Nano was established to truly democratise the use of digital money. While cryptocurrencies are fundamentally supposed to be decentralised, even in their short period of existence, they have become the privilege of the few — either because of the energy use required to mine new ‘coins’ and process transactions, or because of the arcane way in which their advantages have been communicated, to appeal to tech-savvy investors.

Nano as a cryptocurrency is not only far more efficient in transaction settlement, but was launched in a way that allowed traditionally underserved communities around the world to earn and store it. It has active communities across Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Nigeria, Ghana, Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia as well as a strong presence across North America and Europe.

As a result, it has attracted a truly passionate team who are working hard to explore new use cases with the community, while also continuing to add new ways to earn and store the currency. Every interaction with the team leaves me energised, and full of ideas — which is an amazing way to work.

In a world where operating costs can cripple micro-transactions, Nano is unique in that there are no inherent fees for settling transactions. In this, it provides cost-efficiency as well as instant settlement for users, with all the advantages of an open-loop network. This potential creates exciting opportunities for individuals, communities, and businesses worldwide, without exception. No fees, when coupled with instantaneous settlement, can really change the game for services that have been underserved by payment networks so far.

Moreover, a passionate, talented, and innovative community of developers, enthusiasts, and service operators share this vision for a world where using decentralized digital money could transform economies. Their energy is essential and inspiring. With the introduction of useful business tools, games, and unique onboarding apps such as WeNano, there is a constant stream of innovation and experimentation in the Nano economy. If communities are able to harness Nano for payments of value that have so far stayed informal or inefficient, those are huge wins.

My primary focus has been uncovering nascent opportunities that the Nano ecosystem offers and helping the team identify ways to encourage promising use-cases.

We have employed targeted research and a data-led approach in exploring how those using Nano for practical reasons are interacting with the network, and how best to support their journey.

Interestingly, we found that thousands of people leverage Nano as a preferred payment method when accessing micro-tasking services, to avoid losing a portion of earnings to transaction fees. The earning platforms we consulted reported that Nano was the overwhelming withdrawal method of choice for withdrawals, particularly with those from the developing world.

Working with merchants, we identified products that could address workers’ needs on these platforms and help establish compelling opportunities for users to spend their earned Nano directly.

For example, users can now complete a batch of micro-tasks via apps and services and spend their earned Nano directly on mobile and data top-ups from MTN, Lyca, and hundreds of more providers worldwide. This route gives users a viable option in avoiding the fees and restrictions associated with fiat conversions via a third-party and the need for a registered bank account.

Being able to earn Nano conveniently and spend it directly on familiar products, like Amazon gift cards or even an Uber trip via merchants like Coinsbee, is an exciting vein of natural adoption that we are keen to explore. We are now working on scaling this earn-and-spend loop out to other microtasking platforms, and continue to work closely with merchants to ensure affordable digital and real-world products are available.

We need to be cognizant that digital money is an entirely new construct with unique features and opportunities. Learning about how people are already using digital money to overcome problems in diverse cultures and socio-economic domains is key. We learn from, build for, and enthusiastically support our users and community.

Also, much of the evolving discussion around digital money is focused on how it can improve and complement current payment and banking infrastructure, and that is very important in helping this technology find its place alongside incumbent solutions. Take lower-value cross-border transfers as an example: users frequently pay high fees, and settlement processes are often incredibly cumbersome and expensive to operate. Indeed, for transactions of this nature, costs can be wholly prohibitive and unfairly penalize users the least equipped to afford them. Nano can disrupt this using the ability to instantly transfer value anywhere in the world, without the need to pay a fee. If you send 1 Nano, you receive 1 Nano, within seconds — it is, and should be that simple.

Organisations processing micropayments will have a distinct advantage in using Nano, and as additional components continue to strengthen the ecosystem, the prospect is becoming increasingly attractive to them and their users. Additionally, organisations looking to reach those on the periphery of the general banking infrastructure, or wanting to leverage the much faster settlement times of Nano, can all benefit.

If you are an organisation trying to make your payments to global users more efficient or don’t like the high transaction costs of your current payment system, just drop us a line at partners@nano.org!

Any links to third party products, services or sites are for informational purposes only and are not an endorsement of the same. Nano Foundation disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any such third parties, and for the operation, accuracy, legality and content of their products, services or site. Any questions regarding third-party material should be directed to that party.

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