SORA Card AMA #1
On Thursday 24th of November, an AMA with Dr Makoto Takemiya, Beno Van Gansen and the SORA community was held on Telegram to answer questions about SORA Card and its upcoming release
With the launch of the SORA Card around the corner, the SORA community was treated to an interesting AMA where details regarding SORA Card, its operation and fees were covered. Here is a transcript of the AMA that took place in the SORA Telegram community.
The questions have been edited for clarity.
Dear community! We will now start the live AMA with Makoto and Beno, and will answer first the pre-submitted questions. We merged some similar questions to keep the information concise.
Beno: Hello everybody. I am happy to answer all your questions ^_^
Let’s start with the first introductory question:
Can you introduce yourself to the old and the new community?
Makoto: I am Makoto Takemiya, the CEO and co-founder of a blockchain technology company called SORAMITSU. I have been active in the blockchain space since 2013. I also had the honor of attending one of the early Polkadot events in 2017, in Spain, and our company has worked with the Web3 Foundation since 2018. I am a huge supporter of DOTSAMA and believe that the Polkadot/Kusama concept of many chains with shared security and interoperability is the obvious future for crypto.
I have a PhD in Interdisciplinary Information Studies from the University of Tokyo and I am passionate about applying technology to solve the real, structural problems that are faced by economies all around the world.
B: I am Beno, contributor to SORA through Polka Biome (Polkaswap community initiatives) and SORA Biome (SORA Card). I have a background in Law (LL.M) and worked 7 years on the business side of technology services before contributing to SORA and working in Web3. Since I read about SORA the first time in 2020, I felt the urge to dedicate my energy to this project — or should I say movement?
What is SORA Card and why should I care?
B: SORA Card is the product name for the neo bank-style fiat wallet with IBAN and Mastercard Debit Card that integrates into the self-custodial and decentralized solutions SORA Wallet and Polkaswap provide. SORA Card is unique because, unlike other crypto payment cards, It gives the user direct access to DeFi, meaning full ownership over their crypto assets, and at the same time, it also gives access to the traditional finance (TradFi) world, with real-world transactions and shopping, all in one place.
This solution is not for everyone, however: a self-custodial wallet comes with increased responsibility and ownership for the user, since they have sole access to the assets. We believe our solution is specifically relevant to people who value freedom, take ownership over their finances and decisions, and value privacy without sacrificing the premium user experience that we have all come to expect in this digitally evolved world.
You should care because users of our decentralized and self-custodial solutions will never face situations as we have recently seen with FTX and other centralized platforms. On the fiat side, you have the same access to the TradFi world, protection, and obligations as with any other regulated financial institution
Can you share the roadmap for SORA card?
B: A High-Level overview of plans for SORA Card are:
Phase 1 (2023): Pre-order cards, pass KYC, buy XOR up to EUR 700 with soft KYC
Phase 2 (Early 2023): With card in hand and on mobile, ready to use, exchange XOR <-> EUR. KYC will be integrated in the apps and there will be a referral program
Phase 3 (Mid-2023): Multi-currency wallet, Multi-account wallet, additional features to the fiat wallet.
You can also expect GBP and USD SORA Cards before the end of Q2 2023! Many other additions are proposed and being discussed, but do not yet fit into a roadmap and project plan. It is important to know that we will take community feedback after launch to optimize the product(s) and to integrate community requests, if they make enough sense.
How old is SORA? What are the major plans ahead? Could you show us the image of your roadmap?
M: The idea of SORA is from 2017 and the SORA community has been working since then to build the SORA economic system, as a viable alternative to the contemporary fiat, debt-based monetary systems that are commonplace, yet failing, in our world today. The goal of SORA is to create the tools to provide consistent, high growth, so that everyone can reach the full potential. You can see the SORA integrated plan here.
Dear Sir, According to the roadmap, what are your most important next priorities? Does your team have enough funds and a strong community to achieve those milestones? please tell me.
M: The SORA integrated plan shows the priorities, as the y-axis is time-sorted (so features near the top of the screen are higher priority). Because SORA and Polkaswap development are both funded by the community via TBCD minting, there is funding to realize all the planned features, going into the future.
How will the value flow from the IBAN account to the SORA network?
B: We are working on a visualization of the flow, but in summary, it looks like this:
(1) From the IBAN Account: “Buy XOR”.
(2) EUR will be sent to an integrated custodial wallet with native XOR.
(3) Native XOR will be sent from this wallet to your SORA network address, accessible by your self-custodial SORA Wallet and/or Polkaswap.
The steps 2 and 3 are automated once you sign the transaction in 1.
Does our balance stay in our SORA Wallet or at the bank’s side? If its at the SORA Wallet, how is the bank able to get it from my wallet?
B: Your EURO balance is on your IBAN with the bank. Your SORA Card is linked to this IBAN account. Your crypto stays on your SORA crypto account. You need to manually top-up your IBAN / card by selling XOR for EUR, as the SORA Card is a debit card. There is a clear separation and no transfer of data (except buy/sell EUR <> XOR) between the crypto wallet and the fiat wallet.
Which bank will you use?
B: We cannot yet disclose the issuing bank, but it is a bank in good standing, licensed in the EU. This will be shared when ordering the card becomes available.
Can I deposit euro on my IBAN and go to Polkaswap swap XOR/EUR?
B: The user will experience it like this. However, in reality, the XOR/EUR exchange does not take place on the SORA network, nor on Polkaswap. We integrated an automated custodial solution on the fiat side for this part of the flow. This is required to be compliant with EU TradFi regulations.
Can I give the IBAN of the SORA Card to my employer to receive my salary on it?
M: Absolutely — please do! It works like the IBAN of any neo- and commercial bank. Your SORA IBAN will be even more private since only the card issuer and Mastercard can have access to your transaction details and balance, while commercial banks usually share these with other third parties by default.
Can I order a card to the United Kingdom?
B: Yes, you can, although it makes more sense to wait for a little while until the GBP cards are ready to order, in Q1 2023. Although SORA Card is completely available, and up to your discretion to use in the UK, the EUR card will come with a conversion fee for all your GBP spending.
Can people in Abu Dhabi use the card?
B: YES, you can USE SORA Card on the Mastercard Network anywhere around the world. Just like with any debit card, the additional fees depend on the local merchant, system/machine, and currency conversion. APPLYING for SORA Card is also possible. Just keep in mind that you will have a European IBAN and EUR card, and approval of your application is at the sole discretion of the bank — they can reject your application without the need to give a reason.
Considering SORAMITSU is a Japanese blockchain company, will the SORA Card be available for Japanese residents on release? If not, how soon can Japanese residents expect it to be available by?
M: As mentioned, SORA Card will initially be a Euro card. Japanese residents can apply, although it is at the discretion of the bank to approve or deny your KYC application. Conversion fees will apply when spending EUR in Japan.
That being said, we are preparing a potential expansion of the SORA Card program into Asia. Every country has different regulations, customs, and currencies, which makes the decision to invest in a certain country more challenging than a big single market like the EU or USA. If we see the right business opportunity, and there is a lot of demand in Japan, we will definitely investigate the possibilities.
BTW, SORA and SORAMITSU are not the same thing. SORA is a decentralized world economic system that has no location, but is everywhere the internet reaches. SORAMITSU is a fintech software company, which contributes to the SORA codebase, among other contributing peers.
How do I get a metal SORA Card so I can slap that down on the table (good for promoting SORA on the streets)?
B: Love the enthusiasm! We are working on different SORA Card program tiers, of which the highest tier will have a metal card. More info on this will follow in early 2023!
Is direct deposit on the IBAN possible? If yes, is there any balance limit?
B: Direct deposit is definitely possible, as SORA Card works like any other IBAN. There are no limits on receiving funds, just take into account limits from the sender side. Also, take into account that proof of funds can be requested for high amounts and volume (AML).
How many types of cards will be available at start?
M: Just the SORA Card EURO Mastercard to start. In the future, different tiers will likely become available. More info on this in early 2023.
I read that the goal of SORA Card is to provide users access to and ownership over their crypto and fiat assets. How does SORA plan to build an open ecosystem for web 3 that gives users ownership of their data? How will you solve the limitations of web 3 which involve scalability?
M: Whenever touching TradFi, there are limitations on how much control people can have over their assets. That’s why with SORA Card, it’s going to be very easy to move money from your bank account to crypto tokens that you control directly within a DeFi platform. To start, this means swapping EUR to XOR, but once you are in XOR, you have full control of the tokens and can do whatever you want with your assets (like swapping them for other assets on Polkaswap).
The SORA network uses Parity Substrate, which is already very fast and scalable, compared to legacy blockchains like Bitcoin or Ethereum, so scalability is not a problem and won’t ever be, even if we get millions of SORA Card users.
What kind of problem are you solving with SORA Card?
B: We are solving the need for self-custodial crypto and TradFi access within the same solution. At start, this will be integrated into Polkaswap and the SORA Wallet. You can easily spend your Demeter yield by selling it for fiat and spending it via the card, or, eventually, make use of any DOTSAMA parachain tokens you may have. SORA Card will also give you the best fiat on-ramp!
In 2023 Fearless Wallet, the DeFi wallet of the Polkadot & Kusama ecosystem, will integrate SORA Card. This gives you access to the multi-(para)chain world, and allows, for example, that you sell your GLMR staking rewards when the check comes in the restaurant and you want to pay the bill with SORA Card.
What costs are related for maintaining the SORA Card project?
M: This depends on the number of users and volume: more users and volume is a higher cost overall, but it will also bring the cost to the community down since this can be funded by revenue (transaction fees). It is difficult to put an exact number to it since there are variable costs and variable revenue, although the minimum maintenance cost will not be under $20k per month.
This basic maintenance cost is expected to be funded by the SORA community via XST minting, as this is a basic good for the ecosystem. The converse of this is that with enough transaction volume, SORA Card can be revenue-positive and can drive value directly back into the SORA community.
Any marketing and PR activities for SORA Card?
B: For phase 1 we mainly count on our own channels, Polkadot channels, and some collaborations in the works. Once phases 1 and 2 are delivered, and SORA Card and wallet are highly rated by the first users, and the referral program is rolled out, then it makes more sense to go out and reach the masses. The feedback from the initial community users will be extremely valuable before increasing the investment into larger PR and marketing campaigns.
You can definitely expect SORA and SORA Card to be at multiple events in the upcoming months. To name a few: Polkadot Sub0 in Lisbon, Polkadot Bangkok, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the European Blockchain Convention in Barcelona, and many more to come!
How long does it take to get the card delivered after applying for it?
M: Personalizing the card, packaging, and delivery will take 7 to 14 days, depending on your location. Outside of the EEA (European Economic Area), this will likely take longer.
Why would I use SORA Card instead of ordinary bank cards?
B: Your SORA IBAN will be more private than commercial bank accounts, since only the card issuer and Mastercard can have access to your transaction details, while commercial banks usually share these with other third parties by default. Furthermore, your commercial bank’s app does not have DeFi tools built in, like farming, staking, decentralized on-chain trading, and other ways to earn.
Also, you can swap your assets from a safe, self-custodial crypto wallet to fiat, and back, in seconds, all in one app! As we all learned again recently with the FTX fiasco, you do not want to keep your assets in a centralized custodial solution. What if you are out of cash in the supermarket? Sell some of your DEO yield and top up your SORA Card in seconds.
Bonus: The card looks sexy AF.
Any plans for credit functionality, or will it always be a debit card?
B: This is one of the many options we are exploring for the future. The SORA Card program will likely be expansive, and evolve 18 months from now, with features that are not even being planned yet. Community input will drive this evolution since it is built by, and for the SORA community, and for every person who is at least crypto curious and likes to have ownership over their finances.
How much does the card cost me, if I want one?
B: The three options to apply for SORA Card, along with the fees for each option are:
1. If you already have more than €100 worth of XOR in your account: the application with your SORA address is free;
2. If you want to purchase XOR to have the €100 balance for a free account, you will be able to buy native XOR worth up to €700 within the app, with only soft KYC required (details below);
3. If you do not have €100 worth of XOR, and you don’t want to purchase it, there will be a fee of €20 to apply for KYC and the SORA Card. This payment can be made with any debit/credit card.
To verify if you have at least €100 worth of XOR in your account, your XOR in LP, XOR in stake, and your account balance will be tallied together to calculate your total. We want an inclusive card program for all of our community members, hence the friendly access criteria.
Applicants who do not wish to own €100 worth of XOR can simply apply for the card by paying €12 for the first physical card, virtual card, and the KYC application.
We also have great news for people who do not have €100 worth of XOR on their account yet, and would like to purchase it; thanks to the integration of X1 Exchange, you can purchase up to €700 worth of native XOR in your SORA account, only requiring a soft KYC (limited to once in a lifetime per individual).
Unlike the “regular” KYC that requires state-issued identity documents, to use this option, you will only need to provide your first and last name as per your ID document, your country of residence, and your nationality. The soft KYC solution is not available for certain nationalities.
PARTNERSHIP & COLLABORATIONS are the backbone to making every project more widespread. Can you list some of your partners with us? Thanks mate.
M: SORA Card is being collaboratively developed by SORA Biome and SORAMITSU, along with Mastercard, and a European bank and payment processor.
Other multiple partnerships are in the making, from business solutions to Substrate builders, and marketing/user acquisition collaborations. These will be shared in due time. Everyone is excited to make this a success and the campaigns and partnerships around SORA Card and other SORA products will be more and much bigger than before. Everything is coming together nicely and we can’t wait to expand our community!
How powerful is your team and what experience and background does your team have? Mention those features.
B: SORA Biome: Core team +8 years in (fin)tech, law, management and supported by specialized consultants with each at least 10 years of experience in their respective fields: Banking, (EU, tax and corporate) Law, Compliance, Accounting, Tax. SORAMITSU can be introduced by Makoto-san. Mastercard of course needs no introduction.
M: The development team at SORAMITSU working on SORA Card integration has close to a century of combined experience developing real-world, software applications, many of which are in the financial software space. Most of the team are users of SORA and Polkaswap and have intimate knowledge of the needs of the community and a strategic vision about how to help SORA to reach its full potential.
Did you consider community feedback/requests during the creation of your product in order to expand on fresh ideas for your project? Many projects fail because the target audience and clients are not understood. So I’d like to know who your ideal consumer is for your product?
M: Definitely. The community has played a key part in deciding the functions that will be available for SORA Card, as well as those to be implemented in the future. On the other hand, the ideal user for SORA card is not limited to being a member of the SORA community, but also other DOTSAMA projects, and any and every person who is at least crypto-curious and likes to have ownership over their finances.
Where can I search and know more details about the project sir? Can you send me all your media and web links please (telegram, discord, Twitter, linkedin, etc)?
M: Hello ser, you can find SORA on Twitter, Telegram, Discord, you can check out the SORA Wiki, soracard.com or visit the SORA website! You can also checkout Polkaswap, on Twitter, and Telegram, as well as Fearless Wallet, on Twitter, Telegram or the Fearless Wallet website to download the app!
Many projects have started but may not be long lasting. Can you tell me if you plan to stay active and provide projects and opportunities to the community in the long run?
M: SORA Card is built by and for the community. As it is funded for the common good of the SORA community, it will continue to be developed as long as the community agrees it is in the best interest.
Do you have Whitepaper if yes, please share it with as secondly do you have plans for pre-sale? Now where can we Join it?
M: SORA Card is an initiative funded by the SORA community and does not have its own token. Instead, it uses existing SORA ecosystem tokens, such as XOR. To learn more about SORA Card, you can read some of the following articles:
SORA Card vs Other Crypto Wallets
SORA Card: Meet the People Behind the Project
Will there be any countries that will not be able to use the card? Will bank have online help for card users?
B: Residents in countries that have difficulties with the global powers that be, such as Russia, Iran, and DPRK, will not be able to onboard with SORA Card. Example: A Russian living in Moscow can not pass the KYC, while a Russian resident in France can order a SORA Card. Online support will be available to card users.
Are you hiring call center personnel?
M: First line support can be given in the SORA chat and a FAQ on soracard.com should answer most common questions — second line support is handled by the banking partner through the app.
Can I use my KSM and DOT to pay with the card?
M: Once the bridge between the SORA network and the SORA Kusama Parachain is done, you will be able to use KSM on the SORA network. Any token that is on the SORA network and Polkaswap can be used to charge up your SORA Card through XOR. DOT will be supported shortly after KSM, on the SORA network.
Can my kid apply for the card or +18? He is a heavy farmer
B: According to European law, citizens over the age of 18 can open bank accounts. With that said, there are situations where parents can open accounts for their children, albeit with complete oversight and legal responsibility. We are looking into enabling family accounts in 2023.
This means that you can have multiple cards and people spending funds from a single IBAN account, requested by an adult. The parent can set limits to each card connected, allowing for minors to have a SORA Card under parental guidance. This way your kid can do the farming on Polkaswap/Demeter and you, the parent, can open the family IBAN and allow him to spend the fruits of his farming with his SORA card connected to your family IBAN.
Hello Beno, What happens when I don’t have enough funds in my wallet to complete a transaction? Does the KYC bank have access to my DeFi balance? Thank you 😊
B: The KYC bank does not have access to your DeFi balance. It depends on what transaction you mean, but if it is an IRL transaction with the debit card, you would need to top it up with balance from your crypto. The debit card does not allow your IBAN balance to go below zero. However, you will be able to top it up within seconds from the SORA Wallet.
Can I have both a business account and a personal account? Will both options be available in phase 1?
M: Yes, you will be able to onboard with a business and do KYB, starting in early 2023!
I get quite confused looking at the fees and can’t fully grasp all fees which apply to my use cases. Can you please provide a few practical examples?
- I want to send 1 000 USD from my bank account to SORA Card IBAN, and then buy XOR.
- I want to withdraw 200 USD worth of XOR at an ATM.
- I want to pay 1 000 USD worth of XOR via Mastercard.
Can you please clarify fees for each use case?
B: Lets count in EURO since the initial card and wallet will be in EURO.
1 — There are 2 transactions: a) From the bank account to SORA Card IBAN: the fee depends on your bank; there is no fee for receiving funds on your SORA Card IBAN. b) The exchange rate from EUR to XOR is 1.95% and the SORA network fee applies. You will receive in XOR on your SORA account: EUR 1000 — EUR 19.5 — SORA Network fee.
2 — There are 2 transactions: a) XOR to fiat on your IBAN: (EUR 200 — EUR 3.9 — SORA network fee) will end up in your IBAN account in EUR. b) Lets say you want to withdraw EUR 195 domestically: you withdraw EUR 195 and your IBAN balance will be charged an additional EUR 1.2 and EUR 0.98 (0.5%). Additional machine (ATM) fees may apply
3 — Assuming the merchant does not apply a fee to the purchase or Mastercard does not apply a special fee to this transaction: Top-up your IBAN with XOR: EUR 1021 worth of XOR — exchange fee 1.95% and — SORA network fee will give you just over EUR 1000 in your SORA IBAN account. You can freely spend this with SORA Card.
Ambassadors play a very important role in every project, Do you have an ambassador program? If yes, how can I become one?
MT: Yes, there are a group of excited volunteers who want to help SORA become the new world economic system, as well as Polkaswap to become the main source of token liquidity in DOTSAMA. You can talk to WRRichter (REKTer) if you are interested in being a SORAmbassador!
About SORA, Polkaswap, and Fearless Wallet
SORA is a new economic system aimed at creating a supranational multiverse economic system with built-in tools for decentralized finance (DeFi). The SORA network implements a new way of parachain architecture on Polkadot and Kusama network, with the capability to bridge external blockchains (like Ethereum) to the Polkadot ecosystem.
One of the DeFi applications that will run on the SORA network is Polkaswap, a noncustodial liquidity aggregating, cross-chain AMM DEX designed uniquely for the Polkadot ecosystem with boundless liquidity through its one-of-a-kind Aggregate Liquidity Technology (ALT).
Fearless Wallet is a bespoke mobile wallet designed for the decentralized future on the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystem, with native support for iOS and Android platforms. A premium user experience, fast performance, and secure storage for your accounts. Fearless Wallet will integrate Polkaswap for easy, decentralized swaps of assets.
Connect With Us
SORA 𒀭 community:
Twitter | Telegram | Reddit | YouTube | Announcements Channel
Polkaswap 𒊹𒂵𒆜 community:
Twitter | Telegram | Reddit | YouTube | Announcements Channel
Fearless Wallet 𒉡𒉎𒋼 community:
Twitter | Telegram | Element | YouTube | Android App | iOS App