In this episode of the DIVI Crypyo Podcast, Steve interviews the CEO and co-founder of SFP Technologies, Barak Ben Ezer. The company is building the first blockchain based currency that will be new legal tender for the Republic of the Marshall Islands called SOV.
Cryptocurrency Origin Story
Barak Ben Ezer studied computer science and economics in Colombia and New York, although he's originally from Israel. Later, he worked for Microsoft for a while and then started his own business, a remittance company.
His remittance company built an app for remittances for migrant workers in the Middle East to send money, such as bitcoins to Southeast Asia. He mentioned that this was in 2013.
As it went on, they continued the company but ditched the crypto element, specifically bitcoins, because it has many regular to irregular problems, such as connecting with the economy, banks, and existing payments rails. For example, a Filipino worker in Israel wants to send money to their kids but has to convert cash in their side.
This conversion is problematic because crypto and banks don't match. They did some ways and even ended up selling the company. He realized that the crypto people want crypto to turn into money from a legal perspective. However, the global regular don't see it that way.
They even explained that bitcoins and other virtual currencies act as currency but are not real currency or real money because only a sovereign entity can issue money as its circulating legal tender. This illustration is how global regulations work.
Barak Ben Ezer and his team pitched or introduced the idea to the Marshall islands since they are a sovereign entity. He formed the team to go there and make it happen. He realized that he needs to have the right people, the credibility since he wants to go top class in everything.
They recruited Dr. Peter Dittus, Swiss economist and former sectary general of BIS or Bank of International Settlements. BIS is the central bank of all central banks. He is someone who already knows the ways and means, so Petter joined as a co-founder.
He contributes to the team alongside the tech team, Jim Wagner and Paul Wehner, for MIT, guys he known for years. They pitched it to the Marshall Islands to become the first-ever country to issue crypto with legal status worldwide to benefit their economy. The team moved to the Marshall Islands to make this happen.
Implementation In The Marshall Islands
People will have a wallet on their smartphone, and mass users or civilians will adapt it. The currency will outfit businesses with their point of sale. Luckily, there are two or three primary retailers in the Marshall Islands.
Barak Ben Ezer thinks that the island is a great sandbox to implement its plans because it is accessible. It is small, and you can talk to almost every person. They have an existing Facebook group, and you can put their population inside a stadium.
The Team Across Different Areas
The team is pretty distributed since they started in Israel. Other team members are overseas, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York. Before the pandemic, they thought about their headquarters, but COVID-19 happened, so they work remotely. They decided to be a distributive company as of the moment.
Their team comprises of less than ten people right now and is creating the SOV Alliance. SOV Alliance is a group of companies and pioneers to make the blueprint and set the standards to meet global regulatory requirements.
Tracking of Results
It will take 53,000 people to test the implementation since it is the population of the Marshall Islands. On the blockchain itself, they want to make it as private as possible within the country's limitations. They don't have the global regulators to see it as a method of money laundering or terrorism.
Barak Ben Ezer mentioned that they would monitor the launching results via "the point of sales" in the people's wallets that the companies will provide through the SOV Alliance. Considering the size of the Marshall Islands, they think it is an advantage to obtain fast results.
Learn more about SOV here