A vast majority of the population in Tunisia is unbanked, giving rise to the need for an alternative payments system. The country is currently able to tap into the blockchain technology or distributed ledger to be used for its mobile payments platform under Swiss software startup Monetas and the La Poste Tunisienne or postal office.
Monetas will serve as the software provider, offering the technological architecture necessary to support the blockchain payments system similar to that of MPesa.
Intersystem Blockchain Payments
While there are several alternative payments systems offered in the country and even all over the region, the problem is that these aren’t usually interoperable with one another. Mobile money issued by one telecom company isn’t usually accepted or convertible to that of another company – something that the Monetas system would try to address.
Monetas will also be teaming up with digital startup DigitUs to create a mobile money payments system called eDinar-Plus. La Poste Tunisienne already has the necessary license from the country’s central bank to issue digital currency backed by the local fiat currency, which is the dinar. With the eDinar, a card-based system can be introduced, allowing DigitUs, La Poste Tunisienne, and the central bank to act as intermediaries.
In an interview with IBTimes, Monetas chief marketing officer Vitus Ammann said that these intermediaries could pool their network together to create a distributed ledger similar to the bitcoin blockchain. He added that this particular model could also offer minimal transaction fees.
“The minimum fees which Mpesa and similar systems are charging are something like 20 to 30 cents a transaction. The average transaction size in these countries is $2 – $3, so a merchant has to pay 10% or 20 % of transaction in fees,” Ammann explained. “In our system the costs are very low; for the consumer it will never exceed 1% or the transaction, or 30 cents.”