Humanising Blockchain To Empower Businesses and People

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By Helena Hon

Listed as an official reporting institution registered with Bank Negara Malaysia, Everus Technologies Sdn Bhd uses blockchain as tool to design solutions that impact daily lives positively.

Usability of its services and products is one of the cornerstones of the blockchain technology company Everus Technologies Sdn Bhd.

Set in one of the highest floors of the corporate tower of The Ascent Paradigm in Kelana Jaya, this home-grown blockchain fintech start-up celebrates its first anniversary this month.

Having chalked many milestones to date, the company’s founder and CEO Srinivas Oddati unveiled their Everus mobile wallet as far back as April 18. Coming complete with fingerprint and facial recognition authentication, and downloadable from Google Play and App Store for iOS and Android, it can be used to pay both utility bills as well as mobile pre-paid and post-paid reloads.

The e-wallet − built as a gateway around the Everus World ecosystem that enables cryptocurrency to be utilised for financial and commercial transactions in everyday life − uses the company’s own cryptocurrency known as EVR, based on the Ethereum ERC-20 token standard.

EVR was launched a year ago, and so far, there are over 520 million EVR in circulation with about one billion in total aggregate supply. The Everus e-wallet mobile app has many features and they include Everus Rewards − a users’ rewards programme, as well as functions to track, send, receive and store EVR, Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin whereby all the coins can be exchanged for EVR at any time in the wallet itself.

It doesn’t stop there. Plans are afoot to add more services and tools in the upcoming months in accordance with Everus Technologies’ roadmap to include merchant payment solutions for online and offline shopping, dining or booking of hotels and flights and AI bots − all in the name of simplifying life in the world we live in.

Compliance with the Law

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The unveiling of the Everus mobile wallet was a watershed moment for Everus Technologies, says Oddati.

Having been listed as an official reporting institution of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) – Digital Currencies (Sector 6) policy as well as fulfilling the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements as per guidelines provided by BNM in February this year, Oddati said that although it seems that a regulated environment may challenge the intrinsic nature of cryptocurrency, the introduction of preventive measures against money laundering, terrorism financing and other potential threats to the integrity of this powerful technology actually benefits the masses in that people can now enjoy its great value and advantages with less apprehension and fear.

The Rewards Programme and many other “user incentivising” features of the Everus World ecosystem are actually part of the company’s overall plan to aid compliance with Bank Negara as it strives to provide a safe, transparent and enjoyable cryptocurrency experience for EVR users.

Usability Spurs Adoption

The unveiling of the Everus mobile wallet was thus a watershed moment for Everus Technologies as this marked the start of the milestones on its roadmap – the first of which was the usability factor.

“Right from day one when we commenced our R&D (research and development) in blockchain, our core value and vision was to pioneer the widespread adoption and use of cryptocurrencies in everyday life,” recalls Oddati.

By then, there were already many cryptocurrency companies in existence although most if not all were only buying and selling the tokens as tradable items.

“We realised that unless and until one is able to create usability for cryptocurrencies, they would not become an asset of real value in the real world,” Oddati reckons.

Hence, right from the outset, building an ecosystem around cryptocurrencies for utilisation in a regular manner in day-to-day life was the impetus that drove the company for the past year. The result today is the Everus e-wallet around which lays the foundation for Everus Technologies’ universe or ecosystem.

In-built Ecosystem

“People think it is just a wallet, but actually it is not a wallet,” reveals Oddati. “We are bringing a platform that can perform many chores so that every financial task like sending, receiving, storing, spending, shopping, lending and borrowing becomes that much simpler, faster, safer and more convenient.

“With regard to storing purposes, the e-wallet can hold a number of coins. We are working to bring as many currencies as possible into the wallet so that users are offered the convenience of not having to keep each of their different coins in separate wallets. This is for easier management and tracking of all their different cryptocurrencies.”

Currently, there are five currencies in the e-wallet. Everus Technologies plans to store an additional 50 coins and tokens every month with the ultimate goal of holding over 500 different cryptocurrencies so that people can store, trade as well as use the coins for their day-to-day expenses.

The beauty is that the bill payment option within the ecosystem is not limited to Malaysia, according to Oddati.

“The service is implemented in 135 countries spread across five continents worldwide, hence people in Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Singapore and many other countries are now able to pay their bills, top up their phones, using the services inside our wallets,” he enthuses.

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Of course, one has always been enjoying all these facilities using fiat currency (real world money) on credit and debit card systems, says Oddati, but with cryptocurrency showing indications that it would be widely used on a global basis as a form of money in the near future, he has taken one step ahead in preparing for that eventuality.

“It may take a little time to educate people and the market,” he admits regarding the technology’s slow adoption rate but he is confident that eventually, it will happen.

P2P microfinancing

The Everus World ecosystem roadmap consists of many markers. The next one under its usability/problem solving/people-empowering agenda is providing a solution to current market challenges of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and microfinancing.

Everus’ take is to combine these two types of financing − P2P lending (which is the current form of online lending and borrowing) and microfinancing – and present the hybrid as a new type of financial service called P2P microfinancing.

• Microfinance

Microfinance or microcredit is a financial service provided by certain banks to assist small businesses and the underprivileged in obtaining small loans. Often described as “banking for the poor”, the business model of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh pioneered by Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus showed great success in the 1970s.

As of 2017, the bank serviced nine million borrowers with a staggering repayment rate of 99.6%. Hailed as a revolutionary as well as humanitarian solution to poverty eradication, the model was quickly replicated in many countries worldwide though not all achieved similar success.

Some of the more common problems that have prevented microfinance from taking off are the high rate of interest and transaction fees charged by middlemen, notably financial institutions and lawyers. Then there’s the lack of transparency in the borrowing process and the slow transaction resolution.

Blockchain, by its decentralised nature, solves the problem in three meaningful ways:

• It eliminates the need for a central authority or middlemen, thereby reducing cost payable by the borrower
• The transaction is transparent across the network, and
• The blockchain protocol of network verification requiring only minutes to sign off a transaction speeds up the loan release.

• P2P Lending

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Internet-based P2P lending allows businesses or individuals to seek small loans directly from lenders. Although this provides better interest rates compared to what traditional banks would offer, most P2P lending platforms tend to offer loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) instead of individuals or microentrepreneurs.

As a concept, while P2P lending is becoming popular, its take-up rate has not been as encouraging in some regions. Credit scores and varying levels of risk and uncertainty could be why P2P lending has not taken off as expected.

According to a survey conducted by Blumberg Capital, 43% of borrowers in the UK shy away from alternative lending platforms due to a fear of fraud.

“We plan to give our users borderless P2P microfinancing using a blockchain-stored Credit Scoring System with the Smart Contract,” informs Oddati. “This is one of the technical products we will be bringing on board in the next few months.”

Drawing an example, he further explains: “Suppose someone from Malaysia wants a loan of RM1,000 and someone in Dubai wants to lend it, these strangers can use the Everus e-wallet to connect directly, execute the borrowing and lending by using the in-built Score Card system in the blockchain and come to an understanding of the loan repayment through the Smart Contract, minus all the hassles. Furthermore, the interest charged will be very competitive.”

Using blockchain, the Score Card system which works just like CCRIS (Central Credit Reference Information System) and CTOS (Credit Tip Off Service), will rate the borrower and lender’s profile, and record, track and verify the transactional behaviours of both parties. The Score Card, which displays the borrowers’ credit scores, acts as another layer of security for lenders while providing convenience to the borrower who can straightaway bypass the red tape and documentation needed to access loans otherwise.”

Mobile Global Remittance

The third product which Everus Technologies plans to implement by end-2019 is Mobile Global Remittance (MGR).

In the developed world, MGR is perhaps not so much of a problem as most of us have bank accounts for online money transfers or have modes of transport to physically go to the bank, and pay the high remittance fees.

However, there are many low-income or developing countries where many residents are impoverished, unbanked or have to go overseas to work as unskilled migrants in order to send money home.

If they need to undertake a money transaction, they often have to travel very far in order to reach the city to send or collect their payments. There, they will incur high transaction fees due to the large number of intermediaries who charge high commissions in the international transfer of money.

To avoid travel difficulties, high fees, and the possibility of fraud (as it is not hackable), blockchain may be the answer.

“We are working on a platform where you can use the e-wallet to transfer money anywhere in the world and where, with a minimum of fees, our mobile agents will deliver the money to your doorstep,” says Oddati.

Moreover, transfer via blockchain requires only two to a maximum of 30 minutes, depending on network connection. Traditional wire transfers, on the other hand, often takes hours to days due to the lengthy processing time required by the banks and financial institutions they are backed by. Two of the most popular and fastest remittance channels are Western Union and Moneygram but then again, their fees are exorbitant.

“Apart from being able to send money faster, more securely and cheaply, we are providing all our e-wallet holders a chance to make passive income from being money transfer agents for these transactional deliveries. This concept will work just like e-hailing ride-share services Uber or Grab. Based on the beneficiary’s address, the wallet will trigger the nearest agent who will pick up and deliver the money to the recipient’s doorstep.”

Oddati’s vision for Everus Technologies is clear. Being just one year old, “we are at the development stage,” he concedes, “and you may not see the full results because results will take time. However, we believe that once our development is complete, and our products go to the market at large, people will realise that Everus Technologies is different from other cryptocurrency companies. That is the success we are striving for.”

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