Q&A with MJ
11 Nov, 2022
Please tell us a little about yourself and your experience in the blockchain industry
My blockchain journey started with a personal curiosity toward Bitcoin in mid-2013. As a self-professed ‘tech nerd’ (stemming from my childhood experience of being the ‘tech support’ agent of the family computer in the 2000s), Bitcoin captured my attention by being the ‘LimeWire’ of money or peer-to-peer money solution.
From experimentation to deep diving into electronic rabbit holes, I finally launched my own Bitcoin brokerage service in 2014 – Dexah Advisory. The purpose of Dexah Advisory was to offer an advisory service for crypto assets and Blockchain with a specialisation in operations, compliance and governance. I worked with multiple stakeholders including direct contracting entities, businesses, investors, traders, blockchain developers and the broader community.
My experience can only be described as “a flurry of intoxicating chaos”. Running this business, I felt as though I was being kicked out of the emergency exit of a Boeing 747 mid-flight!
Alongside running my business and over the next decade, I found myself interning with one of the first Bitcoin ATM providers in the United States. While there, I established support channels and advocated for small business cryptocurrency providers while also becoming involved in the regulatory discussions and landscape with various Australian Government agencies, buying my house with Bitcoin and testifying at the Australian Senate inquiry into Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre.
What brought you to Novatti and what is your role?
I have been involved with Novatti since 2016 following their deployment of ‘Flexepin’, a pre-paid voucher operating in Australia and other global markets which allows users to shop online without the need for sharing their financial data via the use of a credit or debit card. When the discussion surrounding the development of an Australian stablecoin was raised, it was really just a natural progression in continuing our business relationship.
As such, I took on the role of Head of Blockchain and Digital Assets which sees me responsible for the development and deployment of AUDD.
Why is the launch of AUDD such an important move for the company?
Novatti’s vision is to ‘enable businesses to pay and be paid from any device, anywhere.’ The development of a stablecoin presents the opportunity to combine Novatti’s mission with its innovation to enhance further the company’s goals of providing end-to-end payment solutions.
Digital currencies are a natural ‘next step’ for the world of money and payments. If you look back far enough in time, you will see that silver and gold were used as currency, followed by banknotes/coins, then plastic cards, then mobile devices. AUDD allows Novatti to take that next step in payments innovation by developing a blockchain-based payment solution.
What problem is AUDD solving or what opportunity is it addressing?
First and foremost, the problem surrounding international payments is an integral part of what AUDD aims to solve. Cross-border, Remittance, Settlements and so on continue to see slow improvement from both a cost and speed perspective by existing institutional participants. Through the utilisation of AUDD, we can completely revolutionise how payments are made and settled.
For instance, a payment made from Australia (AUD) to the United States (USD) can be processed automatically with minimal to no intervention of an intermediary without concern for business hours or days via a method that guarantees complete transparency and finality. It also allows for a significant reduction in fees and charges.
The opportunities created by enabling an ecosystem of instantaneity are only limited by the minds that think of them!
What do you expect will be AUDD’s first use case and when do you expect that to take place?
One of the fundamental objectives of AUDD was to create a stablecoin that came with ‘real world’ utility. As such, our first deployment of AUDD on a payments-specific use case will be done in a way that solves a current and ‘real world’ problem being experienced – and not a transaction done ‘just because.’
Our expectation is to deliver on the first ‘real world solution’ early next year, however, we are always eager to hear from anyone about the issues they face and see how AUDD can be used to resolve them!
How will Novatti guarantee the true 1:1 AUD fiat currency backing of AUDD?
AUDD is backed by Australian Dollar cash and cash equivalents. This means AUDD can always be swapped for Australian currency by the holder. Of course, these AUD reserves will be frequently audited by an external and independent auditing firm to confirm and attest to the authenticity of this claim.
A key focus of our development is ensuring the trust and transparency of AUDD’s backing. As AUDD grows, we want the assurance of its integrity to grow with it. We have some really interesting work in the pipeline to assist with this – it’s certainly one of my personal interests in working on this project!
What governance and compliance measures has Novatti enshrined for AUDD to make it safe for users?
Overall, Novatti has always been a prime example of proper governance and compliance applications. Novatti holds a number of licences and registrations in both Australia and around the world. This is achieved through our strong history of prioritising regulations and compliance when operating the business.
AUDD is no exception to this with compliance and governance being at the forefront of all decisions, whether it be at a blockchain protocol level to an operational decision.
A prime example of this is through our work with Victorian University to establish an ‘Ethical Framework’ – a collaborative yet impartial approach to making decisions around AUDD’s functionality, efficiency, security and stability.
What milestones can we expect following the AUDD launch?
Providing ‘real-world’ utility of AUDD is a fundamental objective for us in creating success for our stablecoin. A key contributor to that will be making AUDD ‘blockchain agnostic’ – in other words, our intention is to deploy AUDD on multiple blockchain protocols. While our first deployment will see us on the Stellar network, our next milestones include AUDD being deployed on the XRP Ledger as well as Ethereum.
During this time, we will be supporting the integration of AUDD into various systems, services and use cases based upon demand. The blockchain sector is notorious for its ever-changing climate – trends in the crypto space come and go quicker than flare jeans!
While I am no stranger to observing the hype and being caught up with FOMO (I’ll admit, I’ve given in…. once), we want to ensure we are clearly setting boundaries between assessing the next phases for AUDD as a matter of ‘urgency’ and a matter of ‘achieving diamond hands’. Simply put, our first priority is to do things properly, not hastily.
What other blockchain or other technological innovations are coming to Novatti?
To deliver on its mission to enable businesses to pay and be paid, Novatti focuses on solving real-world problems and is constantly evolving its products, services and partnerships to achieve this objective. I obviously can’t share all our exciting developments but one example of what’s coming to Novatti is our publicly-announced Crypto Payment Gateway which will enable online businesses to accept crypto payments as easily as they can accept credit cards!
To finalise, what are the best safety tips you can provide to someone who is new to the blockchain or digital currency space?
DYOR (Do Your Own Research)! Learning as you go is a very rewarding experience – not to mention a never-ending one! While being caught up in the whirlwind of Blockchain can be a very overwhelming and exciting journey, it’s important that you take a step back to do your due diligence before making any impactful decisions.
Unfortunately, as with many industries, blockchain sees its fair share of bad actors and shonky offers. So, if something does happen to catch your eye, do a bit of googling, ask around with people you know and ask yourself “if someone knocked on my door on a Saturday morning to tell me about this, would I be sceptical?” As the age-old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!