If 2017 was the year of ICOs for many, 2020 seems to be the year of DeFi and large scale crypto credit cards. Monolith is one of those successful ICOs that raised nearly $ 18 million in early 2017. Brice Berdah is with us today to talk to us about a project that is still standing.
Hello Brice, can you introduce yourself?
Hello and thank you for the interview. My name is Brice and I have joined Monolith in March 2019 as Community Manager. My job is to moderate the community and organize events and meetings. I am therefore responsible for the visibility and brand image of Monolith. I am also one of co-creators of the DeFi France group, a monthly meeting and an entirely French-speaking discussion space to talk about decentralized finance.
First of all, why the name Monolith?
In tribute to 2001 the Space Odyssey, the monolith appears at the changes of stages and we on our side bring a financial monolith to allow a transition to a new banking system.
Thanks for the ethymology, can you introduce Monolith to us?
Monolith is a payment solution consisting of a Ethereum wallet, a visa payment card and a token, the Monolith (TKN).
Unlike all of our competitors, we are a non-custodial wallet, which means that users have their private key. So if they want to change their solution or if Monolith firm, users are not harmed. In addition, our wallet is a contract wallet, which means that we use smart contracts to manage funds. The use of smart contracts allows us to fully exploit the best of the blockchain world.
Today the user has to load his card by selling his cryptocurrency for euros. This operation or top-up is fast and doable directly on our application.
The power of smart contracts allows us to have a long-term vision or the conversion will be done automaticallyt. Smart contracts will allow you to configure in advance which cryptocurrencies you want to convert during a purchase according to your preferences. You can even choose to convert several cryptocurrencies according to a percentage of their own!
We also want to develop what we call a 0 scale card. The amount converted from your wallet where your cryptocurrencies are located to your visa card will be the same as the amount you pay. Once the transaction has been completed, your visa card will still have a balance of 0 euros. This particularity will make smoother use for the user while minimizing exposure to fiat currency.
What are the advantages of owning the Monolith token (TKN)?
There are 2 main advantages to its use:
- Do not pay fees, when you pay with the TKN, you are exempt from 1% fee which apply to other cryptocurrencies. TKN is therefore the only token that can be spent on Monolith cards at no cost other than gas costs.
- When transactions are carried out, part of the fees are stored in a community safe. The user can choose to open this safe by destroying their tokens TKN. However, this iteration dates from 2017 and we are currently rethinking it by taking into account the evolutions of the tokenomics of recent years.
For you, is Monolith an escape from our current capitalist system?
I think the most direct escape from any system is politics but in the real sense of the word.
By that I mean making decisions that have a visible impact on the organization of the world and of society. As an individual in France we have the privilege of having a political power which can be expressed every 5 years, but this remains minimal. We have daily power that few people realize: our money. As consumers we have this power, which is unfortunately limited today. Restrained by who? well by the banks. Now your money is not strictly yours, it is owned by them. They take the opportunity to impose rules on you, such as discovered, the withdrawal limits where the permissions. At Monolith we consider overdrafts a fine for poverty and that is why they are not possible with us!
Opening an account with us means regaining full control over your funds and unleashing that political power that we all have.
Aren’t you victims of the classic allusions to the financing of terrorism by cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin?
Well no ! Two years ago these remarks were common currency, but with the democratization of the blockchain they have disappeared.
Regarding this distorted perception, the main culprits are the media having over-exaggerated this use when in reality it only represents 2% bitcoin transactions. It was an easy argument to discredit highly volatile assets that over the long term scare banks. Who sincerely wants to invest in an asset that could then lose or gain 50% in the same day ? Now let’s take the same asset and add alternative investment possibilities to banks like the DeFi (Decentralized Finance), as Ethereum offers.
We are no longer in the age of speculation and now have real cases of emerging financial uses such as providing liquidity or lending. Stablecoins for their part minimize the volatility of the market but nevertheless allow interesting returns on investment compared to the traditional financial system.
Why a visa card? Do you plan to keep it?
We wanted to combine the best of both worlds and the visa card is part of that vision. We are currently showing our users that living by paying with cryptocurrency is possible! However, we are not fully satisfied with this solution. When the funds pass through the card, they are stored in a bank account where you do not have full control of your funds. It is therefore possible to do even better in the long term and we are thinking about it (0-balance card).
Aren’t you afraid of users who tend to forget their passwords? How do you deal with this problem?
At the moment it is not possible to buy cryptocurrencies with fiat currency on our platform (this is happening very soon). We have therefore chosen to focus only on the people already present in the ecosystem.
Attracting users outside of it is not easy because you have to explain the purchase and operation of a wallet. Users have a seed of 12 words to recover their wallet In case of problem. Here again, only someone with some knowledge of the ecosystem will know what a seed is.
In the long term, we will implement cryptocurrency purchases directly from our wallet so that the solution is easily usable by everyone, regardless of the background.
Is there a minimum age to open?
Yes, people under 18 cannot open an account with us.
You mentioned the possibilities of smart contracts, we could get closer to the classic financial system while maintaining the advantages of our sector?
Yes of course, we could consider joint accounts, for minors, with authorizations but obviously with the advantages of the blockchain such as transparency, reliability and speed of transactions. These are the cases that we have imagined but of course the audience is not yet in favor of this kind of action and that is normal.
Why did you choose the Ethereum blockchain?
We chose Ethereum when carrying out our ICO, but eventually we knew we were heading towards the Challenge. The Challenge has always been present in Ethereum projects.
Many people will argue that scalability makes a good blockchain, I disagree. Certainly other blockchains are more scalable than Ethereum, but to date none has such a complete DeFi ecosystem. What blockchain today can boast of having proven stablecoins? To allow swaps or loans? None except Ethereum.
And let’s be clear, even if other stablecoins exist, no one would take the risk of making a loan on a potentially volatile asset.
Swap is an essential element of DeFi, so since EThCC we have updated the Monolith wallet. Our users can now swap their tokens, the application compare prices on 12 exchanges different and can even distribute orders to to optimize your swap, via ParaSwap.
Finally, finally, there is an increasing use of the Ethereum ecosystem to represent assets present on other blockchains or even in the real world – such as fiat currencies with stablecoins. There are now representations of Bitcoin like wBTC or RenBTC thus allowing to maintain exposure to Bitcoin while having access to decentralized finance.
We can see that there are many payment card projects. Why not join forces to bring the banking world to the ground?
There are indeed many payment projects, but personally we are among the oldest. Despite the multitude of projects, only a few approaches are explored. This is because most other card services are custodial services : your crypto currencies are managed for you, but they do not belong to you.
With Monolith, we have created a unique bridge between the two worlds: on one side an Ethereum wallet that belongs to you – on the other and in 30 seconds – a Visa card accepted everywhere.
I also think that many projects do not take a long enough view. To date, we are the only ones to fully use the potential of smart contracts for our wallets. We are also the only ones able to send our cards within DOM TOM. New players are entering the market, such as Swipe (acquired by Binance) and the demand seems to be growing stronger.
Many sectors have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, but the blockchain seems to have benefited. What do you think ?
I think people are asking more questions about economic problems and turning to alternative solutions. This is one of the reasons for the sudden explosion in DeFi. Bitcoin and Ethereum are increasingly decorrelated from traditional markets, which is very encouraging for the future.
In the absence of a diploma, how do you recruit in the sector?
Indeed there is no diploma or the few that do exist are not yet sufficiently renowned. Therefore, we rely on the experience of people as well as their involvement in the community.
Unlike traditional companies that go through external recruitment platforms, our various offers are visible on our website. People in the community are naturally the first to see them.
Offers on the marketing and the communication are often taken by storm unlike the offers of development. It is indeed already difficult enough to find good developers, so blockchain developers … we are listening, we have a lot of people who apply for community supports and not marketing: generally a company has an open position, it will go to recruitment platforms and see jobs. We mostly open on our site and it’s the active people who come forward spontaneously and we see them before so we know that they know the product well enough to be able to promote it.
What are the next goals?
We will add the onramp, i.e. the possibility of buying crypto currencies from the Monolith wallet, by credit card and SEPA transfer.
We are also working on a improvement of the wallet UX and on ethereum meta transactions. This addition will allow users to pay gas transaction fees using any token. They will no longer have to worry about owning ETH to complete a transaction.
To conclude, Monolith in 3 words?
- Non-custodial: we provide you with an infrastructure but we will never touch your capital. Even if we wanted to, it is not possible, as confirmed by the 5 audits of our smart contracts.
- Decentralized Finance: Take advantage of DeFi – for example by generating a return on a stablecoin via our app.
- Participatory: We want to change the experience from a user and financial perspective. We can’t do it alone and need you to reach our goal (stay tuned for news on our TKN token)
Engineering student, Community and Bounty Manager, I have been sailing the turbulent oceans of blockchain since 2017.
Aware that blockchain will change our future, I too want to participate in the revolution. Find me on Bitcointalk and on LinkedIn