CTO of Stellar (XLM) Powered Money Transfer Firm Tempo: ‘Crypto Is a Swiss Bank Account for Every Person’

Siamak Masnavi

In a recent interview with Finance Magnates published on 27 August 2018, Anthony Barker, the chief technology officer (CTO) of Stellar (XLM) powered Paris-based international money transfer firm Tempo, explained the advantages of using the Stellar network for cross-border payments, and said that crypto is "sort of like a Swiss bank account for every person."

Tempo Money Transfer (or "Tempo" for short) is an EU-licensed, electronic payment services provider, headquartered in Paris, France. It was founded in 2014 by Jeffrey M Phaneuf (currently, the President), Suren Hayriyan, and Anthony Barker (currently, the CTO). 

In order to reduce costs, increase speed and reliability, Tempo partnered with the Stellar Development Foundation. Stellar is a platform that connects banks, payments systems, and people. The Stellar protocol is supported by the non-profit organization Stellar Development Foundation. Currently, Tempo is the main EU anchor connecting with Stellar to many other payout payers.

Barker started by talking about the focus of his company:

"[Tempo’s] original focus was remittance and international payments, and it’s since sort of switched to small value payments, the stuff that banks don’t handle well."

He then explained because traditional solutions to cross-border payments were slow, expensive, and unreliable, Tempo decide to use blockchain technology. Tempo looked at both Stellar and Ripple, and decided that Stellar was "sort of a natural fit." One of the main reasons for choosing Stellar was because of its non-profit and open-source status:

“My gut reaction was that [Ripple] is not so good for community building... [It’s] much more like a Visa/Mastercard. “I have a strong belief that open systems win in the long run. For example, Stellar has a development challenge [where] they basically give a lot of Lumens away to software developers who are making open-source projects.”

He went to explain how Stellar's flexibility had helped them:

“We worked with Jed McCaleb [Stellar.org co-founder and CTO] and his developers, and we added compliance, so it’s integrated into Stellar as a standard 2nd-layer protocol... so we know how to send first name, last name, and date of birth across... They added that really quickly simply because they’re really focused on this global remittance use case."

At this point is worth saying a few words about Jed McCaleb: prior to co-founding the Stellar Development Foundation with Joyce Kim and working with her to develop the Stellar protocol, he co-founded (with Chris Larsen) Ripple and served as its CTO until 2013. He is also known for creating the ill-fated Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.

Barker also talked about why it was important to integrate blockchain technology in such a seamless way that customers do not even realize that behind the scenes a blockchain is handling their payments:

“Our clients are traditional remittance people. They come in with cash and they send their money–they don’t even know in a lot of cases that there’s blockchain behind it, so it’s sort of seamless for the users... [Tempo] looks more like an Asimo or a WorldRemit–much close to that than if you’re using Coinbase or something else, because you don’t have to know about private/public keys; you don’t have to know about losing your keys or any of these things that drive people crazy…all these things that are kind of hard for users are kind of hidden in our service."

Finally, although Barker does not think that crypto will completely replace fiat any time soon, he believes that crypto will play an important role in the future:

"I think [crypto] will pay an important role in the future of the global financial sphere... If you live in a country with inflation, or in a country [where the government] wants to steal your money, it’s sort of like a Swiss bank account for every person.”


Featured Image Courtesy of Tempo

Central Banks and Cryptocurrencies: Natural Born Enemies, or Soon-to-Be Friends?

Oli Weiss

The frosty and (some have speculated) internationally coordinated response from central bankers to Facebook’s Libra was received with little surprise by crypto entrepreneurs and investors.

Officials from across the G7 economies were keen to stress not only the regulatory hurdles Libra would need to clear before it got the green light, but also their ongoing commitment to the tacit proposition that there must remain a legal and technical firewall between fiat and cryptocurrencies.

Steve Mnuchin, U.S .Treasury Secretary, was at pains to emphasize that Facebook’s proposed coin is “a very long way” from being approved by U.S. regulators, and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has been quoted expressing similar sentiments that Libra must be “rock solid” well before it’s launch.

However, it is French Finance Minister, Bruno La Maire, who has been most explicit in a recent interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera where he stated that, “the red line for us is the Libra must not transform into a sovereign currency.”

Inside Singapore’s Crypto Laboratory

This context of mistrust and sometimes outright hostility from central bankers towards cryptocurrencies makes two developments in Singapore all the more significant; firstly Project Ubin led by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and secondly the recent decision to allow five new digital banking licenses.

Project Ubin is a joint venture by the de facto central bank of Singapore and leading global financial institutions including HSBC, JP Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In essence, the project seeks to explore the possibility that blockchain distributed ledger technology can be used to make the settlement of inter-bank payment quicker and reduce processing times whilst maintaining high levels of security and data privacy.

So far, the project has begun to demonstrate that a tokenized Singaporean dollar can in fact function as a method of inter-bank settlement for day-to-say business, and work has commenced between the Project Ubin teams and the Bank of Canada on how the system can be scaled to allow for international payments.

One obvious question arises from this: if this system works and could hypothetical be generalized elsewhere, what would this mean for the role of central banks in the future?

One possible answer is also starting to emerge from Singapore, where Ministers have just approved the issuance of banking licenses to up to five new digital banks.

This further enshrines the contestability of the financial sector in Singapore, and provides room for the type of new, innovative entrants likely to take advantage of Singapore’s world-class crypto infrastructure and flexible regulatory environment.

As such, there are signs emerging that the cold war between central bankers and crypto innovators may be starting to pass, and a strategic partnership between the two could be possible in other financial centers like Singapore. For now, one thing is certain: Singapore is, and almost definitely will remain, one of the key centers of crypto and fintech dynamism, due in part at least to the bold actions of the Singapore Monetary Authority.