25 November 2020
The African Wealth Fund (AWF) announced today it’s intention to establish a bank in South Africa. Sonny Fisher, founder of the AWF, and the founder and CEO of the FORUS group of companies, announced today their intention to register a local bank in South Africa exclusively geared towards small, medium and micro enterprises and cooperatives.
Maven Mutual, as the bank will be known, will focus on products and services specifically designed for SMMEs.
Small businesses have been decimated by Covid-19, with the full impact only expected to be seen in the post shutdown period. What we saw from the South African experience of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, was that the post-crisis period had worse outcomes for the country than the crisis itself; with approximately one million jobs being lost – jobs mainly in small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), including the informal sector.
Urgent interventions are needed to prevent a similar outcome from the Covid-19 disaster. The resources available to small businesses are typically limited, and a period of low demand, then a shut-down, followed by a prolonged recession will be crippling.
The small business sector, up until end 2019, showed substantial growth in recent years despite the economic slowdown. The formal sector grew to over 700 000 enterprises, growth of 25% in the last 4 years, with the informal sector reaching 1,735 million in 2019. South Africa stands out as having an unusually small SMME sector, with only 4% of the working age population being self-employed – compared to 15% in other upper-middle income countries.
Maven Mutual has designed a group of systemic interventions and financial products that, when activated, will deepen financial inclusion, reduce poverty, enhance food security, and pave the way for a stronger economy. Maven Mutual will run all of its banking operations using the distributed ledger technology developed and managed by FORUS, utilising stablecoin tokens to process transactions.
The FORUS solution builds trust and leverages secure fintech tools and capital markets into a well-regulated, transparent system, which mitigates traditional risk throughout.
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies designed to minimize the volatility of the price of the coin, relative to some “stable” asset. Our stable coins are pegged to fiat money, the sovereign currency of each country.
This key innovation enables all of the economic interventions to operate securely at scale. The stablecoin for South Africa is the ZarX. One ZarX is equal to one Rand. The value is tethered to the Rand. This token is managed and distributed through the FORUS Digital platform clearing house for digital assets.
Stablecoins have tremendous potential to fundamentally change the financial system. With distributed ledger technology (DLT) providing a borderless and easy to integrate infrastructure, stablecoins have the potential to be scaled up rapidly on a global scale and disrupt existing payment systems. Stablecoins are challenging our notion of money.
What first started as a niche phenomenon within the cryptocurrency community has now reached the realms of multinational conglomerates, policymakers and central banks. From JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, stablecoins have made their way into the agenda of today’s top CEOs.
Given their predominantly fixed-cost structure, stablecoins present highly scalable business models. Stablecoins are being extensively used for cross-border payments and enable participants to become less reliant on often-fragile banking partnerships.
The FORUS wallet is currently available in the Apple and Google app stores, with successful trials having been run in 20 countries.
Given the fact that settlement on our platform is real time, there is no settlement or chargeback risk. The combination of these factors, coupled with our adverbuying revenue model, allows FORUS to provide transaction processing for customers at no charge.
Loans – Enterprise Finance
On 4 May 2020, the National Treasury, South African Reserve Bank and Banking Association South Africa agreed on the detailed design, legal agreements and administrative processes to implement the loan guarantee scheme announced by President Ramaphosa on 20 April 2020. Participating banks started receiving and processing covid-19 loan applications from Tuesday 12 May 2020. To date, less than R16 billion of the R100 billion has been advanced to borrowers.
FORUS can provide much needed liquidity to small and medium sized enterprises and the informal sector by using decentralized finance (DeFi), an umbrella term for a variety of financial applications in cryptocurrency or blockchain geared toward disrupting financial intermediaries. Funds are raised through the sale of tokens on the FORUS Digital Exchange. Funds are then distributed and payment collected on the platform using pre-audited smart contracts. A smart contract is a computer program or a transaction protocol which is intended to automatically execute, control or document legally relevant events and actions according to the terms of a contract or an agreement.
Advantages of DeFi
Distributed finance allows individuals and institutions to move past outdated credit models, and to provide broader access to capital without the need for a trusted intermediary.
Decentralized Finance advances self-sufficiency as it creates a financial system that is open to everyone, and does not ask its users to place trust in it.
This “trustless” functionality of DeFi allows everyone to take charge of their assets and investments, and have direct say as to what needs to be done with it. The participants of the economic network control the dynamics of the system.
DeFi has been the talk of town for the amazing advantages it can add to the current economic system. More decentralization will mean a user will enjoy greater autonomy. The accessibility of funds and trade ability between users does not depend on any third party. Above of all, decentralized economic facilities will bring a greater amount of transparency as compared to centralized authorities.
● Everything is online and digital
● Everyone is accepted
● Open-source code
FORUS has designed a DeFi bond instrument managed by the African Wealth Fund. The bond instrument raises funds in the form of debt and uses this to securitise ZarX that is invested into various enterprise solutions through the platform.
Maven Mutual is for Entrepreneurs By Entrepreneurs
Aside from money, emerging entrepreneurs and SMMEs need training and ongoing mentorship. In order to ensure that the best collective ‘brains’ can collaborate to create a cooperative platform, the AFW created the Maven Network.
The word maven means “one who understands.” But to be a maven you have to more than just understand a topic, you have to know its ins and outs. Mavens are the people that you turn to as experts in a field.
A Maven is an individual who has invested $1000 or more with the AWF, and who is then invited to introduce projects for funding and participate in oversight of the funds invested through the platform.
FORUS has created a pool for 2500 Mavens – who, investing collectively will raise $2.5M US to invest in licensing and projects.
With over 100 Mavens already participating in the design and implementation of the platform, this cooperative model has proven to be an excellent way of ensuring that this critical payment and banking platform addresses the needs of the entrepreneurs on the ground.
Mavens bring oversight to key projects and programs and are playing a key role in introducing the FORUS Digital platform and tools to new markets.
Mavens each get 10 MahalaX (MHX), and thus become shareholders in the platform. MahalaX is the FORUS equity token and generates returns from participation in all income generation on the FORUS Digital platform. MahalaX was launched in March 2018, and is currently valued at $100. The MahalaX value will increase as the number of FORUS users increases.
Mavens assist FORUS in oversight with regards to governance for each class of blockchain services and activity, these classes include Wallets, Banking, Exchange, Payment, Ecommerce, Traceability, Identity, Taxation, Incentives, Logistics, Governance, Compliance and Reporting. As the platform utility is brought to market in various countries and sectors, Mavens will be invited to join structures and committees, and those that do, will be remunerated accordingly.
Maven’s in each country will introduce the solutions to their sectors. Once we have enough traction in each country, we will auction the marketing rights to the FORUS Digital platform in that country to a network operator or advertising platform.
The FORUS Digital marketing licence partner participates in 20% of the revenue in the country. The licence fee capitalises the platform in that country and is split across the ecosystem.
FORUS have sold the license for Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the USA, with the South African licence held by Maven Mutual.
Sectors / Industry Focus
MahalaX and the African Wealth Fund are investing in businesses operating in the fintech, agri-tech, education, rent to buy accommodation, student housing, transport, entertainment and tourism sectors. All Funds Invested will be done so on the FORUS Digital Platform.
FORUS will provide informal sector merchants with inventory finance. The FORUS model enables the trader to procure as much stock as required to maximise turnover, in exchange for 3% of the turnover as a platform administration fee. The fee is deducted in real time and inventory is managed on the platform. Merchants can use the advertising platform to move slow moving stock.
FORUS has launched its federated public utility blockchain and has published the APIs. FORUS is investing in developing a number of wallet solutions, targeted at specific target markets, each with functionality unique to that market, all integrated into our blockchain.
B&B’s Hotels and Restaurants will all experience a significant drop in revenue due to the impact of the slow down, travel bans and economic decline. This is an opportunity to provide the liquidity to the industry to enable the retention of jobs, and the transfer of equity to staff. This will enable the industry to maintain key services and ready itself for the post COVID 19 season.
The African Wealth Fund bond will fund employee purchase of shares in existing businesses where employees are earning low wages, and the funds invested will be utilised to support working capital and staff salaries during periods of impact of COVID 19. The impact will be to assist the stabilization of key sectors and minimise loss of business, protecting and maintaining livelihoods and funding a portion of equity moving into the hands of staff, which will generate revenue to supplement future earnings.
Medical Cannabis and Industrial hemp constitute a historical opportunity to rebuild the economy with sustainable production. Global Markets project a growth from USD8 billion currently to over USD100 billion within the next two decades. This opportunity enables local communities to build
an economy by leveraging their indigenous plant biosphere, local cultural heritage and knowledge, mobilizing all stakeholders to unlock and take advantage of the emerging global market. FORUS will also invest in community led food security programs financing micro agriculture.
Arts and Entertainment
The performing artists and the entertainment industry are experiencing lost income due to live performances being cancelled. FORUS is developing a fund to assist artists and entertainers to produce during this period whilst receiving a stipend, when the work is brought to market FORUS will then participate in 3% of the turnover generated by the works.
FORUS provides banking utility to cooperative financial institutions and banks through its digital platform. We have a number of cooperative development agencies across the continent of Africa, and in South East Asia, who will be rolling out the FORUS platform in the coming months.
Global Retail and Payment Switching
FORUS has developed a global distributed ledger based debit card network.
Visa and Mastercard are not ideal for SMMEs. Apart from the high costs and slow settlement, the levels of fraud make this a platform unsuitable for many SMMEs. FORUS has been working on launching it’s platform for financial inclusion for the last 11 years. Having started in South Africa, customers now extend across the globe. FORUS has gone on to develop QR technology, to make it a secure mechanism for global acquiring in the USA.
The opportunity has now presented itself for South Africa to become the leader on the African continent in the emerging world of Central Bank digital Currency. FORUS to become a global provider of secure retail switching for the global acquiring of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). Essentially FORUS will provide a platform for cross border transactions.
FORUS has been participating in the R3 Working Group currently underway, and it is clear from the discussions that FORUS, and our Secure QR technology can play a key role in ensuring the success of retail CBDC.
Since their introduction in the early nineties, Quick Response (QR) codes have become a popular method for transferring small amounts of data in a physical setting. Basically consisting of a matrix barcode, they offer convenient, fast, omnidirectional scanning, better data capacity and fault tolerance compared to conventional bar codes. They easily link the real to the online world.
Their simplicity makes them quick and easy to use, but also vulnerable to a number of serious shortcomings. They are easy to generate, and do not contain internet security checks, making them easy to fake and spoof. They have become another attack vector.
By embedding the URL and all the variables required to perform shopping cart type e-commerce, bill payment and peer to peer payments, coupled with a digital certificate eliminates the possibility of spoofing, tampering, and man in the middle attacks.
These secure digital transactions can be transmitted securely across open data networks using various digital means, including standard barcode format including Quick Response Codes, Wireless Networks, Mobile Data Networks, Near Field Communication Devices, Embedded Click through URLs, social networks, print magazines, point of purchase advertising and flash advertising units.
By not using tokenization, and by including shopping cart information we have solved the off-line one step shopping process, bill payment invoice and debtor payment allocation, and the problem of fraud for on-line payments.
The SQR solution guarantees the integrity of the source data as well as the validity of the originating party. The payment instruction string is made up of the electronic instruction data from the scanned QR code appended with a SHA-2 cryptographic hash of the same data.
In a typical case scenario, a FORUS user makes a purchase from their mobile device, by scanning a merchant’s QR code, or through a peer-to-peer purchase. They complete the transaction by entering the amount to pay and their PIN code to confirm the purchase.
After the transaction is completed, FORUS sends a receipt to the client with targeted advertising embedded.
Once the user clicks on an advert, this takes them to an ecommerce checkout page, where they can complete the purchase of the selected items.
The Adverbuying Engine is the main driver of the system, delivering targeted adverts to the customer mobile devices via email and SMS.
Once the engine receives a message from the API, this triggers the engine to send adverts as a part of the FORUS receipt.The engine will be aware of the client, their location, purchase history, amounts and balance from the API.
ECommerce uptake in Southern Africa has been slow, hindered by a lack of consumer understanding, inadequate payment solutions, and an incompetent delivery system. FORUS has the opportunity to address each of these issues, by creating a seamless buying, payment and delivery solution using the S-QR technology.
This makes the online buying process simple, trustworthy and instant.
After a client receives an advert, they will be able to click on a link to take them directly to pay for the item within the FORUS wallet. This process is seamless and immediate, simply click on the link, and enter the PIN to confirm the purchase.
The African Wealth Fund
MalahaX (Pty) Ltd, trading as The African Wealth Fund has been established to generate and manage funds to invest in productive enterprises. The African Wealth Fund borrows funds from institutional and private capital, and uses this to back the token used to finance productive enterprises. The disbursement and collection is done through the FORUS Digital platform.
The African Wealth Fund is majority owned by its customers who, as described, are social enterprises or member or user-based organisations, who bring their members onto the digital platform. The investors/partners will be allocated shares as and when the users sign on to the platform in each country. Revenue is generated through its financing activities and interest on treasury funds. The African Wealth Fund also invests directly into enterprises and generates revenue through a growth in carried interest on investments.
FORUS is a new financial technology platform that has been created to enable Free Open Realtime Ubiquitous and Secure transacting.
Our wallet is available in the Play Store and IOS and will include the following currencies: Bahamian Dollar, Cambodian Riel, Netherlands Antillean Guilder, Ethiopian Birr, European Euro, Lesotho Loti, Maldivian Rufiyaa, Nigerian Naira, Omani Rial, United States Dollar, South African Rand, Sri Lankan Rupee, Thai Baht, Vietnamese dong, and MahalaX – the FORUS equity token.
FORUS NV Card Services NV
FORUS NV Card Services is registered in Curacao and is owned by management. It holds the IP of FORUS.
FORUS has created the FORUS Foundation as an independent governance body responsible for the governance and operational rules for the operation of the digital platform. It will be registered in Ireland and funded through an annual governance fee paid by FORUS Digital Country Licence holders in each country. It is responsible for the protection of the FORUS Public Utility Blockchain, the FORUS data and ledger, and ensuring that FORUS Digital and the African Wealth Fund operate the platform in accordance with the global licence and platform operating rules. FORUS will appoint an independent global board with people independent of its operational arm to ensure the mandate of the Foundation is achieved.
FORUS Digital is the operational platform for the FORUS Global Digital Exchange, and is a clearing house for fiat backed digital currency. FORUS Digital is the licensed operator and country licence issuer of the platform, and will be operating all instances. FORUS Digital is 100% owned by FORUS NV, and currently has operations in New Zealand and South Africa. Regional exchanges will be set up in several more countries, in order to support the FORUS Digital platform global rollout. FORUS Digital earns revenue through a share of the sign up, financing and adverbuying revenue generated on the platform.