Back in 2015, headlines were being made about new partnerships in Tunisia based on a very new model -- the national postal service worked with Monetas, a Swiss company, to utilize a block-chain based application for payments.
This new system opened up the opportunity for a peer-to-peer financial transfer system and for businesses to innovate invoicing and accounts payable.
The system described by international press at the time is very much a digitization of traditional payments. A digital wallet gets filled or depleted depending on online activity. This is very different than the traditional model where people line up to buy physical stamps and ship packages, or deliver paper checks to an office for various goods and services.
A couple of years in, Tunisia is beginning to reap some of the benefits of being an early adopter of cryptocurrency models.
“Early exploration of digital currency means there is a local market of business and technology professionals who understand the issues and have experience addressing some of the unique challenges of digital currency adoption,” Areiel Wolanow of Finserv told Maghreb News Wire on Oct. 28.
Wolanow said that prior to the 2015 innovations in payment systems, the Tunisian postal service was already well known as a progressive force in the country.
“It was recognized as the main pathway to financial inclusion for the vast majority of Tunisians who did not have access to traditional banking services,” Wolanow said. “This makes it a natural vector for the propagation of further implementations in digital currency, mobile payments, and other financial innovations.”
Wolanow also said there are specific applications of blockchain that make this emerging trend exciting.
“Digital currency, whether crypto or fiat, does a good job of addressing several problems endemic to the region,” Wolanow said, citing money laundering, cash management costs, and the risks of carrying cash as items that a blockchain-based approach could help deal with. Residents and governments, Wolanow suggested, will be well served by these types of technological evolutions.