SORA Card AMA #1

On Thursday 24th of November, an AMA with Dr Makoto Takemiya, Beno Van Gansen and the SORA community was held on Telegram to answer questions about SORA Card and its upcoming release


The first SORA Card AMA took place on Thursday 24th of November, 2022

With the launch of the SORA Card around the corner, the SORA community was treated to an interesting AMA where details regarding SORA Card, its operation and fees were covered. Here is a transcript of the AMA that took place in the SORA Telegram community.

The questions have been edited for clarity.

Dear community! We will now start the live AMA with Makoto and Beno, and will answer first the pre-submitted questions. We merged some similar questions to keep the information concise.

Hello everybody. I am happy to answer all your questions ^_^

2. Let’s start with the first introductory question: Can you introduce yourself to the old and the new community?

I am Makoto Takemiya, the CEO and co-founder of a blockchain technology company called SORAMITSU. I have been active in the blockchain space since 2013. I also had the honor of attending one of the early Polkadot events in 2017, in Spain, and our company has worked with the Web3 Foundation since 2018. I am a huge supporter of DOTSAMA and believe that the Polkadot/Kusama concept of many chains with shared security and interoperability is the obvious future for crypto. I have a PhD in Interdisciplinary Information Studies from the University of Tokyo and I am passionate about applying technology to solve the real, structural problems that are faced by economies all around the world.

I am Beno, contributor to SORA through Polka Biome (Polkaswap community initiatives) and SORA Biome (SORA Card). I have a background in Law (LL.M) and worked 7 years on the business side of technology services before contributing to SORA and working in Web3. Since I read about SORA the first time in 2020, I felt the urge to dedicate my energy to this project — or should I say movement?

3. What is SORA Card and why should I care?

SORA Card is the product name for the neo bank-style fiat wallet with IBAN and Debit Card that integrates into the self-custodial and decentralized solutions SORA Wallet and Polkaswap provide. SORA Card is unique because, unlike other crypto payment cards, It gives the user direct access to DeFi, meaning full ownership over their crypto assets, and at the same time, it also gives access to the traditional finance (TradFi) world, with real-world transactions and shopping, all in one place.

This solution is not for everyone, however: a self-custodial wallet comes with increased responsibility and ownership for the user, since they have sole access to the assets. We believe our solution is specifically relevant to people who value freedom, take ownership over their finances and decisions, and value privacy without sacrificing the premium user experience that we have all come to expect in this digitally evolved world.

You should care because users of our decentralized and self-custodial solutions will never face situations as we have recently seen with FTX and other centralized platforms. On the fiat side, you have the same access to the TradFi world, protection, and obligations as with any other regulated financial institution

4. Can you share the roadmap for SORA card?

A High-Level overview of plans for SORA Card are:

Phase 1 (2023): Pre-order cards, pass KYC, buy XOR up to EUR 700 with soft KYC

Phase 2 (Early 2023): With card in hand and on mobile, ready to use, exchange XOR <-> EUR. KYC will be integrated in the apps and there will be a referral program

Phase 3 (Mid-2023): Multi-currency wallet, Multi-account wallet, additional features to the fiat wallet.

You can also expect GBP and USD SORA Cards before the end of Q2 2023! Many other additions are proposed and being discussed, but do not yet fit into a roadmap and project plan. It is important to know that we will take community feedback after launch to optimize the product(s) and to integrate community requests, if they make enough sense.

5. How old is SORA? What are the major plans ahead? Could you show us the image of your roadmap?

The idea of SORA is from 2017 and the SORA community has been working since then to build the SORA economic system, as a viable alternative to the contemporary fiat, debt-based monetary systems that are commonplace, yet failing, in our world today. The goal of SORA is to create the tools to provide consistent, high growth, so that everyone can reach the full potential. You can see the SORA integrated plan here.

6. Dear Sir, According to the roadmap, what are your most important next priorities? Does your team have enough funds and a strong community to achieve those milestones? please tell me.

The SORA integrated plan shows the priorities, as the y-axis is time-sorted (so features near the top of the screen are higher priority). Because SORA and Polkaswap development are both funded by the community via TBCD minting, there is funding to realize all the planned features, going into the future.

7. How will the value flow from the IBAN account to the SORA network?

In summary, it looks like this:

(1) From the IBAN Account: “Buy XOR”.

(2) EUR will be sent to an integrated custodial wallet with native XOR.

(3) Native XOR will be sent from this wallet to your SORA network address, accessible by your self-custodial SORA Wallet and/or Polkaswap.

The steps 2 and 3 are automated once you sign the transaction in 1.

8. Does our balance stay in our SORA Wallet or at the bank’s side? If its at the SORA Wallet, how is the bank able to get it from my wallet?

Your EURO balance is on your IBAN with the bank. Your SORA Card is linked to this IBAN account. Your crypto stays on your SORA crypto account. You need to manually top-up your IBAN / card by selling XOR for EUR, as the SORA Card is a debit card. There is a clear separation and no transfer of data (except buy/sell EUR <> XOR) between the crypto wallet and the fiat wallet.

9. Which bank will you use?

We cannot yet disclose the issuing bank, but it is a bank in good standing, licensed in the EU. This will be shared when ordering the card becomes available.

10. Can I deposit euro on my IBAN and go to Polkaswap swap XOR/EUR?

The user will experience it like this. However, in reality, the XOR/EUR exchange does not take place on the SORA network, nor on Polkaswap. We integrated an automated custodial solution on the fiat side for this part of the flow. This is required to be compliant with EU TradFi regulations.

11. Can I give the IBAN of the SORA Card to my employer to receive my salary on it?

Absolutely — please do! It works like the IBAN of any neo- and commercial bank. Your SORA IBAN will be even more private since only the card issuer and card provider can have access to your transaction details and balance, while commercial banks usually share these with other third parties by default.

12. Can I order a card to the United Kingdom?

Yes, you can, although it makes more sense to wait for a little while until the GBP cards are ready to order, in Q1 2023. Although SORA Card is completely available, and up to your discretion to use in the UK, the EUR card will come with a conversion fee for all your GBP spending.

13. Can people in Abu Dhabi use the card?

YES, you can USE SORA Card on the card provider network anywhere around the world. Just like with any debit card, the additional fees depend on the local merchant, system/machine, and currency conversion. APPLYING for SORA Card is also possible. Just keep in mind that you will have a European IBAN and EUR card, and approval of your application is at the sole discretion of the bank — they can reject your application without the need to give a reason.

14. Considering SORAMITSU is a Japanese blockchain company, will the SORA Card be available for Japanese residents on release? If not, how soon can Japanese residents expect it to be available by?

As mentioned, SORA Card will initially be a Euro card. Japanese residents can apply, although it is at the discretion of the bank to approve or deny your KYC application. Conversion fees will apply when spending EUR in Japan.

That being said, we are preparing a potential expansion of the SORA Card program into Asia. Every country has different regulations, customs, and currencies, which makes the decision to invest in a certain country more challenging than a big single market like the EU or USA. If we see the right business opportunity, and there is a lot of demand in Japan, we will definitely investigate the possibilities.

BTW, SORA and SORAMITSU are not the same thing. SORA is a decentralized world economic system that has no location, but is everywhere the internet reaches. SORAMITSU is a fintech software company, which contributes to the SORA codebase, among other contributing peers.

15. How do I get a metal SORA Card so I can slap that down on the table (good for promoting SORA on the streets)?

Love the enthusiasm! We are working on different SORA Card program tiers, of which the highest tier will have a metal card. More info on this will follow in early 2023!

16. Is direct deposit on the IBAN possible? If yes, is there any balance limit?

Direct deposit is definitely possible, as SORA Card works like any other IBAN. There are no limits on receiving funds, just take into account limits from the sender side. Also, take into account that proof of funds can be requested for high amounts and volume (AML).

17. How many types of cards will be available at start?

Just the SORA Card euro debit card to start. In the future, different tiers will likely become available. More info on this in early 2023.

18. I read that the goal of SORA Card is to provide users access to and ownership over their crypto and fiat assets. How does SORA plan to build an open ecosystem for web 3 that gives users ownership of their data? How will you solve the limitations of web 3 which involve scalability?

Whenever touching TradFi, there are limitations on how much control people can have over their assets. That’s why with SORA Card, it’s going to be very easy to move money from your bank account to crypto tokens that you control directly within a DeFi platform. To start, this means swapping EUR to XOR, but once you are in XOR, you have full control of the tokens and can do whatever you want with your assets (like swapping them for other assets on Polkaswap).

The SORA network uses Parity Substrate, which is already very fast and scalable, compared to legacy blockchains like Bitcoin or Ethereum, so scalability is not a problem and won’t ever be, even if we get millions of SORA Card users.

19. What kind of problem are you solving with SORA Card?

We are solving the need for self-custodial crypto and TradFi access within the same solution. At start, this will be integrated into Polkaswap and the SORA Wallet. You can easily spend your Demeter yield by selling it for fiat and spending it via the card, or, eventually, make use of any DOTSAMA parachain tokens you may have. SORA Card will also give you the best fiat on-ramp!

In 2023 Fearless Wallet, the DeFi wallet of the Polkadot & Kusama ecosystem, will integrate SORA Card. This gives you access to the multi-(para)chain world, and allows, for example, that you sell your GLMR staking rewards when the check comes in the restaurant and you want to pay the bill with SORA Card.

20. What costs are related for maintaining the SORA Card project?

This depends on the number of users and volume: more users and volume is a higher cost overall, but it will also bring the cost to the community down since this can be funded by revenue (transaction fees). It is difficult to put an exact number to it since there are variable costs and variable revenue, although the minimum maintenance cost will not be under $20k per month.

This basic maintenance cost is expected to be funded by the SORA community via XST minting, as this is a basic good for the ecosystem. The converse of this is that with enough transaction volume, SORA Card can be revenue-positive and can drive value directly back into the SORA community.

21. Any marketing and PR activities for SORA Card?

For phase 1 we mainly count on our own channels, Polkadot channels, and some collaborations in the works. Once phases 1 and 2 are delivered, and SORA Card and wallet are highly rated by the first users, and the referral program is rolled out, then it makes more sense to go out and reach the masses. The feedback from the initial community users will be extremely valuable before increasing the investment into larger PR and marketing campaigns.

You can definitely expect SORA and SORA Card to be at multiple events in the upcoming months. To name a few: Polkadot Sub0 in Lisbon, Polkadot Bangkok, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the European Blockchain Convention in Barcelona, and many more to come!