Tell us about yourself and Oz Finance
Well, I’ve been basically an entrepreneur for 22 years. In my 22 years as an entrepreneur, I’ve been with six startups and had two exits. My latest exit was with a NASDAQ registered company. All of the businesses that I set up were all tech-related in one way, shape, or form. Once I finished the sale of my last company, I decided to shift my professional focus, specifically to the field of blockchain and digital assets. I accepted employment as the director for blockchain and digital assets for the fifth largest universal bank in the Philippines, Union Bank.
At that point, I led the initiatives by initially formulating the bank’s strategy, which incidentally, to date is still in play, and participated in many ways in a leadership role or as a team player for all of the bank’s key blockchain projects. One of these ways was cross-border remittance and domestic remittance. It brought down the cost of transactions by about 93%. It also brought down processes from 25 steps to around three steps.
This was groundbreaking. And it allowed the bank to go from 17th place to the top five in under two years. And after that, we actually were number one within two years. I also drafted the first Philippines stablecoin—at least the document that was submitted to the central bank. It’s the first bank-backed stablecoin. So in May of 2018, I also assisted in educating the bank and central bank, as well as the SEC on blockchain and its various applications. So, when I left the bank after all of my blockchain executions, the first thing I did was look at what the technology meant to me and what it meant to the general or larger community.
If I were to sum it up in one word, what it represents is freedom. And I define freedom in three ways: privacy protection, regulatory cover, and tax-free living. I’m sure everybody remembers the first time they heard about blockchain. They probably initially thought that it represented freedom from financial institutions and freedom from over-regulation. The unfortunate part is, to this day, not a single token has fulfilled the promise of blockchain. And what is most unfortunate is that the technology is being used by centralized institutions and regulators in order to gain more control of the public without any direct benefit to the public.
Hence, the original purpose of blockchain was not achieved. So, I embarked on a mission to be able to find a solution that would give these three freedoms to humanity. That journey started in a partnership with Ramon Garcia and Marco Urera. Ramon is a founder of the DFNN, the largest publicly traded gaming company in the Philippines. We collaborated on the amendment of a law that would allow the exchange in the trade of digital assets, specifically in special economic zones (ecozones) in the Philippines. We also assisted in the drafting of rules and regulations that would open these ecozones to host exchange and facilitate the trade of digital assets.
It all culminated with a mandate from the largest ecozone to operate an exchange that would bring investments into the largest and oldest ecosystem in the Philippines, AFAB, or Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan. From there, we got approval to recognize a token as an investment. And that was the start of the Oz token.
So, Oz effectively is the first residency-enabled asset protection token. What it does is, upon staking the token for a specific period of time at a specific amount, enables an individual to receive residency in the Philippines without having to live in the Philippines, considering they pass KYC requirements. And they are also able to operate their life through a single-person corporation with this trust registered under AFAB’s tax regime. Hence, through this structure, they are able to receive privacy protection, regulatory cover, and tax-free living through a single-person corporation. This solution, in our opinion, delivers on the initial promise of blockchain, which is those three freedoms.
How did you come up with the idea of an ecozone in the Philippines and residency through staking?
The solution is in the discussions that you have with individuals that you believe will assist you in achieving your objectives. In our case, it was how to receive those three freedoms and how to channel the crypto community as a spear that can negotiate with ecozones to gain those three freedoms. To simplify it, the crypto community or the blockchain community is able to provide capital, credit, and community.
What they need is privacy protection, regulatory cover, and tax-free living. Mind you, it is not absolute privacy protection, not absolute regulatory cover, and not absolute tax-free living. Everything comes in moderation in order to maintain peace. But we function as the spear for the crypto community that is able to negotiate with special economic zones to receive these three freedoms.
Because it is these three freedoms that ecozones are able to provide through GTX and Oz. We’re able to get staking to be recognized as an investment which thereby establishes those tokens as a store of value. Think of Bitcoin when it started. The question I have is how many years did you take for it to be recognized by a government as a store of value? That took around twelve years. In our case, we are recognized as an investment, which effectively is a store of value, but everybody that’s participating in it is participating at the very birth of the token. That’s the opportunity that is available now to everyone.
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What benefits does Oz offer? Why would businesses and individuals want to become residents?
Our ultimate objective is to provide portability of residency and business operation by simply staking and un-staking tokens, and choosing where to re-stake it at. What that represents is an opportunity that is no longer defined by where you live. Rather opportunity is defined by choice, and through Oz, the individual now has a choice.
What can we hope to see from Oz in the future?
First is the delivery of the promise of blockchain. The question I ask is what’s the value of freedom, especially in today’s current situation where we have wars, social unrest, and economic instability. What’s the value of being able to live where you want, when you want? What’s the value of receiving privacy protection, regulatory cover, and tax-free living on a legal basis? What’s the price of freedom? If the answer to that is priceless, well now by simply staking a token for a specific amount of time, and for a specific amount, you’re able to avail of these freedoms. Now you can capture these freedoms through OZ tokens.
Following that, Oz is going to solidify itself as a store of value by applying a Metaverse layer on the zones that it participates in, which has a claim on the Physiverse layer. Details of that can be found on our white paper. We believe that, based on the initial basic value proposition of Oz, its promise speaks for itself.
What’s needed now in the crypto community is for everybody to go back to basics and realize why we are here in the first place. Let’s not be blinded by the greed that has overtaken the market. Because greed leads to exactly where the market is right now. The reason why the market is as it is now is because everybody has bought into unrealistic promises, which is ten X, 100, without looking at the purpose of the technology, which is to grant freedoms. What we need to do is first ask the question, what freedom does our application provide to the rest of the world?
If we can answer that question, then there is purpose in what we are doing. And that needs to be what we do with every execution we have moving forward. Oz is an example of that and will continue to be. Our hope is that other token projects after this will think in the same way.