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Blockchain co enabling solar investors ‘to essentially become Eskom’ – SunCash CEO Ahren Posthumus
Momint is known for selling digital assets or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The most famous is probably the auction of an NFT of Nelson Mandela’s arrest warrant, sold for $310,000. And then there are the well-known bored ape NFTs, which are soughtt-after items for tech billionaires. But now, Momint CEO Ahren Posthumus is turning to solar energy and has launched a blockchain offering called SunCash. It allows anyone to invest in solar power and resell it to institutions like schools. Posthumous told Biznews that investors would essentially become Eskom and earn the revenue that the power utility would typically get. He said that the country’s electricity problem could become “a massive positive, and South Africa can actually become a world leader in renewable energy.” It is an opportunity to attract foreign direct investment to the country. Linda van Tilburg
You can’t be a tech company in a country without power
For the last two years, Momint has specialised in putting real assets and legal contracts on the blockchain to increase liquidity and have credibility of these physical assets, sometimes art and digital twins of that art. Nelson Mandela’s warrant arrest is a great example of one of those where we created a digital twin of the assets so that the digital version can be in a virtual museum, it can be traded, and there’s rules and legal contracts that surround that asset. Now, we’re a proudly South African tech company, and what we realised is that we don’t have the capability to be a tech company in this country when there’s no electricity to power the technology. So, I mean, that really is a harsh reality to face, and we realised that absolutely everyone in the country right now needs to do whatever they possibly can to save the situation. For a long time, we sat at our braais and just complained about it. But we’re really at a dangerous turning point now, and I believe that we can turn this into a massive positive and South Africa can actually become a world leader in renewable energy out of this dire crisis, but only if we all put our hands up and say we’re willing to do something and we’re going to try. So, that’s what we did at Momint. We decided to use all of our resources and capabilities to launch this initiative to accelerate the rollout of solar in the country.
Investors can essentially become Eskom
What we did was we took a solar installation that’s going on a school or a business or whatever, and we fractionalised it down to single cells so you can actually buy a cell that is up on top of a real business, a real place, and you own that cell. Now that business pays for the electricity that your cell generates and through a smart contract, that payment goes to you. So, you essentially become Eskom in this situation, and you earn the revenue that the power producer typically would. And a solar cell costs as little as R85. So, we’ve completely tried to lower the cost of getting into this kind of investment class and make it as accessible as possible. People can check out with SnapScan, and it’s never been easier. The goal is to allow South Africans to own our new energy infrastructure, which most certainly will be solar, and to accelerate this roll-out of solar. There was a small solar project that we did, and the school could never afford to put up the solar themselves, but they most certainly can afford to pay their monthly electricity bills. Now we let the people of South Africa put money together to do the installation and then they earn those monthly revenues. Now you’ve got a thousand school kids who can use their computers; they don’t suffer from loadshedding. They’re not interrupted in their learning process, which obviously has long-term net benefit effects for the country. We don’t want to have a situation where we have hundreds of thousands of students who just never got a good education because they actually didn’t have lights to study with.
First project is sold out, we’re trying to keep up with the demand
The school project is actually completely sold out already, and we’ve just acquired some more solar cells through some incredible developers. The Sun Exchange has done a development in Tafelsee here in Cape Town. We’ve bought up a portion or an allocation of those solar cells which we are now promoting and selling on through our marketplace. Really the response has been incredible. I think people are hearing the call to arms in a sense to participate in this. They’re seeing the long-term economic benefit both for our country and for themselves as individuals. So, really the response has been amazing, and we’re just trying to keep up with the demand.
Schools one of the best locations, but working on home-owner model
We’re working on the model to get it to work down to a homeowner level. But the reality is that the installation is just more profitable in a bigger location. So, you get economies of scale there. A school is one of the best locations because they only use electricity for a certain amount of hours in a day. Typically, the amount of energy that they need is fairly low. So, if they needed, for example, six kilowatts, we could go and install 12; I’m just using example numbers here, and then you could feed the excess back into the grid to increase the profitability for the investors. So, that’s why it just works out better to do larger-scale projects right now, and we’re not doing the largest scale because banks are eating up those full solar farms. We’re doing private business and community sort of projects.
An opportunity to attract more foreign direct investment into the country
There are a few other companies that have similar options. What’s unique about our offering is that we give individuals a tradable asset. That means you can buy your asset, and you can earn income from it for a little while, and then you can decide to sell it. You can send it to your mom, you can trade it on the open marketplace. We’ve already seen on the marketplace, like with the school project, someone specifically wanted a specific edition number and they were willing to pay a premium for that additional number.
There’s all sorts of other incentives and mechanisms. Where typically, any options that existed before said, while you can pool money together in basically a fund and then your money sits there for eternity. You know, and I think that’s a lot less exciting than being able to buy something traded openly. You could even do research and sell your Northern cape cell for a Western Cape one because it might be more profitable, and you can start to perform this analysis and trade on an international market. The other difference is all of the typical offerings that we’ve seen out there. First of all, you can only put money in, but also, it’s very exclusive to the local region. Whereas with us, we’ve had for the last two years a very international market. Some of our biggest spenders are in the UAE and in Asia. We saw this as an opportunity to attract more direct foreign investment to the country. So we get buyers funding these projects out of the UAE or out of Germany, for example, buying up these cells, and South Africa gets the benefits of the new energy infrastructure.
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