Thanks everyone for tuning into the AMA on March 22, and a huge shoutout to Coin98 team for hosting!
Guest: Marco, the Maps.me ambassador
Please join our Telegram community here https://t.me/Maps_Official for the latest updates.
- Could you guys briefly introduce yourself as well as Maps Me?
Sure! I’m Marco, the Maps Dog, and the proud ambassador for Maps.me and its upcoming revamp. Maps.me is seeking to become your new financial passport to the world and the ultimate guide to your travel experiences. Don’t let my appearance fool you. I’ve worked at a bulge bracket bank as a trader and at a leading global exchange for a number of years, and I’ve been involved in the crypto space since 2017.
You might be curious about our core team. Alex Grebnev has over 16 years of investment banking experience, including in Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, where he was the Managing Director of the structured products group. Viktor is a serial technology entrepreneur, including in the crypto space, and has worked as CIO for a number of large companies. Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and CEO of Alameda Research and FTX, is a strategic advisor to our project. You can also learn more about our core management team from our whitepaper (https://maps.me/token/MAPS.pdf)!
2. We all know Maps.me aims to be the ultimate travel companion with online and offline maps and embedded DeFi financial services. Please share with us when do you plan to launch Maps 2.0 with the DeFi wallet and the visions and goals of Maps.Me in 2021?
Maps.me is well established as the world’s leading offline mapping and travel app. Maps.me has over 9 years of history, 140 million lifetime downloads, and a solid reputation and ratings. With more than half of its users in Europe, Maps.me is particularly popular with users for downloading offline maps and navigating as a traveller or for any other contexts. Past users include photographers for National Geographic, airplane pilots, hikers going through areas with no signal, and anyone else who is interested in an extremely detailed and convenient mapping experience. (You can visit https://maps.me/app/ to learn more and try out Maps.me for Apple and Android!)
With Maps.me 2.0, our goal is to introduce to our 140mm registered users a digital embedded wallet that is powered by Solana blockchain and Serum. This would be the largest integration between a real-world application and a decentralized financial system.
More specifically, Maps.me’s wallet will provide users the ability to earn passive income on fiat deposits, convert across currencies at the best rates, pay in real-time, and transfer funds cross-border at near-zero fees. Down the road, Maps.me will also offer the ability to trade a wide range of assets, unrestricted by product size and geography. Our objective is one of financial empowerment for all our users. You can check out https://maps.me/wallet/ for more information!
Maps.me 2.0 will also introduce a richer, more immersive way of exploring and connecting with the world, including with local businesses and unique experiences. Our platform will offer ways for partners and businesses to build out such an enriched travel experience through personalized promotions, branded content on the map, the ability to claim (your) business, and loyalty programs connected with the wallet and MAPS token.
We’re working hard on getting a secure, reliable, and high-quality roll-out of the Maps.me wallet and revamped mapping app out! We are still targeting a wallet roll-out for late March 2021, if not the second quarter. Our team would also like to thank our supporters for their patience with us. An ambitious project like ours will necessarily hit various complicating factors or technological dependencies: proven demand, user feedback, compliance, and regulatory requirements are just some of the issues that we must absolutely get right, and we’re making positive headway, on top of collecting feedback from those users whitelisted for our wallet preview.
We first launched MAPS 2.0 in December 2020 with the wallet waitlist and a new online and offline maps UI and experience while preserving what users loved about the classic Maps.me design and functionality.
Up next is improving the Maps.me core mapping functionality. Better maps accuracy and building or strengthening partnerships with players like Foursquare for an enhanced POI data set, Booking.com for a better hotel booking model, and the OpenStreetMaps community. There is also the staged roll-out of our wallet and the integration of DeFi yield (initially in closed beta). This remains one of our top priorities.
We are finalizing the details for staking rewards and similar incentives rewards for MAPS holders. Further down the line, in the medium to long term, we have asset trading and asset management planned for Q3 2021 and beyond for the wallet, depending on the availability of partner services on Solana and Serum at the time and key factors like regulatory requirements. This would also be the same stage wherein we introduce Maps.me for Business, offering promotional opportunities for partner businesses plus the ability to claim their business and receive better user search positions and other benefits.
There are a lot of exciting things coming up, and I hope this helps paint the bigger pictures of what Maps.me 2.0 is setting out to do!
3. Could you dig a bit more into the details and share how is Maps.me 2.0 combining the DeFi features into the app and what are the major functionalities of the platform?
There are two areas where Maps.me 2.0 differentiates itself from Maps.me 1.0. One is financial and the other is experiential.
Consider the new mapping and travel experience of Maps.me 2.0:
Maps.me acts as a natural entry-point for users as they explore the world. We know that our users use Maps.me before embarking or during their journey. This is the case whether they’re going to their destination, booking a hotel, or finding a restaurant. We can say that Maps.me is a platform to capture users’ explicit intentions. Knowing or being able to capture these intentions, we can then put in place content to supplement or assist in their decision-making by providing recommendations, reviews, guidance, and promotions from businesses.
Partners have expressed excitement to participate on our platform to add such value to our travelers (while preserving user privacy). As mentioned earlier, ways to do this include personalized promotions, loyalty programs, branded content on the maps themselves, and business owners claiming their own businesses. Ownership of MAPS tokens is one way by which these partners can interact with Maps.me and become eligible for different degrees of such benefits. DeFi doesn’t directly enter here, however; it comes up in the financial dimension of Maps.me 2.0.
Maps.me 2.0 is offering an embedded wallet with powerful functionalities. We’d like to draw your attention to one of its special features: a savings account whereby users can deposit excess funds and earn interest! To make a long story short, this functionality is powered by Oxygen Protocol (https://oxygen.org), which you may have heard of. Oxygen runs in the background (as a financial back-end), so Maps.me users need only interact with Maps.me’s simple UX to enjoy the benefits that Oxygen confers. Oxygen in the background will match Maps.me users’ funds (they are lent digital USD) to borrowers through the Serum DEX (note that Maps.me’s passive income function is a fixed deposit, not a demand deposit, so a run is not possible). You can learn more about this from our whitepaper and https://mapstoken.medium.com.
4. What is your marketing strategy to make current customers using Maps.me 1.0 interested in your decentralized financial services of Maps.me 2.0?
We’ve got a lot planned for marketing to our massive user base and to those interested in the DeFi/crypto side of Maps.me 2.0 (including, of course, MAPS token). The content and timing of our pipeline are based on careful segmentation and strategic messaging considerations. We look forward to spreading the word about what we’ve got in store!
Our marketing mix across all segments is a combination of PR-type activities, targeted activities (e.g. for existing users, token holders, and DeFi fans), and digital promotions to drive network effects. We have already gotten many influencers on-board and are continuing to expand on this pipeline too. MAPS rewards for users who help bring friends onboard are also an activity we are just deploying.
- Articles on top leading crypto and traditional publications
- Immersive or interactive events
Targeted activities for existing user base:
- Email marketing (emailing our existing user base about updates to wallet functions)
- In-app campaign (eg refer friends to get MAPS etc)
- In-app notifications via Maps.me app
- Travel influencers (e.g. to share on their social media and/or create video tutorials about how to use Maps.me wallet)
- Distributing ads on non-crypto channels
- Apple app store promotion
- Advertorial articles in travel, leisure magazines
5. What are the ways that Maps.me generates profits/revenue?
There are a number of revenue streams from both the consumer and business participant side which will go towards the benefit of MAPS holders.
Consumer-side revenue streams include:
- Subscription fee (initial tier — for free, freemium model)
- Net FX mark-up on transactions with foreign exchange
- Card interchange fee
- Additional products (insurance, POS financing for travel)
- Instant cashout fee
- Affiliate fee from OTAs (online travel agencies) for booking accommodation + travel + transportation
- Advertising fees from businesses
6. Partnership is always an important factor for every project. So who is Maps.me’s partner? What are the benefits you get from those relationships?
One important partner we would like to talk about is Oxygen Protocol. Many of our users have asked what is the relationship between Maps.me and Oxygen.
As we discussed, Oxygen will act as the financial backend to Maps.me’s passive income (yield generation) wallet feature. In return, Oxygen is therefore seeded by the 60m active annual users of Maps.me. Maps.me users will form a critical mass and help tailor the direction and bring liquidity and credibility to the Oxygen protocol.
As Maps.me is a real world application, we have many real-world partners such Visa, Booking.com, and Foursquare, etc.
Visa is our partner for our digital multi-currency cards. Booking.com is our hotel affiliate partner. Foursquare provides rich point of interest data. Keep in mind that things in the fiat world move a lot slower than things in DeFi/crypto. It means that our timing does depend from the outset on Visa, financial institutions with their rules and regulations, corporate trustee, and a few more parties required to deliver.
You can read about the partner integration schedule here: https://mapstoken.medium.com/maps-me-2-0-roadmap-82f8909a5acb.
7. What is the most unique thing Maps.me brings to the blockchain community? How is it better than other platforms?
In terms of our offerings and positioning, Maps.me 2.0 has both online and offline maps while offering DeFi functionalities to its 60m active annual users.
- Powering Maps.me 2.0 is the MAPS token that may provide token holders with 100% of the platform’s net revenues. Token-holders using the app will also benefit from personalized promotions and rewards, likely driving adoption, retention, and virality of MAPS within the community.
- There are very few apps with a user base as large as ours, so Maps.me is positioned to quickly put DeFi financial services in the hands of many.
- Furthermore, users utilize our app throughout their entire journey/travel process: we can therefore develop a travel- and wallet-oriented ecosystem to instill new user habits with regards to payments, accommodation booking, fund transfers, and asset management.
- Our offered financial services are decentralized, which contrasts with the centralized nature of Robinhood (brokerage), Paypal (payments), and Revolut (fintech banking). Current DeFi projects are also hindered by blockchains that cannot provide the necessary throughput, speed, and low gas fees for widespread adoption. In contrast, Maps.me will build its DeFi functions on the fast and scalable Solana blockchain and liquid Serum DEX.
8. What is the role of MAPS token in the ecosystem?
MAPS token is the cornerstone of Maps.me, binding its 140mm users. The token provides both utility and governance functions. 100% of net revenues generated by Maps.me will go towards the benefit of its holders.
In addition to buy and burn of the token, MAPS will also act as a loyalty program for its users, similar to airline miles, which our users will be familiar with. Users can earn more MAPS by interacting with the ecosystem, such as booking a hotel in the app. For consumers, they can stake MAPS to receive increased benefits such as higher yield.
For businesses, they can spend MAPS on advertising, such as to appear higher in search results.
Each token also represents one vote and the token holders will vote on binding governance initiatives. Governance actions can potentially include proposals on economics and fees and deciding on what assets are available on the platform.
9. Does Maps.me have any reward program event ongoing or upcoming, please give us details & do you have any ambassador program also?
I’m the ambassador! You can find me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Marco_MapsDog.
We have reward programs including airdrops and staking rewards in the pipeline. Raydium Fusion pool is live now! Right now, we are running a campaign with the wallet waitlist to help further spread awareness about Maps.me 2.0.
10. Only getting users, holders, etc is not everything. In my opinion, a project needs to deal with solving a real-world issue or problem. What is the problem that your project primarily will solve?
Our embedded wallet solves several real-world pain points.
1. Earn interest: given that most users are located in Europe, where the interest rate is near 0%, the yield will be a very attractive incentive to organically convince users to fund their wallets.
2. Exchange smartly: Maps.me wallet can hold and convert money in 37 currencies at the best rates and with no hidden fees.
3. Pay from the wallet using multiple currencies: Travelling abroad is fun. Paying 3–5% bank fees on foreign transactions isn’t. Users can pay merchants and book hotels directly from the wallet to get the best deals on transactions abroad.
4. Transfer money in real-time: Sending money to a friend in need, or a gift to loved ones has never been easier or quicker.
In the future, the wallet will also offer trading services and access to global capital markets, which will be powered by Serum DEX on Solana.