South African entrepreneurs Niel Schoeman and Johan “Joe” Pretorius, who co-founded fibre network operator Vumatel, have launched Toco, a new digital currency platform aimed at fighting climate change. The payments platform seeks to value the environment by uniting a global community that believes carbon reduction has intrinsic value.
The Toco currency represents one tonne of carbon dioxide that has been credibly removed from the atmosphere. Carbon removals, when independently verified, become tradeable certificates that become carbon credits, carbon offsets or carbon mitigation assets.
Toco is designed to be used as a store of value, a means of exchange or as a unit of account. The more people choose to use Toco for their daily money needs, the more demand is created for carbon assets, which in turn stimulates investment in carbon removal activities and projects. The platform is available on the web, Android and iOS. The app is free, and a 1% transaction charge is levied on users, not merchants, when a payment is made. The transaction fees fund the activities of The Carbon Reserve, an independent non-profit foundation set up specifically for this purpose, which is regulated in Switzerland.
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Many merchants in Stellenbosch are already part of the pilot, from coffee shops and restaurants to supermarkets, according to Toco CEO Paul Rowett. Toco is available to anyone, not only those living in Stellenbosch, ahead of the national launch later this year. Users can exchange rands for tocos or tocos for rands at the prevailing exchange rate via the Toco app. The app allows users to make peer-to-peer payments, online payments and in-store payments at participating merchants, in tocos. “Toco is a new form of money, where the available money supply is based on the available carbon asset supply,” the company said in a statement