Embattled start-up Monetas declared bankrupt

Monetas CEO Johann Gevers, left, with finance minister Ueli Maurer, earlier this year. Keystone

The Swiss-based digital payment start-up Monetas has been declared bankrupt on Monday by a court in Zug. It’s the latest blow for boss Johann Gevers, also under pressure regarding his role in the Tezos Foundation.

This content was published on December 12, 2017 - 10:17 and agencies

The decisionExternal link by the cantonal court in Zug – where the start-up has been based since 2013 – to send Monetas into liquidation comes after a series of ominous signs in recent months.

In October, a note to investors signed-off by Gevers lamented that progress had ground to a halt following failure to find new investors; the company also let go of all its employees, retaining just a small core of contractors.

+ Read about the financial difficulties facing the start-up

“It’s very disappointing that just when we were finally ready to capitalise on exciting commercial opportunities, we lacked the funds to execute,” Gevers said in a note to investors sent on October 23. 

Gevers declined to comment to media following today’s ruling.

First established in Vancouver in 2012 and moved to Zug’s so-called ‘crypto valley’ a year later, Monetas’ aim is to provide smartphone payment services to underbanked developing economies. It is in talks with several African countries with a combined population of 300 million. 

It’s Director, South-African Johann Gevers, is also in charge of running the Tezos Foundation – a cryptocurrency project – where he has come under fierce pressure from founders Arthur and Kathleen Breitman.

They have accused him of not only presiding over a period of inaction, but also “an attempt at self-dealing, misrepresenting to the council the value of a bonus he attempted to grant himself.” Recent reports however suggest that Gevers may emerge from the challenge intact.

In this letter to investors on November 30, Gevers insisted things were improving for Monetas, but the company went bust weeks later.

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