Through our technology platform, customers can use the value of the gold they own as money for everyday spending or saving.”
Founder & CEO, TallyMoney
The democratisation of money
A catch-up with…Cameron Parry
Cameron Parry has built an independent monetary system to compete with the fractured reserve banking and fiat currency system because, he says, it is failing the public. He believes that the banking system is not a healthy environment for savers or depositors and did something about it. TallyMoney – a digital currency anchored to physical gold that works seamlessly with the existing banking and payments infrastructure – launched in the UK at the end of 2021. Current economic woes such as rising inflation and recession are shining a light on the weaknesses of the traditional banking model and the risks to account holders. These drivers combined with a planned IPO in 2023, could see TallyMoney really take-off this year.
The banking system is a lending system, according to Cameron: “If you want to borrow money, it’s very good as the national currency loses value by design so does your debt obligation in real terms, but conversely this is a big problem for savers as the value of fiat money diminishes the purchasing power of savings over time.” Fiat money is government-issued currency that is debt-based and not backed by a physical asset, whereas tally is backed by gold: one tally represents one milligram of gold that the customer owns.
“We’re in a position where we’ve built a stable and scalable monetary system. We’ve had our smartphone app proof of concept out for three years now, and last year we were proving up our business model. It takes time to build trust in an alternative money for the mainstream. You need to be out there for a while. You can’t go live and everybody goes ‘wow’ and takes it up overnight – it’s not like that,” says Cameron.
“We protect the value of people’s money and their access to it,” explains Cameron. “Through our technology platform, customers can use the value of the gold they own as money for everyday spending or saving. We are the world’s first to issue individual accounts with an international bank account number (IBAN) that works just like a normal bank account with a debit card but the account balance is denominated in a currency that’s not issued by a Government,” he says.
“TallyMoney is an asset-based form of money that is full-reserve, which means the underlying asset is never leveraged or lent out or invested. Ours is a custodial service – it’s the customer’s gold.” According to Cameron it gives customers the best of both worlds: “You get the trusted store value of gold, but you also get the real-time medium of exchange like a fiat currency,” he says.
At the moment, Tally only offers personal accounts for individuals in the UK, but the plan is to launch UK SME accounts in coming months as a web app.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in view of the global turmoil over recent times, Cameron says the last two years have been constructive for TallyMoney. “We were focusing on building the system and recruiting the right people,” he explains. “When you’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done before, it takes time to get it right! Even when Covid was going on and accessing capital was more difficult (and as an early stage venture you’re not profitable initially, so you need to have access to capital), we were just able to get on with it. In a way, the world slowed down and we just kept powering forward, doing what we needed to do: developing a scalable solution, making it available to the public, and then marketing it,” he says.
“If inflation is ten percent a year, and the bank interest rate that you’re getting on your savings is two percent for example, your money is devaluing at eight percent per year in real terms.”
TallyMoney is seeing traction in the UK, the only jurisdiction where Tally is currently available. “We wanted to get our system nice and robust and scalable, and demonstrate that people actually wanted it in our own backyard, before taking this to other jurisdictions,” Cameron explains.
Rising inflation since early 2022 has helped to move the dial. “With all the money printing that’s been going on, inflation has been hiding in financial assets, but now consumers are feeling the effect of their pounds being devalued. If inflation is ten percent a year, and the bank interest rate that you’re getting on your savings is two percent for example, your money is devaluing at eight percent per year in real terms. You’re losing value even if the balance in your bank account doesn’t change because your purchasing power is being diminished. So, if you’re saving in a fiat currency in a bank savings account, you’re in a downward spiral,” Cameron claims. “It goes to the crux of why somebody would use TallyMoney and a Tally account rather than a regular bank account using pounds,” he says.
“The last kick in the teeth to savers losing value in their bank account is expropriation risk,” he explains. “If your bank gets in financial trouble, it can actually seize some of your savings to prop themselves up under the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive 2.”
According to Cameron, some people are worried that they may have the access to their money restricted if something catastrophic happens in the banking sector such as another financial crisis. “The last kick in the teeth to savers losing value in their bank account is expropriation risk,” he explains. “If your bank gets in financial trouble, it can actually seize some of your savings to prop themselves up under the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive 2.”
Its equivalent is legislated in most countries around the world post the global financial crisis. “The reason is that with all the debt that has been going into the system post the GFC, government revenues aren’t enough to bail out banks,” Cameron continues. “Bank’s will have to bail themselves out by using their depositors’ funds – which is not what a customer thinks they’re getting when they become a bank customer!” he exclaims.
Tally is a positive way to address these issues, according to Cameron. “Common sense tells us we need to have some savings, we can’t just live on credit. There are a lot of people who are a bit worried about the decisions made by central banks, or government fiscal policy. It doesn’t look like things are getting more certain out there, and anything people can do to make sure that they’re financially robust and in control of their own money, is a positive thing for them to do,” he says.
To make the most of TallyMoney, customers need to have the capacity for savings. “If you’re living hand to mouth, you don’t really need a good store of value, you just need a medium of exchange,” Cameron explains, “but anyone with savings should be using a Tally account,” he says. “We’ve done market research around where our audience segments are, and savers is the big one.”
Other customers tend to be people who travel a lot and who want to think in terms of just one currency. Cameron gives an example: “If I buy a cup of coffee in Italy and then I buy a cup of coffee in Japan, if you’re using TallyMoney you can see that it cost 50 tally in Rome, but 70 tally in Tokyo. TallyMoney also provides an extremely cheap foreign exchange rate,” he adds. Tally claims to have the most inexpensive exchange rate for individuals because it is based on the global wholesale price of gold and has no added FX spread or transaction fees.
“It’s all about giving people a safe and happy environment with their money, so we try to keep it nice and positive, to which end we use a bright sunshine yellow as a core brand colour.”
“Some customers are gold enthusiasts: people who want some easy exposure to gold at a low cost, but with the full flexibility to spend it whenever they feel like it,” explains Cameron. “Others are cryptocurrency enthusiasts, and while TallyMoney is not a cryptocurrency, they like the idea that there can be competing monetary systems that are independent,” he says. “Then we have independently minded people, who don’t think that the State is always going to necessarily act in their best interests, and so want to take control of their own money and finances. They are typically also people who make decisions directly about what they hold in their investment portfolio. And then lastly, because it’s fintech, we have customers that want to be first out of their peer group to try new things,” he concludes.
The FTX crypto exchange bankruptcy has damaged the perception of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as potential alternatives to the established monetary system. “I’m a big fan of bitcoin,” says Cameron. “I co-founded the world’s first blockchain industry company to successfully IPO on a recognised stock market in London on Christmas Eve, 2015. Even back then I was of the view that it would take a good five to ten years before bitcoin would achieve mass adoption, if ever.”
A lot of Cameron’s learnings about bitcoin have gone into the design of TallyMoney: “I’ve taken away some of the reasons that stop bitcoin from gaining mass adoption, in my view, but I did add some of the principles and virtues of that system,” he says. Another competitor would be gold trading apps, or foreign currency trading apps, “but their interest is in getting the trade and charging customers half-a-percent, or one percent of the value each time,” explains Cameron. “It’s not really useful as money. TallyMoney is really competing with everyday bank accounts and fixed-term savings accounts,” he adds.
TallyMoney needs to do what cryptocurrencies have not: achieve mainstream acceptance. To do that they will have to build awareness. “We’re in a position where we’ve built a stable and scalable monetary system. We’ve had our smartphone app proof of concept out for three years now, and last year we were proving up our business model. It takes time to build trust in an alternative money for the mainstream. You need to be out there for a while. You can’t go live and everybody goes ‘wow’ and takes it up overnight – it’s not like that,” says Cameron.
“We’re not a listed company at the moment. I’m looking to bring it onto the stock market in 2023 and that will increase brand and product awareness, and it’ll put us in another regulated environment, which will add further credibility,” Cameron explains. “We’re looking at a standard list on the main market of the London Stock Exchange and the capital we raise will allow us to expand our market footprint,” he says.
A key challenge getting to this stage has been finding the right people to work with. “In an early stage business, you really need people who have a specialist skill in something that complements whatever your core area is, but who also have an overarching, generalist understanding of things – we all have to wear many hats here at Tally. Finding the right people is a massive challenge, particularly when you’re doing something that hasn’t been done before,” Cameron adds.
The most important thing for TallyMoney was to get the foundations right first. “You don’t get a second chance with people’s money. This is not like a gimmicky product – it’s serious stuff,” says Cameron. “It’s all about giving people a safe and happy environment with their money, so we try to keep it nice and positive, to which end we use a bright sunshine yellow as a core brand colour.”
Cameron doesn’t believe the down-turn in technology stocks will greatly impact TallyMoney. “The business is built on economic fundamentals. It had revenues defined straight off the bat. If TallyMoney was free – making a loss but attracting hundreds of thousands of customers – and we still had to figure out how to generate revenues, that, to me, would be dangerous,” he explains. “I’d rather be clear to customers upfront about what they’re paying for what they’re getting, and make sure it’s good value.
“Fintech has been in a difficult environment since early 2022 as far as investor sentiment goes,” explains Cameron. “It means that capital dries-up for everybody which makes it a bit more challenging, but that hasn’t really affected our company valuation which is fairly modest, realistic and credible, in my opinion,” he continues. “I’d really like to see a lot of the company value take hold when we’re on the stock market. TallyMoney is about the democratisation of money and if you believe in that, then you should let the public own in the growth and maturing phases, to the degree they want to, part of the central monetary authority – we are the issuer, regulator and operator of the Tally monetary system,” he says.
“Prior to that, we’ll just keep building-up market traction to the extent that our resources allow, in the lead-up to a compelling IPO.”
Regarding competition, Cameron states: “When I started working on this concept in 2017 with a colleague, I thought that we’d be rushed to be the first mover in this space. But actually, the longer it has taken to find the right people and build the organisation, the more it seems that there’s nobody else coming. Not yet at least. We may have copycat companies in future and that could be a threat, but nobody can take away the fact that TallyMoney was the first non-fiat non-crypto mainstream money for everyday savings and payments and the longer that goes on, the more established we’ll be in our own home market,” explains Cameron.
“The world’s a big place and there’s plenty of room for other participants” he says. “In the UK, interest-bearing savings accounts and current accounts are worth over £1.1 trillion. We could literally just stay in the UK forever and we’d have a very bright future,” Cameron claims. “But Tally is money designed by the people for the people, so we do want to get this out globally and into as many people’s hands as reasonably possible.
“Even if Tally doesn’t turn out to be a big success, and if what follows TallyMoney becomes the big thing and protects the broader public from the debt-based fiat currency system that’s designed ultimately to fail them, then we would have played our part. I’m sure that TallyMoney will have a large degree of success, and it might have a huge amount of success, but even if we are the ones that opened the door, that’s still a very positive thing to have contributed to society,” says Cameron.
According to Cameron, the existing banking system will eventually come to an end in some form. “Hopefully, it won’t be hugely catastrophic. But it will reset,” he insists. “At that moment, a lot of wealth will be stripped away from the population through their fiat currency savings and that’s going to devastate a lot of people. Our system’s designed to protect and benefit depositors and savers. It’s there for people to have sound money in their lives,” he says.
“I’m not a ‘gold bug’,” Cameron states. “I didn’t start off trying to turn gold into money, I started by trying to design sound money, and gold is the best underlying asset to delivering that.”
“All we’ve got to trade in our lives is time. When you agree to get something in return for your time, your effort, your labour, your mental energy, the stress, and the sacrifice away from your family, and somebody pays you for that, there’s something fundamentally not right about somebody else stripping the value of that currency away as you go forward trying to earn more.” he explains. “If I did some work last year and I didn’t spend the fiat currency I was paid until today, it can only buy 90 percent of the things I could have bought a year ago. That’s a bad system! We need an alternative. We need a monetary system that encourages you to save money and be productive,” Cameron says. “It isn’t straight-forward to deliver, it’s been a lot of hard work, but that is what TallyMoney achieves.”
Opinions contained are those of the interviewee. PKF Littlejohn are not making investment recommendations regarding Tally Money or its services.