SCF #15
Award Completed

The traveler's digital wallet. Cross-border, card-less, instant payments for the tourism industry. "International Pix"

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Emigro Payments App

Although I believe that there'll be multiple use-cases for Soroban on Emigro, it doesn't make sense for me to start there. I have to get payments working and get a client base on the core product, before working on more sophisticated features.

The first product is a smart-phone based cross-border payments app for retail tourism-related payments, whereas the tourist and vendor will both need the app at this time, but with the goal of moving towards app to account payments. A tourist will pre-load their (recoverable) self-custody Emigro wallet through an anchor in their home country, via the Emigro interface. They're then able to travel to other countries and make cash-less and card-less retail payments where Emigro is accepted for their trip expenses via QR codes containing the vendor info plus the payment details for the them to scan. With path payments the currency exchange, at the best rate, and payment is completed at the point-of-sale, therefore a traveler doesn't need to exchange and hold currencies other than their own. But, the ability to exchange and hold other currencies does exist if the traveler/vendor wants to hedge against fluctuating exchange rates. The payment will settle instantly with the vendor in the currency that they chose and can be instantly off-ramped to their bank account by their home country anchor via the Emigro interface. Although fiat-backed stablecoins are used, (with XLM as an intermediary), the traveler/vendor doesn't need any knowledge of crypto, and all of the confusing web3 UX is stripped away. The traveler/vendor doesn't have to deal with gas or wallet address strings, their wallet key is their email address or another code they choose, mimicking how Pix operates in Brazil and that others will follow. This is a safe way for people to get started with and use digital currency, and can be a gateway for future products. There are problems solved for both the travelers and the vendors;


- no need to exchange and carry cash for regular tourism payments, saving money and also being less susceptible to losing money via theft

- no need to carry credit cards for regular tourism payments as they're not universally accepted, the vendor may add a fee to accept the card, and international cards are not available to all (plus their high fees)

- transparency regarding the fees involved in making payments, with the small on/off ramp fees, but free transfers (payments) and no markup on the exchange rate


- no need to hold large amounts cash from tourism clients, with more safety and no in-person bank deposits required

- no need to have a point-of-sale credit card machine if you are a very small vendor, or you can save money by accepting fewer credit cards as a larger vendor. there is also more access to consumers as only smart phones are required for the payments

- instant settlement with no charge-backs, and the ability to immediately send the money to a bank account or another user (free)

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Previous Project(s)
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Progress so far


EmigroPay participated in SCF#11 as a subject matter expert and a blockchain engineer. The product was a web-based cross-border payments solution for the legal industry, using fiat-backed stablecoins. We successfully implemented muxed accounts, SEP 24, SEP 31, path payments, as well as with the anchors nTokens and Stably and deposits/withdrawals with DEX/CEXs. We had a full UI for customers to use. However, we were not successful with the award and that project was shelved after our partnership broke up.


After spending several months living in Brazil while working on EmigroPay, I learned about a related opportunity where the cross-border payments problem is more acute. I discovered, through my own experience and talking with other foreigners here, that there exists a problem for us to make local payments once we become a long-term tourist / digital nomad, but not a resident. Once you've used up the cash that you came with and are trying to pay with your credit card everywhere you have problems. Vendors (in Brazil) want to be paid with Pix, the federal real-time payments system because it is free for them and is a layer to connect all the major banks. This model of Pix is spreading to other LatAm countries and will be launched as FedNow in the United States as well. However, these systems are national only, and there isn't yet a service to connect them. Stellar anchors present the best opportunity for on and off-ramping using these instant payment systems, and the Stellar network can be used as a third-party to connect them. This is a far better and cheaper way to get nearly real-time bank-to-bank cross-border card-less transfers using XLM and fiat-backed stablecoins.

I'm starting again, but not without significant insight into the past and current problems. I'm focusing on tourism-related payments as a differentiator, but there are many other possible applications for B2B / B2C / C2B payments to grow into, and P2P remittance functionality is built-in.

To get there, we request a budget of  
Additional information


Stellar-Based Infrastructure

I've been working on blockchain products (3 of them) since late 2021, with two parked projects that will be revived and incorporated into Emigro at a later stage. These products, CeDeFi savings and embedded legaltech payments are far more suited to Soroban capabilities. My intention is to build a suite of fintech products for the global mobility industry and become the financial infrastructure, whereas white-label versions can be offered and SaaS products can be built on top of it - becoming a vertical SaaS platform on Stellar.

Niche & Open Banking

As I'm targeting travelers, beyond short-term tourism, I want to be the digital financial "institution" that travels with them. A digital nomad can spend months in Brazil, with Emigro servicing their financial needs, and then do more time in Chile or Peru (etc), with Emigro following them. Part of this is offering different payment methods that are required for different situations, with seamless transition between them. Digital currency won't be replacing Visa and Mastercard anytime soon, and the largest players in travel will still be working with them. Therefore, I've talked to both of them about my plan for an Emigro branded card, with an issuer such as Pomelo (also contacted). This will allow Emigro's customer's significant more optionality for "banking" while traveling across borders. The next step is credit for loans, which open banking enables as I can see the history of income and payments for the Emigro customers over a period of time, as well as their history from their banks in their home country (if it participates in open banking). When customers settle-in to a country for the longer-term Emigro can be their first source of credit, for a car loan, as an example. Something that is historically difficult for temporary residents and newcomers. Obviously, this is further down the road, but I'm already putting the pieces in place to be ready.

Emigro is just getting started (again), but is not, "just another payment app."

SWOT Analysis


  • direct experience with the problem on the traveler side, being an ideal customer profile
  • working alongside other established payment methods, rather than "disruption"
  • ScaleMote is strong technical team to build the application with readiness for Stellar anchors and stablecoins


  • Emigro team is currently lacking regulatory and legal support
  • a BR local operating company is still required and will be initiated in August
  • CAC and LTV financial metrics are unknown at this point


  • recently participated in Web Summit Rio (20k people), making contact with many potential customers, partners, and investors
  • new government connections, as mentioned in the distribution section below
  • the Brazilian Central Bank has support for fintech and digital currency companies
  • After SCF15 started a major Brazilian payment processor launched "International Pix", which is great signaling for Emigro.


  • the US and Canada haven't finalized their digital currency legislation, which could affect on/off ramps in those countries and the ability to have those tourist customers
  • there are other (well-funded) remittance and cross-border employment products that could be adapted to this initial use-case
  • financial runway is always a concern and 2022 was a very difficult year, trying to hit moving targets


The initial goal is to become an industry-recognized payment method in Brazil for international tourists. Tourism is a big industry for Brazil, being 7% of the GDP and encompassing 18% of the jobs in Rio de Janeiro. I've been in contact with several government departments, talking to them about "International Pix". They understand the problems very well and there will be opportunities for me to demo Emigro when it's ready. With their guidance I can ensure that I am building the product in a way that will support Brazilian small businesses well, and then they will endorse me to tourism agencies. These departments include;

  • Prefeitura do Rio (Mayor's office)
  • Invest Rio
  • Secretary of Tourism Rio
  • RioTur (state tourism agency)
  • Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Sebrae Rio (state department of the federal small business support department)
  • Ministry of Economic Development
  • Embratur (federal tourism agency)

Partnerships (Secured "S" / In-progress "IP")

  • S - Anclap, nTokens, Stably
  • IP - Circle, Stablecorp
  • IP - Mastercard - signed NDA


Emigro won't be mainly serving an under-served audience, but is working towards it. The tourists and the agencies that are serving them are not under-served, but there are far more small operators serving tourists that are from low-income communities and of marginalized backgrounds. By using Emigro, not only are they able to access more money from tourists, but they're able to keep more of it compared to accepting an international credit card. Having immediate access to this income is a big bonus for them.

Pitch deck
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First Deliverable

Proof of Intent Deliverables (Live on testnet as of July 9th)

  • User Registration and Wallet Management: Utilizing AWS Cognito platform, a streamlined user registration process, ensuring secure and reliable account creation. Additionally, tourists are automatically provided with a custodial wallet, which will transition to a non-custodial model in the future, enhancing user control and ownership of their digital assets. This is scheduled for our next delivery.
  • Login/Logout Functionality leveraging AWS Cognito.
  • Balances Overview: Real-time visibility of their account balances, for both BRL and USDC.
  • A QR code generation feature, enabling vendors to generate unique codes that can be easily scanned by tourists. See it in action here:
  • Displaying the vendor's information and location on a map, ensuring the scanned QR code belongs to the right vendor.
  • Quotes: up-to-date conversion quotes between USDC and BRL using Stellar's DEX, so tourists can double-check the cost in the currency they're most familiar with before paying.
  • Payment: Vendors get paid directly to their own non-custodial wallet. Currently, the QR generation assumes the vendor already has a non-custodial wallet created. This will be changed in the next deliverable where we'll allow vendors to register and get their own wallet up and running.

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Blake Sieders (Blake_Emigro#0019)

Founder & CEO

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A multi-career generalist

First as a mechanical engineering technologist and project manager with 15 years of employment experience in;

  • machine & process design for mass manufacturing / industrial automation
  • project management & sales for custom fabrication
  • automotive, mining, oil & gas, waste-water treatment industries

Second as a Canadian immigration consultant, with 4 years of experience;

  • self-employed & licensed
  • clients mostly from Latin America, primarily from Brazil
  • also clients from India, China, and others
  • focused on skilled workers & international adult students

Third as a tech founder / product manager / strategist with 6 years of experience;

  • designed and launched the first version of Emigro, an immigration legaltech SaaS product in 2017 (shut-down due to team break-up)
  • proposed a blockchain middleware product in 2018 and received an offer to relocate to China to build with investment (did not want to accept deal of gov't subsidies)
  • proposed a legaltech platform, Verity.Legal, in 2020 while working with a team of lawyers (lost momentum during the early pandemic)
  • assembled a hackathon team and built the Emigro.Finance CeDeFi demo product on testnet in H1 2022 for the Moralis / Avalanche hackathon (won $40k USD but discontinued after DeFi crash)
  • designed for cross-border legal industry payments on Stellar in H2 2022 which was on the production network and ready to launch in January of this year (shut-down due to partnership break-up)
  • currently designing the mobile payments app

I'm set up for success because:

  • I have incredible resilience as I have been working on shades of Emigro since 2016, with varying degrees of success
  • I have extensive global mobility industry knowledge that I gained from my consulting business, which includes cross-border payments
  • I'm gaining experience as a long-term tourist / digital nomad
  • While I'm not a builder, I understand the importance of distribution and am putting my focus on becoming a tourism industry recognized payment method, to be promoted to consumers by government and tourism agencies and vendors.

Julián Lescano

Project Manager at

My name is Julian Lescano! I am a software developer and biotechnology graduate. I  currently work as a Project Manager at ScaleMote and my role is to coordinate and manage all aspects of a project to achieve its objectives and deliver the desired outcomes.

Ivan Belasich

Software Developer at

I am a 25-year-old full-stack developer from Argentina. With a background in programming spanning two years, I have honed my skills in both front-end and back-end development. I am passionate about creating innovative solutions and contributing to the ever-evolving world of technology.

Mauricio Genebrieres

Tech Lead at

Former Software Developer student turned into a Software Engineer. Mauricio has completed the course and is now a Chapter Lead capable of working on complex projects.


ScaleMote is the perfect tech partner for early-stage startups. We provide rock-solid software engineering solutions tailored to meet your budget, no matter how modest. We offer solutions that will give you the most bang for your buck. If you are a non-technical founder, launching a startup can often be confusing and overwhelming. You need to achieve a lot with limited resources, and make sure everything goes smoothly. We are here to help! Whether you don't have the time or technical knowledge to handle software engineering yourself, our team at ScaleMote is perfectly equipped to do it for you. We have years of experience in the industry, and we know how to make sense out of your technology needs.

Our team is set up for success because:

  • Blake is living the problem day-to-day and talking with his peers about it to collect information,
  • talking to vendors to understand their pain-points and costs related to accepting payments,
  • learning about different payment methods and real-time payments,
  • searching for new team members and advisors,
  • preparing a strategic angel investor round.
  • ScaleMote is one of the small group of development shops for Stellar applications,
  • with customers in multiple countries,
  • previous experience with SCF,
  • training new Stellar and Soroban developers,
  • a full-service design and development shop for startups.