In 2020, when beginning to conceptualize what would soon become ePioneers, Ilana Milkes (MBA in Renewable Energy, focusing in finance) had already gone through some companies specialized in M&A, as well as some focused on innovation in the field of derivatives, education and cleantech. After eight years of working in these areas, she noticed there was a gap in the market - an opportunity to create a solution bringing together blockchain technology and the environmental credit market, increasing the traceability and reliability of a growing and pressing demand being made on a global scale - the reliable commercialisation of carbon credit.
Considering that there are over 20 thousand cryptocurrencies currently carving out their space in the world of finance, noticing that more and more global political leaders and investors were becoming aware that climate change is a pressing issue and seeing that the concept of carbon credit was becoming more and more tangible, Ilana seized the opportunity and founded ePioneers, a Crypto Climate Bank based in Brazil, with branches in Colombia and soon, the United States and the United Kingdom. The name of their tokens? Selva - roughly translated to forest, jungle or wilderness.
"This market will grow more than we’ve ever seen before and, in less than a year, this growth will become exponential. Brazil could be exporting billions of dollars a year in carbon credits, as it has one of the largest green areas in the world and it has so much untapped potential to produce environmental credits - however, it does not have the infrastructure for that – yet. But the scene is changing. More and more traditional banks are opening their Crypto-management departments (Web3) and Brazil is one of the most advanced countries in terms of the regulation surrounding crypto use in the LatAm region”, says Ilana.
Bringing together the concept of carbon credits (which first appeared during ECO 92, over 30 years ago) with current-day technological advancements made it so that Ilana was able to see the potential to transform these credits into tokens with market value. And if we take into consideration the fact that, today, the global market for carbon credit moves around US$ 1 trillion a year, and that Latin America alone holds 40% of the planet’s biodiversity, 30% of the drinking water reserves and around 50% of tropical forests - we are able to get a clear idea of the size of the market ePioneers is looking to get a hold of.
The Green Revolution pushes forward with ePioneers’ innovative solution
As the Fintech winner of the 22 Latam Edge Award, ePioneers is hard at work, beginning to offer a VISA Climate Corporate Card for companies and employees looking to reach NetZero faster. ePioneers makes around 1-3% in transactions and 3-10% on the value of assets traded from local partners. As well as that, they have established a partnership with Dock, a leader in payment solutions within Latin America which has, among their clients, Nubank, alongside whom ePioneers will launch the first Crypto Climate Bank in the world, allowing owners of unproductive land to transform it into carbon or environmental credits, through tokens Selva and digital assets - which can then be commercialized in the global market.
This initiative is extremely innovative on a global scale, and the company is developing different types of natural assets that can be digitalised, tracked and traded.
Supporting this trend, we can see moves such as the ones made by BID Lab - the innovation lab of the Grupo Banco Interamericano de Desenvolvimento, which has just opened up a call for companies to bring Token-based solutions for biodiversity. Their objective is to ensure tokens are used to interrupt and reverse the loss of biodiversity in Latin America until the end of the year.
The company received investments from Algorand, a blockchain company founded by one of the most awarded MIT mathematicians, Silvio Micali (winner of the Turing Award). Algorand was conceptualized in order to be the Carbon Negative Blockchain, thanks to its huge energy efficiency. Another investor was Stacks, which already works for cities such as Miami, San Francisco and New York so that they can have their digital wallets. Ilana tells us that Miami already has over US$ 60 million in city coins. “What we proposed to the mayor of Miami was launching a City Wallets Climate Wallet, utilizing our token to be distributed around North-American cities, so that they may buy carbon credits from Brazil.”
Free access satellite images can identify biomass, and also help to further the control and calculate areas being currently used. “ePioneers utilizes images in order to calculate the potential of the lands’ biomass so that carbon credits can then be generated, giving credibility and control to the process,” says Ilana. To do this, the company is equipped with help from Dr. Sébastien M. Raoux - responsible for developing the Rules for ONU’s greenhouse gas emission inventory and winner of the Nobel prize alongside Al Gore. Dr. Raoux assists in making sure that these new technologies are fitted to the carbon market, as well as in defining new patterns, allowing this technology to innovate on those currently in place.
The strategy of the company for the coming years is to connect the highest number of carbon credit suppliers (such as private companies, owners of lands with carbon capture potential, and organizations with carbon and environmental credits, such as solar power ORGs) to buyers.
In England, ePioneers is moving forward, opening up their first company in Cambridge. They intend to take advantage of their Latam Edge Award prize to engage in the British market in a more intense way. The United Kingdom, according to Ilana, is working towards becoming the global Crypto Hub; the country just launched its own carbon market last year.
25,000 hectares can absorb 10 million tons of CO2 (Amazon forest biome). Each ton is worth between US$ 10 and US$ 80. This means we are talking about US$ 100 M to US$ 800 M per 25,000 hectares.
In the United Kingdom, a Carbon Trade Exchange was recently launched, paying around £ 60 per ton of CO2.
The discrepancy between the prices of each carbon ton is an important factor to consider, according to ePioneers’ founder: “It is common to see a landowner in Brazil offering these tons for US$ 7, while the European market is paying US$ 60 per ton”, says Ilana.
In order to get in touch with the company, all you have to do is send an email to: email@example.com . From then on, the company will make their first assessment, in order to present the feasibility of the deal. After that, a contract is established, and tokens are generated for trading in the global market. Some companies have already completed this feasibility study, so they may offer their credits to be turned into tokens, and ePioneers will trade them in the market.