G999 in focus: What is Sophia Thomalla promoting?
The year is 2019, and G999 has not yet seen the light of day. In October, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) bans the Belize-based Karatbit Foundation from continuing to offer the “cryptocurrency” KaratGold Coins (KBC) in Germany. At the same time, the authority orders the liquidation of the Foundation: investors should get their money back. The reason: BaFin classified the business with KGC, a gold-backed token, as an e-money business, which requires a special license to operate in the country.
The Karatbit Foundation is part of the Karatbars Group around entrepreneur Harald Seiz. At the time, Seiz was not satisfied with the BaFin slap on the wrist and filed a lawsuit against the decision, which is still not final. In mid-December 2020, Seiz showed remorse on his YouTube channel. In a speech titled “Breaking News”, he came clean without really going into detail. He had done nothing wrong, but instead former employees and partners had played fast and loose with his name and trust.
“In the past, there were often enough little hints and signs about what was going on in the background, which you noticed, but didn’t really register. Only gradually did it become clear to you that something had to change. I had to realize that in some things, we were far from perfect. All our trust, my trust, was abused. In my name and in the name of Karatbars’ family, things were done of which I knew nothing and which I had not wanted.”
That is why he got rid of certain old burdens:
“I have parted company with those who claimed to be part of the leadership, when they never were. And I have parted ways with those who simply stole my ideas and vision, used them for their own profit, and have used and are using the entire team’s developments and work for… covering up unserious businesses.”
So says Seiz at a later point in the video, which he simultaneously uses to promote a new project called “V999”.
G999: The Standard Gold Bank scam
One wonders if Josip Heit is one of the aforementioned legacy members? The former CEO of the Karatbars Group launched a project with his Hamburg-based company GSB Gold Standard Banking - also in December last year - that is closely related to Seiz’s new platform, at least in name: G999. An elaborately produced commercial, in which German influencer Sophia Thomalla, in superheroine fashion, knocks a G999 coin out of a gold nugget, has already flickered across giant screens in New York’s Times Square.
On its homepage, G999 makes no secret of its ambitions. Nothing less than “a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that aims to become a solid global money with fast payments, micro-fees, a new generation of communication and high transaction capacity” is what the G999 project wants to become. The latest press release, dated January 6, is no less thick: “a uniquely electronic system, card reader and app that enables fast payments, micro-fees and a variety of other options for telecommunications and messenger in one, inspired by the deflationary token economic model,” it says. It is a thoroughly ambitious undertaking.
The G999 token
Whatever the platform will later accomplish, at the center of the ecosystem is the G999 coin. Like KaratGold Coins, G999 is about combining crypto technology with the precious metal gold. However, the ability to exchange G999 tokens for gold appears in the whitepaper as more of a side note than a central use case.
“The G999 wallet can be used to send voice messages, text messages, emails, payments, passive income, and also for redeeming physical gold via our partners’ blockchain.”
So far, the project is significantly behind its roadmap. According to it, for example, an app for voice and text messaging should have appeared as early as Q1 2020. The fact that the roadmap has not been updated makes one wonder when looking at the age of the project’s domain: after all, the website was only registered on September 29, 2020. It is one of numerous indications that G999 is a project that needs closer inspection.
Red flags wherever you look
For example, neither the project’s homepage nor its whitepaper explains what blockchain technology is being used. It could be a Dash fork, since at least its terminology was used - and at times entire passages from the Dash DAO homepage were taken over almost word for word:
This is how the homepage of G999 explains the function of masternodes. Dash fans might find this familiar - after all, the text was apparently taken over almost 1:1 from the Dash website.
To set up a masternode, exactly 749,999 G999 tokens must be deposited. At the current exchange rate of 0.00827 US dollars (as of January 6), this corresponds to the equivalent of 6,540 US dollars, which is then blocked for one year. After this period, the coins can be withdrawn in a time window of 10 days - otherwise they are locked for another year. It should also be noted that G999 masternodes are not involved in governance and have no say over the distribution of funds to promote the network.
“Staking” at G999 - Practical is different
Unlike Dash, whose staking rewards are variable and depend on, among other things, what percentage of all Dash tokens are staked, G999 promises masternode operators a fixed return of 7.5 percent p.a. on their deposits. In general, investors should be wary of such promises in connection with the term “passive income”.
Caution is also advised when sending the coins. If you send the wrong amount, namely 749,999 G999 Coins, they are gone for now.
You need to be very careful when doing regular transactions on the G999 blockchain because if you accidentally send the exact amount of 749,999 G999 to a wallet, those coins will be automatically blocked for the next 12 months and a masternode wallet will be created with them.
This is the explanation on the homepage of the project. Information about who is to operate said masternode is not mentioned. The fact that it is not very practical for ”solid global money” to place such restrictions on individual amounts should not require any further discussion.
Meanwhile, not only masternode operators should be able to generate passive income with G999 staking. Holders should also get a piece of the pie. Here G999 also guarantees an annual return, this time of 2.5 percent. Alongside a deposit of 249,999 tokens comes the requirement to have your wallet open 24/7. So let’s get to your neighbor’s power line and the happy staking can begin.
G999: Blunder on homepage lets past shine through
Whoever wrote the explanatory text for G999’s staking (or “stacking”, as it is called on the homepage) seems to have succumbed to déjà vu. The coin to be stacked is not the G999 token, which is otherwise omnipresent on the homepage and whitepaper, but a certain GSC coin. This token is a hard fork that was planned but ultimately never implemented and that was supposed to unite the two Karatbars tokens KBC and KCB. That’s according to slides from a December 2018 presentation by Gold Standard Bank.
Since there is no other mention of the GSC, this suggests a goof on the part of the G999 project management. Otherwise, this reference to a project that has already been warned against by not only BaFin, but also the financial market watchdogs of South Africa, New Zealand, Namibia, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and British Columbia in sometimes more, and sometimes less clear words, is difficult to explain.
Conclusion: G999 - No, no, no
G999 is reminiscent of a project from the heyday of the ICO hype: lots of buzzwords, unrealistic goals without any real focus, and the promise of salvation to be part of the next big thing - and to make guaranteed returns. The English, riddled with errors, found in the whitepaper and homepage also gives an unprofessional impression. A supposedly decentralized network, apparently plagiarized content and a questionable whitepaper round off the overall impression. Even disregarding Josip Heit’s past, which the Handelsblatt describes as “delicate”, one has to be quite risk-taking - to say the least - to put one’s money into G999.
Croatian entrepreneur Josip Heit is the head of Gold Standard Banking Group (GSB) based in Hamburg, Germany. With his company, he has currently released the cryptocurrency G999, which has lost nearly 85 percent of its value since its launch about four weeks ago.
A superhero landing: dust swirls up from the ground as Sophia Thomalla (31) falls from the sky in red patent leather gear. Then the actress strides through Dubai’s banking district in red stilettos with her hair blowing. “Change the world” is the motto superimposed on the promotional video. Specifically, Thomalla appears to be opening some kind of virtual account.
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