GEM was officially launched in September 2014 by co-founders Camilo Ramada, a pioneer in the field of mobile payments, and David Shields, a strategist in media, public relations and digital marketing. In the two years since GEM was launched, it has partnered with over 30 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) countrywide and hosted some 600 Community Engagement Events, giving the involved community volunteers over 175 000 GEMs in rewards so far. The official launch was on Nelson Mandela Day 2015, where GEM partnered with Brand South Africa’s ‘Play Your Part’ campaign. The app is so easy to use that GEM has over 7000 registered users who play their part weekly in any of the 50 events held on average each month. This huge reach has encouraged some of the biggest brands in South Africa to collaborate with GEM in order to complete Corporate Social Investment (CSI) that is as practical as it is poignant. Their institutional network consists of reputable organisations in South Africa (BrandSA, Foundation for Human Rights, mLab) as well as abroad (Zorg van de Zaak Foundation, Social Trade Organisation). People earn GEMs by doing community work, and these GEMs (sponsored by the public and corporate partners) are spent equally to the South African Rand on mobile airtime, data, pre-paid electricity, movie tickets and grocery e-vouchers.
The Cyclos Payment Platform has won the Bill and Melinda Gates E-pay Innovation Award; Camilo Ramada is currently located in South Africa to start the GEM Payment Platform, which uses Cyclos as a backbone, but furthermore offers App and USSD payments on a locally developed application.
GEM is moving towards phase two, which is to integrate into the banking system through a switching provider, in order to offer cash-in/out operations and from there a range of financial products to our target audience.They have received their first capital injection from local investors who see profitability in reaching the unbanked market.