This is a follow-up interview with Andrii Shapovalov. To read the original interview, click here.
Andrii Shapovalov is the co-founder at Stampsdaq.com - a start-up venture building an Ethereum-based blockchain for creating, collecting, and trading digital art variations of existing postage stamps and artwork motifs as NFT tokens. He is dedicated to building the global NFT Philately and Art market with a mission to unite all 235 postal countries and territories of the modern world on a common blockchain ecosystem.
APS interviewed Andrii to follow up on the latest developments that have been happening at Stampsdaq and his plans for the future of the company.
Welcome back for your second interview! For those who did not read the first interview, could you give a brief overview of Stampsdaq?
Thanks for the opportunity to update the APS community about our developments. Stampsdaq is an EU-based NFT company founded in 2021 and exclusively dedicated to cooperation with official postal operators worldwide. Stampsdaq utilizes blockchain technologies to ensure the provenance of each digital stamp, to allow postal operators greater opportunities to convey the art and culture of their countries. We see NFT stamps as a technological evolution which expands the story-telling nature of physical stamps, while maintaining the unique ownership rights of physical stamps. Stampsdaq creates the environment to collect, trade and sell digital stamps; educate and enlighten about unique cultures; and meet fellow collectors from across the world. We also promote and implement “Collect with Benefits” vision of creating an extra utility value and real-world experiences for digital stamps owners to drive the interest to NFT stamps collecting and to stamp collecting in general. In other words, we strive to make the life of a stamp collector more entertaining and rewarding.
Is there an accomplishment of which you are most proud since the last interview?
Actually, we are proud of everything what we have achieved so far as it is all for the sake of “making philately thrive again”! In short, since our last interview, the platform is fully up and running live, Stampsdaq signed agreements with more designated postal operators, we broadened our cooperation with the Universal Postal Union, became the prime digital philately partner for the Pan African Postal Union, and, most importantly, our offer for stamp collectors has evolved to include real life experiences – limited edition physical and digital stamps.
During the last interview you mentioned that there were no direct competitors in the NFT marketplace, have you noticed more companies or organizations in the area?
Stampsdaq is still the only independent NFT ecosystem fully dedicated to digital philately. All other activity with digital stamps are primarily carried out directly by postal operators. As of today, close to 20 postal operators have already experimented with digital stamp formats. The momentum is gaining and the search for the digital stamp formula which would be most demanded by collectors is in active progress.
An example of some of the stamps recently released on the platform
Any recent events that Stampsdaq has attended/will attend?
Our primary goal was and still is to secure a so-called “critical mass” of postal operators interested in development of the NFT stamps business so we could be perceived in the eyes of a collector as the destination point for digital philately. This year we presented our digital philately vision at Small Postal Operators CEO Forum in Malta, at philatelic managers meetings of SEPAC (Small European Postal Administration Cooperation) and European Nordic countries, at the congress of the Pan African Postal Union and The Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal, panel discussions at Parcel & Post Expo in Frankfurt, and last week in Cape Town at the International Philatelic Expo. It was a busy year for us!
However, our goal for next year is to promote Stampsdaq to collector communities. We plan to participate in at least one major philatelic event (sharing the vision with existing philatelists) and one major NFT event to share the beauty of digital philately to the younger generation.
What is something that you are currently working on that you are excited about?
Since Day 1 of Stampsdaq, our pure intention was, is and will always be – to develop and implement different entertaining, rewarding virtual and real life experiences for stamp collectors. One such element is a Trivia/Quiz game available to all collectors on Stampsdaq as social gathering point for likeminded people. As philately is about knowledge, history, culture, science, sports and many more, we created a tool to allow collectors to play the intellectual game and at the same time be rewarded for their knowledge. In addition to good company, Trivia winners can earn monetary and non-monetary rewards simply by playing a game that they like. As we will discuss shortly, we have also launched our collector travel rewards program.
What are you doing to make the blockchain platform more secure?
Well, since our last interview, Stampsdaq tech model has changed from a separate blockchain solution to one operating on public blockchain Polygon. It became evident for us that the demands of both postal operators and collectors are primarily focused around issuing NFT stamps in a public blockchain environment as it is deemed more transparent and secure. So, as of today, all digital stamps on Stampsdaq are fully secured by Polygon blockchain and Amazon Web Services. All of our smart contracts are public and are accessible at https://github.com/STAMPSDAQ-LLC/STAMPSDAQ-Markeplace-Contracts
What new countries' post offices/administrations have joined Stampsdaq since we last spoke?
At the time of our first interview, we only had one postal operator singed – La Poste de Cote d’Ivoire. As of today, we signed agreements with the 1st Asian postal operator - Bhutan Post, the second African postal operator - Botswana Post, the 1st Americas postal operator – Cpost International from Curacao, and, just a few days ago we signed an agreement with one of the major European postal operator – CTT Portugal! And we are in intense discussions with many more operators which we expect to join within the coming months. I am truly happy that the number of postal operators sharing our vision of using the blockchain/NFT technology to enhance the collecting experience for existing and future philatelists is growing.
Isaac Gnamba, chair of UPU's Council of Administration and CEO of Poste Cote d’ Ivoire, Peter Somers, CEO of Emirates Post, and Hans Boon, FFR’s Sr Expert Postal Networks exchange views on the future role and shape of physical postal infrastructure in the digital society.
What countries are you working on partnering with currently?
That would be a long list. We are in direct negotiations with at least 20 postal operators from all continents and at least 30 with whom we are starting talks.
What is new in the development of Stampdaq’s relationship with the Universal Postal Union? Anything special to expect?
We already have a standing and developing relationship with the Universal Postal Union. Stampsdaq is currently an associate member of the WADP (World Association for Development of Philately) and since October 2022 is a member of the UPU Consultative Committee. The latter is giving us an opportunity to really participate in the governing process of the postal industry and contribute to the process of global philatelic development. Expect some interesting initiatives and projects coming from this activity in 2023. The key message to the philatelists is traditional postage stamps are here to stay for as long as the industry lives! Digital technologies enable us to add a powerful and important new level to philately, through which both the physical and digital philately will benefit.
Could you explain your new “Travel with Stamps” program?
With pleasure! It all stems from the common philatelic idea of “travelling with stamps”. This experience has always been virtual, but we are making it a real-life experience. The Travel Program for collectors on Stampsdaq is changing this paradigm! It is part of the general model for sharing between postal operators and collectors. It is very simple. Every digital stamp on Stampsdaq has Collection Points according to rarity tier (total and per country). Each full 10 Country Collection Points give collectors 1 (one) Draw ticket to win one or more of several annual trips to this country. For instance, there are 4 (four) trips to Bhutan in 2023. The trips will include some exclusive experience, like spending a day with CEO and philatelic team, private excursions, etc. We see the Travel Program as the core of value-adding concept for our collectors! The program has no end date, by the way! And it is on top of traditional “art in miniature”, rarity and game elements!
A banner promoting the new "Travel with Stamps" program on the stampsdaq website
What articles/videos would you like to recommend for people to learn more about the NFT/digital collecting space?
That’s an extremely good question as there is a strong need for a digital education offer targeting millions of postage stamp collectors around the world. We fully realize this. Together with WADP (World Association for Development of Philately, a philatelic arm of the Universal Postal Union), we are creating a live webinar program to allow all interested philatelist to learn about digital stamps, ask any questions and cast away any fears of blockchain/crypto/NFTs. The program will go live by January 2023 and will be promoted via postal operators and philatelic communities globally. There is so much to gain from combining digital and physical stamp collecting!
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us again, any final thoughts about the future of Stampsdaq and the future of the digital collecting space?
Thank you again for this opportunity to share our vision with your readers. The key message I would like to deliver to the global community of philatelists is that traditional postage stamps are here to stay for as long as the industry lives! Digital stamps are collectible, of course, but they will never replace postage stamps and are the tools to make collector’s time and efforts more entertaining, exciting and rewarding with diverse virtual and real life experiences. Digital is an opportunity, not a threat to traditional philately!