OmiseGo, the Ethereum-based blockchain project from Southeast Asia, has an ambitious and noble goal: to enable financial inclusion and interoperability through their decentralized network—what they like to call “unbanking the banked.”
Instead of focusing on bringing the unbanked into participating in traditional financial systems, OmiseGo is excited about the exact opposite concept. They want to utilize digitized financial tools to create a decentralized system where having a bank account is no longer a requirement for financial freedom. In fact, they believe financial freedom should be a basic right for anyone in the world, bank account or not.
Currently ranking at #20 on CoinMarketCap, OmiseGo is a popular project among many blockchain fans around the world. To connect with their community, the OmiseGo team decided to run an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on their subreddit at the end of May in order to answer any burning questions their fans may have about the project.
Here we look at the most interesting parts of their AMA and break down what the implications of their answers mean for OmiseGo’s future.
Plasma vs Cosmos
Back in April, the OmiseGo team announced that a “hard spoon” was taking place between them and Cosmos. What the hell is that, you ask? Cosmos’ CEO, Jae Kwon, actually invented the term himself. In his words, a hard spoon is:
A new chain that takes into account state from an existing chain; not to compete, but to provide broad access.
Basically, a hard spoon takes the balances of a given token on an existing chain and duplicates them onto another chain. This means all OMG token balances will be duplicated onto a Tendermint chain that gets connected to Cosmos.
OmiseGo made this decision so their team could focus on developing their Plasma decentralized exchange (DEX), which is progressing much faster than anticipated. Meanwhile, the Tendermint team can focus on their own Cosmos OMG DEX.
This hard spoon has understandably confused some of OmiseGo’s fans. The team stated they will be collaborating with Cosmos, but there will also be “healthy competition.” To clear up what this means, the team explained in their AMA:
Tendermint has confirmed they will give full support to the OMG hard spoon project, and they are confident their Cosmos OMG DEX design and implementation on Cosmos will be superior to the Plasma OMG design that the OmiseGO team is working on.
This is part of the ‘healthy competition’ we were referring to: the competition between two separate technically competent and highly motivated teams with mad respect for each other’s abilities.
This has always been OmiseGo’s main mission above all else—their goal isn’t to be the richest or most popular blockchain company in the world—they just genuinely want to increase global financial freedom, and they believe working together with other like-minded projects instead of competing against them is the best way to get there.
Regardless, it can still be confusing to understand why OmiseGo and Tendermint branched off and are working on separate DEXs.
One Reddit user asked a very good question:
I understand that OMG and Tendermint have been working together – but how does having two DEX’s help in any way? Will the wallet SDK connect to the Tendermint DEX as well? Won’t the Tendermint DEX suck liquidity from the OMG one, and vice versa?
My question is, what is the advantage (to anyone) of duplicating a DEX on tendermint, or is it just for the hell of it?
More DEXes means more optionality for users, and competition spurs innovation – even more so in an open source environment where both progress and failures are stored in the memory of the commons. We are actively exploring support for both exchanges in the wallet SDK.
All exchanges want to eat up as much liquidity as possible; ours will be no different. The two DEX’s will not be duplicates: the Cosmos OMG DEX is being designed and developed by Tendermint as a Cosmos zone, while the Plasma OMG DEX is being designed and developed by OmiseGO to run on Ethereum and scale using Plasma.
It will be interesting to see how the two DEXs play out and which becomes more successful in the future. Either way, both OmiseGo and Tendermint will be cheering each other on along the way.
Marketing Strategy Explained
OmiseGo cleared up a few questions about how they plan on marketing their project and what efforts they are taking presently.
When asked about ramping up their marketing efforts in Europe and the US, OmiseGo replied:
We’ve been working hard building relationships and technology, and awareness in Asia has grown most organically since our team is largely Asia-based. As our team grows and we move closer to the initial release of the OMG Network, we’re paying attention to global awareness as it is critical to mass adoption. We’re making connections with potential implementers all over the world and working to build educational tools and support networks to make integration as easy as possible.
This is good news for OMG fans, as it shows the team does have its eye on mass adoption and they are actively seeking connections globally to reach this goal. Not only that, they also are working to ensure the OmiseGo platform is easily accessible to everyone, not just blockchain geeks. As they responded to another question about ease of use:
We’re working with partners to create OMG Network access points with the goal being to make it as easy as buying socks from Amazon or a coffee from 7-11.
Overall, OmiseGo doesn’t wish to hype up their project with aggressive marketing tactics. Instead, they just want to work on creating a blockchain solution that works. If you build it, they will come. They explain:
We’re building relationships, asking questions, and learning about the use cases people are looking for in order to build a platform that is as flexible and customizable as possible. At that point there is nothing to sell; there is simply a solid foundation on which any user or provider can build whatever they dream up, which begets a self-perpetuating cycle of awareness and adoption.
Partnerships in the Works
There was a whole slew of questions thrown at OmiseGo’s team regarding unannounced partnerships in the works. Unfortunately, OmiseGo isn’t at liberty to say much about this topic due to non-disclosure agreements.
However, the little information the team was able to provide is quite promising.
When asked about any potential partnerships with mobile messaging services, such as WeChat, in the works, the team responded:
We are continuing to explore how we can collaborate with existing mobile payment providers to create the most optimal experience for the most users. This includes ground research – for example, we are currently conducting a multi-year field study in Indonesia to better understand payment values and behaviors, existing infrastructure and the impacts that decentralized payment systems are likely to have on the environment.
This is really interesting—and, as far as I can tell, the very first time OmiseGo has ever mentioned this Indonesia study they are currently conducting. The fact that they are doing such a study at all shows OmiseGo’s goal truly is to make the world a better place, not just for people but also the planet itself.
The team also mentioned their involvement with ShinanCard, a major player in South Korea’s banking and payments industry. In April, OmiseGo and ShinanCard announced they would be working together to further advance digital payments services. This could prove to be a very important partnership for OmiseGo, as it helps them further expand out of Southeast Asia and into the large South Korean market.
OmiseGo’s AMA had a lot of interesting information in there, including the exciting news that they’re aiming to release the OMG Network to the public very soon in Q3 2018!
But perhaps the most interesting of all was a broader philosophical question posed by one user:
What do you wish more people understood about the project?
The team’s answer should fill you with hope:
It’s not just a new currency or even a new payment network. It’s a worldwide financial system that can very easily integrate and be inclusive of existing financial infrastructure, and it’s a system for participants anywhere in the world to voluntarily help run and profit from their value-add participation. In short, this is the Holy Grail of the decentralization-via-blockchain movement. This is the liberation of money.
OmiseGO isn’t about convincing people to adopt new or better (crypto) currencies. Instead, it is about creating infrastructure which facilitates free transfer of value, no matter what form that value may take. Value is not in the money, it’s in the freedom to use it.