Unitalk with Jun Hasegawa of Omisego: Unbank the Banked
Originally posted on 7, Feb. 2018 at Unitimes.
Banks have played an important role in societies for centuries, and has cemented itself as a powerful and authoritative institution. As with any institution, there are bound to be gaps and opportunities — but many do not openly challenge the limitations of the current banking system.
Jun Hasegawa, founder of Omisego, is set on the path towards developing decentralized functions to replace legacy banking processes. Today we have the pleasure of discussing with him the role of blockchain in payments and banking.
We heard that you are an avid skateboarder. It’s a very adventurous hobby. Do you have any other hobbies outside from blockchain and cryptocurrencies?
I started skating when I was 6. Also I love surfing and snowboarding.
What adventures did you hava as a kid?
Always injured myself.
Were you a developer before you joined Omise?
I was a designer / frontend engineer before. When we started Omise, I developed the first site.
A lot of SMBs (Small-Medium Businesses) currently face payment issues when moving towards e-commerce, but face many challenges. What are some of these challenges, and how does Omise solve these pain points?
I really want to give opportunities to those. That’s reason why we started an e-commerce platform with Omise, but then we found a fundamental issue was payments for those platforms. SO we pivoted to doing payments, diving deeper into fundamental issues. Then we saw that a fundmental issue facing payments was also *interoperability* across different regions. So we started OmiseGO, which solves Ethereum scaling issues for simple transfers and for decentralized exchange.
Omise has attracted a lot of well-known investors. How did you get their attention?
We always look for strategic investors who can add value, and where we can also add value for them. If they are just money, we won’t work with them. But so far we have very good investors on our board.
What is your opinion on the growth potential for third-party payment providers in China? How about Southeast-Asia?
China is a very saturated market and a new payment business might find it very hard to break in there. However if we go with some alternative innovative payment solution, there still is a lot of space to improve even there.
As for Southeast Asia, it’s now rapidly catching up to other regions and is becoming a world class market. The market opportunity is huge.
How would you describe Omisego in simple words? How does Omisego’s offerings impact the blockchain world?
OmiseGO is creating the OMG network, a fully public, currency-agnostic decentralized exchange network. It gets economic security from Ethereum and can be built to scale infinitely using the Plasma architecture, but it can also trade Bitcoin or any other blockchain protocol through smart contracts and through cross-chain bonding.
The purpose is to make both decentralized currencies and fiat currencies available for transfer and exchange in a totally decentralized way. Because OMG can scale so effectively and because there will be a lot of fiat money on it, it will be possible to handle the whole world’s money transactions simultaneously.
Our open source wallet SDK (software development kit) will be free to anyone to use also, and will make it very easy for anyone who needs asset exchange as part of their business to connect seamlessly to the network. OMG network will be a totally public network free for anyone to use, we expect it to be very valuable to all digital wallet providers as well as other payment processors to use because it will lower their costs. We will use it for our own payment business too.
What does “unbank the banked” mean?
Basically we are building infrastructure that will provide unprecedented financial access and sovereignty to people that is unmatched by banks today. The design permits user custody of funds, which decentralises some of the functionality of banks, but not all, while simultaneously increasing usability. Banks still have roles to play, and many of them are interested to use OMG network for their asset exchange needs also. We hope to help them increase the quality of the services they can provide to their customers.
Blockchain is presently gaining huge attention. How would blockchain impact businesses?
Blockchain has so many possibilities! Blockchain solves coordination problems that until now have made third parties necessary in many areas. Any area where direct interaction between two parties (whether peer to peer, or service provider to end user) is complicated by a lack of trust or coordination might be improved by a blockchain solution. Obviously it has incredible potential for payments, banking and so on; but also media and content licensing, medical records, data monetization, gaming, and much more.
Omisego received widespread support from Vitalik Buterin. What are the synergies between Omisego and Ethereum?
We think Ethereum will continue to grow and change the world for the better. As Ethereum core community members, we are invested in helping the Ethereum ecosystem to develop, supporting efforts that benefit the whole community. OMG is a public network that scales the Ethereum mainnet and is the most high-profile Ethereum project, so we have a responsibility to help Ethereum succeed.
What is Plasma? How does this complement the Ethereum archtecture?
Currently Ethereum is processing about 15 transactions per second, but we want the OMG network to be able to handle all the world’s transactions simultaneously. The Plasma architecture will allow the OMG network to scale to that level while still being secured by the Ethereum root chain.
Omisego had successfully run an ICO and has gone from $0.3 per OMG to over $21. This is an amazing growth. Do you expect the market value of OMG to rise further?
The way we see it, OMG market value reflects the excitement of the community around what we are creating. Owning OMG tokens means being able to help run the network as a network validator. People want decentralized asset exchange, and they want to be a part of making it happen.
Why did you set a lower cap and a non-discount policy to all participants of your ICO, compared to other ICO projects, where they usually set high caps with discount?
We wanted as many people as possible to be able to participate, without taking more money than we need. We even gave away 5% of the total OMG supply to the whole Ethereum community, to encourage wider adoption but also as a thank you. We estimated we would only need $25 million to create the network, and we felt that taking more than that would be irresponsible. We wanted people to buy in because they believed in the long-term vision, so we intentionally did no marketing or promotion, and never offered discounts to encourage people to buy more tokens. We also never incentivized exchanges to list OMG. We believe in 100% organic growth.
What is the interaction between Omise and other Omisego projects? How is the development of the OMG network going so far?
Omise will use the OMG network as a platform for our payments processing needs. But the OMG network doesn’t belong to Omise, it belongs to everyone. The community contributed money for us to build the network for everyone. Once the OMG network is deployed, it will be fully public and not owned by Omise in any way.
We think the OMG network will quickly gain users once it is introduced. We are in contact with many blockchain projects and service providers who are interested in using the OMG network for their business needs. Ultimately, the end user might not even know they are using it.
What would you say to readers who are interested in Omisego?
We are hard at work building the network and very excited to share updates as things progress. Follow us on Twitter and Medium and join our Reddit and Rocket communities.
And if any readers are talented developers or have projects they think would benefit from using the OMG network, please contact us!
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