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Q&As with Origin Protocol

Read the product brief: https://www.originprotocol.com/en/product-brief

posted 6 months ago

with or if you'd like to join the discussion.
Matthew Liu
Origin founder here. Happy to answer your questions.
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Erik Torenberg
What do you think is most misunderstood about Origin / what you are doing?
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Matthew Liu
@eriktorenberg many people here about us and think that we are going to be build an uber killer this year. While we are very motivated to enable drivers and riders to match without an intermediary like Uber, our greater goal is to have impact in many different verticals and countries. We are building a platform that includes the underlying infrastructure to service many different types of marketplaces. Ridesharing is only one use case. People also immediately assume that as a US company our greatest opportunity is in the US. We actually believe there’s a lot more opportunity and ability to impact citizens of many other countries. There are 2B unbanked people in the world that seen unable to participate in digital marketplaces right now that require a credit card or mobile payment apps backed by bank accounts. Origin can unlock goods and services in these new markets beyond tackling more well-understood markets.
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Dennis Stücken
Whats your roadmap for the next 12 months?
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Matthew Liu
@dstuecken we’re focused on our v1 launch to Ethereum mainnet at the end of Q3. This will allow for fully functional decentralized marketplaces to be built on Ethereum. We will have identity, reputation, reviews, ability to transact against listings, etc. From there we will be doing work to make our developer partners and marketplace operators successful on the platform. We expect our partners, open-source developers, and our team to build new features that are focused on end user adoption, driving up transaction volume, and fine-tuning the user experience so that the masses can use marketplaces built on the platform.
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Richard Liriano
Any prototypes for beta testers to test? Where can potential beta testers sign up? Thanks.
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Jon Hearty
@rliriano Definitely! You can check out our Demo DApp here: demo.originprotocol.com

Also, if you're a developer looking to build on Origin, I'd encourage you to check out our GitHub (github.com/OriginProtocol) and Discord (originprotocol.com/discord). We do all of our communication and collaboration out in the open. We even have a weekly public engineering meeting every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific that you're welcome to join here: meet.google.com/pws-cgyd-tqp
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Soona Amhaz
Can you give a high level overview of how Origin works? How does the average consumer participate in the network?
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Jon Hearty
@soonaorlater Origin is building a set of protocols and developer tools that make it easy to build a decentralized peer-to-peer marketplace on top of Ethereum (even if you don't know Solidity) and IPFS. We're also specifically focused on sharing economies and the fractional usage of assets.

By enabling developers to build these decentralized marketplaces, we can help address a lot of issues that have been created by the growth of monopolistic incumbents like AirBnB and Uber, including high fees, unnecessary censorship, and an unfair distribution of value throughout the network.

The average consumer will participate in the Origin network either by transacting on our DApp (demo.originprotocol.com) or on of our partners' DApps (originprotocol.com/partners). There is still a lot of work to be done to get to this point, but we're targeting Q3 for our main net launch are are excited to see what the first few live marketplaces look like.
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Regan Bozman
What are some of the first marketplaces that you think will be built on top of Origin?
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Jon Hearty
@reganbozman We've already signed up over 40 partners (originprotocol.com/partners) to build on Origin. These partners span many verticals -- from home sharing to education -- and range in size from new startups to well-established businesses with hundreds of thousands of users.

At a higher level, marketplaces with high transaction value and low transaction volume will be better suited in the early days given the current scaling limitations to Ethereum (though we're optimistic that solutions like sharding and plasma will help allow for use cases that require more scale); marketplaces for digital assets like Cryptokitties will probably be some of the earliest use cases.
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Regan Bozman
Have you seen any existing marketplaces (ie Uber or Airbnb) look at decentralization/blockchain technology?
1
Jon Hearty
@reganbozman Yes several of our partners (originprotocol.com/partners) already have existing marketplaces with hundreds of thousands of users. Generally these existing marketplaces see blockchain as a potential disruptive force to their business that they want to get ahead of instead of fighting from behind.

For the biggest marketplaces like Uber and AirBnB, they're almost certainly doing their fair share of R&D, but becoming a fully decentralized marketplace that is truly peer-to-peer and not peer-to-corporate-monopoly-to-peer (credit to our head of partnerships, Coleman, for this one) is an uphill battle to say the least. It's a classic example of the Innovators Dilemma where they're simply making so much money from their existing business that re-imagining it in a decentralized way is likely going to be a non-starter for the stockholders who benefit financially from centralization. Because of this, most of their blockchain efforts are probably not related to decentralizing the marketplace itself.
2
StoreOfValue Blog
What are the biggest risks to Origin Protocol succeeding?
1
Jon Hearty
@SovCryptoBlog There are quite a few risks, actually.

1) Regulation. These are uncertain times, but we're working closely with our counsel to be conservative and play it as safely as possible until there is more guidance. While we wait, we're heads-down focused on hiring world-class engineers and shipping an amazing product.

2) Technology. Ethereum needs to scale in order to enable many interesting use cases for Origin-powered marketplaces. We're keeping close tabs on the amazing teams that are working on scaling solutions from many different angles. We're also not necessarily married to Ethereum if it turns out that there is a better alternative, but give the current size and quality of the Ethereum developer community, we are confident that we will be able to support marketplaces that require high throughput soona (not a spelling mistake) than later.

3) Adoption. Using a DApp is still a pretty rough experience, and there needs to be a lot of progress made on the UX side for consumers to start adopting Origin-powered marketplaces. People won't use a decentralized home sharing platform if it's not as easy to use as the centralized version, and we're keeping this top-of-mind as we build out the platform.
1
StoreOfValue Blog
Do you guys think the Origin token makes the product better? Why not just use Eth?
1
Jon Hearty
@SovCryptoBlog The Origin token is primarily used for incentivization and governance. Our users will have different options to transact, including not only ETH but also a partner's ERC-20 token; it's also feasible that in the future we will allow transactions in fiat.

In addition to rewarding users for positive behaviors -- leaving reviews, referring buyers and sellers, etc. -- that ensure the health and growth of the network, Origin tokens will disincentivize negative behaviors by requiring a deposit (i.e. a staking mechanism) to post a listing to the network, which will help prevent fraud and spam.

Longer term, Origin token holders will be able to participate in voting on decisions that will shape the future of the network.
1
Zack Voell
Is the goal to make building and maintaining a marketplace as simple as selling something via Etsy? How will block chains uniquely empower otherwise-Etsy-using entrepreneurs?
1
Jon Hearty
@zackvoell The main driver for users to switch to an Origin-powered marketplace from a centralized alternative like Etsy will likely be lower fees (when you cut out the middleman, the fees go with it and both the buyer AND the seller win), but there are other reasons like censorship (should Etsy decide what you can and can't sell or buy?) and a fairer distribution of wealth (did the first power-sellers on Etsy benefit from the upside as much as they should have?).

It's also important to keep in mind the billions of people that do not have access to traditional financial systems like banks and credit cards, making them unable to use many of today's services that are commonly enjoyed elsewhere in the world. It's likely that many of these users may have their first peer-to-peer marketplace interaction on a blockchain-powered platform that uses cryptocurrency and therefore does not preclude the unbanked from participating.
1
Calvin Chu
How does Origin work alongside/supercede IoT coins/chains that may mediate device-to-device transactions?
1
Jon Hearty
@calchulus We're built on top of Ethereum, so not sure this question is relevant, otherwise can you elaborate?
1
Shane Lewis
Hey Jon and Matthew - I'd like to know your thoughts on how decentralized sharing economies will be better than centralized versions?
1
Jon Hearty
@WalkofShane Decentralized sharing economies will offer four main benefits over their centralized counterparts:

1) Lower fees: When you cut out the middleman, the fees go with it. Because today's biggest sharing economies like Uber and AirBnB have become so massive, they've been able to take advantage of their monopolistic positions by consistently raising fees over time, ultimately costing both riders and drivers. By allowing buyers and sellers to meet and transact directly on the blockchain, decentralized sharing economies can cut out most (and ideally all) of the transactional fees that are mostly captured for matchmaking services. There will certainly be costs (namely gas on Ethereum in Origin's case), but they should be drastically less than the 20-40% that has become commonplace today.

2) Censorship resistance and the removal of a single point of failure: AirBnB infamously removed 50% of its listing in San Francisco due to government-imposed fines and regulations (https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Airbnb-loses-thousands-of-hosts-in-SF-as-12496624.php). Regardless of whether or not you agree with the reasoning behind this move, it's scary to realize how easily either AirBnB or the government can remove so many home sharing listings in one fell swoop. Uber is banned in numerous cities throughout the world. Etsy has a list of items that they don't let artists display or sell. By leveraging a public blockchain, these censorship decisions can at least be left up to the community and at most be removed entirely.

3) A more fair value distribution throughout the network: Uber has created an enormous global business that generates billions of dollars in revenue. During this growth, founders, investors and early employees have all benefited financially, which is fine, but it begs the question: Did they benefit a fair amount compared to all of the others in the network that contributed to its success? The first drivers that helped Uber jumpstart their growth are not only likely to still be driving for Uber today, but probably making less than they did at the beginning. Decentralized sharing economies can leverage new token economic models to incentivize early stakeholders to add value to the network regardless of their employment status with the network.

4) Better access for the unbanked: There are literally billions of people in the world that do not have access to a credit card or a bank account, and therefore do not have access to many of the marketplaces and sharing economies that the rest of the world enjoys and likely takes for granted. Although they have not been able to enjoy renting a room through AirBnB or getting a ride through Uber, it’s easy to imagine that their first interaction with a sharing economy is on a decentralized, mobile-first, blockchain-based marketplace.
0
Global Chain
Will there be cross sharing of customers between partner marketplaces? Also any chance for a global Origin marketplace (displays partner marketplace offerings)?

Cross sharing could be interesting. For instance there could be a mashup transit DApp that shows all marketplace offerings for transportation.

Thanks guys!
0
Jon Hearty
@global_chain Yes and yes.

We're the first working implementation of ERC 725 (github.com/ethereum/EIPs/issues/725) which will make your Origin identity (and therefore other things like your reputation) portable across not only all Origin-powered marketplaces, but also any other networks that use the standard. Right now your Uber rating doesn't mean anything to AirBnB, but this won't necessarily be the case for Origin-powered marketplaces that want to leverage this data to better acquire and serve their users.

The Origin DApp (demo.originprotocol.com) serves as a meta-marketplace that contains all listings from Origin's partner marketplaces. We will continue to build the DApp out to better serve sharing economy uses cases with scheduling, dispute resolution, etc.
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