Omni x Chorus One Q&A and how to choose the right validator
In September, we hosted Steakwallet-rebranded Omni in the first episode of our monthly Twitter Spaces series. Below are highlights of the 50-minute long Q&A, featuring Omni’s CEO Serafin Lion Engel, CTO Alex Harley, and Chorus One’s CCO Felix Lutsch as we explored the unique features of the Omni wallet and how to choose the right validator.
Q: Serafin and Alex, why don’t you first start with an introduction to Omni?
A: So Omni is what we like to call the next generation of wallet that makes using Web3 as easy as ever. It’s basically your one-stop shop for everything Web3. It’s a wallet where you can do anything you need to do in order to use Web3 all in one place and it’s fully self-custodial. So anything, from staking to liquid staking, to depositing, to yield vaults, or onto lending protocols like Aave to multi-chain NFT support, and now alternative bridges and swaps. You can hook up your Ledger… We support more than 25 protocols at this point, all major EVMs, non-EVMs, and Layer 2s alike. There’s a lot of heavy lifting going on under the hood in order to make it as seamless as it is, but we’re very proud of our UX. We think that’s really what differentiates us and we think it’s a very next generation experience for a multi-chain ecosystem. Yeah, that’s only in a nutshell.
Q: Alex, what are some of the other features on the app that folks right now must not be using or must not be knowing about?
A: So with this Omni release, we really chose features that we felt were very important to UX, to rally around. So obviously, there was a lot of work over the last few months getting this [Steakwallet] rebrand out the door, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a rebrand and that it would be a totally new wallet experience too. I would say, in my opinion, the biggest feature we added was the ability to do trustless and non-custodial swaps and bridges. So we partnered up with DEX and bridge aggregators across a range of different networks to allow people to easily swap and trade assets from inside Omni. We view this as a key unlocker for users. One of the main problems we had for Steakwallet users, previously, is that we had all these amazing opportunities for things to do like depositing into Yearn or seamless staking. But if they had one asset, say FTM on Phantom but we had something amazing going on Polygon, it was impossible for them to actually access that. So adding that in the app for us is a total game changer right now, because we have this whole concept of exploring networks.
We have a dedicated Content Team in-house to bring the latest and greatest of each network right to your home screen. Now people can see something fun to do or interesting like a cool APY or something and swap from an asset they actually have to get to that. Right now, we’ve partnered with three different aggregators and we’ll be adding more in the coming months. Bespoke networks like Tezos, NEAR and some other L2s are coming up; people will be able to jump to those straight from their wallet.
The second thing we added was our Ledger support. And we’re pretty proud of this because we have total feature parity for every network. So you can actually use your Ledger with every network we support. You can even use it for wallet connect applications. So you can vote on snapshot for example, which is quite cool, via Omni wallet. And then the third and final big feature we added was our multi validator support. Historically, we just wanted to offer people what we perceived as like the best yield for a token.
And as we went down this journey, we found that there are many yields. For individual tokens, you can lend Aave on USDC, or you can deposit into Yearn, for example. Or maybe a better example is Proof-of-Stake gas tokens: You can often stake them. You can also lend them. So part of expanding the capabilities of any one token was of course diversifying yield opportunities, but also diversifying who you can stake with. We didn’t want to be so opinionated and force people to stake with our specific validator of choice. On Omni today, you can choose who you want to stake with. And of course, we show you all the information like voting weight and this kind of stuff so you can make educated decisions.
Q: We briefly spoke about the providers that you work with. So you have a bridging provider and you also mentioned Yearn, Aave, and also the multi-validator support. If someone is on Omni right now, they can choose the list of validators they want to stake with. Was that a conscious choice to provide a list of validators? How did you guys plan that out on Omni?
A: Yes, that was a conscious choice. We originally started with one trusted partner and we just got so much inbound interest. Same with these other features I mentioned — like the Ledger support, the bridging and swapping support. We received a ton of user feedback that these would be great features to add. Again, same with the multi validators stuff. We did not want to be so heavy-handed and force users to choose one validator. It’s a great thing from a network security perspective. People want to balance their stake for personal security in case of slashing events. For network security, we don’t want to stake too heavily with a single validator.
Now that we have this multi-validator feature, our setup is such that we still present to users an opinionated list of high quality validators, especially on certain networks. Phantom comes to mind, where there’s basically 100% slashing risk for delegated funds, and that’s not a position that we want to put users in where they could potentially, in the worst case, lose all of [their funds]. So we basically partner with validators who have slashing insurance. We want to recommend validators we feel are of high quality in this space, while also giving users, at the end of the day, the absolute choice so they can delegate to who they feel strongly for.
We don’t want to be a centralizing force in the Web3 stack and we want to give users as much choice as possible. So we always have safe defaults that we set that we think are maximizing safety and convenience, but also have a positive offset for the space at large.
Q: Right. Even from the perspective of decentralization, it’s very important to not have a single point or a single recommended validator for any particular service — which is why you also have this question of centralization and Proof-of-Stake and whatnot. Felix, what are the most important factors that a user may think of when they choose to stay with a particular validator? Is it the brand name? The security they offer? The community they have around them? What do you think is the most important factor?
A: I think there’s a lot of things that you could look at as a user if you’re looking at a validator. There are also different kinds of customer profiles depending on what you are interested in. You might choose your validator just based on that. Security is one. Say, you want to make sure your funds are safe, you would want to make sure the team that is running the validator has a secure setup — such as using different data centers, using state-of-the-art infrastructure. Of course, that might also not be that easy for you to figure out as a simple retail user. What people tend to do is to look at the track record of a validator: how have they performed on other networks or in the past? What other networks do they support? Who is working with them? By simply looking at a validator’s website, you can usually get a bunch of the information. I think many are also just driven by the brand — whatever that means. That can mean a lot of things for different people.
Some validators might be more involved in the community, helping you understand a bit more about the staking model of the network. Or, they might do other things for the network’s community that you would appreciate — such as contributions in terms of research, looking at what’s happening in the network, just keeping people up to date through a bunch of newsletters. There is deeper research on certain topics that might be of interest to you — be it MEV, liquid staking or whatever you’re interested in. Ultimately, one [of the ways a user may choose their validator] is because of the tool that the validator team is building. Open source stuff is often hard to fund, obviously because it’s open source and there’s maybe no business model attached to it. The validator can be a good party to build these kinds of things and have the business model around the delegations that it’s getting.
Sometimes, validators contribute to the code base of the network or build block explorers or other tools that help developers or users really interact with the network. So if you’re someone that has tokens, it makes sense for you to look at who you think contributes most to the network’s ecosystem at large and the adoption of it. Delegate to them and, ideally, also delegate to multiple validators if it’s possible [for security].
NB: This article is an abridged version of the conversation between Chorus One and Omni. For the full conversation, replay the Twitter Space here.