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Interview with Michael Ng, Cofounder of StakeWith.Us

By Daniel Dal Bello, Director.
February 4, 2020–6 min read.

Michael Ng is a cofounder of Singapore-based Staking-as-a-Service provider StakeWith.Us, an advisor to Loom Network, and a partner of MW Partners — a private investment house focused exclusively on blockchain companies.

StakeWith.Us provide staking services for several leading blockchain projects including Loom Network, Cosmos, Terra, and Kava — with more planned for the future. The company is backed by SGInnovate and LuneX Ventures.

In this post, we share a conversation with Michael about the StakeWith.Us business model, staking architecture, and plans for 2020.

Daniel Dal Bello
Michael, StakeWith.Us is a relatively new venture having been founded just around one year ago in early 2019. Tell us about your previous work in the industry and what brought you to found this company.

Michael Ng
I was a financial analyst at Nordea Bank back in early 2017 when I first discovered blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Like many others, I entered the industry as a speculator, deploying capital across many projects. I was lucky enough to have met a few like-minded individuals in local blockchain meetup groups who wanted to do more for the industry. With lots of Proof-of-Stake projects starting their Testnets in Q3 2018, we thought it might be interesting for us to bootstrap those networks using our tokens, by ourselves. We started to research how we can securely run staking infrastructures and subsequently deployed our validation setups in Q4 when Loom Network’s Mainnet launched.

To date, we are securing more than USD 14 million of digital assets under our infrastructure.

Daniel Dal Bello
In mid-August 2019, it was announced that you had received seed funding from SGInnovate and LuneX Ventures worth $595,000. How crucial was this investment, and how have you allocated the funding?

Michael Ng
The investment from a reputable government entity and a top Southeast-Asia VC signals the importance of the blockchain industry within the coming years. The Singapore government, in particular, has great foresight — for example, they have established regulatory frameworks (Payment Services Act) for payment service providers and payment systems that services the cryptocurrency crowd. We think this is a good move because it instils confidence to the retail public that digital assets are similar to other forms of e-money (Grab credits, Qmoney, etc.).

The majority of this funding will be geared towards expanding our team and service offerings. Currently, we are in the midst of building out a non-custodial application which will be launching in a few months.

Daniel Dal Bello
Talk to us about staking in general, why do you believe there is a strong market-fit for Staking-as-a-Service as opposed to self-staking?

Michael Ng
Due to the nature of how each Proof-of-Stake protocol is designed, the resources required to run a staking operation (by yourself) and the penalties involved (if any) can vary greatly. Some protocols allow you to deposit tokens into a wallet to start staking. Some require you to have the technical knowledge to run blockchain clients/nodes on a virtual server 24/7 and follow up with client upgrades from time to time. Then some will penalize stakers by slashing a portion of their staked assets in the event the node goes down past a certain time period or double signs.

Some protocols allow you to simply deposit tokens into a wallet to start staking. Some require you to have the technical knowledge to run blockchain clients/nodes on a virtual server 24/7 and follow up with client upgrades from time to time.

On top of these, you might also want to think about how you should make your staking operations as secure as possible without compromising on connectivity. In short, staking is a spectrum, and not all protocols are suitable to be self-staked. That’s where StakeWith.Us steps in. You can earn yield with us without the technical hassles while retaining custody of your assets.

Daniel Dal Bello
Tell us about your business model, how do you generate revenue, and how do you balance making your service commercially viable yet attractive for customers? What is your fee model?

Michael Ng
In return for providing a secure staking service for users, we take a small fee cut from the staking rewards. The fee typically ranges between 10% to 15% of your staking rewards. For stakers with large stakes, you can contact us directly at earn@stakewith.us to obtain preferential rates on staking for selected networks.

Besides the Staking-as-a-Service model, we also provide dedicated, non-custodial white label services for high net worth individuals and institutions. We have a few of these running at the moment for a few large clients.

Daniel Dal Bello
I’m sure many people considering a staking service provider are curious about the process to start staking with you. Can your customers engage you to assist them in staking their tokens or must everyone follow your ‘Staking Guides’ and set up any delegations themselves? Do you think you could make staking more user-friendly?

Michael Ng
We are very flexible on this. You can join our Telegram group, email us at earn@stakewith.us, message us on Twitter, read our staking guides or do it yourself. We are in the midst of integrating staking functions for Tendermint-based projects onto our Atlas dashboard, which will make it a lot easier to stake.

Daniel Dal Bello
A critical component of this business is security and reliability. Staking protocols have built-in functionality to discourage malicious actors and penalize downtime. This is an inherent risk as a business. How do you mitigate these risks and give some level of assurance to your customers?

Michael Ng
We take security and uptime very seriously. We have been pretty transparent on our validation architecture and how we set policies for hardware security modules. We also have very open communication channels (as mentioned previously) with our clients and a solid technical/infrastructure team. We think that best practices for security and uptime will eventually be commoditized, which is why we will continue to play our part to share our research and learning experiences with the community.

Additionally, we have been live in business for close to a year now without running into any major issues. We are also the only Proof-of-Stake blockchain infrastructure company in the world to be backed by a reputable government entity. StakeWith.Us is here to stay.

We are also the only Proof-of-Stake blockchain infrastructure company in the world to be backed by a reputable government entity.

Daniel Dal Bello
Do you have any dashboard functionality for customers to get a bird’s-eye view of their stakes with StakeWith.Us? If not, do you plan on building something like this in the future?

Michael Ng
Once the staking integrations for Tendermint-based projects are done, clients will be able to view their project-specific stakes on atlas.stakewith.us. Our new product will also provide such functionality — so keep your eyes peeled on our social media channels over the next few months!

Daniel Dal Bello
What are some of your key development goals and milestones moving into 2020?

Michael Ng
We want to provide more value to everyone within the crypto space. My lip is tight until the product launches, but hint: subscribe to our newsletter to get first-hand updates on our product (and try it out when beta launches).

Hillrise Group supports ambitious Web3 startups with early-stage venture capital and fundamental research.

StakeWith.Us is a blockchain infrastructure provider based in Singapore, providing staking services for several leading blockchains.

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Hillrise Group is a blockchain-native venture capital and consulting firm supporting emerging Web3 startups.

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