Jibrel Project Update: Q3 2019
Jibrel.com enables startups and investors to connect, in previously unimaginable ways, to create capital formation.
In the 3rd quarter of 2019, Jibrel has gained regulatory approvals and launched the landing page for its equity tokenization platform, Jibrel.com — which it will be rolling out in phases during Q4 ’19 and Q1 ’20.
Further, the tech team created an overhauled version of Jibrel’s iOS Ethereum wallet, bringing it up to par with the Android Jwallet. Other Q3 highlights include several incremental updates to the Android Jwallet, enhancements of the Ethereum explorer backend app functionality, and the publication of the Q3 Jibrel Founders Q&A Video Session.
1. Organizational Build-Out
Focus on cost-savings, & stabilization of team size
Vision & Goals: Jibrel’s primary goal is to build out a platform for tokenized securities, incorporating JNT and building a utilized token system. To the first point, we are pleased to see great strides in the technical, legal, and business components of Jibrel.com. To the second point, we are continuing to push regulators to allow us to incorporate JNT into our product offering. JNT integration is an uphill battle. However, incorporating JNT into the tokenization of assets is one of our highest priorities, as it is the realization of the vision outlined in the Jibrel White Paper. In that document, we outlined our vision for tokenizing financial assets. At first, we sought to fulfill that vision through developing Jcash, but there were significant competing products already available and as a result, no demand for our products and for JNT. Ultimately, if we want to create demand, we need to provide unique offerings (e.g., equity in coveted startups). This need for demand through unique offerings is the reason for the recent focus on Jibrel.com. By creating that demand, we can achieve our JNT goals and the goals of the white paper. For more information on Jibrel’s vision, check out the Jibrel Founders Q&A video. Particularly relevant sections include how things have changed for Jibrel in the past two years, in addition to how Jibrel stands out from the other crypto projects in the ecosystem.
Financials and Cost Savings: In support of the primary goals mentioned above, our secondary goal is to ensure our raise and cashflow remains sufficient to deliver on the white paper. For that reason, we have been patient as the ecosystem evolves. We currently have 4–5 years of runway. That said, once we have a demonstrated and implementable use-case, we will need to deploy additional cash to support it (e.g., marketing). With that eventual increase in spending, we have a run rate of approximately 2–3 years. We seek to successfully produce and market products with viable use cases within the required time frame. With that in mind, our focus is on the following:
- Improving productivity
- Keeping costs down
- Refining a marketing approach at a small scale, in advance of making a large-scale marketing push on in-demand, monetizable products
With that in mind, the total number of full-time team members is now below its all-time high. Thus, the current focus is on improving the productivity and cost-efficiency of the existing contributors.
Relatedly, Jibrel undertook a number of cost-saving measures this quarter. With the departure of several full-time team members, the company has been working with an expanded array of independent contractors, in specific project areas chosen for the proper fit and increased cost-effectiveness. Further, Jibrel relocated its New York office, resulting in significant expense reductions. Overall, the cost-savings from such decisions will be re-invested into the project in the form of marketing and related growth activities. For more information on cost-savings tied to increased growth and marketing, check out Yazan’s comments on efficiency in the Jibrel Founders Q&A Video.
Demographics: The Jibrel founders are proud of the team they have built out. Members come from Fortune 500 companies, popular blockchain and cryptocurrency projects, and well-known tech startups. 14% of our team members are women — which, while not entirely ideal, is a significant improvement compared to the 37% of blockchain startups with zero female employees. With a median age of 32, and an average of 10 years of work experience, 85% are college-educated, and 45% have master’s degrees or above. Together, we speak a total of 8 different languages. We have consciously cultivated — and will continue to improve on — a rich diversity of not only products and strategies, but also languages, cultures, genders, educational backgrounds, and perspectives. In a rapidly-changing industry, it is multiformity that will make us capable.
Productivity: As mentioned above, the headcount has gone down slightly since earlier this year. This relatively flat member growth is despite the pending launch of the Jibrel.com equity tokenization platform, and all of the work that this entails. That said, the average tenure of Jibrel team members has increased (with several key hires made earlier this year). Essentially, as the team matures as a cohesive unit, the focus is on improving the overall productivity of the existing team. For more information on the Jibrel team, check out the Jibrel Founders Q&A Video, including what attributes we look for in prospective engineering hires, and how we seek to manage team communication effectively in a remote environment.
A. People & Capabilities
The company commissioned a few part-time contractors in the less security-intensive parts of the business. Additionally, Jibrel on-boarded a few full-time team members to work on the tech and financial sides of the company: security-sensitive areas requiring internal focus.
- Backend Development: Two python developers joined the St. Petersburg office. They will focus on database infrastructure and other backend development tasks to support Jibrel’s technical infrastructure.
- DevOps & Quality Assurance: These functionalities heighten the attention to detail that Jibrel provides throughout the development process of our products and services.
- Financial Controller: The Dubai office has hired a financial controller, to increase the financial accountability of the company as a whole, highlight savings opportunities, and improve revenue streams. The financial controller will free up the time of other Dubai team members, additionally leading to improved all-around productivity of the business development team.
- Front-End Web Development: This role will help with the buildout of the Jibrel.com platform, as well as maintenance of Jwallet Web and the Jibrel Network Website.
- Korean Community Moderation & Content Marketing (part-time contractor): Related tasks will include additional hours spent engaging with the existing community, as well as more efficiently localizing content into Korean.
- English Community & Content Marketing (part-time contractor): Core full-time members have become increasingly pulled into high-level strategic initiatives. Resultingly, Jibrel is seeking to maintain sustained day-to-day interaction with its community by engaging additional assistance on an as-needed basis.
B. Marketing, PR & Community Management
Founder Q&A Session, Jwallet, & Ramping up on Jibrel.com
Community: Jibrel’s three co-founders — Talal Tabbaa (COO), Victor Mezrin (CTO), and Yazan Barghuthi (CEO) — gathered at the company’s New York City office to discuss recent questions from the Jibrel community. The video includes subtitles / closed captioning in English, Chinese, and Korean.
Jibrel Network Founders Q&A Session: Q3 2019
While the full video is embedded above, check out the Table of Contents and click on the hyperlinked video times to jump to the desired sections.
- 00:36 — Strategy: Could you please talk about the state of Jibrel as a company, and how things have changed over the last two years?
- 1:44 — Jibrel.com: The community has been hearing about an upcoming product launch of Jibrel.com. Could you please walk us through the significance of this?
- 06:26 –Product/Tech: Some of the community feels that Jibrel is behind schedule, and that product development of Jibrel is slow (for example, iOS delays). Could you add some context to these concerns?
- 11:00 — JNT: Some of the community is not happy with the lack of connection between JNT and the new and existing Jibrel products. Could you offer some insight into Jibrel’s approach with JNT versus Jwallet and Jibrel.com?
- 12:33 — Jwallet: Some users and investors do not feel that Jwallet is a sufficiently helpful move for Jibrel. Could you talk about the purpose of Jwallet?
- 14:33 — CBoJ: Could you tell us about what Jibrel is doing with the Central Bank of Jordan?
- 16:04 — Jibrel’s Advantages: What are the competitive advantages of Jibrel? How does it stand out from all the other blockchain and crypto projects out there?
- 17:18 — MENA: Beyond CBoJ and the UAE regulatory focus of Jibrel, what relationships does Jibrel have (or wish to have) with other Middle Eastern countries (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt)?
- 19:00 — Marketing: The most-asked questions from the community are around tech/product, but they’ve also been around marketing. Could you tell us a bit about Jibrel’s marketing?
- 20:55 — Engineering Hires: What attributes do you look for in prospective engineering hires?
- 22:28 — Team Communication: Also, how do you effectively manage team communication remotely?
- 23:07 — Securitization/Tokenization: How does securitization of equities fit into the Jibrel platform? And what about other asset classes?
- 24:36 — The Future of Blockchain: Where do you think Blockchain is going over the next few years?
Events: Jibrel’s Dubai-based business development team participated in various events over this last quarter — predominately in the Middle East. Further, as conference season pick up in the autumn and as Jibrel.com progressively rolls out in Q4 ’19 to Q1 ’20, Jibrel plans to attend additional events — most notably FinTech Abu Dhabi Festival (21–23 October). The entire Jibrel founding team (COO Talal Tabbaa, CTO Victor Mezrin, and CEO Yazan Barghuthi) will be exhibiting together at this conference.
- July 23: GBSA Breakfast Workshop: Blockchain in the Middle East Capital Market — Dubai
- July 30: Business Live ME New Age Banking Summit 2019 — Dubai
- September 15: Bloomberg & Global Islamic Economic Summit Fintech Roundtable — Dubai
- September 19: Blockchain and Capital Markets Breakfast Seminar, Hosted by Ashurst — London
- September 23–25: IFC’s Global Debt Mobilization Conference: Creating Sustainable Investment Opportunities in Emerging Markets — Madrid
- September 30: StartupGrind Entrepreneurship Summit — Abu Dhabi
- October 21–23: FinTech Abu Dhabi 2019 — Abu Dhabi
- November 25: 3rd GBSA Gulf Debt Capital Market Summit — Dubai
Other Q4 ’19 and Q1 ’20 events will be posted soon.
Team Members in the Media:
- Jibrel’s COO, Talal Tabbaa, spoke at the Bloomberg FinTech Roundtable. In this clip, Talal talks about the relationship between banks and startups in the context of fostering innovation.
- At Think by ADGM, Talal also spoke on a range of topics. Click the following links for clips on digital investing, the structure of venture capital, and funding.
- A talk from Jibrel’s Business Development Manager, Sewar Nowwar, at IFC’s flagship Global Debt Mobilization Conference was quoted and featured in the IFC Investors social media. The conference brings together leaders from the world’s top international banks and investment firms, policymakers, and regulators to explore ways of unlocking trillions of investment dollars that will help bridge the sizable financing gaps in emerging markets. In this context, Sewar participated in a panel titled “Game Changers: How FinTech is Changing Who and How We Finance,” sharing the company’s experience in leveraging blockchain for Islamic Finance. The intersection of Islamic finance and blockchain is one that several ecosystem stakeholders found particularly intriguing. Overall, the feedback we received on Jibrel’s debt tokenization product suite was extraordinarily positive and reassuring of how the company is on the right track to building globally relevant products.
“Tokenization is a way to bridge the gap between crypto and traditional economies.”
Digital Marketing Stats: Over the past few months, we have been making an increasing push on Jwallet Android (our flagship wallet version) through a series of targeted digital marketing tactics. Relatedly, we will be making a similar marketing push for iPhone now that our iOS version is reaching parity with our Android one (see “3. Technical Developments” section of this update).
Further, with the pending launch of the Jibrel.com private financing platform, the marketing team is gearing up to drive demand for equity tokenization. We already see excellent traction, with over 40 media outlets around the world picking up the story. Driving investor and startup engagement with Jibrel.com will continue to be a strategic priority in the coming months.
Check out some of our overall marketing stats in the below table, and click here to jump to the section of the Founder Q&A video where Yazan Barghuthi (CEO) discusses Jibrel’s marketing in further detail.
2. Asset Tokenization
Major progress in equity tokenization
This quarter, Jibrel gained significant ground in its tokenization of equities through the pending launch of the Jibrel.com platform.
Completed steps include:
1. Regulatory approval: Regulatory approval from Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM)
2. Page launch: Launch of the Jibrel.com landing and registration page
3. Legal roadmap finalization: Fully compliant plans for a full platform launch of Jibrel.com, in collaboration with major law firm Eversheds Sutherland (known for its blockchain expertise).
4. RegLab test prep: Built a strong pipeline of startups for RegLab testing (see below).
Plans for Q4 ’19 and Q1 ’20 include:
5. RegLab testing: Issuing legally enforceable equity (or quasi-equity) tokens for an ADGM-registered startup. Details will be in the weeks following the Fintech Abu Dhabi Festival, where all three Jibrel founders will be exhibiting.
6. MVP launch: Initial platform launch with basic functionalities (automated investor experience, manual startup on-boarding, no secondary trading)
7. Full platform launch: Primary tokenized listing of startups, plus an active secondary trading market for tokenized equities
Jibrel.com Value Propositions
Our new startup and SME equity platform, Jibrel.com, has a number of significant value propositions:
- All: For startups, institutional investors, and retail investors alike, it will provide improved movement of funds and generation of financial value. As a first step, it will focus on the MENA region. This area has historically been stunted in its startup fundraising and startup investing when compared to North America, Asia, and Europe — but which is a region full of high-potential startups with growth potential.
- Retail investors: Smaller-scale investors will be able to invest alongside VCs and other leading institutions, under the same terms and conditions.
- VCs: Jibrel.com will provide a formalized means of co-investing with a lead VC, enabling the co-investors to participate in potentially highly profitable investments while relying on the due diligence of the lead investor, and without paying as many of the usual fees involved in the investment process.
- Strategic investors: Once Jibrel.com is able to graduate from its RegLab license to a full license, major bank and government entities will be able to get involved with the project while maintaining total legal and compliance requirements.
- Startups: Through Jibrel.com, the Jibrel team will serve startups in three capacities: fundraising, investment, and incubation. We will actively help startups in their fundraising, participate in the investments in the startup, and invest our own time and human resources into growing the startup.
Other Assets & Overall Ecosystem Development
Jibrel continues to maintain good relationships with the GBSA (Gulf Bond and Sukuk Association), the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) FinTech Hive, and the CBJ (Central Bank of Jordan) Fintech Sandbox. For a closer glimpse at how Jibrel is leveraging Jcash in collaboration with the Central Bank of Jordan, check Talal Tabbaa’s explanation in this section of the Jibrel Founder Q&A Video.
The strides we made this quarter with Jibrel.com should be taken into consideration as progress not only for equity tokenization, but also for tokenization of other assets such as debt, commodities, and real estate. The legal, technical, and business development progress and learnings gained from building out Jibrel.com will serve us well in the future. As a reminder, the long-term vision for Jibrel.com is the development of a full-spectrum platform for the tokenization not just of equity, but of various kinds of securities.
With that in mind, the Jibrel team is very excited to see the Jibrel.com platform gain traction in tandem with increasingly positive sentiment towards security tokenization in the UAE and the Middle East. In a recent interview with Zawya, ADGM’s Senior Executive Director, Wai Lum Kwok, had the following to say about security tokenization:
“If a startup wants to raise capital on the digital exchange, they can do so, and also if a big company that wants us to decide to raise for the capital using digital tokens like the ones related to blockchain and securities tokens.”
In the bigger picture, our tech, legal, and business development infrastructure build-outs are moving in parallel with the development of UAE regulation, and with the progress of the ecosystem in general. While we are currently seeing the most robust foothold with equity tokenization, we look forward to further growth and more news around tokenization of other securities in the near future.
3. Technical Development
A number of Jibrel’s technical projects have been operating under the radar over in the earlier part of 2019, and many of them have started to mature to the point of being publicly announced and/or released. The primary tech updates for Q3 ’19 are for Jibrel.com and the upcoming launch of the platform. Additionally, we will be releasing a major update of the iOS wallet as soon as possible, and have made good progress with several other endeavors.
The tech team designed and implemented a fully responsive (desktop and mobile web) landing page for Jibrel.com — built to inform prospective startups, institutional investors, and retail investors of the pending launch and to drive qualified leads to the site. The site offers full multilingual support for English, Arabic, Chinese, and Korean. The tech team additionally continues to work on the design and construction of the complete Jibrel.com platform in advance of the gradual rollout that will take place throughout Q4 ’19 and Q1'20.
The iOS wallet is so structurally different from the previous version that it will be published as a brand new app.
iOS: The team will be releasing a significant overhaul of the iOS app in the coming days. At the time of writing, the app has already been submitted to Apple and is pending approval by them. Due to various infrastructural limitations, this will be published as a brand new app. The reason is that in order to bring the iOS app up to parity with the Android app, we had to rework all the guts of the app. This necessity has led to challenges in updating the application for existing users, especially since the massively improved database of the new app version has compatibility issues with the old app version. Ultimately, the app is so different that we had to create a new one, which we will be calling Jibrel Wallet. The Jibrel Wallet is now at parity with the Q2 ’19 Android version, and we look forward to building this product out even further. Features of the new version include:
- All transactions in one place, viewable through the History Tab.
- Implementation of a totally reworked transfer mechanism with (a.) fewer and more manageable steps, (b.) automatic calculation of transaction fee based on current network load, (c.) ability to restart transfers at a higher cost, in case of a stuck transaction, (d.) ability to cancel stuck transactions.
- Improved speed: data from the blockchain is now cached, and you get access to a list of your transactions instantly, even without a network connection.
- A sleek, modern interface provides an easy and pleasant user experience.
- Multi-address and single-address wallet modes simplify wallet usage for most use cases.
- Completely reworked security mode is just as safe but without the need to enter a PIN-code at every step.
- Updated language selection inside the app
- Seven geographic localizations (previously only localized for the USA)
- … and much more!
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us — Jibrel Customer Support will be the most effective avenue for private concerns about your wallet assets.
Android: Earlier this quarter, the team released several updates to Jwallet Android, which include several helpful features:
- New, improved look of the transaction list
- Colorful icons for popular digital assets
- UX and UI improvements
- Indonesian language support (given increasingly reliable traction in the region)
The team plans to add further enhancements to the Android wallet during Q4 ’19, including Jsearch functionality (see below).
Web: Later in October, the team also plans to release an update for the Web version of Jwallet.
What’s Next: Jsearch, Jticker, & Beyond
The Jibrel tech team has worked through multiple iterations of backend block explorer functionality and price feed functionality over the past quarter. The next generation of Jibrel wallets (iOS, Android, Web) will be powered entirely by the Jsearch block explorer, which will allow for significantly improved block search times when compared to the existing 3rd-party block explorer integrations available on the market today. Relatedly, the next update to Android will feature Jticker price graphs. Ultimately, as mentioned in the Product/Tech section and the Jwallet part of the Founder Q&A Video Session, Jibrel has been building out modular “building block” components that, over time, will roll into each other. Jsearch and Jticker moving into Jwallet is one example, but over time we expect these in-house components to be increasingly useful for building out fully regulated solutions — for instance, in our equity tokenization efforts and in our projects with banks and other institutions.
Thank you to the Jibrel Community for your continued support!
Jibrel provides traditional financial assets such as currencies, commodities, and equities, as standard ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.