Architecture and Security: Quarterly Report Q4 2018
The closing quarter of 2018 was critical for our company. This was our first quarter after raising capital and we succeeded in implementing a safer, improved protocol. The new protocol added complexity to our system, but our internal and external team members worked with great dedication and brought us close to hitting our planned deadline — with a system beyond our initial plans. Our technical specification passed a rigorous security review, our Frontend and Blockchain teams made significant progress on the MVP, completing several key components, and our Marketing and Communications team worked hard to prepare us for our major goal of 2019: growth. Finally, we now have a new brand to love — Nash.
Security has been a major focus of our work over the past quarter. This is reflected in our recent hires. Three new security and DevOps team members, based in different teams, have worked on various aspects of our system architecture. Furthermore, we finished compiling our exhaustive technical specification, which was submitted to three security audit firms for review, none of whom reported any significant findings.
The past quarter also saw us take a major brand-related decision: NEX will be renaming to Nash. This move allows us to consolidate our brand, which has developed two identities (“NEX” and “Neon Exchange”), and to improve even further our logo and brand aesthetics. Our Marketing and Design teams discuss the name change and the development of our brand as a whole in this interview. Although our renaming was precipitated by a legal action claiming rights to the NEX name, we took this opportunity to question our existing identity and ultimately decided to improve on what we had. We are confident that, as Nash, we will be able to bring distributed finance to the widest possible public.
As in previous quarter, the company has continued to grow rapidly. A total of nine new members joined Nash during the fourth quarter, representing an increase in staff of almost 40%.
As we draw closer to launch, we are pleased to announce that:
- At NEO DevCon in Seattle on 17 February we will launch our new website and pre-registration program for the exchange.
- Our exchange will launch in a number of US states. We must obtain licenses on a state-by-state basis and hope to support the entire US.
- We are making progress on a non-custodial system for supporting Bitcoin.
- We will support the stablecoin USDC at launch in jurisdictions that allow it.
Here is a full table of our markets at launch:
Clients and Operations
Ethan Fast’s team has undergone significant expansion this past quarter. We have established a dedicated DevOps and Security team, comprising one new Platform Engineer and one Security Engineer. Furthermore, we have also set up a specialized Extension and Mobile team, consisting of a new Frontend Engineer and a Mobile Engineer.
Our existing frontend team concluded work on a number of key components during the past quarter, bringing the exchange interface and accounts system close to completion. In addition to carrying out many improvements to our CI pipeline, we:
- Finished our account management and novel decentralized key storage system.
- Finished both the advanced and simplified exchange user interfaces.
- Finished backend infrastructure for managing user account settings and metadata.
Frontend goals for Q1 are to finalize the funds management system and carry out comprehensive testing and refinement of the full platform.
DevOps and Security
This new team is led by our recently hired Platform Engineer, who previously led the DevOps and Security division of a fintech company. Our engineer has over ten years’ experience in the financial services industry, with over three years spent leading infrastructure and security initiatives. At Nash, DevOps is responsible for guaranteeing our infrastructure reliability and security.
Our new Security Engineer joins us from another digital financial services platform, where they led security within DevOps initiatives. Our new engineer is the author of a popular open-source exploitation framework and is very active as a speaker and educator, having led training sessions on security at a number of notable security conferences.
Besides overseeing our full system design review and initial audit by top security firms, the DevOps team:
- Improved security design of our smart contract protocol.
- Implemented security pipelines for code and dependency analysis.
- Implemented initial deployment infrastructure.
DevOps and Security goals for the first quarter are to finalize security pipeline and deployment infrastructure, complete the second stage of our comprehensive security audit and to continue improving company development workflows.
Extension and Mobile
The Nash Extension and Nash Mobile platforms will be crucial to achieving mass adoption. We hence hired two experienced engineers to handle the bulk of their development as part of a new team.
Our new Frontend Engineer comes to us from a leading adtech company, where they worked as an engineer and subsequently as engineering manager of a PaaS platform. At Nash, they will be developing various aspects of the exchange frontend, including the client-side authentication module, and will be maintaining and updating the Extension.
To assist in the development of our mobile platform, our Mobile Engineer joins us from a major technology firm. After working on our iOS and Android KYC apps, our new engineer is currently implementing the mobile exchange client that will form the heart of Nash Mobile.
The new Mobile team has already made significant progress this past quarter, having finalized the initial mobile wireframes, finished the mobile KYC application and designed our mobile payments infrastructure. Goals for Q1 are to build on this work and implement basic exchange and payments functionality for iOS and Android.
Our backend team, led by Luciano Engel, has continued to expand over the past quarter with the addition of one more Backend Engineer. Our new engineer joins us after leaving a major cryptocurrency company. Having programmed in Elixir full time for the last three years, they are currently working on integrating the matching engine with the frontend client.
During the past quarter, the backend team has had great success implementing solutions to key aspects of our system, wiring together different parts of the architecture and reviewing their functioning. We have conducted our first benchmark tests and optimization runs. In addition, we have begun our work on deployment and DevOps processes, and have also undertaken architecture and code security reviews.
Blockchain and Fiat Integration
Thomas Saunders’s team gained two new members this past quarter, a Backend Engineer and a Blockchain Engineer.
Our Backend Engineer has over ten years’ industry experience with large technology companies, working as a lead engineer for large-scale distributed systems. They have been very active in the open-source blockchain scene, working as a CoZ maintainer and implementing the HBBFT algorithm on NEO.
Joining them, with nearly twenty years’ academic and industry experience, is our Blockchain Engineer. Our new engineer has over ten years’ experience with Erlang and has worked in a variety of areas, including algorithm engineering, distributed systems, security, privacy and operating system design. At Nash, they will be working on our blockchain systems engineering.
The integrations team met several key targets during the fourth quarter. We:
- Finished the development of fully non-custodial exchange contracts.
- Planned and began developing API client libraries.
- Finalized integration for initial fiat on- and off-boarding.
- Determined the process for integrating blockchains that are not capable of smart contracts.
Design, Marketing and Human Resources
We are delighted to welcome another designer to Nathaniel Walpole’s team. With over twenty years’ digital design experience, ten spent specializing in User Experience (UX), our new Lead Designer is an expert in cloud-based applications and trading platforms. Previous employers include two top-five technology firms. For the last five years, our new designer has been building a cloud-based interactive content creation platform with which designers and marketers can create rich and engaging interactive content. At Nash, they have elaborated elements of our brand style, built the template for our new website and are currently fine-tuning the Extension in preparation for a major update.
Carla Paiva’s marketing team has spent the quarter working on products and programs that will accompany the launch of our platform, as well as planning internal and external events for 2019. These include the new website, a variety of promotional materials, plans for engaging with traditional media and a pre-registration program to attract new users before our exchange launches. The fruits of this work will become public soon.
Finally, Nash has hired a Human Resources (HR) specialist to equip us for the coming years of company growth. In addition to designing our job ladders and compensation structure, they have prepared an onboarding process for new team members, providing them with all necessary information in an organized manner. HR will also be responsible for implementing a performance review procedure that will assist both the company and individual team members in keeping track of goals. Our HR specialist has twelve years’ experience in the field and holds a degree in Business Administration and an MBA in Strategic and Economic Management of Human Resources. Past positions include leading compensation design for two major multinational corporations.
2019’s major goal for Nash is user growth. We will launch our first wave of products in our quest to transform our startup into a profitable business. HR management is indispensable for this goal, and we have now ensured that all the required infrastructure and workflows are in place to take our company forward.
The next Nash quarterly report will be presented in London on Saturday, 27 April.