Q&A with James Anderson, CEO of RioDeFi
On Friday, January 15th, James Anderson, CEO of RioDeFi participated to a Telegram AMA organised by Decentralized_Club. He answered a series of questions from the organiser and the community. Below is a transcript of the Q&A.
Q1. Can you provide a brief introduction to RioDeFi and the core team behind it?
James Anderson: Thank you for hosting me on your group! It’s a pleasure to be here. RioDeFi started from conversations between Calvin Ng, Stephane Laurent, Katerina Volkova, Gino Yu, and I. We envisioned a world in which everyone has access to DeFi services, because we think DeFi gives people better access to financial freedom and more abundant lives.
‘’Rio’’ is the word for river in Spanish, and to us it represents the ideas of liquidity and flow. We believe that money is energy in a liquid, spendable form, so Rio represents these flows of wealth. As you know DeFi stands for Decentralized Finance, and it’s RioDeFi’s mission to accelerate the mass adoption of digital assets by bridging traditional and decentralized finance.
Following a highly successful career in the gaming industry which saw him bring major franchises such as Dayonta USA and World of Warcraft in Asia, Calvin Ng decided to join the Blockchain landscape in 2016. In addition to his involvement in RioDeFi, Calvin is also managing Director at PlutusVC, a $200 Million fund focused on blockchain and internet companies.
Stephane Laurent is a full-stack marketer whose career spans 12 years and a broad array of corporations, agencies and startups. An expert of China digital landscape, Stephane has helped dozens of Blockchain projects set foot in Asia, assisting them with fundraising, content creation and community building.
A seasoned business consultant, Katerina’s former ventures include Priority Token Group where she served as Vice President. Ekaterina Volkova has helped structure a broad range of enterprises. Her expertise includes fundraising, strategic management and event organization.
I got into blockchains through my interest in economics and my research of gold, silver, and alternative currencies after the financial crisis of 2008. It was in 2012 that I really started looking into Bitcoin. One year later I met Vitalik Buterin and Erik Voorhees at a conference called Porcfest in New Hampshire, USA, where I bought my first Bitcoin.
In 2017 I co-founded a business called Blockchain Investor, in which I taught people how to invest in cryptocurrencies, trade them on exchanges, and securely store them via hardware wallets. In 2018, I co-founded another business called Social Evolution, where we sought to create DAOs for mutual aid services (market-based welfare).
I took the lessons from those experiences to start RioDeFi in 2019 with our co-founders with one clear mission: to accelerate the mass adoption of digital assets by bridging the gap between traditional and decentralized finance.
Q2. RioDeFi is an amalgamation of a bunch of products : RioChain , RioWallet , RioPay and RioExchange. Can you briefly describe the innovations each of these are better than other comparable products in the market?
James Anderson: Yes, we’re building a lot of things because we see a ton of value in having an interconnected ecosystem where our community can access everything they need. RioDeFi is developing applications that connect people to digital assets, mobile payments, and DeFi services such as savings and lending. Our solutions enable lower transaction fees, faster confirmations, energy efficiency, secure storage, and global reach.
RioDeFi‘s fully integrated ecosystem of technologies and solutions enable a seamless Fiat/Crypto interface, which will help more people gain access to cryptocurrencies. RioWallet will be very accessible through our OAuth solution, allowing people to create a wallet using their email or social media accounts. We are also very excited about the amazing projects building on RioChain, which MANTRA DAO, Lepricon, and LABS. RioChain’s CrossFi (cross-chain DeFi) dApps, such as MANTRA DAO, are on the cutting-edge of blockchain technology, and will enable many new financial services.
I think the biggest challenges for DeFi are in addressing scalability (transaction throughput is too low), high gas fees (which can ruin some dapps and business models), and user experience. RioChain will provide greater scalability (up to 3,000 TPS, and orders of magnitude more with parachains), lower gas fees (starting at 0.1 RFUEL and can be adjusted downward if prices get too high), and a more seemless & simple user experience.
RioPay bridges cryptocurrencies with traditional finance, especially via fiat crypto payment rails. We have a cryptocurrency exchange license in Estonia and we’ve applied for the Payment Services Act (PSA) license in Singapore, so these help us to operate at scale. Additionally, we’ve integrated Moonpay into our website and are integrating it into RioWallet. In the future, we plan to issue debit cards to allow people to easily spend their cryptocurrencies in the real world. We’re also working on plugins for online merchants to accept cryptocurrencies as payment and easily convert them back into fiat currencies.
Q3. What are the important milestones or events after which RioDefi got tremendous exposure?
James Anderson: In the past, we got a lot of exposure by our work building cross-chain DeFi solutions within the Polkadot ecosystem. We’ve also been quite active with crypto communities via AMAs such as this one.
Moving forward, we’ll soon be releasing our Generic Asset Bridge, which allows for the movement of assets such as BTC, ETH, USDT, etc. onto RioChain. In February we plan to launch the new version of RioWallet that will have a new interface, RFUEL staking on RioChain, and DeFi Pools (earning passive income through DeFi protocols). By the end of Q1, we’ll be launching RioExchange to easily allow people to convert their fiat currencies into cryptocurrencies to trade, stake, and earn rewards.
Q.4. Can you tell us briefly how will RioExchange be vastly different than current exchanges?
James Anderson: One of the ways it will be different is that it will be a regulated cryptocurrency exchange. We are focused on compliance and security to ensure we meet the strict standards set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Estonian Financial Supervisory Authority (FI). Additionally, we plan to have a number of staking programs that allow users to earn rewards from their assets. Finally, we will have a focus on Polkadot and RioDeFi ecosystem projects.
RioExchange will also offer fiat on and off ramps for 10+ different fiat currencies, which is something many exchanges don’t have.
Q.5. Addition to the above is anything further planned for RioDefi in 2021?
James Anderson: We have a lot coming in 2021! First of all, we’re planning to secure one of the first few Parachain slots on the Polkadot network. This will allow us to have a greater degree of security and interoperability with their broad ecosystem. We will be launching RioFinance, which will have opportunities for savings & lending products to give users access to high yields and leverage for their cryptocurrencies. We have many dapps launching within the RioChain ecosystem in the coming months, so we’ll be providing them with a lot of integration support. We have plans to build a cross-chain bridge between RioChain and Binance Smart Chain, which we believe will have tremendous value for both the RioDeFi and Polkadot ecosystems.
CrossFi (Cross-chain DeFi) will be a huge trend of 2021, and we will be at the forefront of this.
Questions from Twitter
Q1. Are you trying to secure a parachain slot on polkadot? If so, how likely we can get one?
James Anderson: Yes, absolutely! We are working on getting setup on the Rococo v1 Parachains Testnet to be ready for the first batch of parachain auctions. We’re also in talks with various exchanges about their parachain auction programs, because there are some really interesting liquid staking options available. We definitely plan on securing a Parachain slot this year.
Q.2. These last few days I have monitored $RFUEL and it has a considerable increase, do you think that is due? What makes it so good every day?
James Anderson: I believe there are a few key reasons for this. First of all, the entire cryptocurrency market has been booming lately, and RFUEL is no exception. We’re one of the leading Substrate-based blockchains within the Polkadot ecosystem, and Polkadot (DOT) itself is off to an amazing start in 2021. With the first parachain auctions drawing near, people are very excited about the growth of the whole ecosystem. Additionally, our Generic Asset Bridge will open in January to allow assets to come onto RioChain. Following this, we’ll be releasing a new version of RioWallet as well as launching RioExchange. We have a ton of things coming in Q1 2021, so I think the market is responding to that.
Q.3. What are your plans for getting adopted fast enough so that the market won’t be saturated with other similar projects now and what benefits can you offer?
James Anderson: We’ve positioned ourself as a bridge between CeFi (centralized / traditional finance) and DeFi (decentralized finance). We do this by getting licenses and complying with regulations to ensure we can work with existing financial institutions to help bring cryptocurrencies to the mass market. We think that less than 2% of the global market has any cryptocurrencies right now, which represents an absolutely massive growth potential in the coming years. We focus on having an amazing user experience and smooth fiat-to-crypto on and off ramps to ensure that people can actually use their cryptocurrencies in the real world.
Q.4: How can the community earn passive income by participating in RioDefi? How many Incentives do you offer to the community? How will you encourage users to participate?
James Anderson: The first way to earn passive income is by staking our native token RioFuel (RFUEL) on MANTRA DAO, Kucoin, or Bitmax. In the future, we will be creating DeFi Pools on RioWallet that will allow people to stake various cryptocurrencies to earn rewards from our yield farming activities on protocols such as Uniswap. We make the process simple, smooth, and save users a significant amount of gas fees vs. doing it themselves, so we think these DeFi Pools will be very attractive to users.
Q.5. Do you have a plan to attract non-crypto investors to RIO? One could argue that the success of a project depends on attracting investors who have not yet entered the world of crypto. What plans do you have to raise awareness about RIO outside the crypto space?
James Anderson: You are 100% correct. This is the key. Everything we do is geared toward bringing the other 98% of non-crypto people into this space by making it simple and profitable for them to do so. This happens through things like OAuth wallet creation, secure storage, and fiat currency support. We want to make it easy to earn money through DeFi without having to know anything about the technical details.
Questions from Telegram
Q.1. What is the specific governance mechanism of $RFUEL governance token? How does $RFUEL plan to solve the issue of cross-chain DeFi platform offered by RioDefi while many projects have been unsuccessful?
James Anderson: RFUEL may be used in the on-chain governance process of RioChain in a similar manner to how DOT and KSM are used for the Polkadot and Kusama networks. Users can deposit RFUEL to submit proposals on-chain for governance actions and ecosystem improvements.
We are handling cross — chain DeFi in stages. Our first solution is our Generic Asset Bridge, which allows us to work with our partner Hex Trust to securely custody crypto assets in a similar manner to how Wrapped BTC works on the Ethereum blockchain, but we’ll be able to have many more assets than just BTC. Next, we’ll be incorporating other Polkadot ecosystem assets by becoming a Parachain of the Polkadot network, allowing us to benefit from their shared security layer and support the cross-chain flow of assets within their network. Finally, we’re building direct smart-contract-based bridges to other blockchains, including Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain.
Q.2. Has RioDeFi really managed to solve the existing problems in the DEX sector: instant transactions, lower fees, exchange of assets between chains? If this is how RioDeFi succeeded?
James Anderson: With RioChain, our transaction speed is 2s, our base-level transaction fees are 0.1 RFUEL (less than a penny), and our Generic Asset Bridge will enable cross-chain assets to interact with dApps on RioChain. This is how we plan to make DeFi much more accessible to the masses.
Q.3. What tools does RioDeFi offer for developers and engineers?
James Anderson: We have a developer portal where people can learn how to build dApps on RioChain — https://developer.riochain.io/
Q.4. I am interested in Staking & Earning at RioDeFi. What are the requirements to join the Rio token staking program? What are the long-term benefits for Rio token holders?
James Anderson: Currently you can easily stake RFUEL in a decentralized manner using the MANTRA DAO staking dapp. It offers a 50% APY, and there are currently over 68M RFUEL staked on their platform, which is about 1/3 of the circulating supply. Additionally, you can stake RFUEL on KuCoin, Bitmax, Uniswap, and Kingswap.
Q.5. Where do I get information about your team? Why do you prefer to be anonymous? Do you have a plan to identify your team later?
James Anderson: You can find us at https://riochain.io/about . We’re not shy.
Q.6. Projects that are not traded on major exchanges remain unnoticed. What does you think about listing the token on the leading exchanges?
James Anderson: We’re already listed on a number of major exchanges, including OKEx, Kucoin, Bithumb Global, Bitmax, and Uniswap (huge liquidity there!). We are in talks with other exchanges now, so we are looking forward to getting RFUEL listed on additional exchanges.
Q.7. What are the benefits to long-term RioDeFi token holders ?
James Anderson: High staking rewards, early access to a quickly growing ecosystem, and a sustainable token model that’s driven by real business use cases and revenues.
Q.8. DeFi is very hot this year, but you mentioned that it still has some challenges to overcome in order to reach mass adoption. Could you expand upon these challenges and what’s needed to overcome them?
James Anderson: RioChain is faster, more scalable (up to 3,000 TPS compared to Ethereum’s 17 TPS), and has lower transaction fees than Ethereum. We aim to achieve mass adoption by making cryptocurrencies so easy to use that even a grandmother can use them. This happens by massively simplifying the user experience and having integrated services so that the blockchain components happen in the background. With our OAuth wallet creation solution using a Gmail or Facebook account, and free RFUEL pre-loaded into every mobile RioWallet, we think our users will find RioWallet to be a refreshing experience compared to what’s come before.
Q.9. Do you have any plan for building Nfts into your eco system because that is the hottest topic on crypto space
James Anderson: Absolutely! We plan to integrate NFTs into the RioChain ecosystem later this year.
Q.10. In the DEFI space, there are many sectors where the revolution has taken place. Compound in the crypto loan sector, Uniswap in the decentralized exchange sector, Synthetix in the tokenized asset sector. In which sector will DEFI revolutionize Rio DeFi?
James Anderson: Connecting CeFi to DeFi. Bridging Fiat currencies to cryptocurrencies. Giving normal people access to high-yield savings accounts powered by DeFi.
Q.11. I think we all know about a decentralized network utilizing a Proof-Of-Satke system, but not so frequently a Proof-of-Authority system. What is this last one about and why did you adopted it for you network?
James Anderson: Proof of Authority (POA) is a term coined by Gavin Wood, the co-founder of Ethereum and Parity Technologies. With PoA, individuals earn the right to become validators, so there is an incentive to retain the position that they have gained. By attaching a reputation to identity, validators are incentivized to uphold the transaction process, as they do not wish to have their identities attached to a negative reputation. This is considered more robust than PoS (proof-of-stake) — PoS, while a stake between two parties may be even, it does not take into account each party’s total holdings. This means that incentives can be unbalanced. On the other hand, PoA only allows non-consecutive block approval from any one validator, meaning that the risk of serious damage is centralized to the authority node.
Later this year, we will be switching RioChain from POA to Nominated Proof of Stake (NPOS), in a similar manner to how the Polkadot and Kusama networks started off POA and moved to NPOS.
RioDeFi accelerates the mass adoption of digital assets by bridging traditional and decentralized finance. Our vision is a world in which everyone has access to decentralized financial (DeFi) services.
We develop solutions that connect banking institutions with blockchain systems. Our applications enable lower transaction fees, faster confirmations, more efficiency, better returns for savings account holders, and global reach.
To learn more about the latest developments regarding RioChain, visit: Riodefi.com