Building a Bridge to Financial Sovereignty

ShapeShift Founder & CEO Erik Voorhees introduces the new ShapeShift Platform.

ShapeShift
Jul 7 · 4 min read

Five years ago the original ShapeShift launched to the world, processing its first customer transaction of Bitcoin into Litecoin. There was an origami elephant that moved across the screen denoting the order status.

It had been built and run pseudonymously; I went by the name Beorn, in an unsubtle reference to the shapeshifting bear in Lord of the Rings. Crypto harmonizes beautifully with that uncertain journey into darkness, that epic struggle against evil. In this metaphor, fiat currency is the One Ring, around which the evils of the world gather to defend, and otherwise good people are unwittingly corrupted into its service.

ShapeShift’s thesis was that digital assets would become an entirely new class, and that we were on the cusp of a Cambrian explosion in variety and purpose of blockchains as well as the tokens built upon them. The entire crypto market cap was under $5 billion. Many were skeptical of this thesis, yet today this figure has grown to over $300 billion.


Growth is great, but having seen the existential risks of the status quo custodial model (broadly in the great financial crisis, and then specifically in the Mt. Gox disaster), we designed ShapeShift — first and foremost — to protect users. This principle manifested in two notable features of the original product: no custody of user funds, and no personal information extracted from our customers.

And for eighteen months we’ve been working on the new ShapeShift concept; a unification of the technologies we’d built and the learnings we’d experienced.

We call it the ShapeShift Platform, and where our original product was a simple 1:1 tool for digital asset trades, the new product is a comprehensive interface for holding, buying, selling, trading, watching, and interacting with digital assets.

As of today, ShapeShift completes its transformation into an end-to-end solution for crypto finance.

Critically, it is done entirely without custody.


The New Frontier in Crypto Management | Try it Out.

To date, no other company has built a crypto platform that is non-custodial, enables native exchange, and supports dozens of digital assets on multiple chains, all available in a standard web-browser.

Severed from our ability to protect users through privacy, we are doubling down on our ability to protect users through architecture — by building a service that is both beautiful and easy to use, without sacrificing that critical pillar of decentralized finance — controlling one’s own keys.

Most of the biggest crypto companies are custodial, and while they offer an important bridge — where exactly is the bridge leading?

ShapeShift has now built a new bridge — one that leads directly to financial sovereignty.

The crypto financial revolution will not be realized by a new set of custodial kings. You control your keys, you control your crypto. To us, this is not a slogan, but a mandate.

What is it this platform, exactly?

  • It is accessed easily through your web browser at ShapeShift.com.
  • Inside, you’ll see your entire crypto portfolio, updating live through the robust, real-time CoinCap API we’ve engineered since 2015.
  • Your keys are held on the hardware you already own: Trezor and KeepKey to start, and Ledger soon. Non-hardware key store methods will be integrated into the platform in the future as well.
  • Your hardware only needs to be connected when sending or trading.
  • You can buy and sell crypto by linking a bank account — imagine dumping fiat directly into Bitcoin held in cold storage, all through a few clicks on a website. Try it out, it’s beautiful.
  • All your core wallet functionality is present: send, receive, view transaction history, etc. Over 50 digital assets are supported natively, with more continually in the pipeline.
  • And of course, trade any coin directly for any other coin without worrying about liquidity or counter-party risk. We encourage you to compare our rates, reliability, and service against any other non-custodial exchange.

Our vision is a borderless financial system built on open, decentralized protocols. The new ShapeShift Platform maintains fidelity to this vision through a non-custodial model in which customers are sovereign over their assets.

The crypto financial revolution will not be realized by a new set of custodial kings. You control your keys, you control your crypto. To us, this is not a slogan, but a mandate.

Looking ahead, we see digital crypto finance integrating further into — and then consuming — traditional analog fiat finance. The world’s financial infrastructure is, right now, being recast upon a borderless, digital foundation.

As this unfolds, a great many economic sophisms are to be washed away: among them, the superstition that money must be centrally planned. We believe humankind will thrive and prosper as this power is brought back to the individual.

Further, we maintain that all humans have the default right to financial privacy, as they have the same right to privacy in their speech, their relationships, and their thoughts. We will continue fighting for this right, though for now we are barred from expressing it in our product.

Five years on, the new ShapeShift emerges — a unified platform for crypto finance, and through which we hope to humbly serve and further the self-sovereignty of our users.

We welcome you to join us in this new frontier at ShapeShift.com.

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Explore the new frontier in crypto management: https://shapeshift.com

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