Guest AMA with Matthew Liu & Nick Poulden of Origin

by Apr 20, 2020AMA, Community

Welcome to the next installment in our series of BAT Community-run AMAs.

The ongoing AMA series on Reddit features various guests from the Brave and BAT teams, and now, guests from projects and causes that Brave collaborates with.

The most recent AMA took place on April 16th, and featured guests Matthew Liu (Co-founder) and Nick Poulden (Senior Engineer) at Origin, a sharing economy platform that enables buyers and sellers of goods and services to transact on the distributed, open web. The pair fielded both pre-submitted and live questions from Redditors about Origin Marketplace, the first marketplace built on Origin’s own protocol; and Dshop, Origin’s decentralized e-commerce storefront (which powers the new Brave Swag Store). Matt and Nick shared why they believe the world needs blockchain-based commerce and what they see to be the advantages over traditional solutions.

Highlights can be found below, with a link to the full AMA at the bottom of this post.

The next AMA will take place on Wednesday, April 29th, and will feature Evelyn Wendel, Founding Director of WeTap.

ImahComputah: Brave's popularity seems to be majority "word of mouth". Do you expect Origin to have a similar uprising? Especially for those who wanna make their own online stores, and introduce their fans to the blockchain in such manner?

Nick: In my view word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. We are trying to create products that our users will love by providing an experience that rivals what they're already used to, with the added benefits of lower fees as well as complete control of the software and data. I hope that word of mouth acts as a powerful driving force for adoption once users realize they get essentially the same service for reduced fees and more control.

Matt: Hi ImahComputah, thanks for kicking us off. Our goal is to have hundreds of millions of users using the Origin Platform, through many different apps built on the protocol. Some of these will be apps that we build ourselves, like our Dshop and marketplace (www.shoporigin.com). Others will be built by third-parties. We think there is a huge market for merchants building new online stores and then promoting these stores to their audiences. In that way, do we think there is potential for Origin to spread "word of mouth.” Also, just like BAT, the OGN token will provide incentives for usage and promotion to new users.

mcDonaldTrumpet: Why should I use Origin over the handful of other established e-commerce platforms?

Nick:

  1. Origin is free to use.
  2. Customer data is only visible to you, the merchant.
  3. Origin is open-source, so you or a developer you hire can easily modify any aspect of the system.
  4. When you list your products on Origin, you can opt in to have those products marketed by anyone interested in doing so... potentially thousands of stores. The blockchain is almost like a free API to a public database.
  5. Origin is built on Ethereum, meaning you can more easily leverage use cases unavailable to established platforms. For example, imagine store credit or loyalty points as an ERC-20 token.

xRizk: Is Origin going to take privacy as seriously as Brave does?

Nick: Origin does take privacy seriously. You'll notice our stores have no tracking scripts, our emails have no tracking pixels, our servers have no logs, and customer data is deleted as soon as it is no longer needed for order fulfillment. That is why Brave chose to partner with us for their store 🙂

rotcelloC_ehT: Is the goal to be more business to business focused with large partners or will the project grow through the community naturally?

Nick: We hope that once we have an easy way for anyone to deploy and run their own Dshop that it will grow naturally through the community. Right now it's a little too technical for most folks, but that should change in the coming weeks and months. As for larger partners, we're always open to new opportunities and happy to chat any time.

Matt: In the early days, we are building multiple applications on top of the Origin Platform ourselves to demonstrate the capabilities and effectiveness of the Platform. For this handful of applications like the Origin mobile apps (www.originprotocol.com/mobile), it is a B2C approach. We are pulling end-users from our large global community. However, the mid-term and long-term approach is a B2B2C one. We are working with early partners like Brave and many others to build out their stores and other applications. As we gain more traction with meaningful partners, all of us will be incentivized towards the same goal of driving more transactions through the network. This means that growth can come from these partners' businesses as well as from the original Origin applications.

AutobachCrypto: Why do you think the world needs a blockchain-based e-commerce platform? What are the main opportunities in your eyes?

Nick: The main opportunity I see is an open, public data layer. For example, anyone could create a store that curates products from other stores and earn a commission on sales, without having to provide fulfillment or customer service. A drop-shipper's dream!

Matt: A blockchain-based platform that is open-source also enables free and open commerce. Individual buyers and sellers can dictate how they want to transact with one another. This creates opportunities in certain parts of the world that currently don't have thriving digital economies or are censorship-heavy.

Dyan Lee from Twitter: I'd love to hear Nick talking about the tech and the creative procedure behind it!

Nick: The original idea came when I saw that the official Ethereum swag store, which was using Shopify for store management and PayPal (!!!) for payments. How ironic! So I set out to create an alternative with the only 2 dependencies being Ethereum and IPFS. That product became Dshop and we hope to convince the Ethereum foundation to switch their store in the near future too.

mcDonaldTrumpet: Does Origin provide buyer/seller protection?

Nick: Origin has an escrow system built into the Marketplace smart contract. When a buyer makes a purchase, they have a predetermined amount of time (e.g., 2 weeks) in which to initiate a dispute. If they do so, a pre-agreed arbitrator will decide if the buyer should get a refund or not based on evidence provided by both buyer and seller. If the time period ends with no dispute, the seller can take their money out of escrow. Or, if the buyer receives their goods and is happy, they can release funds from escrow early.

Matt: Adding to this, third-party e-commerce or marketplace operators can then use arbitrators that they and their customers agree to use. Different Origin-enabled apps will have different types of buyer/seller protection.

adspca: I just bought the steel blue Brave logo t-shirt [from the Brave Swag Store]. I have two questions: Is there a way to see my transaction on-chain? Can you talk more about your IPFS integration? I suspected that IPFS would slow down the experience, but load times were on-par for me. Is your IPFS provider running on multi-clouds? Thank you for building Origin and looking forward to setting up an Origin sticker store with my 14-year-old as she wants to cash in on her large sticker collection. Peace!

Nick: The on-chain transaction ID is in the URL when you click the order confirmation link in your receipt email. Try copying it and pasting it into Etherscan. You should see the IPFS hash, though it's encoded using bs58. An easier way to see the data stored in IPFS is by opening your browser network tab when you're on the order confirmation page. All the sensitive data is encrypted, however, so you won't find anything personally identifiable in plaintext.

We've found IPFS to be nice and performant so far, so no issues there.

Looking forward to seeing your daughter's sticker store once it's live!

ImahComputah: Is Origin better suited for those one-off small online "pop-up" storefronts? Aka an online personalities store, or is it going to be targeting "big picture" commerce? Such as say a game publishers merch/digital goods store?

Nick: We want to create a platform that can scale to any size. Since all the software is open source and built on public blockchain technology, anyone can build tools, applications, and services on top of the platform secure in the knowledge that no organization can restrict what they're doing through terms and conditions or fees. We hope this will result in a rich and diverse ecosystem built on top of the Origin Protocol.

spacekitty: What is the incentive for users to participate in p2p commerce on Origin vs. a more organic platform like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace that relies on friends/family & local community to source goods for cash or physical barter? (can it compete holistically or is its appeal solely that crypto itself is the alternative bartering medium). How does origin handle the "mutual trust" aspect of the exchange?

Nick: Origin allows merchants to build rich interfaces on top of the underlying protocol, so there's nothing to stop a developer cloning Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace but using Origin for the data layer. They could even open-source it and allow others to work on it too.

Matt: I'll add that we are interested in giving everyday users a stake of the Origin network just by using our applications. We believe that early users should be rewarded for contributing value to the Platform, whether that value is referrals, transactions, or listings. There are now tens of thousands of users that hold small amounts of OGN for using our e-commerce and marketplace applications. This is a powerful incentive to bootstrap the network.

Read the full AMA here

Follow the BAT Community’s Updates here: https://www.reddit.com/r/BATProject/

Upcoming BAT Community AMAs:

April 2020
Evelyn Wendel, Founding Director, WeTap

May 2020
Suzi Wilkenfeld, Co-Founder & President, Kindhumans

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