OmiseGO enables financial inclusion and interoperability through the public, decentralized OMG network. Jun Hasegawa, Chairman of OmiseGO.
Peter Lee: Jun, tell us about OmiseGO?
Jun Hasegawa: OmiseGO Pte. Ltd. is one of the 7 subsidiary companies that is 100% owned by Omise Holdings Pte. Ltd. OmiseGO is the only subsidiary that focuses on blockchain technology.
Earlier in 2017, OmiseGO conducted an ICO to raise funds for building out the OMG blockchain and white-label wallet SDK. The ICO fund remains at the OmiseGO entity level and will strictly be used towards delivering the milestones outlined in the OmiseGO crowdsale document.
OmiseGO is a public Ethereum-based financial technology for use in mainstream digital wallets, that enables real-time, peer-to-peer value exchange and payment services agnostically across jurisdictions and organizational silos, and across both fiat money and decentralized currencies. It is designed to enable financial inclusion and disrupt existing institutions; access will be made available to everyone via the OmiseGO network and digital wallet framework.
Peter: Your platform is fully loaded with ‘credentials’. You have the support of your parent company, Omise, a payment gateway for Southeast Asia (based in Thailand) that others have likened to Stripe. You have both Vitalik Buterin (Founder of Ethereum) and Dr. Gavin Wood (Co-Founder of Ethereum) on your list of Advisors. You’re on a Forbes cover (Thailand) as a Fintech Rockstar. Your OMG coin is currently almost at 2 billion in market capitalization.
What would you say are the 2 or 3 things that are most special about OmiseGO that separates you from the competition?
Jun: There are a few things which differentiate us:
Our team. Although the blockchain technology has been in the market for a while, it is still new and is very complex. Putting together the OmiseGO team has not just been about bringing together the intellectual power that will push through boundaries, but is forming a team that is passionate and absolutely love what they are working on.
We don’t restrict ourselves to our headquarters in Southeast Asia. We’ve got the most talented team working globally from Silicon Valley to Bangkok, from Singapore to Europe. Our team sets itself apart with its diversity, not only in terms of nationalities and locations, but also in terms of its specialties – technical and business.
Our Community. As a member of the community, one of OmiseGO’s responsibilities is to help contribute towards the growth of the community. Whenever we decide to provide funding to support a community initiative; the core parts when benchmarking our “Return on Investment” are community contribution, sustainability and scalability. These have always been the approach our Co-Founder (Ezra Don Harinsut) and I have taken right from the beginning.
We fully believe in the blockchain and Ethereum community, in terms of, the opportunity to build a stronger network of relations. OmiseGO is committed to continuing its support to the community as we move forward into the future. With help of the evangelists/advocacies, we are expanding our network rapidly.
Our Ecosystem. Our experience as Omise – a Payment Service Provider, and OmiseGO – the blockchain, allows us to explore pain points of customers and within the broader payment infrastructure. In order to solve these immense challenges, we are building our ideal ecosystem.
It is certainly impossible to achieve that by ourselves, but as stated above, our idea is more likely to happen working together with the community. Omise Payment continues to provide businesses and individuals an acceptance layer, while OmiseGO constructs a network to serve as a venue to exchange values.
Peter: How hard was it to get Vitalik Buterin to be an Advisor? What was the argument that convinced him, if any?
Jun: OmiseGO was an early (in 2015) contributor to the Ethereum foundation in its infancy. As much as we are a true believer in Vitalik Buterin as a person, we also admire his vision for the Ethereum platform he was working on then.
Vitalik has been advising us before people started recognizing “Oh, Vitalik is the Advisor for OmiseGO”. Since 2015, we had an Omise Blockchain Lab and this lab was researching scalability much before people even spoke about it. We have mutual interests to push and execute scalability issues.
Peter: Who benefits from OmiseGO?
Jun: OmiseGO is the answer to a fundamental coordination problem amongst payment processors, gateways and financial institutions and non-bank financial services providers. By enabling decentralized exchange on a public blockchain at high volume and low cost, OmiseGO provides a next-generation value transfer service operating across currencies and asset types.
Peter: Your site states that the OmiseGO network will allow anyone to be able to ‘conduct financial transactions such as payments, remittances, payroll deposit, B2B commerce, supply-chain finance, loyalty programs, asset management and trading, and other on-demand services, in a completely decentralized and inexpensive way.’
What do you see as the 2 or 3 main challenges you’ll have to overcome to accomplish everything you want to accomplish and to become a ‘global standard for exchange and payments?’
Jun: Regulatory and compliance. Times change, and so does technology. We are working towards providing secure financial solutions to the community. By having clear and up-to-date regulations, our developers know what are the guidelines to stick to. At the same time, technologies are meant to be functioned at their optimal levels. The “open hearts” to accept and regulate accordingly will not only provide better solutions for people, but also ensure full protection to the users.
Accessibility. To establish wide-spread and easy to access cash-in/cash-out points. Our users need to be able to move their value on and off the OmiseGO network seamlessly. The solution to this is currently being worked on by the team.
Integration. The integration with existing financial systems to be in cooperation with different conceptions of technology used by banks and non-banks. Not only to provide seamless experience for our end users, but also to provide smooth and simple solutions for the operations and backend team, too.
Peter: Is there anything that’s not generally well known about OmiseGO that you wish people knew?
Jun: OmiseGO’s OMG blockchain decentralized exchange (DEX) will be built into the consensus layer of a Proof of Stake (PoS) blockchain. OMG tokens are required for participating in the network’s consensus and validation process. Stakers will act as validators of the blockchain and, if you choose to stake, you will receive a return from fees that validators charge to network users to cover the cost of validation of transactions (which include trades) carried out over the DEX.
Therefore, OMG is not a cryptocurrency, unlike bitcoin. Unlike most blockchains, the OmiseGO blockchain is designed to be interoperable with other blockchains.
Peter: Tell our members a little more about what it means for OmiseGO to be ‘interoperable with other blockchains’. Explain that a little more and what are the benefits of blockchain interoperability?
Jun: Interoperability with other blockchains here refers to the ability to trade any type of digital asset, including non-native tokens on the OmiseGO DEX. Other blockchains have different tokens and, most of the time, you cannot trade across these various blockchain tokens. So, interoperability from OMG means you will be able to trade BTC, ERC20, or LTC on the OmiseGO DEX.
The benefits are enormous: transactional ecosystem participants – consumers (banked, or unbanked), merchants and financial institutions will have more flexibility and freedom to conduct commerce that is not limited to any one specific network. With OmiseGO, the ecosystem participants can accept or exchange almost any crypto that a user holds; and partnered with Omise’s existing payments platforms, merchants have almost unlimited acceptance capabilities.
Peter: Tell us about your journey with OmiseGO? Any surprises?
Jun: How our business model has been adjusted and pivoted over the past 3 years.
2013: Started Omise as an Ecommerce platform
2014 : Pivoted to Omise Payment Gateway
2015 : Started our Blockchain Lab
2017 : Started new subsidiary “OmiseGO”
Our phenomenal teams are always adapting to digesting our strategic decisions, moving fast towards our targeted direction, and focused on growing those businesses.
Peter: In the next year or two, is the direction clear? Or, is the blockchain environment moving or changing so fast that you anticipate that OmiseGO may still need to make significant adjustments and pivots?
Jun: Adjustments and pivots are a norm in the industry. We do believe that our ultimate direction is clear to execute and fulfil. We may need to pivot and make adjustments as technology shifts and improves on a daily basis. One thing we are, again, very confident is that we got the best hands to make this happen, and at a breakneck speed.
Peter: What does OmiseGO’s future look like 5 or 10 years from now?
Jun: We are continuing to explore partnerships with other strategic partners to grow this ecosystem and to enable global adoption of the OmiseGO network. Thus, we want to see more adoption of the OmiseGO Network.
The goal is to improve the lives of people through the transformation of finance and digital commerce. By enabling people to both maintain unprecedented connectivity and retain unprecedented control over their individual financial resources, while at the same time have a stake in how the collective resource (the OmiseGO network) is operated.
We are attempting to forge a path towards socioeconomic equity in a just, free market environment. In the course of delivering this goal, we also hope to contribute to the technology that enables scaling on a blockchain and to introduce new ways of performing peer-to-peer exchange of digital value.
Peter: OmiseGO is based in Thailand and already has a substantial presence via your Omise parent company in Southeast Asia. How will this help or hurt you in terms of global adoption and becoming a global brand? What are the challenges in terms of ‘breaking out’ of Asia and establishing yourself in Europe, North America and globally?
Jun: Today, Omise has already been registered and established in 6 countries and still counting. We are expanding tremendously fast as already mentioned above. OmiseGO, as a subsidiary of Omise, is a global company from its conception and has always been positioning itself globally. The OmiseGO team is diverse and working from multiple locales.
As specific as OmiseGO is in solving pain points in the Asian payment environments, we realized that those use cases can also applied to other regions. There is a global need for our product, which is made to be open sourced. It is built by design to gain massive adoption quickly with minimum cost.
Lastly, I do think that being based in Asia actually contributes to as global strength. Asia will see the next billion internet/mobile users. We see global tech companies focused on markets in Asia; we also see Asia tech companies becoming global giants such as the “BAT” (Baidu, Alipay, and Tencent) which, by the way, invest heavily in the region.
Peter: We always like to ask, how can we save the earth, this world and humanity? Name one person, company or organization you feel is really having an impact in this area and why?
Jun: Elon Musk.
He reinvented the energy ecosystem, reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption. He first started with the unbelievable ideas and made it happen within short period. Who would ever think that his ideas could have actually happened? Everything he has been contributing is changing the world and people’s way of living.
It is the same concept and challenge I adopted to making OmiseGO happen; the next big thing is to better people’s lives – “the internet of payment”.
Peter: Who is the Southeast Asian or Asian equivalent of Elon Musk? (Or, if there isn’t one, why not?)
Jun: There isn’t one “yet”, but I strongly believe he or she is coming, as the Asian market is in the stage of catching up and rapidly becoming a developed market – or exceeding!
Peter: Tell us something about yourself that our audience may not already know?
Jun: How I make decisions quickly based on my instinct. I’m not saying that I am always right, but I have a supportive team to sort of ‘push and pull’ to the right direction to work on together. It is said that “Ideas need momentum”. Sometimes, people lose momentum because of too much strategy and not spending enough time to execute. “GSD” is the most important attitude that I always encourage my team. It could be Get Stuff Done, but I would say it is another S-word!