Startup Veil Forks Augur to Create Prediction Markets for 2020 Election

Christine Kim
May 16, 2019 at 23:10 UTC
Updated May 18, 2019 at 20:09 UTC
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Prediction market and derivatives platform Veil announced Wednesday that it deployed a new version of Augur, the decentralized prediction market protocol.

Called AugurLite, the application was created in order to support bets on the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Speaking at the Token Summit conference in New York, Veil co-founder and CEO Paul Fletcher-Hill explained:

“What we’ve done, is very recently we wanted to support the 2020 elections. … No one has been able to support long-running markets on Augur, so what we’ve done is take some of the infrastructure to run [AugurLite].”

Augur normally is able to support long-running prediction markets. However, at present, the ethereum-based application is gearing up for a major upgrade to be activated sometime this year. As stated in a Medium post last October, the upgrade will require migration of all native Augur tokens – called REP tokens – to be moved to a new set of upgraded smart contracts.

As a result, Fletcher-Hill insisted the creation of these prediction markets on Augur now would make the bets “susceptible to dispute” later.

Emphasizing that AugurLite was created not as a competitor to Augur but rather out of a clear need, Fletcher-Hill also reiterated that Veil would still be supporting the main Augur application and its forthcoming upgrade.

Launched officially in January, Veil offers users a web interface to place bets on certain Augur prediction markets with greater speed and ease. As previously reported, the company does this by offering users instant settlement where outcomes of prediction markets are clear.

“We will continue to support the creation and trading of [Augur] markets on Veil and are excited to integrate Augur v2 when it is upgraded later this year,” Veil said via Twitter yesterday.

Mixed feelings

However, feedback on the newly released AugurLite application has been somewhat mixed.

Outside of enabling long-term bets on the 2020 U.S. presidential election, AugurLite also differs from its predecessor by relying on a different oracle service. Oracles are how real-world data is collected and represented on the blockchain.

Augur hosts a native oracle service to ensure the data being gathered by the application is true and secure. AugurLite does not have a built-in oracle but rather leaves the decision up to the prediction market creator to source from a third-party oracle.

As stated on its official GitHub page:

“No oracle is built into the protocol. Instead, markets have a resolver which can reference any oracle—an Augur market, Chainlink feed, or any arbitrary smart contract state.”

Because of this, certain Augur community members have labeled AugurLite as a more centralized application than Augur.

“Seems like you’re losing the pieces that Augur interesting – global liquidity and trustlessness,” Ryan Sean Adam, founder of crypto investment firm Mythos Capital, tweeted Wednesday.

To this, Joey Krug, the co-chief investment officer of Pantera Capital, also tweeted about the initiative:

“Augur has a few value propositions: no limit, low fees, global liquidity, and being trustless is an important component of enabling that. Companies like Veil compromise on all three.”

But AugurLite according to Fletcher-Hill isn’t meant to replace or compete with Augur.

“It’s not a generalizable fork, it’s merely something our users had asked for these 2020 markets,” Fletcher-Hill said.

Correction: Augur tokens are used for reporting on and disputing the outcome of events, not betting on them. 

Brady Dale contributed reporting.

From left: Joey Krug, Tom Kysar and Paul Fletcher-Hill speak at Token Summit 2019, photo by Brady Dale for CoinDesk