Feb 2, 2024

Eco, which is the builder behind Ethereum layer 2 wallet Beam, just acquired stablecoin shopping app Join.

Video transcript

What is the killer use case for stablecoins payments, everything payments, stablecoins are a better payment mechanism and they should be used for all sorts of payments around the world, especially cross border payments that currently face crazy transaction fees and inefficiencies in the process of sending money across borders. That was beam Ceo Andy Bromberg on stablecoin. Stick around for that interview in just a few minutes on this show. We take a look at Stablecoin use cases all over the globe. Welcome to first mover on coin desk. I'm Jen Sasi on this show, you get all of your top news headlines of the day and interviews with industry heavy hitters. Some folks doing some really cool things all around the world. But before we get to those interviews, let's take a look at what's going on in the news this morning. Bitcoin is ending 2% higher on the week at $42,622. That's as of nine am eastern time today. After new jobs data was released this morning, the US added 353,000 jobs versus economist forecasts for 100 and 80,000. This comes less than two days after central bank rates mostly plateaued. On Wednesday, the US Federal Reserve held its policy steady leaving its benchmark fed funds rate unchanged. On Thursday, the Bank England also left its key interest rate. Steady. Victor who is a producer on this show here at Coindesk made this meme inspired by the web comic White Ninja to reflect some of the market hopes of a rate cut this March. If you're listening to this and not watching, basically, this meme is showing that rates are just not moving and we want them to move. And so we just wish that there was someone out there poking them uh long, the FTX hack might just be solved. The US federal government charged three people with a years long phone hacking conspiracy that culminated in the infamous theft of $400 million from FTX as it was collapsing. Robert Powell, Carter Roan and Emily Hernandez have been accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and identity theft in their operation of a sin swapping ring that targeted 50 victims from March 2021 to April 2023. The trio allegedly gained access to an employee of FTX through AT&T and transferred out millions of dollars worth of crypto. And speaking of FTX, Larry David is speaking about his infamous FTX Super Bowl commercial. The comedian was self evasing when asked this week about starring in the ad for the crypto exchange previously run by Sam Bateman Fried which collapsed months after it aired. He told the associated press in part, quote, like an idiot. I did it end quote. Imagine shopping on Amazon and Shopify and making your purchases with stable coins. That reality is one step closer. Joining us now to discuss is Beam CEO and contributor to the Eco Protocol. Andy Bromberg. Andy. Good morning. Good morning. Thanks for having me. Let's talk about the news this morning. Any reaction to those FTX hackers maybe being found or Bitcoin ending the week slightly lower. It, well, it's about time on the FTX hackers. I think that Coal Saga has been unraveling one step at a time and it feels like every couple of months there's been a new headline, a new step closer to resolution across the board. It's crazy to think back to that, that moment when so much happened at once. I mean, that hack was happening amidst all of the other insanity around the FTX collapse. So I feel good knowing that at least there's a step closer to justice on that. But I think there's still further to go on the, on the FTX Saga and we're gonna see what happens over the next nine or 12 months. Yeah, I agree with you. I can't wait for the Netflix feature that comes out that outlines every single nook and cranny of the drama as it unfolded. I think it's going to be a good one. All right, that's enough about FTX. Let's talk about ECO before we talk about this uh new acquisition, this new partnership for the ad initiated lay the groundwork for us. Tell us a little bit about uh the eco ecosystem. Yeah, absolutely. So ECO is all about building better payments from the ground up. Starting with the currencies we use all the way through the infrastructure and the products themselves. And our main product is a product called Beam And Beam is effectively Global Venmo, a simple peer to peer product that makes it as easy as possible to send money to anyone anywhere around the world near instantly. And the key thing here is that all those listening to this have probably thought about, oh, we could use stablecoins, send money across the world. That's easy that exists. That's true. But a product that everyone can use to do so really hasn't existed yet. And so that's what beam is aiming to be something that like I said is as simple as Venmo or Cash app or any peer to peer product out there, but allows for seamless payments anywhere in the world. And so that's what we're really focused on right now. And as you alluded to, we, we made an acquisition last week of a company called join that will add even more capabilities to that platform. Tell me a little bit more about bea who are your users? How many folks are using Beam as it stands? Yeah, absolutely. So we have more than 80,000 users all over the world. And I think this is one of the things that's so interesting about these products. So be is non custodial, meaning we don't have access to or control over your funds. It's like meta mask or a ledger in that sense that even though we built the product, we don't control people's money and that's very different from traditional consumer fin tech products. So most traditional consumer fin tech products are custodial. If you think about neo banks or products like that, they have control over your funds. And as a result of that, there's really serious regulation and trust that needs to be applied there, we're just talking about ftxftx was a custodial business and as a result, they were able to devastatingly walk away with people's funds in some sense, but these non custodial products can't. And as a result of that, you're removing this uh this assumption of trust on the party running the, the company running the product. And as a result of that, the product can be global from day zero. So when we launched Beam on the first day, we had users from more than 100 countries sign up. And now today we have users all over the place. I think some of the biggest markets for us are Indonesia and Vietnam, but also the United States and increasingly in, in Europe. And so I think one of the really interesting things for us has been seeing this product grow all over the world all at once rather than just in a, in a single geography that we're, we're narrowing it on. I'm assuming these are crypto native users or tell me a little bit more about the user profile. How are people finding out about B it's a mix. I think the early set of users certainly was crypto native because when we launched it, that's where we got some attention and press and you know, people were, were hearing about us. But increasingly, I think the reason that these users are really excited is because even though they are crypto native and they have access to a Metamask wallet or Phantom or whatever wallet they happen to use and they could have already used stablecoins. They're looking at beam and saying, wow, this product is so easy to send money that my friends and family who I previously couldn't convince to use this technology could actually use this. And so what we're seeing is those crypto native users are then using Beam to send money to other people who aren't crypto native. And that's what we're really excited about. There are plenty of wallets out there that do all sorts of things for, for people that are well attuned to the space, whether it's Meta mask or Phantom or Rabbie or any of these. Um But building a wallet that is actually genuinely usable by everyone in the world. And is non custodial and offers all the benefits that come with that. That's what we're really focused on on this show all week. We've been talking about scams and hacks. They're very prevalent in the news. I think when we talk about this mainstream audience that you're mentioning, they're very used and I, I shouldn't even say they, we are very used to if our uh account gets hacked or if a criminal gets hold of our Visa card, um, or our cash app wallet, there are insurances, we can get that money back. Are you, are you foreseeing any kind of obstacle with a non custodial wallet in educating people as to what that means? You know, if you lose the funds in your wallet, you don't, you don't get them back. Yeah, it's a great question. I think it's a double edged sword as with all things that really every piece of technology. So, on one hand, I think it removes a lot of risk that comes with this again. FTX and others were custodial products that walked away with people's money and that's a problem. And with a non custodial product, you're not facing that risk, but it, it moves the burden at some level, like you said to the user. And so we have to do a lot of work to communicate with people really clearly make it easy for them to set up and recover their account. Um, we work with partners to make it so you can sign in with your social, uh, media accounts or your email instead of with a private key. Um, and that makes it easier for people to conceptualize, but there's certainly still risk there. And we do a lot of work to educate people about that risk. And, and I think the best analogy is it's like a physical wallet. We think of beam like cash and just like you could leave your wallet on a table at a restaurant and someone could walk away with your wallet and with your cash and there's nothing you could do about it. There's the same concern with these non custodial wallets and I think of it that way. So I, I don't think it's a product for people to put life savings, right? If you, if you have your life savings somewhere, you should probably have it, you know, in a place that's insured in custodial and that you trust and that's, that's all well and good, at least for most people, but for spending money for payments, I actually think this cash like experience makes a lot of sense and is really useful for, for people. Ok, let's take, um, let's take a little walk into the future. Talk about the partnership and how you imagine the future looking. The integration is going to allow folks to use stablecoins on online, uh, stores, compare this to using a credit card for me. What's the difference? What's benefit for users Yeah, absolutely. So just for context, we made this acquisition last week or announced it with this company called join, which is building a stable coin powered uh shopping platform, founded by Tom Dean and Jay and Brad Crook. Really compelling platform. And the way it works is is very simple. When you have a beam account and you have Stablecoins in your beam account, you can go to uh a product that you want to buy on the internet. You take the link to that product, you paste it into beam, you fill in your shipping information or if you've already done it, you don't need to do it again. You hit, buy funds are sent from your beam account and the transaction is completed and the item shows up at your doorstep. So it's making it. So that really simply without these other shopping platforms needing to integrate stablecoins directly into the checkout flow themselves, which is a huge hurdle. You can take that link of what you want to buy, put it into beam and then the item shows up at your doorstep funded by the stable coins you have in your beam account. Obviously, there's lots of ways we can extend that over time. But at its core, we think that adding that utility is really useful. One of the biggest challenges in uh crypto products, especially for the mainstream I think is the on ramps and off ramps. How do you get money onto and off of the product and this is effectively an offer. It's a way for you to turn stable coins into something you want a physical product that shows up at your doorstep. And that integration is gonna be rolling out over the next couple of weeks. And Andy could a lack of stablecoin regulation in the US be a barrier for you bringing this product to market. I think there's going to be stable coin regulation. I think it's it's going to happen. It seems like the part of crypto regulation where it's being pushed forward the most seriously, at least in the United States. But one of the things that's really appealing about beam is that beam abstracts away for the user, at least at the surface, the stable coins that they're using. So you can have multiple different stablecoins and beam and it treats them all like a single digital dollar, whether it's on optimism or base it all works together. And beam has technology that allows those stable coins to be routed between different networks and different stablecoins to get to where they need to get to. So it makes it really simple for users where they don't need to worry about switching networks or adding R PC end points or doing all this complicated stuff again, trying to make it for the mainstream user. But one of the effects of that is that a stablecoin regulation comes through and it becomes more clear and there's, there's different stablecoins that are well regulated in the United States. And an understanding of which one should be supported, beam can seamlessly support them and give users a really easy path to getting over to that stablecoin because rather than being super opinionated about, hey, this is exactly what you have to use. B makes it really easy to route the stablecoins to whatever one the user wants to use. And as the regulation gets more clear, we'll certainly be helping users migrate to whatever they should be using. Andy, thanks so much for joining the show this morning. And I have to say this show is turning into a podcast soon and your voice is perfect for podcasts, like easy listening. It's so soothing. Has anyone ever told you that before? I've heard it once or twice, but I'm here. Sounds great. Andy. Thanks so much for joining the show this morning. Thanks for having me. That was Beam Ceo and contributor to the ECO protocol, Andy Bromberg. Ok. Moving right along. Let's take a look at the chart of the day. The chart of the day is presented by crypto.com, the leading crypto platform trusted by over 80 million users worldwide. The coin desk 20 index is finishing the week in the green with oracle network chain link, ticker link leading the index reaching its highest level. Since early 2022 link is up almost 27% week to date and is followed by Avax Soul and Matic chain link has emerged over the years as a foundational component of the crypto industry infrastructure connecting blockchains with data from the outside world through its oracles and partnerships, its infrastructure compatibility between blockchains and facilitates transfers of coins from one chain to another chain link set on X earlier this week. Quote, traditional financial institutions need data compute and cross chain capabilities to adopt blockchains and tokenized real world assets at scale. only the chain link platform provides all three end quote. Analysts. At K 33. Research recently said that link is the safest way to profit from the tokenization of the real world assets narrative. Let's continue our conversation about stablecoins and move on over from one crypto continent to the other. We are heading to Africa now to take a closer look at what's happening in the region. KDA recently launched its core Africa ecosystem fund which is a $5 million initiative focused on providing resources to help local web three builders. Joining us now to discuss is the initial contributor to Coda and CEO of Element Rich Rhines Rich. Hello, great to chat here. Really excited to talk all things go. I'm really excited to um the continent of Africa is a very special place in my heart. I spent some time there when I was younger. Talk to me about why focus on Africa, especially when it comes to crypto products. So core has always had a very deep tie in with various nations in Africa since really, you know, the the very early days of the chain, really a grassroots movement in places like Nigeria, Kenya and a variety of other nations and core really wants to give back. And what that means is really a full end to end support model beyond just kind of the monetary aspect itself and really help kind of promulgate the next uh the next wave of web three builders in the region, the demographics of Africa are also super, super interesting. I mean, the population right now average age is around 17 and then let's take it 10 years and a billion people from now, it's gonna be early twenties and that population is already extremely crypto literate and then also very active in various blockchains today. So there's just so much opportunity there. What is it about that population being crypto literate, being more active when compared to regions like Europe and the United States that we obviously talk so much about because we we live here and we operate in them uh more often. So crypto has, you know, various product market fits one of which for the longest time has been speculation which applies to kind of a more global audience. But when you look at some of these uh mo more focused regions, whether it's like Africa or LAT M, you get to the other product market fit of crypto, which is stablecoins and stablecoins are a 10 to 100 x better solution from a technical level, even just to be able to hedge against your, you know, your local currency and having that so deep rooted into some of the opportunity of what some of these regions can bring. It's a very different demographic and also just very different solutions to bring a lot of value to to these regions. So super exciting to be able to get to both sides of the product market fit. And I think that will really help bring the entire space forward into a real adoption. We talked about stablecoins in our last segment. Um And that's kind of the user side, talk to us about the builder side in Africa. I know there are a lot of builders, a lot of interesting projects coming out of the continent. How is the fund supporting them? Yeah. So it's a really kind of we call it like a surround sound strategy. And the idea there is of course, capital is, you know, like the the most commonly associated piece, but there's also the technical uh support and resources builder programs. There'll be accelerator partnerships, exchange, partnerships, connections to other V CS. And the idea here is to really help foster that next wave of builders that can then help foster the wave after it. And it's really how that compounds over time where that real lasting sustainable durable value is created. You know, when we talk about crypto adoption here in the United States, we often talk about a lack of education. We look to some different places around the world. There is, you know, maybe not enough infrastructure set up to actually facilitate these different kinds of payment method, payment methods that we're talking about. Um do a little compare and contrast for me over in Africa, if what is the barrier, the education barrier look like and the infrastructure barrier? Yes, I'd say that the education barrier is coming down fairly rapidly because of the prominence of these solutions and the opportunity that that's in front of uh that that's in front of so many of these builders and users. When I think about the infrastructure opportunity, I I do a little bit of like a compare and contrast in the US, you and you uh you had credit cards, debit cards that became like more or less the dominant form of payment. If you look at Asia, you had the rise of super apps like wechat Alipay, et cetera that, that took over and they essentially just flash forward right past credit cards. And what with Africa? I think what we'll see and this isn't just my opinion. This is the opinion of, you know, many folks that we chat with on a routine basis is that stablecoins might be that that next jump for this region kind of bypassing these existing rails altogether. And I think that's a, you know, a massive opportunity here and it's something that folks like core are really bullish on pushing forward. You know, it's interesting. Um I've experienced using wechat for payments, I've experienced using credit cards for payments. I've experienced stablecoins and so, so I, I can make sense of uh what you're saying um in the African continent for folks who haven't been there. I I find that they've been more innovative, they've been more accepting to innovation on the financial front. Why do you think that is? So, I think there's, there's definitely a lack of existing solutions, right? And if you go back to the original like Bitcoin Bank, the unbanked, all that sort of play, you know, like 10 plus years ago, I think there's still so much opportunity there that hasn't been fully utilized or realized. And I think now that we're, we're seeing some of these rails get more mature, we're gonna see an entirely new wave of innovation and some of the things that, you know, I myself am personally excited about are staking lines of credit saving spend accounts like there's so many opportunities there to this in a totally decentralized and trust fashion. And that's super important because in many regions around the world, you don't necessarily want to deal in your local currency or with your local government, et cetera. Like you want to have it all provably secure and centralized. So what do you think the biggest risk or the biggest barrier to adoption is right now on the continent? So the biggest barrier right now, I think is the lack of usability of many of these applications right now, you have to be pretty crypto native to interact with all but kind of like your your basic, you know, buy and hold type type use cases. And I think that's where I think uh many things will change in this next cycle is when we get to real adoption by having UX, that feels like web two. And I think once that happens, the Cambrian explosion of apps really will take off when it starts to feel native and like applications you've been using for, you know, the last 10 to 15 years, we're not quite there yet, but there's a lot of opportunity there writing quickly before we go, I mentioned in the introduction, $5 million this is focused on providing resources to help web three builders. How are you allocating those funds in the immediate term? So how are you looking to spend that money in the next few months? Totally. So the process, the application process is now totally open. So please do you know, reach out there's a full application process online and the idea there is to start to find the best builders and to give them the entire wave of support end to end again, of course, is the monetary component. But it's really looking for folks who can have the most impact and to create the most real world usage. So it's going to be an evolving process. We'll iterate and improve as time goes on. But the, the floodgates will hopefully open here pretty soon. I know I said that was the last question, but this is really the last one. What do you think the US can learn from uh what's happening in Africa right now? That's a loaded question for the one last question. Uh But at least in, at least in my opinion, I, I think what we're seeing in some of these other regions in Africa is a great, a great example is that crypto can do real good. And there is this kind of negative view of a lot of Western nations, but primarily the, the US at the moment that it's just a use for, for speculators and these other pieces and that's just fundamentally not true. And I think when people will start to look at it with a broader perspective, they'll see the real opportunity here. And I'm hopeful that nations like the US will, will start to change their tune on that, you know, as part of this new cycle Rich. Thanks so much for joining the show today. Thanks so much, really appreciate it. That was an initial contributor to Corda and Ceo of Element Rich Rines. That is a wrap for first mover on a Friday. I hope you have a Happy Happy Friday. Thank you so much for watching, first mover today and for watching for the week and thank you to our guests, Andy Bromberg and Rich Rines. As a note, we sometimes edit interviews on this show for clarity and length. And as you know, we are on a journey to make this show the best thing that you've ever watched or ever listened too. So if you have any feedback for me, send it over on Twitter as ad M and I will take a look, my handle is on the screen right now. All right, if you want to get more crypto news updates over the weekends, I won't be here. But you can check out coindesk.com for all the latest and greatest and you can listen to the Markets Daily Podcast that's also hosted by me. Hope you have a great weekend and we'll see you on Monday.

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