WeTrust Interview: Decentralized Financial Technology – CR Exclusive
Welcome to our exclusive interview with the WeTrust team.
We gave them 12 questions to tell us more about their platform, ideas and vision, as well as the purpose of their token. Our exclusive interviews are designed in a way that allows you to learn all about a certain team and their token, even if you have never heard about them before.
1. What is WeTrust? How would you describe it in a few sentences?
At its core, WeTrust offers a decentralized platform for building financial technology products on the blockchain.
You can think of our first product, Trusted Lending Circles (TLC), as the blockchain version of a ROSCA, a Rotating Savings and Credit Association. Users looking to raise money now have a powerful new tool, allowing them to bypass dealing with banks (including the fees they’d collect as a lending partner) and instead leverage their own personal network of friends to lend them however much they need.
A TLC affords users choice. It helps them raise money their way, from those who they already know and trust. Everyone is able to chip in, with no bank account or credit history required. For the billions of people around the world who remain unbanked or underbanked, we’ve created a more inclusive financial system which allows anyone to access fair, equitable financial services without an (expensive) trusted third party.
2. How did you come up with the idea for the WeTrust platform and what problems are you trying to solve with it?
Picture your average crummy, insanely-overpriced apartment rental in a suburban Bay Area neighborhood back in January 2017. Patrick and Hoang had become good friends while attending UC Berkeley while George (a Stanford grad no less!) was leasing a spare room to a friend of Patrick’s. Hoang was ex-PayPal while George was previously with Google and McKinsey so naturally, the three started discussing innovations in tech during their regular poker night get-togethers.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies were on everyone’s mind at that time and the idea arose to start a company together. George had heard a bit about “Chit Funds” from some of his Indian colleagues while at Google and as they were kicking around ideas, surprisingly, Patrick shared that his Grandmother had a similar informal rotating lending circle established within her community to help cover funeral expenses*.
But together they agreed that they wanted to focus on a project that truly cared about. One that could better the world, especially the respective communities they grew up in…and then Ethereum came along.
Banking hadn’t evolved in any significant way since the advent of the internet. Well, that’s was all about to change. WeTrust was incorporated that same January and the rest is history.
3. Who is your target audience for your platform/token?
It’s been our core focus to position WeTrust as a solution for the unbanked and underbanked, both domestically and internationally. Believe it or not, there are over 2 billion adults globally without a bank account.
Community lending circles, Chit funds, and other similar alternatives have existed for millenia and in some cases are still far more common than traditional banking institutions in many countries. An estimated $500Bn+ flows through these types of informal lending groups each year, and with the addition of smart contract blockchain technology, we can increase their efficiency, transparency, and stability.
At the end of the day, we’re a solution for everyone who likes saving money. Why pay for an outside bank to be a “trusted partner” in a financial transaction when you’re currently surrounded by a community of individuals you already know and trust who can fill that role?
4. What are some of the advantages of blockchain (on Ethereum) that allows WeTrust to be better compared to the current, traditional system?
There are several advantages in creating a financial dApp on the blockchain. It is permissionless and borderless, so any user with access to the blockchain can interact with the app, regardless of where they reside.
Blockchain disintermediates the concept of “market size”. Entrepreneurs in fintech specifically tend to focus on creating products for large, developed markets due to the substantial fixed costs involved with integrating with a given country’s financial structure. By leveraging blockchain technology, product launches become accessible across the world simultaneously.
WeTrust focus is not to disintermediate existing trusted third party solutions (banks, insurance companies). Our products aim to expand the market for financial services, as they can serve as the bridge to allow the unbanked and underbanked to leapfrog traditional financial institutions and gain access to the products that work best for their unique needs. Just as the smartphone served as the access point to internet experience for billions around the world, so too can blockchain-based financial products serve as the first introduction to digital banking services for the unbanked.
5. What are some of the things/milestones you’re going to focus in the future (0-2 years)?
This is going to be a massive year for us. We closed out 2017 with the successful launch of our Trusted Lending Circles product on the Ethereum Test Network and have actively been soliciting feedback from within our community.
Our development team has been scaling rapidly (making 3 new additions), we’ve just onboarded a key marketing hire to assist with our growth efforts, and visually we’ll be making some design improvements to both our brand identity and the TLC product. The launch of TLC on the Main Ethereum Network is slated for late January 2018 and we’d love to hear your feedback once it’s live.
After that, we’ll be starting to build the ASCA product we’ve been hinting at (accumulating savings and credit association) along with helping others to build their own products or utilize those already on the WeTrust platform.
6. How will creating your own TLC look like in the future?
It’s been our goal to make starting your own TLC a quick and painless process. We’ve aimed for Venmo-esque levels of simplicity to ensure that even those with limited technical knowledge or ability could intuitively determine how to proceed. Users can fire up MetaMask, open the TLC platform, and follow our step-by-step instructions to get started.
7. How many people are involved in the development? What kind of experience do the members have?
We actually maintain a pretty large team with nearly 20 total members. Our primary base of operations is in Mountain View, CA while we have additional resources (development) located abroad. We also have a deep network of advisors that have been with us from the beginning, which includes Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, Bo Shen (Fenbushi Capital, Bitshares), Emin Gün Sirer (Cornell, IC3), Michael Casey (MIT), and Benedict Chan (BitGo).
Experience-wise, our team has a strong background in fintech. Our CEO George Li worked at both Google and McKinsey, COO Patrick Long was previously with Ernst & Young and RMS, and our VP of R&D Hoang Nguyen is ex-PayPal.
8. What is the role of your TRST token? What kind of things can you use it for?
As it stands, Trustcoin will be used for accessing our premium features, as our users are able to use their cryptocurrency of choice for actions like powering their lending circles.
We are working on a revamped, more clear and precise token model and will have an update for you guys in the coming weeks!
9. On what exchanges is your coin available for trading?
Bittrex. Beyond that, we can’t comment on the status of $TRST listing on more exchanges at this time (but are actively working on it).
10. Which wallet do you recommend for storing TRST tokens?
While we typically prefer to not issue specific endorsements, two popular wallets that we really like are Ethereum’s official Mist wallet (which can be found on their official site) and MyEtherWallet, which is known to be quick and easy to set up. Hardware wallets can be a great choice (Ledger Nano S) as well.
11. How many TRST tokens are available? How are new ones created and is the total supply limited?
100,000,000 TRST is the total supply and no new tokens will be created.
12. How do you see the whole crypto industry in the next few years?
We fully acknowledge that we’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid a bit here, but feel confident that crypto will come to heavily impact every industry on earth.
Regardless of if you’re a small startup or major enterprise corporation, you’re going to need crypto expertise (in both the finance and technology) to help ensure your success. The big banks are already jumping in to carve out their place and with heavy-hitters like Goldman Sachs aiming to launch their trading desk this Summer, we’re preparing to see much broader adoption. We’ve been amazed to see entire countries gearing up to offer their own coins (such as Venezuela and Estonia).
What we’re most excited about is token sales and lending circles continuing to find acceptance as an alternative means of raising capital. The traditional institutional fundraising approach is subject to many variables and considerations that don’t make it the best fit for everyone equally.
We would like to thank the WeTrust team for taking their time to answer these questions!See all interviews