Welcome back to the GenPool Spotlight blog series where we touch base with various Block Producers, proxies, and dApps in an effort to open an avenue in the lines of communication between the various facets of the EOS community.
For this instalment, we have tracked down Luke Stokes, the Managing Director for the Foundation for Interwallet Operability which launched the FIO Protocol. Having been in the space quite a long time and working with a vast number of teams on varying projects, Luke’s vision is one that resonates with the many involved in the space. Without further ado then, let’s dive right in then.
What attracted you to crypto and blockchain technology and how did you first become active?
With 10 years of experience in the payment industry co-founding and building Foxy.io, I saw how many intermediaries there are taking a cut from the process of sending or receiving value. I saw how frustrating chargebacks and other problems with the credit card and traditional payment space. Later on, I learned about the history of central banking and gave a talk in 2013 about how bitcoin will be more disruptive than the Internet. My first bitcoin purchase was 8 years ago where I spent $50 and got 2.5 BTC.
What is the most exciting project you have worked on in the space?
I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with Steem and now Hive as a block producer, with helping to launch the EOS Mainnet with eosDAC, and now as the Managing Director for the Foundation for Interwallet Operability which launched the FIO Protocol. I have to say the most exciting single moments were either the go/no go calls every 12 hours leading up to the launch of EOS Mainnet or during the Steem takeover attempt by Justin Sun which gave birth to Hive. As for a project, I do think the FIO Protocol is the most exciting because the vision is just so big. We’re working to make crypto products easier so everyone can use them. We’re opening the doors for crypto mass adoption with human-readable addresses like luke@stokes that are self-sovereign NFTs, decentralized payment requests that are private and secure, and common metadata about transactions and all of these features work with every blockchain and can be integrated in every wallet and exchange.
As a believer in DAC’s/DAO’s what are your thoughts on DPOS & EOS?
I do think DPoS provides a very powerful, high-performant consensus model to do many things not possible with other consensus algorithms. I find it interesting how other chains (like Eth 2.0) are moving to more performant approaches that look a lot like what we’ve already been refining for years. When it comes to Decentralized Autonomous Communities, no one wants to pay gas fees in order to participate in governance. The loss aversion of losing value is too great for most people, which is why projects like eosDAC’s DAC Factory were built on EOS.
What does a healthy EOS ecosystem look like to you?
That’s a really great question. What does any healthy cryptocurrency ecosystem look like? I think it involves a healthy token distribution, especially when those tokens are involved in governance. Active participants are rewarded for the value they bring and people are encouraged to innovate and build, knowing their work will be well received and supported by key investors and users. It includes a healthy, performant chain where the most technically excellent block producers are kept in an active position to secure the chain. Those who provide value in other ways through education, event organization, outreach, media, and business development are rewarded through a worker proposal system, much like what was envisioned with the EOS Foundation DAO that Brock recently tweeted about spending over $1M trying to deploy.
What do you think of EOSIO technology in general in comparison to other blockchain technologies currently out there?
I’ve always been very impressed with EOSIO’s ability to scale to enterprise-level while using an on-chain mechanism for fees which essentially makes using the network “free” for those who stake enough resources. With the recent increase in gas and miner fees on Ethereum and Bitcoin, it’s another reminder how powerful the EOSIO approach is. The main downside, as I see it, are the complications of onboarding where you have to have the token you want in order to create an account (which, of course, you need before you can have the token!). We’ve fixed this in FIO where you can just send tokens to any FIO public key and an account will automatically be created (much like a UTXO chain like bitcoin) or you can register a FIO Address on a public key to create an account there as well. With the open source FIO Address registration site that hooks into Coinbase Commerce, users can onboard easily using common cryptocurrencies.
What is the largest hindrance you see both within the sector and in terms of mass adoption?
I think cryptocurrency is just too confusing for most people. For the most part, the usability is pretty bad. Our team put together a post which got published on CoinTelegraph recently explaining how important improving usability is because people don’t want to participate in a stressful, confusing experience, especially when it involves their money. We have to continue educating people on what cryptocurrency actually is and help onboard them to solutions like the FIO Protocol which will give them a friendly, joyful experience similar to what they are used to with PayPal and Venmo. Technology is supposed to improve the lives of the human beings who use it. If we’re too focused on our own token bags and not the bigger picture of helping the unbanked billions desperate for sound money, we’ll never reach mass adoption. We have to come together, as an industry, and improve the actual product of cryptocurrency itself which includes the full user experience.
Can you introduce FIO & how it works towards solving this and other problems in the blockchain space?
The vision of the FIO Protocol is to accomplish for the entire blockchain space what HTTP accomplished for the Internet: make it easy to use. FIO is a layer 2 usability protocol that handles workflow and information leading up to transactions on other blockchains. Today that means users no longer have to know or even see a native blockchain public address by using a personalized human readable FIO Address (like luke@stokes) which can not only receive cryptocurrency but also request it in a private, decentralized way with a FIO Request. All transactions can include metadata about the transaction to provide context such as invoice information, order cart details or just a note to your friend for their part of the lunch check. FIO works today with 100% of protocol tokens/coins that exist today and that may exist in the future because it’s a solution built directly into the wallets and exchanges. We’re already live and integrated into 14 wallets and exchanges with more on the way. This user experience of sending and receiving cryptocurrency is vastly superior to what I now consider the legacy approach. You can currently get yourself a free FIO Address here: https://fioprotocol.io/free-fio-addresses/
Can you explain the various avenues for implementation and how these have progressed over time?
What are the challenges you have faced with getting people to adopt it and how have you met them?
One of the great things about our vision of making crypto products easier so everyone can use them is no one disagrees with us! Most everyone likes our approach and wants to see it reach critical mass in the industry. The challenge we most often face is that wallets and exchanges we talk to regularly have 6+ months of developer roadmap already planned out. They are working on the things which have the most immediate chance to make their company money. That’s understandable, for sure, so we’ve been re-focusing our message on how integration of the FIO Protocol can not only save them significant amounts in support costs (as the COO of Liquid Global mentioned recently), but also makes them money directly through the decentralized business model which rewards integrators directly with cryptocurrency for every address and domain they help register for their users.
One of the key points behind the FIO protocol is human readable names and interoperability. Considering this, how can FIO be implemented and help to enrich the EOSIO ecosystem as a whole?
The FIO Protocol is uniquely positioned to work with every blockchain and cryptocurrency in the world, including all EOSIO chains and tokens. As an EOSIO chain token listed on major exchanges like Binance, Bitmax, Bithumb, and others while being integrated into many popular wallets like Edge, Coinomi, BRD, Trust, Infinitio, Midas, Guarda, and more, you can argue FIO, behind EOS itself, is one of the most successful and widely available EOSIO tokens today. The more support we get from the EOSIO community to promote the FIO Protocol, the more visibility and value people will see in the EOSIO technology. I’d also like to do some large FIO Address giveaways to the EOSIO community. If this sounds interesting to you and you want to help facilitate this, reach out to me and let’s work on it together. I can make luke@stokes my single address for not only all EOSIO chain tokens, but every crypto token in existence.
Of course, being an OG in the space in general we have to ask, where do you see Bitcoin & blockchain, EOS & EOSIO, and FIO in 5 and 10 years time?
Wow, that’s a big question. I first got into bitcoin in the beginning of 2013 and even back then I was convinced it would be worth somewhere between $100k and $1M, and it would fundamentally change the world, becoming more disruptive than the Internet. The promise of programmable money and digital cash uncontrolled by governments or banks is still the reason I work in this space. It may just take a little longer than I originally anticipated. That said, doublings catch people off guard and exponential growth can be very, very exciting. If we’re at around 1% adoption moving into 2%, and we continue to grow as we have been to double into 4% (this happening yearly), we could be near total adoption in just 7 years. At that point, pricing tokens in terms of fiat currency may not even make sense anymore. My hope is we see blockchain and cryptocurrency a part of our everyday lives where we have full self-sovereign control of our decentralized digital identities, our own stores of value, and our uncensored ability to communicate freely. The projects we’re all working on in this space will make that reality happen. I’m a freedom maximalist, not a token or chain maximalist. I can’t predict the future so I don’t know which technologies will win or lose, but I do know when communities believe in something because it benefits their lives, that something will stick around a long time.
Thank you very much for all your time in joining us for this episode of GenPool Spotlight Luke. It will surely give our readers something to ponder. On that note do you have any final thoughts that you would like to leave with our audience today?
Shout out to the builders, the dreamers, and the idealists who want to create a world we all want to live in and are still pragmatic enough to show up every day and put in the work to get from here to there. Sincerely, thank you. There are so many amazing people I’ve met who have such a deep love for the cryptocurrency community and what we’re trying to do together to build freedom. Let’s keep this going and continue to help each other guide this industry forward to create a world we all want to live in. You can reach me on Twitter, Hive, or Telegram @lukestokes. You can follow FIO @joinFIO on Twitter and we’d love to have you join our FIO Discord as well at http://fioprotocol.io/chat. Thank you for letting me share a bit of my story here with you all.
To learn more about FIO, the protocol, and become better informed, please check out the following information and sites:
`The Foundation for Interwallet Operability is an industry consortia, consisting of leading wallets, exchanges, crypto payment processors, and various other entities and community members dedicated to the pursuit of blockchain usability through the FIO Protocol.`
One of the key distinguishing aspects of the FIO protocol is the human readable addresses that bridge the gap of a variety of blockchains as opposed to just one.
`FIO Addresses act as the human-readable wallet identifier for users on the FIO Protocol. They are necessary for users to utilize all the capabilities of the FIO Protocol, but also serve as a replacement for complicated public addresses across all tokens and coins in the user’s wallet.
FIO Addresses have the construct of username@domain. Examples of a FIO Address include: john@edgewallet or alice@crypto
Registration of a FIO Address is done directly through a FIO-enabled application, or through a hosted registration site that is open to the community.
The FIO Address itself and all subsequent interactions with the FIO Protocol are controlled via a FIO private key. Loss of access to this private key suffers the same consequences as with any crypto asset — the FIO Address will no longer be usable by the original owner, nor can it be retrieved.`
Advantages of FIO
One Identity for All Your Crypto: Single identifier addresses eliminating the need to see, or even know about blockchain public addresses. Simple to register, easy to use, and works with every token/coin automatically.
Don’t Just Send, Request: Enjoy encrypted in-app requests for funds specified by type and amount eliminating confusion.
Transactions with Context: Attach standardized metadata ranging from a simple note to structured data like an order card or invoice to any crypto transaction.
To learn more check out the FIO homepage and the FIO Knowledge Base. Follow FIO on Twitter and subscribe to YouTube for weekly updates.
FIO homepage: https://fioprotocol.io/
FIO Knowledge Base: https://kb.fioprotocol.io/
And for all our readers, thank you as always for joining us here on GenPool Spotlight, and don’t forget to check back soon for our next installment where we will continue peering under the hood of some of the great people and projects that helps keep EOS and EOSIO continuing to tick.
GenerEOS is a social enterprise Block Producer with a mission of promoting and supporting scalable and highly reliable block production whilst giving back to social causes and the wider community. Based out of Sydney, Australia, GenerEOS is founded by a team of like-minded blockchain enthusiasts with diverse backgrounds and a passion to make a difference in the world and fostering the spirit of generosity by giving back.
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