For context, I interviewed Ryan Taylor shortly after the announcement that ABEE Ride was going to integrate DASH as a payment option.
Heidi: Mr. Taylor what can you tell us about ABEE Ride’s recent decision to integrate Dash?
Ryan Taylor: Well, yeah, I mean, ABEE Ride has been working on their project for quite some time. They are a blockchain-based solution, meaning that they’re leveraging blockchain throughout their solution in order to make it more efficient and make it so that the application is low cost for the users. Given their focus and familiarity with the market, I think they were really quite interested in leveraging a blockchain-based payment solution and so they started looking around at the space and discovered that probably the best payments-oriented blockchain was in their own backyard. They’re based here in Tempe, Arizona and we’re right next door in Scottsdale. That led to a couple of initial meetings just to explore a possibility and it became very apparent that a solution like Dash was like the ultimate payment option.
One, it was easy for users to be able to acquire it. Two, they were able to provide direct support to their organization in order to see it implemented, both in terms of technical support, as well as co–marketing a solution together. Also the technology itself. Dash has instant transactions, whereas most blockchain network transactions take minutes, which isn’t very useful when you’re sitting in a car and waiting to go on your way.
For multiple angles, it seemed like it was a really good fit for what they were trying to do and they started working on an integration. I have tried the product or the service. It’s very comparable to what you might expect from an Uber or Lyft, with some improvements to your ability to select a driver off of the map. We all have been in situations where we’ve used Uber or Lyft and the driver that was selected is 15 minutes away, and it’s a bit frustrating.
I think it gives a little bit control to the user and of course, passes along a lot of cost savings. Part of that is coming from their use of digital currency as a payment method.
Yeah, a really natural fit. We identified a lot of ways that we could work together and we’ve been collaborating on a solution.
Heidi: Well, why do you think Dash makes a good fit for ridesharing platforms like ABEE as opposed to other cryptocurrencies?
Taylor: Well, one of them I mentioned already is the instant transactions. For a use case like this one, where the driver and passenger are interacting in a very live setting, neither party can afford to wait for a transaction to settle.
With most other cryptocurrencies, until that transaction is confirmed to a block, there’s uncertainty about the transaction going through and so we wanted to provide a very good experience to the users and that’s something that Dash does particularly well.
The second thing though, I think is less tangible, and that is our ability to partner. Most cryptocurrencies are completely decentralized and therefore, there is no organization or entity that you can contact in order to establish a partnership that facilitates support, that you can actually go to market together and approach users with.
The thing that’s unique about the Dash platform is we’ve focused a lot on governance and self-funding and what that means is, that a portion of—like with Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies, all of the block reward and all the transaction fees go into security. They go into block rewards for the miners on the network.
In our case, we split our block reward and a portion of that goes to something that we call treasury. This can fund literally anything. It can fund legal work, it can fund a project in Venezuela that wants to help gain adoption there. It can fund our integrations work. It can fund promotions for our users. We will be rolling out promotions in conjunction with ABEE that just aren’t possible on other networks. Giving riders discounts to try the service for the first time, giving away free rides providing incentives and bonuses to the drivers to sign up. There’s a number of things that we can do in order to ensure that both driver adoption and consumer adoption both are able to grow.
If they were to use, I think, a different partner to launch, those resources simply wouldn’t be available to them. They would be driving all of that adoption themselves, and yet a portion of that benefit goes to the currency they select.
I think that this is a benefit to our users, it helps develop our ecosystem, and adds another use case to our network. We’re hoping that they become a very fast-growing entity that’s leveraging our technology, and they benefit, too, because they get assistance with their own top line growth.
Heidi: Okay. Could you describe a few of these other projects that Dash is currently working on?
Taylor: There’s a lot. Dash has a number of projects that are being undertaken by various community members, as well as projects that Dash Core Group has taken on to help grow the network as well.
In that community area, we have a project called cuda cash [phonetic] in Venezuela. This is a money service business that is launching on the Dash platform and leveraging the Dash currency in order to help facilitate digital transactions in regions where physical cash is a real problem and access to digital financial services are very expensive. We think that we can carve out a significant portion of the market there.
A second project is taking place in Venezuela, where they’ve set up a Dash office where users can come in, get set up with a wallet, learn how to use it in a very small group setting, ask questions and actually learn how to use digital currency in their day-to-day lives. Of course, in Venezuela there’s a huge inflation problem and a lot of users are willing to take on the volatility risk of cryptocurrency because that’s better than almost certain loss of value of their own local currency, which is devalued literally every day.
In the United States, we’re pursuing a use case in the cannabis sector. There’s a company called Alt Thirty Six that has submitted proposals directly to the Dash network and received funding in order to set up a payment gateway solution for dispensaries. It’s much more than payments. They’re integrating loyalty rewards, offers, tax compliance, a number of different services integrated directly into the point of sale systems that service that industry.
It’s really the first time that a holistic solution that offers digital payments is available to the cannabis industry. The problem that they’re facing, of course, is the high cash handling costs within the dispensary industry. That can range from anywhere from 15-25% of revenue. By switching to digital solutions, there’s significant cost savings to be had and significant incentives that can be passed along to consumers for switching.
We’ve got a partnership that we announced with Rewards.com, where you can shop and earn Dash back on all of your purchases. In the fall, you will be able to make purchases of gift cards with those rewards or send Dash to their system to make those purchases and get gift cards at a discount.
We deploying a number of different use cases and pursuing a number of different solutions that blockchain and cryptocurrency are particularly well suited for and deliver real value to customers. There’s a lot of other projects going on. I could literally give you eight examples of different projects that are underway right now. We’re identifying more and more as the days go on.
Heidi: What do you make of Craig Wright’s recent claim that Dash meets the SEC’s criteria of what constitutes a security?
Taylor: I think that it’s ill-informed. We have done, I guarantee, far more extensive research on this topic and independent analyses from multiple different securities-oriented law firms have drawn the same conclusion, that we are not a security. We do not have any public disclosures to make at this time, but we are pursing a definitive answer on that. I think that in due course, I think that particular opinion will be proved false.
Heidi: Okay. What do you see as some other big issues and the misunderstanding space by cryptocurrencies in general and Dash in particular?
Taylor: Well, I think one of the big issues—I mean, obviously, regulatory issues are a big issue and we’ve touched on that. I think one of the big issues that the digital currency space has done a poor job of addressing is user experience. This is something that we here at Dash Core Group are very focused on in the production of our next version. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve been working on this solution for a couple of years, going through a design phase and implementation phase right now.
These are experiences unique to using digital currencies. Users have to know how to use cryptographic addresses. They are faced with a very foreign experience compared to other financial transactions that they might be used to, even ones as complex as bank wires are not nearly as complicated or foreign feeling to the users who may not be used to pasting cryptographic addresses and the absence of user names. There’s no confirmation given that the intended recipient is the correct one.
So, I think that usability is a real issue. We’ve addressed a lot of this with instant transactions and making the user experience better from that perspective. We’ve invested a lot already in our scalability and there’s more news that will come out on our scalability front over the coming months, but we’ve already increased our block size to ensure that we have sufficient capacity for the immediate future and have demonstrated a commitment to making sure that network fees remained low by ensuring that there’s lots of capacity on the network.
We’ve all seen what can happen when capacity issues come into play, when Bitcoin’s network got rather congested. Ethereum’s network has gotten congested at times and it really has an exponential effect on the transaction fees on the network.
All of these things are user experience issues and they impact the ability of these networks to grow beyond a passionate group of core users. If we expect mainstream adoption, it needs to be intuitive. It needs to be relevant and it needs to be comparable in the capabilities that consumers are used to from other centralized services.
I think that this is something that’s urgently needed, and I think that a project like Dash that addresses it first is going to see much higher growth rates than the rest of the industry. Anytime you sit anybody down to try and use crypto and don’t give them any instruction, nine times out of ten, at some point in that funnel of onboarding, they will fall off. They either won’t understand what a wallet is, they won’t understand how to install it, the warnings that they encounter at the very beginning will scare them off, to say, oh my god, you will lose all of your funds if you fail to do these things. Acquiring it for the first time, opening an exchange account and so on, there are plenty of points to fall off. The last one that we need to put in place is to make the actual product difficult to use.
So, I think if we address components of this, make it easier to link to brokerage or exchange services, make it easier for people to onboard, make it more intuitive, you’re going to see a greater percentage of people making it through that funnel and experience what digital currency is all about.
Heidi: Awesome, then. What do you see as the chief reasons for the upswing of adoption in countries like Venezuela?
Taylor: Well, obviously there’s a high correlation between economies experiencing hyperinflation and willingness to try something new. I think when you live in a society like the United States, where the financial system functions well for most people, as many complaints as we may have about it, it actually functions relatively well compared to the rest of the world. In countries where financial freedom is low, where their own central banking system or their own payment system is deeply flawed, there’s a lot of switching incentives there for a system that works well at very low cost.
I think that the use case there is unique from use cases elsewhere where it is truly replacing the current currency that’s in prevalent use.
I think that for Venezuelans, being able to accept a transaction, get immediate access to those funds, be able to transact digitally, which is becoming increasingly important in a country where we hear about people weighing the currency instead of actually counting it, I think there’s just a practicality that digital currency brings to such a strange situation as you see there in Venezuela where there’s just a ton of logical reasons to want to adopt this.
Heidi: Awesome. Where do you see Dash going in the next five years?
Taylor: Well, five years is a long time and it actually exceeds the age of the project at this point. It’s difficult to look that far out. If you were to go back in time to 2014 when this project launched, you would scarcely recognize the project. I think that it’s very difficult to forecast out that far.
What I would say, is that the Dash project continues to grow, we are seeing record numbers of transactions on our network right now. Even in the face of a downturn in the speculative nature of the market, we are seeing greater and greater adoption.
I think it points to good things for us in the future and in particular, I think that you’ll see a number of things develop. Number one, I think that you’ll continue to see our capacity grow. I think you’ll attract a lot of very interesting use cases and so I think microtransactions are going to become a big part of what we do. I think that access will continue to grow around the world. I think that you’ll start to see a lot more cross-border transactions across the Dash network and other networks that service a similar need, and I think you’ll see far greater adoption of Dash at the point of sale, physical point of sale, compared to other digital currencies, just because of our instant transactions and low fees.
I think that we’ll know much more when evolution comes out, what kind of a difference that could make, but I really don’t see the growth slowing down.
Heidi: Awesome. That’s all the questions I have. Anything you’d like to add?
Taylor: Well, I think one of the most under-appreciated areas of digital currency is the ability to offer—the ability to address government’s issues. We’ve seen this crop up in a number of different ways, ranging from the splitting of two of the largest coins into multiple different unique blockchains and currencies at this point because of the ineffectiveness of governance on those networks. We’ve seen some of the stronger ICOs run into similar issues, in which founders are entangled in conflicts of interest, which projects grind to a halt over governance issues, and I really think that it is an area that the rest of the industry needs to focus on.
It’s something that we took very seriously early on and kind of viewed as a prerequisite to an effective project and I think that this is going to become more of an issue. I think that investors in the space need to enter cautiously and do a lot of due diligence around the teams and the governance that surrounds these projects because we’ve seen time and time again this issue crop up and effect the outcome of these projects.
I still don’t hear people talking about it nearly enough. I think that this is something that reporters in the space need to focus on, that investors in the space need to focus on, and frankly, that users need to focus on because ultimately, you’re signing up to learn a new system and use it. It’s really important who’s behind that project and how it’s structured.
Heidi: Okay, awesome. Thanks.
Taylor: And thank you. Heidi, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.