Alexey Koloskov | October 29 2021
Alexey Koloskov | October 29 2021
Hi everyone and welcome to the first Development AMA on our YouTube channel. This is something we plan to do monthly alongside our Development updates to make sure as many of your questions are answered as possible. We had a huge number of questions and wanted to make sure we could answer as many of them as possible in one sitting. Thank you for all your submissions - There were a few key themes that came up in your questions:
Quick business update before we get started: I know we’ve been a little quieter than usual this month but we’ve been working on a number of things internally - development, restructuring, hiring, plans for scaling, optimizing processes, marketing strategy, rebranding, you name it. Some months it's partnership announcements every other day, and some months it's building to bring those partnerships to fruition. No day in crypto is the same, no month in crypto is the same, but our goals remain constant and we are more focused than ever on delivering.
That said, we have an incredibly exciting couple of months ahead of us and we’ll have our next dev AMA at the end of the month for us to check in and hear your questions over everything that’s to come in November. Really pleased and grateful to have Boris Vanin with us, the lead developer on our backend team, so let’s get started. Firstly, a question we saw a lot of in various forms:
1. Are there any plans on integrating Ethereum L2 solutions (e.g. Matic) to reduce Eth fees on the terminal?
Boris: We have a number of chain integrations underway, like Fantom and others including L2s we will announce closer to integration completion. Reducing ETH fees on the terminal is a critical priority for us. we’re working on other solutions to this beyond L2 integrations - including Orion Bridge - the first iteration of the bridge will enable, for the first time, practically zero fee trading on the ETH network.
Timothea: So as well as several chain integrations underway, like Fantom and Polygon (I don’t have a live date for these but both are key priorities for different reasons) you mentioned Orion Bridge. This is something I’m personally very excited for as the first truly decentralized cross-chain bridge built on p2p communication via our broker network. The next question we have is:
2. Could you explain briefly how the bridge will work (i.e. what is atomic swap) and what are the advantages compared to other bridges like Binance ?
Boris: Atomic swaps, automatic exchange contracts that allow two parties to trade tokens from two different blockchains, are a well-known concept in the community, yet implemented in a small number of projects.
Orion Bridge will be the first truly decentralized bridge between different blockchains working completely on peer-to-peer communication - removing the boundaries between blockchains. Internally it will utilize hash time locked atomic swaps and work with Orion's unique decentralized network of brokers, without a layer of validators/stakers that are vulnerable to different attacks.
The bridge will work via our network of brokers, and will make atomic swaps work in practice (not only as a concept) without delays, refused orders, blocked funds, etc. Unlike other bridges, users don't lose ownership of their tokens until they receive the corresponding pegged tokens on the other network - so no stuck funds like other bridges.
As the first step, we're going to implement Atomic Swap Bridge between Ethereum and BSC networks which allows users to trade on the Orion platform with high speed and the cheapest network fees using only their ERC20 tokens never seen before. This first iteration will enable, for the first time, practically zero fee trading on the ETH network.
Atomic swaps are a powerful continuation of the idea of "removing" the boundaries between blockchains. Going forward, we want to move all transaction settlements to a cheap network in a way that remains transparent to users - removing the boundaries between blockchain.
Timothea: This to me is huge. Atomic swaps are a well-known concept in the community, yet effectively implemented in a very small number of projects. So the bridge will be launched in two phases. The first, enabling pretty much zero fee trading on the Ethereum network for the first time, which ties in nicely to one of our upcoming features on the terminal that we’ll touch on shortly. From what I’ve seen from the dev team, the process is incredibly streamlined and will be pretty much undetectable by the end user. This in itself is incredible and I know we’re just waiting on a few updates to go live first before this is launched - but the goal is in the next month or so.
While a huge feat in its own right, aggregating marketwide liquidity is not enough. Standardizing access to assets, exchanges, and blockchains alike is what will be critical for mainstream adoption, not only of Orion but Defi as a whole. We talk about interoperability as an industry all the time but finally this solution will remove the boundaries between blockchains without the need for external bridges, waiting periods, switching networks etc for a seamless cross-chain experience. So this leads on to our next question of why -
3. Why not go with another bridge provider instead of implementing, testing and certifying your own at this point (e.g. AllianceBridge). My worry is that the time invested on the bridge currently is away from other Orion core features. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel. What are your thoughts there?
Boris: When we previously integrated Binance Bridge, we faced issues from the start. The integration itself was a first, and took a long time, but changes were made on Binance’s side shortly after launch - changes / updates made to their code resulted in significant work each upgrade. As a result, we've focused efforts on building our own internal bridge instead of being dependent on third parties.
This adds an additional layer of value to the Orion ecosystem - integrated chains will enable the bridging of their native assets with other chains. Furthermore, the bridge will play a key role in a number of upcoming updates to the terminal.
Timothea: I think your last point is really key there - adding an additional layer of value / revenue stream to the Orion ecosystem. This bridge is something we are already talking to other chains about ahead of their integration - which I suppose lends itself to a white label bridge of sorts for blockchains. But while a cross-chain bridge is hugely valuable there are still improvements that need to be made to our existing infrastructure ahead of then.
4. What is orion technical team doing to make the UI more user friendly so Orion can attract new beginner investors, enabling it to take its place among high market cap coins?
Boris: As you may have noticed, we’ve been continually deploying UI updates across the terminal, including adding any asset as a fee, general UI updates, updates to pools, etc. We have a number of significant updates coming up in the coming weeks, including:
Timothea: Really exciting that these are coming up in the coming weeks! Depositless trading is something the community have been waiting for - users will shortly have the deposit function wrapped into the trade as per Uniswap which will reduce fees and friction. As you said it's already on main net staging and has been tested by the devs, and we’ll be testing this within our NFT VIP group before deployment.
The single trading list / transparent network feature as well is something I think we really need for new users to see our offering in one go, all our pairs and pools without having to switch chains and reconnect wallets - and this + Orion Bridge will be huge. More liquidity sources which we’ll touch on shortly, and of course, fiat on / off ramp. So our next question -
5. When FIAT On/Off ramp be live? Who will be your partner delivering this solution?
Boris: We are underway integrating a fiat on/off ramp aggregator to enable users to purchase crypto on Orion Terminal via all major fiat gateways - whether Apple Pay, Moonpay, bank transfer, Visa, Mastercard, SEPA, Faster Payments and more - including regional payment providers.
For any transaction, the solution will check which gateway has the lowest fees, and allow the user to choose their preferred option. We will be launching this in the coming month.
Timothea: We’ve had a number of discussions with different fiat gateways trying to find the best offering and best price for our community. But what better solution to work with than the first fiat on ramp aggregator as an extension of our own terminal we are working really closely with this aggregator at the moment and aiming for this to be live around mid November. As well as when on ramp, people often ask ‘when mobile app’
6. Any chance we could see an Orion Protocol mobile app in the future? I know it's a bit too early to ask and may be a lot of work but the idea of the terminals features being ported over into a mobile platform (ACH transfers, swaps, staking, buying/selling etc) could serve to help with overall mainstream adoption of not just ORN but DeFi as a whole
Boris: The team has indeed been working on a mobile app version for the Terminal that we hope to launch in the coming months. It is important to note, however, our primary focus is ensuring optimal performance of the Terminal via desktop first, which will improve the experience of the mobile app in due course.
7. Orion has had so many announcements in integrating with multiple chains, there has only been 2 official integrations: ETH and BSC. Is there a reason as to why there is a delay on the other integrations? Especially for chains like Fantom and Avalanche since they're EVM-compatible?
Boris: We have indeed announced partnerships with pretty much all of the major chains, with more to come. The next chain we’re currently integrating is Fantom - not only will this bring fast transactions and incredibly low fees to the terminal, as well as assets and projects on the Fantom blockchain, but will also enable our upcoming Wallet Swap SDK integration.
Timothea: I think people, and perhaps ourselves at times, underestimate the work involved in integrating chains because some DEXs or DEX aggregators have integrated more but I think it’s important to remember that we are not a DEX or Uniswap fork, and our broker network is unique and complex - therefore integrations are equally unique and complex. There’s so much more to it than a simple plug and play. Each chain has different documentation, which needs to be further customized for our ecosystem. We are prioritizing chains based on the value they bring to our ecosystem and users and of course Fantom is one of them ahead of our upcoming wallet swap SDK integration.
8. What will the upcoming Fantom wallet swap integration look like for Fantom wallet users? Will the users be aware that they are plugging into Orion's liquidity thus bringing more exposure to Orion?
Boris: One of the biggest barriers to mainstream adoption of crypto right now is friction. Fantom has focused on making it simple for their users to interact within their wallet - partly due to the incredibly low fees and high speed, but also due to the breadth of tools they’re building for staking lending, voting and their simple UX.
We’re taking this one step further by enabling users to swap and trade cross-exchange and cross-chain, directly from their wallet, without any need for accounts or KYC.
Fantom, and any subsequent wallet partner using the SDK, can customize the look and feel of the widget for a seamless experience for users. We don’t need to worry about further exposure for Orion here, as we will be generating volume and subsequently transaction fees through every trade using our liquidity.
Timothea: Agreed that the goal for these B2B solutions is not brand exposure, but that all important volume - which is the end goal of exposure anyway. So we are working closely with the Fantom team ahead of their wallet relaunch, so when we have more details from them in terms of timings we will of course share, but to our knowledge this is over the coming months. So taking the Wallet Swap SDK beyond Fantom -
9. Do you have plans to expand for testing Orion Wallet Swap SDK for users on other platforms such as Solana, Avalanche, Near....?
Boris: We are in discussion with several other wallet providers to roll out after the launch with Fantom, with the goal to make this available across as many wallets as possible on different chains.
Timothea: Indeed, Kal and the team are currently in talks with a number of wallets to roll out this solution beyond fantom’s fwallet. This is our pilot partner, but the goal is to open up our liquidity to every wallet possible and we have some discussions with some big names. On the subject of wallets:
10. Can you please integrate Binance wallet for trading. Binance US customers have problem buying and transferring BNB token. Purchase BNB from Binance then transfer to Binance wallet and then transfer to MetaMask. Binance Smart chain not available for US. We will have more liquid if we integrate Binance wallet. Can you please integrate Binance wallet?
Boris: We are currently in the process of integrating more wallets and chains in order to allow users to transact and interact with the crypto space in their preferred way. This also includes a native Ledger integration, without the need for MetaMask. While you’re right in that Binance isn’t available for US users, Orion Terminal users can still access Binance liquidity directly from their wallet - regardless of jurisdiction.
Timothea: So another frequently asked question is wen Uniswap, PancakeSwap, Sushiswap and I’m sure this will only increase as we integrate new chains. So I know the integration is already underway but we had a question regarding the challenges in doing so:
11. What are the main technical challenges you are facing when aggregating liquidity from big DEXs like Uniswap?
Boris: Adding more liquidity sources is a primary priority for us - we are a liquidity aggregator after all. However, this is not without challenges. I suppose the main challenge is our heterogeneous environment. We are integrating different centralized and decentralized order book sources, which have to work homogeneously in one place. It’s not so difficult to pull liquidity from DEXs, but to effectively aggregate different sources and standardize into one order book. That said, integration of major DEXs / swap pools is underway.
Timothea: I know this is something the community have been waiting for, and likewise, we’re really keen to get these platforms integrated - once again this is something has been more difficult than initially anticipated and has required changes to our smart contract which then requires further auditing of course. That said, this is underway and once the audit is complete, the onboarding of subsequent DEXs will be far quicker. As well as deeper liquidity for existing pairs, one of the reasons for integrating new liquidity sources is of course new pairs. Alongside integrating new DEXs at the moment, we have some additional CEXs coming onboard. As I have touched on in the group, this doesn’t happen overnight, this varies in difficulty based on certain exchanges withdrawal APIs, etc, but significant progress has been made with a number of key exchanges so -
12. What are the key steps and verifications for you to perform when adding a new pair in the terminal ? How will you automate this process and gather all coins/pairs from the CEX ?
Boris: Adding assets via a CEX requires brokers, sufficient funding of brokers’ accounts, the broker accounts to have the required assets at the time, the onboarding of these assets, the testing of the new assets with every trade pair, and then decentralized access to this asset can be provided. I have to reiterate, it isn’t as simple as using a CEX’s API, because we’re offering decentralized access to these assets.
The process has previously been labor-intensive as an industry first solution, but we are continually optimizing this method to add new assets via CEXs. We're in the process of onboarding more CEXs at the moment, while deepening liquidity from existing sources.
Orion Pool has been a tool to onboard new assets quickly in the short term, and we will continue to improve liquidity (for new and existing assets) to enable users to trade across multiple liquidity sources.
Timothea: I know the process will be a lot faster when adding pairs from the DEXs we’re integrating but it’s great to hear the CEX asset onboarding process is becoming more streamlined too. So we recently launched Orion SDK - the question is
13. What’s next for the SDK? Are you updating it?
Boris: Orion SDK will be the framework on which all of Orion’s upcoming B2B solutions are being developed, with over a dozen solutions for blockchains, exchanges, and crypto projects in the works. We are continually updating it based on user feedback - both from our community and B2B partners (not all updates are live in GitHub yet). We will also add other programming languages like Python.
After sufficient testing of the first iteration, the second iteration of Orion SDK will be launched - alongside several key B2B solutions. Every transaction via the decentralized applications built on Orion Protocol (whether via Orion’s solutions or third party dApps) will add to Daily Protocol Volume.
Timothea: As we said, part of the goal of the launch of Orion SDK V1 was stress testing and user feedback from the community to improve the SDK ahead of Orion SDK v2 where we will launch some of our B2B solutions. There have been a load of changes and updates made based on user feedback and partner feedback in our private Repo so thank you to all of those who have been involved, and look forward to you testing the subsequent iterations. I’m really excited for the role the SDK will play in expanding application of the protocol beyond the terminal.
That said, a number of projects are already using the SDK for various purposes so the question is -
14. Can you share some use cases/projects already working with the SDK?
Boris: The feedback we’ve had so far has been hugely satisfying for the team at this initial development stage of V1 which is intended to stress test the system.
We’ve heard back from a number of people and projects on their use of Orion SDK V1 - Some have already started implementing arbitrage bots that enable users to monetize arbitrage opportunities across Orion Terminal and other exchanges, while others are building entire projects on the SDK.
A couple of examples we’ve been made aware of have been that the SDK V1 is being used to make custom trading bots. One team is currently testing some simple arbitrage strategies with a view to creating an arbitrage bot. The SDK has given the team a very helpful way of implementing their goals already and can develop that more as they refine their project.
Another project using Orion SDK V1 is a fellow Holochain partner, Our World the Game. The team has said they are integrating the protocol into their expansive VR world. The team are first porting the code over to C#/.NET and building a .NET library, then a deeper integration into the OASIS API for NFT purchases in the future and a lot more.
Timothea: Really interested to see how that progresses - We’ll be sharing more about the teams/ projects using our SDK in a series of features. So the intention is for the opportunities with our SDK to be pretty much endless - users can write scripts of nearly any complexity. A question we hear quite often is regarding tax returns, so this person has asked -
15. I've been having a nightmare producing my personal tax return as none of the online tools can see inside contracts to capture historic trades. I'm faced with manually calculating the price of hundreds of trades so I'd rather build a SaaS tool to do the hard work. All of this said I wouldn't necessarily expect the API to provide this information...But it would be extremely useful. What’s the timescale for having an API and documentation?
Boris: This is something we are working on building ourselves, but in the meantime we have our API already available via Orion SDK - on which developers are already building. You or anyone could build a tool using this SDK to export your trading history on the terminal. Admittedly the documentation needs expanding on - we’re working on this to make automations easier and faster.
Timothea: and the next question,
16. Are built-in arbitrage and other types of trading bots in the pipeline for development?
Boris: Orion SDK V1 allows community developers to build dApps such as bots, payment gateways and arbitrage tools. The SDK is just a replacement for a user interface - if a user places an order on the terminal, it’s the same as if they place an order on the SDK, but without the need for pressing buttons or manual work - it’s automated.
With the existing SDK, users can build arbitrage bots to trade on negative spread - not only on Orion Terminal but with exchanges that aren’t even connected yet like Coinbase, Crypto.com, Huobi, etc. The more exchanges they connect, the more negative spread opportunities.
Timothea: we had a lot of questions around our roadmap, one being:
17. Were there any prior plans on the roadmap that you've had to reconsider due to the changing crypto landscape? What’s the biggest challenge dev team is facing right now or in the near future?
Boris: We already have a number of features which weren’t on our initial roadmaps. Orion Bridge, Orion Pool, Orion NFT Aggregator and USDo stablecoin are some examples of prioritizing new features not previously on our roadmap.
There are few industries that are as fast paced as this one, let alone the industry-first products being created, launched and developed daily. Anticipating potential roadblocks can be difficult, especially with new technology like we are building. There is a lot of expectation on delivery dates, but we are building solutions that have often never been built before - at least not in this way.
We understand and share the desire for quick delivery, but security and performance is critical for us. We don’t want to release solutions until they are audited, tested, and fully functional - that is our core priority.
Timothea: While there is pressure to deliver solutions as soon as possible - industry wide - I think the community would largely agree with the focus on security and performance - as you said, we don’t want to release solutions until they have been fully tested, unless we are releasing them for test purpose. That said, once released, there are of course continual updates to any solution to continue to meet users’ needs and that has been a key focus lately for the terminal, with a number of critical updates coming as you mentioned earlier. All of these updates are geared towards greater usability and functionality, ultimately driving adoption and volume. So -
18. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Orion Terminal adoption and where is the greatest opportunity for increasing terminal volume?
Boris: Some of the biggest challenges to Orion’s adoption (and most of DeFi as a whole) is user experience. We have now enabled multiple assets to be used as a fee (not just ORN), and we understand that we need to continue to reduce steps (as we are doing with depositless trading) as well as improve the user experience overall to make it more streamlined. Furthermore, integrating fiat on/off ramps will be a huge step for us in bringing new users to Orion Terminal, and into the DeFi space.
Timothea: totally agree on the user experience being a barrier to adoption, not just for us but DeFi as a whole - simplifying the number of steps it takes for any action on the terminal is critical, as is enabling greater accessibility through fiat on / off ramp, and as is adding more liquidity and assets to tap into more communities. With so much coming to the terminal in the next few weeks and months,
19. What are the upcoming Orion features that will most benefit the average user and why? And on the B2B aspect, what features will benefit businesses/corporations the most and how will that benefit the entire Orion ecosystem including average users?
Boris: This is difficult to choose, but Orion Bridge will be hugely beneficial to users (and the industry as a whole) as it will enable the first almost zero fee trading on the Ethereum network.
On what value B2B solutions bring to companies - this varies depending on the business of course. Ultimately, every business in the space needs liquidity, and that’s what our solutions provide in one way or another for various use cases. Whether improving slippage, optimizing costs, enabling a wider range of assets, etc.
As many know, all transactions on partner platforms using Orion liquidity will result in a transaction on the protocol met with transaction fees, and will generate staking rewards upon main net launch. Launching Main Net Staking is still a primary focus of ours and we want to launch this as soon as possible, there are just a number of steps in place we need to achieve prior to launch - namely some of our B2B solutions being live.
Our Wallet Swap SDK is currently in testing with Fantom and we are close to launch, with other solutions also in testing with key partners.
Timothea: I’m sure the community will be glad to hear the launch of main net staking is still of utmost importance to us, there are obviously just several steps we need to achieve ahead of then to drive sufficient volume for sufficient rewards. But with the imminent launch of our first B2B solution and with testing underway for several other B2B solutions, I’m excited for the next couple of months!
So lastly, a question we often see. Our entire site is currently being redone in line with our rebrand (no we are not changing our name,) just to clarify, the rebrand is focused on simplifying our message as our proposition has expanded, and ensuring our written comms clearly communicate our value, while bringing our visual comms to the next level in a space that is increasingly focusing on high quality and captivating design. There’s a lot going into this at the moment that will be a springboard for significantly ramped up marketing activity, I’m really excited for this to take us to the next level and really clearly establish the Orion brand for people to buy into, not just our vision and our tech. As well as signing one of the first crypto creative agencies, We are also signing a new PR agency from the traditional world focused on expanding media presence beyond crypto media and I personally will share more on all of this in due course, perhaps I’ll do an AMA with myself, so moving on to the question - our about page doesn't reflect the full scope of the Orion team so...
20. How many members does the Orion Protocol team currently have?
Boris: there are more than 50 team members in various areas, from the core team to developers, marketing, project management and the community support team, with additional specialist contractors also working on additional projects. We have a Careers page available on the website and are constantly looking to expand the team in all areas.
Timothea: As I said earlier, we have been focused on restructuring, hiring, optimizing processes, onboarding agencies, to really allow us to grow and scale up as effectively as possible. So there will be a number of new roles available on the careers page soon but in the meantime feel free to check it out and drop in your details.
Boris, thank you so much for joining us for this AMA.
To recap the more immediate next steps:
Other priorities for the next two months in no particular order include:
So we’ve got a lot to do before 2022. There are quite a few more things that we are keeping under wraps for now, both for legal reasons and we’ve got to have some things to surprise you with but I am incredibly excited for the next couple of months really setting us up for an incredible year ahead.
Thank you all for joining us, there’ll be a lot to come in the next month so this isn’t the last you’ll hear from me or the team, and we’ll see you back here at the end of November for the next development AMA to go through your questions around all of the exciting things you’ll see over the coming month.