Imagine a world where the “value” of any kind of digital asset could be freely exchanged - using reward points to buy lunch, or gaming items to purchase goods from a convenience store; all through a few simple steps, and at minimal cost… This may sound unrealistic, but can actually be possible on the OMG network, which is currently under development by Omise’s blockchain subsidiary, OmiseGO.
Having experienced the pain points of payment acceptance for e-commerce businesses first hand during its early days, Omise pivoted its business to become a payments platform. The service aims to ease the complexity of accepting payments by providing online operations with a full-featured payment gateway, which is currently powering payments for leading brands across Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia (private beta). Today, its customer base includes startups to large scale enterprises ranging from telecommunications, F&B, property management, retail, insurance companies, among others.
From its establishment in 2013, Omise has raised USD50M (approximately THB 1,700M).
Ezra Don Harinsut, COO and Co-founder of Omise explains, “Although today we are providing full-features payment gateway services to our merchants, certain aspects of our business still rely on third-party networks. Take for example, accepting credit card payments, we still have to rely on financial institutions and card networks. And from 2015, we have been researching and exploring the opportunities of how we could potentially apply blockchain technology to our payments business.”
OmiseGO was established in 2017 with the aim of creating a network which allows decentralized exchange of all kinds of digital value. Today, money is no longer the sole intermediate of exchange, but there are also other forms of digital assets including reward points from loyalty programs, air miles, credit card points etc.
“An asset, whether physical or digital, holds value. However, systems that are currently in operation today are highly siloed, meaning that value exchange cannot be easily conducted across organizations/institutions in a simple and seamless way. To exchange digital value across loops, an intermediate is required to verify the transactions. This is where the OMG network steps in; it is the answer to a fundamental coordination problem which will allow assets to be transferable and exchangeable across silos without intermediary by providing a trustworthy ledger on the blockchain technology.” said Ezra Don Harinsut.
The OMG network, built on Ethereum, will allow high capacity in financial transactions - payments, transfer, allowance, B2B supply chain financial system, asset management, exchange, and other services without intermediary and at low cost.
For the network to run, OMG tokens are required to be distributed to public. The token holders act as validators of transactions on the OMG network by putting their tokens into the staking system. Validators receive a fee in return. This is called Proof of Stake (PoS).
“The core purpose of conducting an ICO for OmiseGO is the security of the network rather than the fundraising itself.” said Don.
“When we conducted the ICO, the cap was set at USD25M, however we received enormous interest and support from investors and the community, and could have easily raised 10 times the amount we had set. That said, we did not increase our cap, knowing that the USD25M was enough to build out the OMG network.”
Moreover, Don said “We wanted to distribute the tokens to as many people as possible. 5% of the tokens were distributed to Ethereum holders with at least 0.1 ETH in their accounts through an Airdrop. The wider the tokens are distributed, the more secure the network becomes.”
“Just like the internet, the OMG network is not owned by a single entity. It is built to be a public network, run by the people. The OmiseGO token is not considered a cryptocurrency, but a utility token which works to run the network.”
The first phase of the OMG network is the launch of the open source SDK, which is made public in February 2018. The SDK is to allow e-wallet providers to build an application which connects to the OMG network. Once all phases are completed, the network will be able to facilitate cross border acceptance between wallets.
“The final phase of the product will be launched to public at the end of this year or by early 2019, where digital values can be freely exchanged across the network. The OMG network will act as a rail in connecting and transferring digital assets in exchanges without the need of an intermediary. Think of it as a highway, where any type of car can run on.” added Don. The network has gained traction from distinguished players that are both financial institutions and non-financial institutions, the government and private sectors, both locally and internationally. Upon achieving our end goal, OmiseGO would become the Internet of Payments, and potentially revolutionize the financial industry.
“Our goal is not about building a big corporate, but creating an infrastructure which brings impact-driven changes to society. We are working towards greater financial inclusion and equality, where everyone regardless of their backgrounds, are able to take advantage of our services. This is our ultimate goal.” Don adds.
Here in Thailand, people have come to know of Omise as the first startup unicorn. For us, high valuation is not a priority. What good are we doing if we aren’t delivering positive changes to the society and people’s lives.
The team have been full stream ahead to achieve our goal. A lot of projects here kicked off as an experiment by team members. Take for example the ChatBot which facilitates social commerce, or Omise FacePay; a face recognition for payments trialed at the Ministry of Finance in Thailand. OmiseGO itself, grew from the Omise blockchain lab.
The full credit is given to our team for what we have today with Omise and OmiseGO. We always encourage new ideas, creativity, and innovations which benefits the community.
ICOs aren’t the best fit for all projects. The current boom of ICOs are grabbing attention from multiple parties; projects seeking for funding, investors looking for high returns, as well as regulators who are keeping an eye out for suspicious activities.
“Lately, we’re seeing more and more projects that sound really interesting, but is likely to be impossible to execute. They bring out the tokens, pump up the price, and before we know it, they’ve disappeared. Such projects are tarnishing the overall perception in which governments and regulators have towards ICOs; seeing this as a means of fraud.”
Many projects are seeking investment for a “consumer-level” product, such as application development, but have no infrastructure to support. Think of it as building a Tesla, but have no roads or charging stations.
To investors, Don suggests that research is important in order to identify great investment opportunities, and be able to distinguish projects that have more chance to become a successful investment. Look to invest in projects that have got a functioning business, developing on the blockchain, and backed by a team of specialists.