Hello blockchain community, my name is Donnie Harinsut, I’m the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Omise, a venture-backed payments startup with offices in Bangkok, Tokyo, Jakarta, and Singapore.
In late 2015, when our team sat down to formally assess what was going on in the world of fintech, we quite quickly realized that a massive sea change was coming. This was no ordinary change; it had the potential to completely disrupt our fast-growing business if we didn’t stay on top of it. That was of course blockchain technology, specifically Ethereum.
In order to best familiarize ourselves with both the technology and the community while formulating Omise's strategy, we announced our support of the Ethereum DEVGRANTS program at DEVCON1. Shortly after, we began funding the early development of Raiden, a “lightning network” protocol on Ethereum. Being close to both of these endeavors, and supporting open source work, gave us substantial insight into what Omise would be able to do to further contribute to the development and widespread, mainstream adoption of the technology. Throughout our two-year journey, we also met many inspring people whom we continue to learn from, and in some cases directly work with.
Fast forward to EDCON in Paris earlier this year, where we announced our intention to build Omise GO, a white-label, blockchain-based ewallet platform. Many people have been asking us what it’s all about, so I’m going to try to answer this now, albeit from my “home-court” business perspective.
Since 2014, Omise has prided itself on being the premiere payments provider for the Asia-Pacific region, serving over 9,000 major brands and merchants with the most secure processing available. This business is growing like crazy, and we expect that to continue in the quarters to come. At the time of writing, we process eight to nine digits (USD) worth of transactions per day.
So, you may ask, if it is going so well, why take a big risk on magic internet money?
To start off, it is important to know that, in the Asia-Pacific region, brands of all kind are waking up to the realization that there is a massive potential to disrupt some activities of banks, including custody of funds via so-called “ewallets”. Mobile service providers have of course been one of the first to jump on board, but general licenses for this activity exist, and are held by a variety of our customers. In fact, we know from our own business development experience that everyone from large holding companies to airlines are interested in getting in on the ewallet business in some capacity. They want to give their customers the ability to do everything from being able to purchase everyday goods, to cross-border remittances. And of course, all within a common, mobile-based user experience.
The immediate problem is twofold, and probably obvious: First, to take money mobile, you really need network effects. And to have network effects, you really need an interoperable network, not a siloed, centralized service. Second, from Omise’s perspective as a payments company, we need to be able to support any and all of the popular ewallet platforms. Our business customers must know that their own customers can pay, no matter what payment method they have chosen. However, to say it nicely, the idea of dealing with a literal sea of incompatible ewallets gives our development and support teams a terrible pain in the stomach.
What this amounts to is the following reality: We had absolutely no choice but to start Omise GO. Our customers want ewallets, and we want streamlined business logic. It is really as simple as that. After a substantial amount of market research and product development, we believe that Omise GO offers the perfect compromise between what our customers ultimately want, what the future “tells us”, and what we can reasonably build and support.
And it is going to be awesome. Omise GO is a vision of an interoperable ewallet system that will scale into the future, with an experienced business development and product-focused team behind it. We are well aware of many of the challenges that we face in the legal, technical, and social “departments”, but as mentioned, we also see this endeavor as paramount to the success of our business long-term. We are thankful to be supported by a number of great advisors in the space, and are looking forward to continuing support for its general developments, especially the “Internet of Blockchains”.
Perhaps I’ve said too much!
Friends, the whole Omise team is looking forward to sharing more details of this exciting project with you, and soon! Thanks for your time.