In 2018, Origin partnered with CoinList to sell Origin Tokens (OGN) to a broad distribution of users and purchasers, successfully raising $6.6M USD from more than 500 users in just a few minutes.
After the successful sale on CoinList, the Origin team has been hard at work preparing for its 1.0 platform launch. In conjunction with the official launch this week, Origin Tokens (OGN) recently listed on Binance.
Justin Gregorius from CoinList sat down with Josh Fraser from Origin to explore the project in more detail in anticipation of their launch.
Justin Gregorius: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Josh. To start, what is Origin?
Josh Fraser: Origin’s mission is to enable true peer-to-peer commerce. Using Origin, buyers and sellers can meet and transact directly without any intermediaries. Today, users can buy or sell goods and services on Origin’s flagship marketplace without any middlemen, and developers can create their own peer-to-peer applications that implement Origin’s open-source standards. The Origin Token (OGN) is an important component of the Origin platform, acting as an incentive mechanism to ensure the health and growth of the network while giving Origin’s users stakes in the network.
While most of the marketplaces consumers use today are run by centralized corporations, there are 4 reasons that open, permissionless, peer-to-peer marketplaces are inevitable:
- Lower Fees: Throughout history middlemen have suffered a common fate. Markets like to be efficient, and middlemen get replaced with more efficient alternatives, whether that is travel agents being replaced by Kayak and Expedia or expensive financial advisors being replaced by Wealthfront. The blockchain gives us a chance to cut out rent-seeking middlemen with revolutionary new business models that vastly reduce or eliminate fees.
- Aligned Incentives: Everyone can own their stake in the network by contributing to its growth. Origin represents a new opportunity to redistribute value to the people who contribute the most value to the network. Uber and Airbnb wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the first 100 drivers or hosts, but what did those drivers or hosts get in exchange? Meanwhile, the early employees, investors, and founders at those companies received massive paydays. Origin’s token incentivizes people to use the platform and rewards them for being early participants and inviting their friends.
- Greater Access: 2 billion unbanked people can access new markets around the world that were previously unavailable. Blockchain-powered marketplaces are instantly global. This is a non-trivial advantage over anyone who attempts to create a centralized marketplace and has to wade through the local laws and banking regulations for each and every jurisdiction in the world where they wish to operate.
- More Resilience: The blockchain is not owned or controlled by any central entity. There’s no single point of failure. This lack of centralization gives us censorship resistance — not only from governments that like to ban certain types of marketplaces, but also from centralized marketplaces which like to pick and choose who is welcome to use their platforms. Look at Uber and Airbnb as examples. Both companies have been banned or heavily regulated in cities all around the world. Likewise, those companies have a history of banning certain individuals for life from ever using their marketplaces. Peer-to-peer marketplaces can’t be banned or shut down.
JG: Origin is aiming to support consumer-facing applications that can generate large amounts of data. Origin stores data on Ethereum and IPFS. Can you explain this data architecture in more detail and what sort of data gets stored where?
JG: This data architecture is one of the major differentiators between traditional sharing economy businesses and Origin Protocol; user and transaction data are not siloed to the databases of private companies. What are the benefits of this approach and how does Origin maintain user privacy?
JF: User and transaction data is stored on the Ethereum blockchain and IPFS. This means that third-parties can query the public Ethereum blockchain and IPFS network for currently available listings, a history of previous transactions, and the reputations of various ecosystem buyers and sellers.
This creates several benefits. First, the corpus of data is open and immutable, which means it can be trusted without requiring the traditional third-party intermediary that imposes its “trust tax”. Second, it creates a shared “network effect” between all of the various contributors to the network as user accounts and reputations are portable between marketplaces. Third, it levels the competitive playing field and allows for new teams of developers, entrepreneurs, and organizations to compete with each other off of this shared data, and ultimately creates greater value for the platform. We anticipate that much of the continued development of the Origin Platform will come from third-party developers that make use of this open data layer.
The best precedent of this is Bitcoin itself. An open, immutable transaction history allowed many
Bitcoin exchanges to pop up worldwide. They now compete for customers and trading volume with no single party having the luxury of benefiting off of private data. Far from giving away the keys to the kingdom, this has encouraged exchanges to compete on security, user experience, marketing, and fees. The aggregate efforts have pushed Bitcoin and cryptocurrency immeasurably further than if a single company had tried to pioneer a private digital currency and exchange.
We believe users should be able to own and control their own data. We also believe that transparency is critical for trust. Too often corporations control access to their users’ data for their own benefit. When guests set up a methamphetamine lab in an early Airbnb apartment, Airbnb’s team of lawyers immediately descended with non-disclosure agreements and hush money to stop the negative press from getting out. That might have been the right decision for Airbnb, but the company’s customers deserve to know the truth so they can make informed decisions with whom to transact business. With the blockchain, everything is public and immutable, so transparency is a default feature.
JG: In regards to the entrepreneurs and third-party marketplace operators that you just mentioned, Origin encourages them to participate via Origin Commissions. What are Origin Commissions and how do they work?
JF: Origin Commissions were created to incentivize DApp developers, marketplace operators, and affiliates to promote seller listings and drive transactions on the platform. Sellers have the option to incentivize DApp creators to surface their blockchain listings to prospective buyers. Sellers can now deposit Origin Tokens (OGN) when they create listings to increase the odds of completing sales. DApp creators and future affiliates (e.g. influencers, bloggers, aggregators) earn these commissions when they generate sales for these sellers. This creates incentives for DApp creators like Origin’s flagship app to promote seller listings that have OGN commissions over listings that do not have OGN. This is similar to Google promoting ads that have higher eCPMs (effective CPM, which is a function of quality score and CPC bids) over organic search results. Unlike traditional advertising, these commissions are only paid out when verified sales have been completed.
JG: For any operator on Origin to be successful, their product to end-users must be better than current existing options. Building a marketplace on a decentralized platform introduces the question of quality assurance. Origin Protocol allows for deposits to be placed in escrow that will be released upon completion of pre-determined market interaction. How does Origin verify that an interaction went as planned and what does conflict resolution look like?
With Origin’s marketplace contract, funds are held in escrow until a transaction is finalized. This protects both the buyer and the seller. If anything goes wrong, either party can open a dispute with a pre-agreed arbitrator who has control over how the funds are distributed. Once pulled into a dispute, the arbitrator can access a cryptographically verified view of the conversation history between both parties. Both the buyer and the seller are given an opportunity to present additional evidence before a verdict is issued. For now, the Origin team is acting as the primary arbitrator on the platform. In the future, we expect other third-party arbitrators to start offering their services on our platform, including decentralized arbitration protocols that more closely resemble a jury trial complete with a formalized appeals process.
JG: How does the Origin Protocol then confirm that a sale has been finalized?
JF: Once the delivery of the service or good is complete, the buyer confirms receipt, finalizing the sale and releasing the funds from escrow. If the buyer has not received the goods, they are encouraged to resolve the issue directly with the seller first before opening an arbitration case. To prevent unresponsive buyers from causing funds to be permanently locked in escrow, there is a finalization window after which the seller can withdraw the funds from escrow for an undisputed transaction.
JG: Origin encourages end users to participate and engage with DApps on Origin through Origin Rewards. How does this work?
JF: Origin Rewards allows anyone to have a stake in the future success of the Origin network. Since April of 2019, users have been able to earn OGN for promoting the health and growth of the network. They can do this by verifying their identities, selling goods and services, making purchases, and referring their friends to the Origin flagship marketplace DApp. Earning OGN is a great reason for new users to use Origin to buy and sell on the new decentralized web. Currently, tokens can be used on the Origin Marketplace to promote listings in the form of Origin Commissions. Promoted listings have higher placement and visibility in search results, both on the Origin DApp and in partner applications. Marketplace operators can earn OGN from promoted listings, giving them an incentive to help promote and feature certain items. Think of this as a commission for helping sellers get sales. In the future, we anticipate several additional use cases for OGN which will further incentivize usage and growth of the Origin Platform.
JG: Most crypto applications, by and large, have UX problems that make it difficult for average users to engage with a product. Origin has tried to improve the user experience of the Origin DApp by abstracting gas fees with Meta Transactions. What are Meta Transactions and how do they work?
JF: Simply put, meta transactions allow Origin to sponsor the Ethereum transaction fees on behalf of our users. Meta transactions make it easier for sellers to onboard and encourages the use of the Origin platform. A key component of the meta transaction flow is Origin’s relayer, which sends transactions on behalf of our users to proxy contracts. For now, Origin has set up a relayer and is paying gas for transactions directed at our Marketplace contract. Longer-term, Origin hopes to incentivize others to setup relayer servers using Origin Tokens (OGN).
JG: Finally, is there anything else that you want people to know about Origin?
JF: While there are strong arguments for why peer-to-peer marketplaces will eventually break-through and reach mainstream adoption, there’s no denying that Origin has an audacious vision for the future. Origin has a number of additional advantages that increase its likelihood of eventual success:
- Experienced Team: Origin was built by serial entrepreneurs and seasoned team members from iconic consumer technology companies that include a cofounder of PayPal, the first engineer at YouTube, and other early engineers at YouTube, Google, and DropBox. The two founders have a track record of building successful businesses both individually and together.
- Global Investors: Origin has backing from some of the top investors in the space including top crypto funds like Pantera Capital, traditional venture funds like Foundation Capital, and well-known individuals like Steve Chen, the founder of YouTube.
- Massive Market: Origin is attempting to disrupt a multi-trillion dollar market. Origin is an open, peer-to-peer alternative to centralized giants like Amazon, Alibaba, Uber, Airbnb, and countless other multi-million and multi-billion dollar companies.
- Live on Mainnet: Unlike many blockchain projects that are still mostly conceptual in nature, Origin’s flagship marketplace was launched in October of 2018 and has since been used by thousands of people to freely trade goods and services.
- Thriving Global Community: Origin is just as much about community as it is about technology. Origin has one of the biggest and most passionate communities in the blockchain space, with well over 100,000 members across its various social media channels. Over 30,000 Ethereum wallets have interacted with the marketplace platform resulting in approximately 2,000 transactions of goods and services. Over 170 developers have contributed to the project on GitHub. 50+ volunteer translators have made the Origin DApp available in 20 languages. Dozens of projects have signed agreements to build apps on the platform.
If you are interested in learning more about Origin Protocol you can visit their website here.