AirSwap Taking Peer-to-Peer Path Toward ICObr>
AirSwap is a peer-to-peer trading exchange for tokens that uses a decentralized platform and smart contracts. The platform has already raised $20 million in a token pre-sale of its AIR tokens, and will hold its mainsail on Tuesday, Oct. 10. A whitelist registration to ensure public access runs Oct. 4 through Oct. 6.
CEO Michael Oved talked with Block Tribune about the ConsenSys-backed company and its plans.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Tell me how AirSwap is envisioned to work for the average person.
MICHAEL OVED: Yeah. So someone logs in if they have counter-parties to trade – they can skip the “find counterparties” stuff – and they push out a request. They receive their prices and then they execute the best price. Something that we’re calling “Personalized Orders Reporter Book.” So it’s basically an order tailored to you and you alone.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So this will be used basically for situations where you’re buying some sort of product want to use tokens to do that?
MICHAEL OVED: We specify mechanisms for exchanging the ERC20 tokens. Our thesis is that everything is going to become tokenized to some extent. A lot of new assets are going to gain equity and it think also a lot of old world assets, for example bonds and stocks are going to be tokenized. It’s actually something we are working on with the likes of Goldman Sachs and a number of other banks.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How quickly do you see this happening as far as a consumer level? Institutions are already exploring it and they’re in the game. What about it filtering down? What’s the timeline on that?
MICHAEL OVED: Good question. I think that for the most part, the consumer may not even realize that this has happened. It’s just basically changing the pipes of the entire financial system. But I think that those pipes are getting a revamp in the next 36 months. Obviously those economic integrations for a lot of these banks, for example, to go from a three-day settlement to two-day settlement took them however many years. That was an economic reason. It wasn’t a psychology reason. There’s always a potential for economic reasons to get in the way.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So you’re saying within 36 months, that’s how long it will take to bleed out to the consumer level? Or will it ever get there?
MICHAEL OVED: I think within the next 36 months you’ll see mass adoption at least in some form of block chain technology. Not necessarily virtual currency, but the back-end pipes to how financial transactions are made.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: And then it’s a matter of just educating the consumer. But that will be somebody else’s business, not yours, right?
MICHAEL OVED: Well, I don’t even think the consumer necessarily would know that the stocks that they’re buying are now being created on a blockhain-based trading network. It’s just something that’ll happen. Essentially what blockchain promises is the removal of paper, so you don’t need to store, for example, a corporate bond now. When you buy a corporate bond, you actually get a sheet of paper, or the bank is holding a sheet of paper for you that is actually your title to that and right to own that asset. With these tokens, these tokenized securities, you can basically transfer ownership and there’s no dispute about who owns the product at that point. So you don’t even need the bank to be involved anymore and you don’t need paper involved anymore.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: The recent upheavals in China — does that landscape change effect you at all?
MICHAEL OVED: You know, China, they come in really hard on certain regulation, and I think what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to, my expectation, my prediction, is that they’re going to regulate this industry. They’re going to provide licenses to certain exchanges and then the Chinese government or whoever is connected with the government essentially has the ability to monitor these trading platforms. So I think this is temporary. But assuming it’s not temporary, did China’s ban of Google affect Google? Did China’s ban of Facebook affect Facebook? Yeah, I’m sure it did to some extent. They came up with their own local versions of the same technology. But I think that this stuff is going to grow with China or not.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: There are other countries, even the United States, that are talking of increased regulation of the entire space. Is that an advantage of a company like yours?
MICHAEL OVED: Yeah. I think it’s going to land some. Right now, these utility tokens are kind of in this no-man zone. They’re not securities, but they’re not nothing. Something is going to come into play where they’re defined as something, as some sort of new asset class, and there will probably be new regulation put around it. I think that when that happens, essentially what that does is legitimizes the business. I don’t see that as a negative thing, as long as you have the resources to manage the compliance overhead, it shouldn’t be a huge problem for the industry.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: You have an ICO coming up. When will that happen? Is the pre-sale underway? What will be the breakdown on it?
MICHAEL OVED: We’re just about to publish details on that. We did do a pre-sale. The pre sale was heavily over- subscribed and we’re figuring out a way to still include everyone. The pre-sale ended about a week or two ago. Our public sale will be on October 10th. We’re actually going to release all the details about the AirSwap tokens that will be released on October 10th. So probably within the next couple of days.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How do you envision the tokens being used in the ecosystem?
MICHAEL OVED: We didn’t want there to be fees associated with trading. In a peer-to-peer trading network, if you have a third party sitting there expecting fees from everyone, it kind of defeats the purpose of peer-to-peer, we thought. Instead, we chose the model where you’re kind of buying a membership at the exchange, or buying a fee at the exchange, or another way to look at it is a software license. With the software license, you essentially buy it and use the money. But in this case, when you’re buying AirSwap tokens, you can later sell it. Once you’re done using the platform you can later sell it to someone else.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. You’ve been involved in a number of startups in the past.
MICHAEL OVED: I’ve actually only worked for one company before. I was at the Virtu Financial for seven years. My co-planner is actually the startup guy. I kind of had experience in one of those startups where we went and built out the Asian business of our company. So I was one of the first traders there and later the head trader. It was a team of five of us to start and we have the business model already, which is nice, but we had to gradually expand into another market and things were really crazy. It was kind of a maybe 80% startup experience.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How’s it different this time for you? Aside from being in charge.
MICHAEL OVED: I wouldn’t even say I’m in charge. We’re all in charge. We’re all on the same team. So, how’s it different? It’s different in a lot of ways. I think to get to a successful token launch, you need to manage tech, you need to manage marketing, and you need to manage legal. Those are kind of the three-prong approach that I usually tell other people trying to get into this. I have a lot of legal experience expanding into the other Asian markets, you know, reading about the various regulations. I’m pretty well-versed in that, even though it’s a new market. Tech, obviously I’m with a fantastic tech team. Dom, my co- planner, is brilliant and he’s managed to pull in a few senior engineers with lots of great experience. Then, on the marketing front, it’s about finding good marketing partners and it’s also about finding the right people internally.