Blockchain App Nynja Stealthily Building Mobile E-commerce Platformbr>
NYNJA Group Ltd. is a cross-platform app that allows uers to buy, sell and trade items in a decentralizated crypotcurrency market.
The app combines voice, text and visual messaging with business management and e-commerce features, all powered by its own financial ecosystem and cryptocurrency, NYNJACoin. NYNJA, in development since Q1 2017, is currently in beta.
“While there is no shortage of mobile messaging apps, there has never been an all-in-one communications app that seamlessly supports the messaging and transactional needs of both individual and business users with the utmost security protocols available today,” said co-founder and CEO Salvatore Guerrieri. “NYNJA is the first app of its kind to harness the full potential of its user base, empowering them with a cross-platform multimedia messaging app and a built-in global marketplace backed by secure blockchain protocols.”
The NYNJA marketplace allows users to buy and sell goods and services internationally through an open API using NYNJACoin, an ERC-20 token. Users can also access exclusive groups and pay for proprietary in-group content such as licensed assets or timed consultations. Users can also earn NYNJACoin for viewing ads and sharing branded material like sticker-packs or coupons. Each account can be organized according to the user’s social, consumer and business lives, and comes with a secure ethereum wallet enabling users to transact freely within the app for fast international payment transfers.
At launch the NYNJA app will be available on Android, iOS, and Web with native development of Mac, Linux and Windows versions to follow.
Co-founder and chief strategy officer Marshall Taplits talked with Block Tribune about the app and the company’s plans.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So, with this platform, is there a technological leap that’s being made? Or have all the implements been present, just not in one spot?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: Well, it’s a bit of a combination. I mean, there’s definitely some huge leaps forward in messaging and calling that we’re going to be making with Inventor. That’s the underlying infrastructure and what will help to provide the experience to customers.
But, in terms of the blockchain component, what we have here is the opportunity to build a decentralized blockchain based smart contract platform, so that users can build an economy essentially amon- themselves.
So, what you have now in a traditional situation, and again it could be, whether it’s an Uber-type situation or a situation with freelance networks like Upwork or Fiber, where you basically have this kind of controlled, centralized platform that dictates the rules of engagement and can freeze users funds at any time. One little slip-up on the part of the freelancer or the contractor or the worker can mean account suspension.
I was reading your bio before the call, and you spoke about how you were involved in the BBSs and things like that, and I was too. I remember in the days of CompuServe and AOL and Prodigy and all this, and then when I was part of the WinSock group on IRC to help people set up their Trumpet PPIC stacks and the whole idea was break free of your provider, break free of your walled garden, and access the Internet directly.
I think what we have the opportunity to do here with Nynja is to kind of take that same idea and break free of these services that are rent seeking on your behalf and selling your data, and be part of a system that enables you to interact directly with each other. That’s what the blockchain, for me, represents. It allows us to build an application where users can own their own data, own their own identity, for the self-sovereign concept, like what Port is working on, integrate file storage things with IPSS and other blockchain technologies, handle the payments and smart contracts so that it’s really your money, and really, your claim on the blockchain directly, and not through some arbitrary service that’s holding you hostage.
So I think from that perspective, there’s a huge breakthrough that we’re gonna be making here with Nynja, it’s not just evolutionary, but it’s actually quite from the ground up.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Who do you see as your competitors? You mentioned Facebook of course, and WhatsApp. But it also talked about the limitations. Let’s get into who the competitors may be on this? I mean, is it Amazon? Are you going after them? Or is it somebody else?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: Well, it’s interesting, because if you’ve read the Innovator’s Dilemma, the worst thing you can do is just make an improvement on an existing space, because what’s going tohappen is the incumbents are just gonna add gas to their development and they’re just going to build whatever feature you wanted.
And I remember when Steve Jobs decided to buy Dropbox, and he said, “Look, you guys are just a feature. We could just build that feature into Mac, and then there’s no point in having Dropbox, so you may as well just sell us the company today.” And Dropbox said, “well, I see where you’re coming from, but actually it’s more than that. We’re creating a new market where people have something that lives beyond the operating system and that your files are synced everywhere.”
I think if you look at it from that perspective, of course, we are keeping an eye on our current messaging leaders, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Telegram, and all these guys. But we’re going to be creating a new market, which is crypto-based from the ground up, an entire ecosystem, but at a fundamental level is global and transparent and free.
So in terms of that, there’s no real immediate competitors. There’s Telegram, obviously, which has a very good cloud-based messenger. That’s kind of similar to how our base messenger works. They’ve also, I’m sure you’ve heard, announced their ICO and their vision for how the Telegram network will operate, but it’s quite different than how we envision the Nynja economy to work. So from that perspective, there’s no direct competitors yet.
I am expecting a left and right for things to keep popping up, and we’re already seeing some early signs of some freelance network ICOs and this and that, but again they’re not doing the on-demand model like we’re doing. You have to go to their services just to use that function, whereas our entire work network is a layer on top of a global messaging platform.
At this exact moment, I don’t yet see direct competitors.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the challenges that you’re facing beyond actually building the thing and maybe establishing your community? Or is that it?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: In terms of technology, or in terms of what?
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Just in terms of getting a business underway and actually growing it.
MARSHALL TAPLITS: Well, I think it’s a really good question. Actually, that’s a really good question.
I’ve been envisioning economies, and I’ve been envisioning how global business can work for many years, and it’s not really until I came across the bitcoin White paper, back in 2012, I guess it was, that I had that same aha moment that when I was introduced to the web in ’95 or ’96 and I just kind of … You know that this is gonna change everything, and I had that feeling again, and we’ve been iterating on our business models, our application, our platform, and what everything can be.
I think that the hardest part about this business is not finding the funding, because we’ve been able to do that, it’s not building the team, because we’re able to do that, or any of these traditional problems. The biggest problem is that everything is evolving so quick that by the time that I have the interview with you and I’m onto the next thing with another technology, or another leap, or another connection that we’ve made as a team or in the industry that almost wants you to rewrite everything from scratch and update the white paper ten times over.
And so the hardest thing is just keeping focused, prioritizing, making sure we’re staying on top of all the latest technology, making sure that what we’re building is as advanced as it can be on day one, that we know everything that’s coming in the technology, and everything that we can do to make sure that we stand the cut. That’s the hardest part right now.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Tell me how the concentric wheel concept came for layout. Were you in Las Vegas and you saw something?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: No.
Yeah, actually … So that was interesting because the biggest frustration that we have … I lived in Asia for 15 years, and I’ve seen the development of WeChat and all these platforms that are messaging apps, but that have a lot of other functionalities built in. There’s two problems: One is you can’t get where you need to go. There’s so many functions that I got to drive in seven three’s and then I got to go back and back and back, all the way to the front in order to get to this screen to get to the other function, and that’s very exhausting. Then the second problem that we’re having is just the when new features are introduced how do you show it to the user? Because, it’s again, like eight screens deep. So, we wanted to come up with a way that people can get from any screen to any screen easy, and that new functions, as they come available, that it’s so natural to see the icons to these things to get people interested.
The other issue that we’re having is people’s eyes are getting worse and worse as our population ages, and people’s screens are getting larger and larger as well. It’s getting very difficult to operate these smart phones with one hand. So, for Nynja, I really wanted to come up with something that you can use with one hand, and control the whole thing. So, we came up with various iterations, working with people, of this concentric wheel approach, and I think we’ve nailed it. We’re able to get from any screen to any screen, and with one hand, which is fantastic.
When you first use it you know it’s different right away. It takes you a minute or so just to kind of like realize the magnitude of how different it is, and then it becomes almost immediately intuitive. So, we’re pretty happy with it. Then we filed a patent for it as well, so hopefully that’ll come through as well.
MARSHALL TAPLITS: Well there’s no licensed content yet, it’s the idea. So, the idea is that if you look at WeChat, Facebook, and all these applications one theme is that people create groups. We’re social animals we like to communicate with other people, and there’s interest groups now for everything. There’s also people making money online from all sorts of things. Teaching languages in groups, if they’re into stock tips, people charge money, and sell newsletters. This whole industry is kind of something between a landing page with a sign up form to a credit card bill, and the whole make money online thing is a bit of a shady industry in a way. I think we have an opportunity to kind of make the whole thing transparent where people can create groups in Nynja, when they have their groups they can charge access to the groups, they can sell in group content, and this can also all be facilitated with Nynja coin.
We also believe that with our brand partners that we’ll be bringing on that we’ll be able to create like official groups. These official groups can be sponsored by brands, celebrities, and different things. In there you can sell licensed content both access to online and offline events as well as images, sticker backs; things like that. So, there’s an opportunity to basically take the ability for someone who is already running groups in various forms and be able to build in a global mono division method for these brands, celebrities, and entrepreneurs that want have these groups. The important thing is that one, because it’s in crypto, it’s global. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re an American actor, or a European actor, or actress, and your fan is in Cambodia, or Thailand, or somewhere in Africa, or U.S it doesn’t matter.
Then two we can avoid all these bad practices that people have with setting you up on auto bill subscriptions; all these things. With crypto it puts, obviously, the power back in the users hand. Anything they want to subscribe to they can, if they don’t want to subscribe there’s nothing to unsubscribe to you just don’t accept the next payment. Also, in terms of identification especially if it’s for small amounts of money, you shouldn’t have to share your home address, your name, your passport number, and all these things then just being able to micro pay for small services pseudo anonymously I think is also very important for people.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the details on your public ICO?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: The public ICO is April 17th. It’s about five billion tokens, we’re billing 45% in the public and private sales, and the company will keep approximately 20% for operations. Also, what we’re going to be doing is issuing very aggressive marketing strategies when the app launches, and we’ll be using tokens to, obviously, kickstart the network as well, which will be a significant part of the usage.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Are you going to be taking transaction fees from various things on the app?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: Yes. Exactly.
So, economics is one of my hobbies, and one of the things that I’ve always hated is when people charge like heavy income taxes and things like that because I figure it puts a damper on economic activity. When I hear about the types of taxes where we’re going to take a 0.001% transaction packs on every financial transaction going through the Nasdaq to fund social programs I get very excited, because I know that nobody’s going to notice that and it’s going to provide a lot of benefits.
So, that’s actually one of our main business models is to put a very thin tax essentially as operator of the network. That’s going to be a massive relief for people who are currently doing work contracts and things through other freelance type networks, and work contract situations. Our goal is to basically see how low we can bring down the fees, while providing a stable and scalable solution for everybody.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So your other revenue streams will be sponsorship fees, advertising. Anything else?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: Yes.
So, we have several revenue models the one, as I mentioned, is small transaction fee. Another one of our interesting functions that I think will provide a lot of benefit for the community but also a lot of revenue to us is our advertising network. I’m sure you’re well aware of all the problems in the current advertising space nobody likes to be tracked, and sold off for profit. Even WhatsApp for example, that technically your data’s encrypted but it’s leaking all the metadata, which is sometimes even more revealing. So, we’re basically flipping the entire advertising model on its head, and saying “Look if you’re a brand” let’s say you’re Audi or some other brand, and please don’t quote that I said we have Audi because we do not have any deal, I’m just using Audi because I like their cars.
Let’s say a brand like Audi says “Okay look we’re releasing our 2019 models and we really want to get the word out.” So, what they’re going to do is they’re going to come into Ninja, they’re going to put a group together for Audi, they’re going to issue some themes that users can install, and get some followers that like Audi. Then they can basically turn on a switch in their app that says I love Audi, and every time I send a message I want the people who I’m sending the message to, to see a little advertising link to the new video of the car, or whatever link I want to send. Audi can make available to me as a potential advertising partner a list of all the content, so if they want to give a bunch of videos, a bunch of links to websites, a bunch of news articles; a bunch of events. It’s up to me as the Ninja user you know, I kind of like that video, I kind of like that photo, and so now as I’m sending messages I start to automatically be attaching these advertisements to all my messages.
Now as the person willing to do this I’m going to start getting automatic payments from Audi, which is a smart contract by the way. So, that’s on blockchain as well. So, now I basically become a spokesperson for Audi in a way. The people receiving the messages, when they receive it, they have a few choices: One they click it, interact with the content, and also get paid a percentage of that in Nynja coin directly, or they can say “I don’t want to see these ads anymore. I’m not going to install an ad blocker I’ll just tell these jokers we’re all adults here, I don’t want to see ads from Audi at all.” Or I don’t want to see ads from this person anymore, or I don’t want to see ads at all, and that’s fine too.
By doing this we’re able to leverage the relationships that people have. So like for example if you get the Google AdSense it was always about the search term. It’s not about the person it’s about the search term. Then you look at Facebook it’s about the demographic, right? I’m 45 years old I’m a male, I’m a this, I’m a that. What we can do is we can use people’s organic social network that they’ve developed on Nynja to, more or less, kind of assume if I like Audi your friends like Audi, and so on, but also put the advertising back in the users hand, and give the brand the way to go direct, essentially, to people who like their product and an easy method to pass it on.
So, that’s our plan for advertising and I’m pretty sure that, that’s going to be a big contributor to the Web mainstream.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How would the relationship with Audi be instituted? Will this person just extemporaneously tout Audi and there’ll be the hope that Audi will take notice and start supplying revenue in some way?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: So, I think in the beginning, it’s always hard to kickstart things from scratch … So I think in the beginning the brands that want to come on and develop partners on this will agree to take a liberal approach to who they want to work with on the network, but the intent is that any user on the Nynja network can apply to be a member of this brand.
So, just like I can create a Google AdSense account and I can start putting my AdSense code on my web sites, and it’s kind of up to Google to decide which ads actually show. It will be kind of similar to that. Anyone on the Nynja network can agree to want to represent the brand, and, more or less, there should be no reason that they can’t. Then we go from there, and over time what will happen is just like people build up a YouTube following and if you have a large following you obviously make more revenue. On the Nynja platform if you represented brands successfully, if the people you recommend the brands to have high conversion rates in terms of interaction with the content. If your the owner of groups, and you can prove that there’s metrics to show on average there’s people in the group that like this brand, we’ll build up a data repository. We’ll be able to guide that better.
In the beginning it’s a matter of getting a few interested key brands, which we’ve already started talking with some people, and just getting it started.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: I take it that the brands will be able to terminate any relationship that they don’t like?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: Absolutely.
This is the most important thing with the, again even though this one might not be blockchained specific, but in terms of the ethos of the community and this movement that’s kind of happening now is all about putting the power back in the users hands. We got to get rid of these kind of rent seeding middle man situations. So, if a brand is not happy with the people representing them, of course, they can stop it. If a person is representing a brand, but they have an ideology that disagrees with this content or that content, then they can say that these pieces of content will not be shown to the people I send messages to.
It’s all about the transparency. That’s the key.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: When your ICO is done, what do you think the timeline is for getting this built?
MARSHALL TAPLITS: So, this is where I think we’re very different from most ICO’s. We are not doing some moon shop project that’s going to take three to five years just to figure out the technology. We are already developing, as a matter of fact, I’m calling you right now from Ukraine where we have over 30 people developing full time and have been already for over nine months. We’ve already raised several million dollars irrespective of this ICO, and have spent the great majority of that on development. What we’re going to do with this ICO is we’re going to basically take the development that’s already ongoing to a much larger scale, that we would not be able to do without something like a successful ICO would be able to provide, so that we can get this app live by the end of the year, and well into growing a user base in 2019.
Currently we are on track to release this app toward the end of this year.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. Fair enough.
MARSHALL TAPLITS: By the way, if you go in the White Paper and you look at all the screen shots, and we purposefully put in all those screen shots, those are real screen shots with the data. It’s in development and working. Not all of it is working yet, but we’re working on it. So, I think it’s important when you look at the White Paper, do not think of that as like some designer came up with this, we flushed that out, those are sketched app screen shots.