Blockchain

Interview with Gee-Hwan Chuang, CEO and co-founder of Ink Protocol.

Ink Protocol is a decentralized payment solution that can be integrated into new or existing marketplaces and can also be used in marketplaces that don’t directly handle payments. The CEO Gee Chuang will be telling us how this works and the opportunities it provides.

1) Please tell us your name and about yourself?

My name is Gee Chuang, and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Listia and Ink Protocol. Prior to Listia, I worked as an engineer in the tech industry and built a successful online marketing business. In 2009, my co-founder, James, and I created Listia as a result of our frustration with existing peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplaces. Since its launch, Listia has registered more than ten million members and inspired us to create Ink Protocol, a decentralized reputation and payment system that allows sellers to easily sell on any marketplace platform. Before moving out to the Bay Area, I studied electrical engineering at Cornell University in New York, where I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

2) What is Ink Protocol?

Ink Protocol helps users securely buy and sell anywhere with decentralized reputation, escrow and dispute resolution. Our vision is to enable trusted peer-to-peer transactions on any marketplace or platform.

Building a scalable marketplace system at Listia took many years, and we came to realize that most of the solutions we were building could be generalized across all types of marketplaces. So, building on our years of marketplace experience and learning from over 100 million items traded on Listia, we created a blockchain-based transaction system that can be used on any marketplace platform, called Ink Protocol.

Here is a great video that explains Ink Protocol in a visual way: 

3) Tell us about the Ink Protocol Ecosystem, how it works and the technology behind the project?

Ink Protocol is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain and provides all of the most important marketplace features such as funds escrow, third party dispute resolution, and most importantly, a transferable, decentralized reputation system. It’s like taking your hard-earned selling reputation and feedback from eBay or Amazon and using it to sell on other platforms, like Craigslist and Facebook marketplace. Ink Protocol’s reputation system, which is implemented as a series of smart contracts on Ethereum, makes this possible without the need for a central service or middleman.

We hope to build a vibrant developer ecosystem around Ink Protocol, to help people easily build tools and even new marketplaces. Our developer portal is a great place to get started learning the smart contract functionality: https://developer.inkprotocol.com/docs

4) What are the unique Ink Protocol features and the services you provide?

Ink Protocol provides the core components of every peer-to-peer marketplace transaction. Specifically, it handles the reputation system, the transaction escrow, and optional dispute resolution in case of a disagreement. In our experience, this is all you need to transact with someone in a secure way online or in person.

However, the most unique feature of Ink Protocol is definitely the decentralized reputation system. Seller reputation is the most important factor that buyers consider when shopping on marketplaces such as eBay and Etsy. Many buyers will even pay a premium for the same item from a more reputable seller, rather than taking a risk with a seller with no reputation. So, sellers work very hard to maintain their own reputation by providing outstanding support, shipping and high-quality products.

Current marketplaces know the importance of seller reputation, so they own all your data and use it to lock sellers into their platform, while charging high transaction fees. Additionally, these marketplaces can do things like edit, filter and censor your feedback.

We believe the idea of decentralized, self-sovereign reputation solves this by helping buyers and sellers maintain full control over their own reputation This means sellers can use and build up reputation no matter where they are selling. Buyers will still have control over the content of the feedback rating, and feedback is only ever tied to a verified transaction. Ink Protocol incentivizes sellers to work hard on customer service, fulfillment and quality, while still allowing the seller to benefit from all the hard work.

5) What is the Listia Marketplaces and what is the connection with Ink Protocol?

Listia is a peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling used goods. It was founded in 2009 as a YC Company and currently has more than ten million registered users, who have traded more than 100 million items. Initially, Listia used a centralized virtual currency, called Credits, for all of its transactions, but earlier this year the Credit system was replaced with Ink Protocol’s XNK token.

We think the most exciting thing about Ink Protocol is that it is already live on the Listia marketplace. More than 3 million items have already been listed using XNK, and Ink Protocol’s XNK token is now the primary currency on Listia. Users can buy and sell all kinds of goods using XNK exclusively. As you earn XNK, you can also transfer and use it outside of Listia on any P2P transactions using our Ink Pay app. In a world where we see so many blockchain projects with no users or even a real use-case, we believe Ink Protocol is one of the largest deployments and best real use cases for blockchain.

6) The Ink Pay app is powered by Ink Protocol, please tell us more about this.

Ink Pay is a marketplace payments app built on top of Ink Protocol that allows users to buy and sell on any platform or marketplace, while earning transferable reputation. It is also a reputation browser and profile viewer that lets users examine the transaction history and individual feedback ratings of any other user that has an Ink reputation. With the app, you can buy, sell and earn transferable feedback on any marketplace, such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OLX and more.

The current version of Ink Pay allows buyers to pay using XNK, ETH or Dai. However, future versions will make things even easier to use and eventually allow payments via fiat currency, such as USD.

7) What is the XNK token, how does it work and what are the benefits for token holders.

XNK is the underlying currency used in all Ink Protocol transactions. As a result, all transactions and feedback are backed by proof of payment on the blockchain. XNK is also earned by mediators for the mediation services that they provide on transactions, and is already used on the Listia marketplace as the primary virtual currency for all transactions. There are no additional benefits for just holding XNK, but it is required to use and create Ink Protocol transactions.

8) Would you like to share with us, some of the major Listia Marketplace and E-commerce investors and partnerships?

Listia was founded in the summer of 2009 as a Y Combinator company, and we are fortunate to be backed by several of the leading tech VCs and angel investors, such as General Catalyst, SV Angel, A16Z, Founder Collective and many more.

Ink Protocol is also backed by one of the top companies and smartest people in the Ethereum blockchain space, ConsenSys Ventures.

Our recent partnerships include a collaboration with Coinbase Wallet, which is the best way to access Ink Pay on mobile devices. We also partnered with MakerDAO’s Dai stable coin, which will help buyers and sellers transact on Ink Pay while reducing the volatility of traditional cryptocurrencies.

9) On what stage of development is the Ink Protocol project and what is next on your roadmap?

Development on Ink Protocol is complete, and it has already been deployed to Ethereum mainnet. The protocol is fully functional and already powers both Ink Pay as well as the Listia marketplace.

Next up on the road map is building additional tools and APIs to help other developers use Ink Protocol more easily, as well as working on a more user-friendly version of Ink Pay that doesn’t require any crypto knowledge to use.

10) Who are the team of experts behind this project?

Listia’s team has come together steadily over the last eight years. James and I met while studying Electrical Engineering at Cornell University, and the rest of the team was brought on at Listia starting in 2010. The team is made up of consumer and enterprise startup veterans, many of whom are now blockchain and smart contract experts.

11) Any more information for our readers today?

At Ink Protocol, we believe that self sovereign reputation (the idea that an individual can maintain full authority over its own reputation) will completely change the way we buy and sell with each other online.

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