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Mint Season 3 episode 18 welcomes Marek Olszewski, a partner of cLabs, one of the companies working on Celo, which is a mobile-first permissionless platform that makes financial tools accessible to anyone with a mobile phone.
In this episode we discuss:
- 0:00 – Intro
- 3:22 – Why Crypto?
- 5:31 – Thinking About Mobile Experience
- 19:00 – What’s Stifling Mobile Adoption?
- 23:52- Scalability
- 26:42 – Celo in the Creator Economy
- 33:21- The Next 6-24 Months
- 36:33 – Outro
…and so much more.
Thank you to Season 3’s NFT sponsors!
1. Coinvise – https://coinvise.co/
2. POAP – https://poap.xyz/
3. Socialstack – https://socialstack.co/
Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!
Marek, welcome to Mint. How are you doing, man? Good to see you. Thank you for being on.
Yeah. Hey Adam, it’s really great to be here. Yeah, so much for having me.
You got it. Let’s dive right in. We’ve got a lot to talk about. I don’t even know where to begin with the Celo ecosystem. There’s so much going on from the DeFi side, to the mobile side, to the creator side, but I guess a good place to start is always who are you? But more specifically, what were you doing before crypto and kind of where are you now?
Great question. So I have a tech background and computer science background. I studied computer science first at the university of Toronto. And then I went to MIT for my PhD. While at MIT, I worked on an area of research called deterministic multithreading, which just coincidentally happens to be very relevant for scaling blockchains today. It’s an area that allows you to effectively paralyze transaction execution in a fully deterministic way so that it can remain deterministic on multiple full nodes that are all participating in a decentralized network. Out of MIT, I ended up starting a company, a venture backed machine learning company. That company did well and it got acquired a couple of years later. After that experience, I ended up teaming up with Rene Reinsberg my co-founder from that first company and Sep Kamvar who was an MIT professor at the time and also just an incredible individual and serial entrepreneur. I think he’s perhaps most well-known for starting a personalized search company that he sold to Google in 2002 that became iGoogle and also he was the inventor of a decentralized reputation protocol for BitTorrent. Around a little under five years ago now, the three of us teamed up and we thought about what to do next. I was actually introduced to crypto by Brian Armstrong in 2013, and so I’ve been following the space. He sent me some Bitcoin at a music festival. So that was a really great introduction to the space, and I had been following it since then. And again, in 2016, 2017, we separated and I started thinking about what to do next. At the time, obviously, you know, like now there was a ton of excitement for, you know, dApps. I think DeFi was still kind of in its infancy. But the usability was a big issue, and mobile support was really lacking. As we looked at the current state of the world back then, we knew that in order to make crypto mainstream, we had to solve just a number of big and difficult problems. And you know, the first was around mobile, right? I think even though we do use web three products on mobile devices, they’re not really conducive to mobile. They don’t really run in a decentralized manner on mobile. Frequently they’re designed for desktops and then kind of scale down to mobile, so we wanted to spend some time on that. We also just really wanted to spend time on usability. And we initially wanted to build a Venmo style de-centralized mobile wallet, but we couldn’t make it easy enough on the existing platforms. And so then we ended up Kind of focusing on building a platform that would enable a fully decentralized, really easy to use mobile applications focused on Defi and payments and everything, you know, web 3.0 related.
Yeah. Geez, what a background. That’s a long time coming. Like your journey. You’ve seen a lot, you are an OG in tech you’re obviously an OG in crypto. I guess like my question to you, what is it about crypto that drew you to working in building in this space? Getting Bitcoin from Brian Armstrong in a music festival in 2013 is a really good way to get started, but like there’s one aspect of collecting and there’s one aspect of feeling this energy to solve problems. How did it kind of manifest for you?
Yeah, I think a couple of things. I mean, I think programmability is number one for me. I think the fact that we can innovate now with money and with social organizations, and ways of organizing, you know, this is really exciting. This is totally new, and something that wasn’t possible at this level by this many people before, right? It used to be that if you wanted to, I dunno, think about demurrage and its effect on, you know, circulating supply of money, you’d have to be an economist somewhere, some academic, you know, thinking about all of this really academically, maybe doing some simulations. Now like literally you can build a protocol and launch it, have people use it and actually see how it works. That is just absolutely incredible. And then, you know, the community side, that is the part where you can actually have rules that enforce how organizations are constructed and work together. Again, like I think that would have been something that maybe people would have been thinking about in communities, and now we can actually innovate and do things. And this is just literally the beginning with what we’re seeing with DAOs right now. I think there’s just so much innovation that’s going to come out of this. It’s just really, really exciting and it’s really just impactful. For us, we really saw, I think like a lot of people, we really saw this programmability, this ability to innovate you know, you saw that it would allow ways of transacting, ways of reaching people who have been traditionally financially excluded. We just saw that was a possibility, and from kind of, what do you want to work on for the rest of your life perspective, you know, there’s very few things that are more kind of compelling than that. So, I think that was the main motivator.
Thinking About Mobile Experience
You know, when you talk about being mobile first, the first thing that does come to mind is one being able to buy and sell crypto on the go. I guess the next thing that comes to mind is now with this whole evolution of NFTs, the UX on buying and purchasing on the go still is really shitty. Partly because I think it’s also a lot of Apple’s regulatory side of the app store and kind of controlling what comes in and what goes out, and all the wallet components that come with that. But, you know, when I think of mobile, the current state for me is that browser in Metamask, for example, and being able to access web 3.0 applications through a more native like wallet connect feature. It’s horrible. It’s absolutely horrible, but that’s just like a very narrow view from an end user’s point of view. What does mobile look like? In the end to end vision from application to infrastructure to use ability to scalability, talk to me about this vision. Like what, what are you guys seeing internally that’s like, wow, there’s an opportunity here? This is how we’re planning to attack it.
Yeah, amazing question. I mean, I think first and foremost, it’s a mindset, right? I think if you look at what happened around 10 years ago in the web 2.0 space. Luke Wroblewski wrote this book “mobile first” and then went on to evangelize this idea that everyone needs to just start thinking primarily in terms of mobile and then secondarily in terms of desktop. And if you do that, you will build applications that are unlike anything that, you know, we were building before that were targeting desktop and notebook applications. And you know, obviously web 2.0 picked this up, and then some, and, you know, I think we live in a world where we have applications that don’t even work on desktop computers because they use GPSs and others. But, the way that we interact with those applications are also very, very different. We built almost a new class of applications that you use in this a little bit more of a casual kind of setting, right? Like I think people use their phones on their couch, they use their phones on the toilet. I think there was a study once that said that 60% of people use their phones on their toilet, I think clearly tells something really critical and important about us as a species. And that of course, is that we lie because there’s no way that it’s not a hundred percent. And compare that to the way people use DeFi on desktop computers today, you know, you pull out your ledger, you kind of roll up your sleeve. Someone was telling you that when they do, especially, more complicated DeFi operations on their computers, they like mentally put aside time and really try to get in the Headspace to do it. You know, I think that’s just a very, very different way of interacting with these products.
Partly, because it’s also super manual. There’s a lot of things that could be automated that just still require us to click through and read the fine print and go through these junk interfaces. But yea, continue.
Definitely, right? I mean, I think we’re in the early days, and the internet was also, you know, more stressful and took a lot more work in the early days or certainly in the web. And you know, if we think about where we want to go and how we actually reach, you know, billions of users, it’s certainly through mobile. So, we need to design for the way people interact with these applications on these mobile devices. We need to design for the connectivity that these devices have, right? You can’t run a full node on a mobile phone. So if you actually want to do anything in a fully decentralized manner on a phone, you’re pretty much shit out of luck for most protocols out there. So at Celo, we worked really hard to have a light client that uses snarks to effectively prove that the header is part of the chain. So you can actually sync and run a light client directly on your phone. That’s how we reach the first billion users in the crypto space. I think sometimes people really underestimate just how many mobile phone users are out there. If you look at the kind of annual Ericsson mobility report, I think there’s 8 billion mobile devices right now with active subscriptions in the world. That’s four times more than the number of PCs, the 2 billion PCs that people frequently cite, which include actual servers as well. So, you know, clearly just not all of those are desktop computers. So already just a staggering, multiple more of these devices. Then the other thing that people frequently underestimate is just how many of those are smartphones. It turns out that 75% of those are smart phones. So 6 billion smartphone devices today with active mobile subscriptions.
I love how you say that so casually too.
It’s staggering, right? If you’re building products for large numbers of users globally, whether it be at web 2.0 or web 3.0, mobile clearly has to be a place for you to kind of find those users. And if you design for mobile first, then one, you’re going to think about these more intimate interactions that people have with their applications, because you’re right from the get-go designing with mobile in mind. But two, you’re also gonna make it more snappy, right? You’re gonna think about bandwidth a lot more. All these things actually translate to a better desktop as well suddenly, you know, your application just flies. I think that if we’re gonna reach that first billion web 3.0 users, it’s all about getting them on those massive amounts of devices and really thinking in this kind of mobile first manner.
What percentage of crypto activity is actually conducted on mobile right now? Do you know that number? Is that a metric that you can track?
Yeah, it’s a great question. This has been tracked for some of the apps on Celo. I think Ubeswap, which is one of the big DEXs on Celo, shows that I think 86% of their usage is now on mobile. That’s pretty cool. I don’t remember exactly, but it was different from what that number looked like for a Uniswap and curve and I think AAVE. If I remember correctly, it was less than 50% on mobile on those applications. And so the contrast was certainly quite, quite big.
Wow. Crazy. You know, again, it goes back to me just using Chrome, and having a wallet, and me switching from Chrome browser to Metamask or whatever, while I’m using it and coming back to Chrome. And even that 90% of the time it fails. So if I’m trying to adjust a bid on an NFT, if I’m trying to get into a pool, if I’m trying to send a transaction, whatever it may be, it’s a really terrible experience. You know, one application that you guys came out with called Valora which kind of goes back to one of your initial things like creating a Venmo, right? Being able to send money virtually anywhere to anyone through a text message. So beyond the application of sending money, what other applications do you think have yet to be optimized for mobile that are seeing massive traction on desktop, for example?
Yeah. Great question. Actually, I don’t think payments have been cracked right yet. I think Valora is a great start at this, and just for context, for people who aren’t familiar with Valora, it’s one of the flagship mobile wallets on Celo. It really uses a lot of the features that Celo has. It has that light client which is really cool. It allows you to send Celo stable coins really easily. You can pay for those transaction fees with the stable coins themselves, because on Celo you can pay for gas using tokens. Celo by the way is fully EVM compatible, but it has a few bonus features like the ability to pay for gas with tokens. Then the other thing that I think Valora does really well is you can send a payment to a phone number using a fully decentralized phone verification protocol. That’s of the Celo platform, and Valora uses this. So this allows you to send payments to phone numbers, but even more exciting than that, it allows you to send payments to phone numbers before the recipient is actually created, before they’ve even installed the application. It just sits in an escrow smart contract, and once someone has verified a phone number that the money is intended for, then the smart contract releases the funds. So it kind of enables an experience that is more similar to a centralized experience, even though it’s decentralized, right? The fact that you don’t need an extra currency to cover the transaction fee, the fact that you don’t have to use these public key derived addresses. You can just send the payment to someone in your contact list, right? Because ultimately from your contact list, you can get their phone number and then you can send it to them using this decentralized phone verification protocol. The end result, because Celo is scalable and fast and has one block finality, the end experience is just really quite delightful. But, Valora is more than just a payments app. It’s a signing wallet. It has its own. It supports wallet connect, but it also has its own signing API that allows you to go back and forth between native apps and web in a way that’s quite elegant. So once you sign a transaction, it returns you back to the application. It doesn’t tell you, you know, to go back to your application while it connects with us. This allows you to have an experience that is pretty seamless, but that still kind of switches back and forth between the two applications. If you think about how signing wallets might scale, dApp browsers certainly serve a really big purpose right now, but I’m not entirely sure that dApp browsers are going to be able to compete against the web browsers of the future. So I think ultimately either having a wallet that’s a separate app that has just a really great interface for switching back and forth between the browser or between native apps that people have built or also have a signing wallet to interact with. You know, I think there’s certainly a lot of exciting potential in that direction. So Valora has kind of this pretty nice experience there around this. I think in terms of what’s next for mobile to get to your original question. I think social payments is one thing, but we talked about how money is programmable and so much innovation is happening. There’s a lot of people building community currencies on Celo, people building UBI protocols on Celo. These are things that just inherently make sense to be. So impact market has a really cool UBI program where people claim 50 cents a day using a native application, and then that money gets sent to Valora and then they typically transact in their local communities using Valora buying groceries and other things. Those are, you know, inherently mobile things. Humanity cash is building Berkshares. Berkshares is I think one of the most famous paper community currencies out there in Massachusetts, in a town called Berkshire. They’re also bringing this onto the blockchain, and I think being able to transact in local communities using currencies to promote local spending and bring a benefit to those local communities I think is really, really, really interesting. And so there’s going to be, I think, lots of things on mobile related to that. But then, as you think about traditional Defi and even CeFi, right? I think certainly, a lot of people are buying crypto and exchanging assets using DEXs. But, you know, I would say the experience is still not competitive to centralized exchanges, right? You need, on Ethereum you need to buy some ETH to pay for gas to use Uniswap. You typically get that by going through a centralized exchange, in which case you’re kind of defeating the point of using a DEX if you already have access to a centralized exchange. So one thing that I really kind of see going forward in the future is rather than cashing in through a Dex, you kind of cashing through a kind of cash in cash out kind of provider. You know, there’s many such companies now, you know, ramp and Ponto and Wyre that are kind of specializing in this. And if you cash into a stable coin that you can also pay for gas, then suddenly you can replicate the experience that you have with something like Coinbase, right? You can cash in just like you connect your bank account and like move funds over to your actual Coinbase account, you can go through that experience, but instead of having just some numbers sitting in a bank account used by the kind of centralized exchange, you will literally self custody those stable coins straight away once you cash in. Then if you can pay for that transaction fee with those stable coins, suddenly you can trade arbitrarily. You can lend arbitrarily, you can borrow arbitrarily. You can do everything that you want to do, and what many people are doing in DeFi today, but without the need for some other currency that you need to pay for gas with. This really unlocks these more centralized experiences that are quite nice, but it makes possible in a fully decentralized manner. And if you do it well on mobile then because self custody wallets are frequently regulated very differently than custodial wallets globally. You know, suddenly you can also have a global addressable market for your mobile experience. So that to me is, I think, where the puck is heading, and I’m really, really excited about that future.
What’s Stifling Mobile Adoption?
Can you talk more about what are the biggest issues stifling development and mobile adoption? I know you mentioned a few in the beginning, but can you list a few more out?
Yeah, So, I mean, if you really believe in censorship resistance, surveillance resistance decentralization, then certainly light clients are just really high up on the list. Even if you just, you know, care about it from a scalability perspective, there’s frequently on a lot of these newer EVM compatible chains that have very high throughput, like Celo, like Polygon, like Avalanche, every now and then you get crazy usage and all of the RPC nodes servicing, a lot of these web apps, servicing Metamask, servicing mobile phones, they start to get overloaded, right? And so one really elegant thing about light clients is that you can actually scale and service those applications in a decentralized manner where full nodes on the platform can come and offer that service. Celo also has this concept of full node incentives where you actually can get rewarded for running a full node for servicing these light clients. So, just from a scalability perspective, that’s also pretty interesting. I mean, beyond that, I think the jury is still out on what’s going to be the best signing experience. People are building extensions in safari now that offer a kind of interesting signing experience. Not every browser, not every platform supports extensions, so it’s going to be interesting to see if that evolves. You’ve got things like Valora that certainly implement wallet connect, but also have their own kind of I would say like finely tuned signing API that allows you to kind of switch back and forth between applications in a way that it’s very, very seamless. You’ve got wallet connect, which is really nice because it also allows you to use your phone to sign transactions on desktops. So I think, this kind of amalgamation of all of these different ways of using your phone to sign transactions, and I think it’s going to be interesting to see how this evolves. We talked about building and kind of this mobile first mindset. Part of that will be actually DeFi apps, building native applications. And we’re seeing some functionality being integrated into wallets today, but that’s not going to scale, right? We’re not going to have a single wallet with thousands of kind of built in applications. So either we’re going to have a really interesting plugin architecture where you can interact with these things in a very native feeling manner or, these applications are going to have to start creating their own native applications, their own mobile apps effectively that interact with these signing wallets. I think that is our future where pretty much every application in the app store in the play store is going to be web 3.0 enabled, and you’re no longer going to need this extra layer of indirection by using something like a dApp browser on your phone. I think that we’re still a ways away from that being the default, but I think we’re certainly going to get there eventually.
Do you see that vision with Apple in it, or do you see a new type of product coming to market that’s more web 3.0 decentralized friendly that I guess, is competition on a hardware play, for example? I only asked that and I know it could be like a crazy question, because Apple, is Apple, you know? We all have our iPhones, I’m streaming on a Mac book right now, but they’re making it increasingly more difficult for crypto developers to push applications through the app store to kind of encompass this mobile first vision, and to make it really native and seamless and the user experience kind of looking and feeling as it should for a replication of like web 2.0 applications, right? So maybe far fetched, but I’m wondering if you’ve thought about that before, and if you have any thoughts on that?
Yeah. I mean, certainly there’s been Android manufacturers that have built web 3.0 crypto specific features. The ability to use your kind of trusted execution environment to sign, you know, ecdsa signatures using the elliptic curves that are more common, but it’s not even every Android manufacturer that’s doing that. Certainly some of these features aren’t default Android features provided by Google. So, I think it will take some time for Apple and Google to start offering these things, but I think it’s inevitable, right? I think especially NFTs being such a great kind of gateway for users into the web 3.0 space, I just see so many more users entering space, and I think it’s going to be very difficult for these big companies to really ignore it. I think there’s going to be a tipping point where, you know, every company is going to be a web 3.0 company and that will include Google and an apple for sure.
Yeah, I definitely agree with you on that sentiment. Let’s talk about scalability. Because it’s obviously a core conversation around any network, and I know you guys are approaching scalability in a very interesting light, which also has led so far to a lot of the success that you’re seeing on the network itself. Can you talk more about scalability? How are you guys thinking about that? How is that different from Ethereum, Solana, and the whole shebang? I think it’s super important to kind of unveil.
Yeah, really good question. Yeah. So Celo right now has its own proof of stake protocol that uses, stake to elect, hundreds of validators who then perform BFT based consensus. Now because we have that really efficient light client, we do things using the elliptic curve, and we aggregate all signatures into a single multisig on each header. So, everything is very compact and snark friendly and conducive for fast thinking and just, you know, fast transaction processing. So that’s where we are today, but I think we were excited by the prospects of scaling traditional EVM to Celo level throughputs. We think that, you know, there’s still a lot of room to vertically scale these types of VMs, and so we’re investing a lot on that front. One such example of that investment is a joint kind of collaboration with Mysten Labs. Mysten Labs is a recently formed company by a former Diem and Novi cryptography, distributed systems, programming languages kind of researcher and expert. And the Celo foundation has kind of a long-term kind of partnership now with them, and we’re working and cLabs in particular is working closely with Mysten to bring some really exciting new innovations to the platform. So specifically Mysten is looking at bringing narwhal and tusk, these two kinds of protocols, one around mempool ordering, and one around consensus to the Celo platform. This is a protocol that was developed by these folks during the time of Diem and it’s really quite elegant. It’s really cool to see the performance of it. They’ve shown it to scale to hundreds of thousands of transactions per second, using a kind of global Scale latencies. So if you’re running a blockchain with servers running all around the world, you know, latencies are longer, it’s harder to get through this throughputs, but with this protocol, they were able to kind of get to hundreds of thousands, effectively Solana level performance. So they’re working now on this again meeting kind of cLabs on a weekly basis. And I’m looking to kind of add this to the protocol. So that’s, really, really exciting. Again, I think there’s still a lot of room for vertical scaling for EVM chains as we’ve seen with all the demand for EVM compatible chains in the last year. I think there’s yeah, just a lot of appetite in the market for that as well.
Celo in the Creator Economy
You know, a lot of what Mint aims to do is to kind of teach not only like the everyday people, but a lot of like the creators, the artists, and I guess the people who are introducing a more like sexy narrative to crypto through NFTs, through social tokens and whatnot. I want to quickly talk about this integration that you guys did, which sparked a lot of my attention to my excitement around Celo, was also super relatable to Mint because of the nature of the podcast, this proof of listening collaboration you did with social stack. From what I understand, you guys developed this protocol or essentially this way to kind of track listenership and reward people either through NFTs or tokens et cetera. How is Celo kind of thinking about the creator communities that are starting to appear and kind of more of the normie audiences that are entering crypto through NFTs, through social tokens, through art music, culture? How do you think about that? Cause it also comes from the point of view of like introducing people through NFTs and then getting them intact with DeFi. And kind of like exploring that entire route. Walk me through your point of view on that.
Yeah, great question. I mean, NFTs are just obviously like a really great innovation and they’re just super exciting. Yeah, it just unlocks so many new ways of interacting with digital assets that, you know, it’s clear that they’re paradigm changing. And certainly, doing so on mobile has already shown to be one of the preferred ways that people interact with these things. So it’s really, really interesting for us. I think the frequent criticism that the artists coming into this space give is, holy crap if I’m going to mint this NFT, it’s going to create how much carbon, that’s obviously, super either kind of ethically an issue for folks or just, yeah, downright scary. So I think that’s certainly a place where people have found comfort when looking at Celo, because Celo obviously is proof of stake, so has a much smaller carbon footprint, but even more so than that, Celo automatically buys carbon offset credits with each block using block rewards directly from project Wren. So it’s actually fully Carbon neutral and actually buys more than it uses. So it’s actually carbon negative, and it has been since the network was launched a year and a half ago now. So that’s been really resonating with a lot of creators and I think the mobile first nature also just really, really resonates. And yeah, it’s been really exciting.
Yeah, because you’re right to some folks this whole issue of climate impact and what crypto is supposedly doing to the climate. Some people have other opinions, it’s an ongoing back and forth narrative, but by design Celo’s network is to favor and to protect and to encourage ethical use. And providing for climate and being super active on that front, from what I’m understanding.
Yeah. It’s been definitely important to us, right from the get-go. One of our advisors is Charles Eisenstein. He’s this kind of philosopher / author, and wrote this really inspiring book called sacred economics. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of what we got excited about when we started Celo. Many of those ideas, you know, came from that book.
What are some of those ideas that come to mind?
I mean, I think the big one is natural backed capital. So I think, in the last few months there has been all this excitement around creating stable coins that are backed by carbon sequestering assets. This is an idea actually that Charles wrote about before Bitcoin was even invented in that book, and the way he talked about it back then, it’s really interesting. He noticed that whatever backs, money, people value more in the world, right. Back when gold backed money, you know, you could go mine it, you could trade it for money, and that created the gold rush and, you know, a lot of obvious value was attributed to gold. So, you know, wouldn’t it be nice if we backed money by things that we wanted to see more of in the world, right? And in a world of climate change, the thing that definitely comes to mind the most are carbon sequestering assets, right? Tokenized trees are like a really great example of this. And again, he wrote this, he had this idea before crypto, before Bitcoin. And so at the time it was an interesting idea that you would kind of nod and think, yeah, that’d be pretty cool, but then you kind of flipped the page. Now, literally there are multiple teams, tens of teams, if not hundreds of teams working on solving this exact problem, like thinking about this and, Celo is no exception, right? We have a built-in stable coin that you can use to pay for gas like I mentioned before, technically multiple stable coins. It’s a Celo dollar, the Celo Euro and soon the Celo Brazilian Real. You know, these stable coins are backed by the same kind of over collateralized crypto asset reserve, and 0.5% of that reserve right now is made up of carbon offset credits. And the goal and the intention is to really raise that up to 40% or so of the reserve to be composed of these kinds of carbon sequestering assets, and if you want to do that well, in a fully decentralized manner, you need hundreds of companies tokenizing these things so that you have a diverse basket of these so that it’s truly decentralized. And so to get to that kind of reality, a couple of months ago, we launched the climate collective. You can check it out on a climatecollective.org. We registered the Celo stability mechanism for the hundred million dollar carbon sequestering X prize that just launched recently as well. And you know, now there’s kind of 12 inaugural kind of companies joined by more that are now kind of teaming up really working on kind of addressing this issue and finding ways to tokenize these kinds of assets. And, you know, carbon sequestering assets, that’s just the beginning. You can imagine, pristine rivers as well or something that maybe we want to protect, or oceans or, you know, even affordable housing, you know, these things. Through governance, you know, people can propose and use to back, you know, stable coins and on the topic of, you know, this being a field where people like Charles Eisenstein got to kinda think about this or academics got to kind of write research papers about this, we’re in a world where, you know, we can actually develop these things and actually experiment and not just think about them in a more hypothetical, theoretical way. So that’s just really exciting.
The Next 6 to 24 Months
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. You know, I know we’re reaching our wrap-up limit, but before I let you go, I want to ask you a couple more things. So does the next 6 to 24 months look like at Celo? What is a priority? What can we as users, as developers, as people super excited about what you guys are building and the mission that you’re on, what can we expect? What does that look like?
Yeah, so certainly more really great delightful mobile applications being built on Celo. Celo has this incubator program called Celo camp, they just finished their fourth batch. There were 30 graduating companies that recently showed their demos and pitched investors and raised money. So many really exciting things are happening obviously from DeFi to kind of really great mobile wallets, to NFT related projects, climate related projects, trading things, data unions, UBI related things, community currencies, all of that. And so all done in this mobile first manner. Yeah, a lot of things, so a lot of really great builders are now deploying their products. We just wrapped up, literally yesterday, a big kind of month-long hackathon with 2,400 participants. We’re just sifting through all of the submissions now. There’s just so many really cool and exciting things that are on the horizon. And because you can pay for gas again with stable coins because of the mobile focus, you know the ability to build these kinds of experiences that are unlike what we’ve seen in a web 3.0 before that really rival kind of centralized offerings, but that are fully decentralized, fully available globally. I think that’s, you know, just a big part of Celo, right? There’s companies and projects from hundreds of countries. I think for this hackathon, we got submissions from 130 countries. If you look at how many countries are using Valora, I think it’s close to 150. We have users from 150 countries. So a lot of these types of products are not just popping up and targeting more Western countries, they’re truly global in nature. We’re seeing a lot of protocols and projects building specifically focusing on LATAM, on Africa, on Southeast Asia, and that’s yeah, just really, really exciting. So I think more of that, and then I think more on the payment side, right? I think this is the holy grail for crypto, ever since the Bitcoin white paper, right? And we’re not there yet, right? I think in order for payments to really be ubiquitous, to be done on chain globally, we need cashing in and out offerings in pretty much every country in the world that allow you to convert to and from stable coins everywhere. And then you need blockchains that allow you to send those stable coins with ease at high throughput, low latencies, without having to have another currency to pay for gas. Celo offers that settlement, and we’re seeing a lot of companies now integrating it and using that. You know, Deutsche Telekom recently joined the Celo Alliance. They’re running validators now for Celo, I’m predicting a lot more companies like that kind of joining and really leveraging kind of the ease of use and the scalability of Celo for payments.
Nice. Last thing, before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more about Celo? Show us the destinations. Where are we going?
Yeah, so celo.Org is kind of the Celo foundation’s main website. It has the @CeloOrg Twitter handle as well. And then since my last name is a pain in the butt, you can find me at just @Marek_ .
Nice. And it’s getting so dark here, I’ve never done an episode this late, and it’s only 5:00 PM in California. Excuse, the dark phase, but Marek, what a good conversation. You’re a pool of knowledge and an abundance of information, so much credibility in the space. I’m excited to see how it rolls out and we’ll be keeping a close eye, so thank you for being on and hope to have you soon again.
Amazing Adam. Thank you so much for having me.