FIO (Foundation for Interwallet Operability) came into existence in August 2018. The FIO ecosystem aims to enhance digital currency operability since they realized that users undergo major issues in the usage of cryptocurrencies. Its mission is to make crypto transactions as seamless as possible for users.
David Gold, CEO, and Founder, FIO spoke exclusively to CryptoNewsZ and discussed the FIO platform with us in this interview.
CryptoNewsZ: Can you tell us about your journey in FIO? How was your journey, and what was it all about?
David Gold: We created the Foundation for Interwallet Operability in August 2018. As a team of passionate cryptocurrency enthusiasts, we felt that not enough was being done to facilitate making blockchain easy to use. The process of sending and receiving tokens and coins is arcane, confusing, and risky. Simply attempting to create yet another wallet won’t suffice – instead, existing ones need to come together to work on a standard that can be adopted across space.
Fast forward to today, this vision is coming together: 19 major wallets, exchanges, and crypto payment providers have joined us to build the FIO protocol to improve the cryptocurrency infrastructure vastly.
CryptoNewsZ: What motivated you to be an important part of the crypto world and then what lead to Interwallet Operability?
David Gold: Cryptocurrency may very well be one of the most important inventions of the digital era, promising financial inclusion and, on the grander scheme, a world where value can be exchanged between any two parties verifiably and without multiple intermediaries. To meet and, indeed, surpass these expectations, usability is essential.
Many are focused on scaling the technology (i.e., speed or throughput), but less thought is given to scaling the UI/UX side of things. The technology may be massively scalable, but it will all be in vain if only a small number of users make use of the systems due to the laborious process of sending and receiving funds. At a high level, The FIO Protocol is going to deliver for blockchain what HTTP did for the internet — an industry standard protocol that creates an order of magnitude leap in usability.
CryptoNewsZ: Can you give a brief description of the FIO protocol?
David Gold: To put it simply, the FIO Protocol aims to be the HTTP to the TCP/IP of a given blockchain: the average user need not know about the TCP/IP protocols underpinning the internet due to HTTP. In the same way, the FIO Protocol aims to act as a ‘front-end’, so that users never need to interact with the complex mechanisms of the blockchain (while still benefiting from its trustless features).
CryptoNewsZ: What are the usability issues which are becoming a hindrance for crypto to flourish?
David Gold: Our Blockchain Usability Report found several key usability issues. 75% of crypto users feel less than completely confident when sending crypto. More than half had one or more challenges doing so in 2018. Nearly one in five had failed transactions or lost funds. And about 1 in 20 were subject to man in the middle attacks on public addresses. The FIO Protocol will eliminate the need for users to deal with complex public addresses, it will create safer workflows such as the ability to request a payment from one wallet to another and it will eliminate the need to ever send a public address via unsecured channels where they can be subject to man in the middle attacks.
CryptoNewsZ: Will you enlighten us how FIO resolves the usability issues?
David Gold: The FIO Protocol positions itself as a blockchain-agnostic layer that facilitates transactions on the underlying chains. The soon to be open source software can be incorporated into existing wallets so as to enable a plethora of new features – a blockchain agnostic naming service to phase out the needlessly complex public addresses, the ability for users to request funds, set up recurring payments or attach metadata to transactions, and a sophisticated overhaul of the existing workflow.
CryptoNewsZ: Why do you think users are not feeling comfortable about crypto payments?
David Gold: Quite simply, because it is complex and risky to move blockchain value, the Internet used to be complex and confusing to use as well. Then an industry usability standard called HTTP changed that. Cryptocurrency payments are radically different from other forms of digital wealth transfer – while most of the work is entrusted to centralized servers in the case of banks or payment services, assets like Bitcoin are controlled solely by the individual that owns them. Mentally, it seems that the layman is unprepared for self-sovereignty, particularly when there’s still a degree of risk involved.
The Internet of Value should not be characterized by users sweating profusely while they wait for their counterparties to confirm receipt of funds. In their current form, cryptocurrency wallets have a long way to go before assuaging these concerns.
CryptoNewsZ: Why do you think there is a minority in the use of virtual currencies? What could be the main reasons?
David Gold: Building on the point aforementioned, virtual currency is a major departure from the fiat ecosystem. It has been a decade since the introduction of Bitcoin, but bootstrapping a new financial paradigm takes time. Interestingly, the Internet was around for a bit more than ten years before a usability disruption (the World Wide Web) enabled it to explode. To increase the number of users, however, it needs to be just as easy – if not easier – to spend cryptocurrencies as one would a debit card/cash.
CryptoNewsZ: Will you like to elaborate on the focus of FIO protocol in 2019?
David Gold: We will be launching an FIO Address Pre-Sale this summer where users can pre-register FIO Addresses and FIO Domains. We are targeting full Mainnet launch for the end of 2019 or early 2020. We are currently in alpha testing with FIO Members.
CryptoNewsZ: CEO David Gold says, “FIO protocol is not a closed party we are inviting everyone to take part,” so are the competitors invited? Who do you think are the major competitors, and what’s your plan to tackle them?
David Gold: Central to our ethos is collaboration. Competition is healthy in much of the cryptocurrency space, but it’s counterproductive when it comes to what we’re trying to do: the FIO Protocol is an attempt at bringing together projects that have traditionally competed – wallets, exchanges, etc. – to establish an industry standard that will benefit the ecosystem at large. The only part of what the FIO Protocol is doing that has been attempted in any way before is the human-readable wallet names we call FIO Addresses. The big difference with FIO Address is that they are immediately blockchain agnostic, are private (no open text directory), and they work with every wallet. And, of course, FIO Addresses are only part of what the FIO Protocol is delivering to enable enhanced usability.
CryptoNewsZ: How many wallets and exchanges have joined FIO till date? According to you, how many more are going to be part of the foundation in 2019?
David Gold: Thus far, FIO has onboard 19 FIO Members in a wide range of businesses: BRD, Mycelium, Enjin Wallet, Coinomi, Edge, My Crypto, Shapeshift, Trust Wallet and many others. By the end of 2019, we are targeting an additional 5-10 FIO members to join the foundation.
CryptoNewsZ: Do you think media is playing any vital role in the usage of blockchain? Please share your views.
David Gold: The media is a double-edged sword when it comes to reporting on developments in cryptocurrency/blockchain: on the one hand, it’s crucial for keeping up to date on the avalanche of projects in existence. On the other, many seem predominantly focused on price movements, and not on the technology itself. The media could be a powerful tool for educating the masses on the transformative potential of cryptocurrency, something that’s still sorely needed.