Harmony Grants are to drive our platform’s mainnet utility 🔧, decentralized community 👩👩👧👦, and cryptographic innovations ⚡ — aligned with our 2020 roadmap on cross-border finance 💸 and auditable privacy 🛡️.
Your grant and project are fully transparent to everyone. Details of all grants such as application materials, funding amounts, community discussions, governor decisions and wallet addresses are publicly available at harmony.one/open-grants.
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Tell us about yourself and your team
We (Mitchell Krawiec-Thayer and Ronald Mannak) have been working together for about a year and a half. Mitchell is a PhD and is the protocol architect at privacy coin Monero. He also heads up research at Insight Data Science where he previously set up the distributed consensus track.
I (Ronald) was Entrepreneur in Residence at Insight and spent the two years before Insight working on open source crypto tools and was a PhD student in P2P networks. In the past I’ve created hardware and software with millions of downloads or sales.
Tell us about what you’re building. What problem are you trying to solve?
We like to see blockchain reach mass adoption. That hasn’t happened yet. dApps usage is still very low. Even wallets are much harder to use than they should be. It’s holding back growth. Our initial focus is on creating a dead simple app for payments and requesting payments. Think of it as a Venmo or Square Cash for Harmony ONE, but then completely decentralized.
Venmo and Square Cash App have been around for a few years. There hasn’t been a crypto version of it yet. Why not? What makes you guys confident that you can build one?
Most companies in the crypto space have focused on the technical part. And while there is still room for technical innovations, we believe it’s time to improve the user experience for the next 10 to 20% of the market that’s not as technically savvy as the current users.
Why we’re confident we can build this is because I’m good at making complex technology easy to use. I’ve done that multiple times for non-crypto markets. Once you make a product accessible, you enlarge the market. Suddenly you’re not competing against existing players anymore and the game changes to a non-zero sum game.
Of all the other chains with whom you could partner, why Harmony? What is it about us that you find compelling and different?
Ronald: I wouldn’t be surprised if a consolidation in layer ones will happen sooner than later. Some chains that raised way too much money act more like a private equity fund than a blockchain company.
I am convinced that the current layer ones that relentlessly focus on user-experience and improving their chain will stay in business. This obviously includes Harmony but also a team like Near, or a blockchain that targets a niche like Forte for gaming.
Harmony is a multidisciplinary team that besides technically capable is a relentless focus on improving the product. That’s the winning combination, and the kind of company we love to work with.
I expect that the next generation of blockchain to be very different from the current generation, and the cards will be shuffled again. Coda and Mir are examples of the next generation of blockchain. Unlike traditional blockchains, their blockchains don’t grow thanks to the use of zero knowledge proof. We are actually also working on a new layer one that may or may not evolve into a layer two solution. Perhaps on top of Harmony, who knows?
Mitchell: I suspect that multiple layer-one solutions are necessary to cover the wide problem landscape. For example, the world needs both private money and flexible decentralized computation, however designing a chain to excel at one of those use cases will inherently limit its utility for the other. (A diverse smart contract ecosystem utilizing a variety of different features is desirable on the computation chain, but would be considered terrible information leaks and and a significant transaction linkability risk in a privacy chain context). I’ll never say ‘never’ — a universal chain may emerge in the future! However, I believe that currently humanity’s collective body of knowledge benefits from multiple layer-1 working groups advancing technology specialized for a variety of purposes.
If you could have your wish, five years from now, where do you see your App for ONE?
It should be a household name everyone is familiar with and uses on a regular basis. There is a lot of work to do, and I believe it is achievable.
If you both weren’t in blockchain, what would you both be doing instead?
Ronald: I invented electronic children’s toys before. My toys were the best selling toys on Amazon and other stores a few years ago. The toy industry is a very conservative and innovation-averse market. I’d love to revolutionize the toy industry some day with Silicon Valley innovation.
Mitchell: I’d be continuing my data science research, especially exploratory data analysis and feature extraction/selection. Before entering the blockchain space in 2017, I focused on topological data analysis and leveraging statistical methods across atmospheric chemistry, genetic biology, and audio signal processing.
Developers can build on Harmony today, a fast and open blockchain for decentralized applications, suited to handle DeFi and cross-border finance. Harmony Mainnet supports state sharding with instant finality. Our staking mechanism reduces centralization while supporting delegation and slashing.
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