A tale of Decentralization and Prosperity
Interview with Ali Raheman Co-founder of Autonio
1) Decentralization — no other cryptocurrency buzzword has been misused and abused like this one. What does it truly mean in your opinion?
Decentralization means, at its core, a functioning mechanism that has no central command. It has existed in nature for eons. Decentralized intelligence is omnipresent in nature: it can be seen in the behavior of bird flocks, ant colonies, and schools of fish and is reflected throughout the world of biology.
To me, decentralization using blockchain is a system that creates trust by default, implying that you don’t have to know, like, or trust the person or entity you’re dealing with, or even need a third-party intermediary. Trust or power is distributed among the network’s stakeholders, rather than concentrated in the hands of a single individual or a small number of entities.
How does Autonio intend to implement this principle you might wonder?
The Autonio Foundation is working to implement this concept through our principle of Prosperity, a philosophy that is established around the decentralization of wealth. By making augmented trading tools and services widely available to the masses and strictly adhering to qualities like transparency, distribution of power and empowering our community with the ability to make their own decisions, we believe we can more widely distribute opportunity and create more equitable outcomes for all. From a technical standpoint, we’ve structured our solutions to be as decentralized possible, be it our smartdex, our trading terminal (which is run locally on user’s devices) or our AI network.
2) While many decentralized exchanges (DEX) pop up, centralized exchanges like Binance still are the primarily used ones. What is the reason for this, and how will Autonio attract users and authentic volume to its exchange?
Ease-of-use, liquidity and brand value are the primary reasons for exchanges like Binance being among the top exchanges. However, the state of today’s exchange architecture poses a risk to the decentralized nature of blockchain in a few ways. First, by operating as corporations within existing countries, they have made themselves subject to regulation and legal oversight by the governing body of the country they’re located in. Second, by maintaining control of all the wallets and coins at all times, these entities have centralized extremely large stores of both crypto and fiat currencies. This makes any traditional exchange a potentially massive single point of failure for the entire market as a whole.
This is the reason why major exchanges like Binance and Bitfinex have focused on their own DEXs because that’s where we are progressing as an industry. What we aim to do with the NIOdex is to provide equitable access to powerful and transparent tools that can drive volume or elect new pairs to be listed on the exchange. This will put the levers of power in the hands of our users and drive engagement with the communities of our listed tokens.
3) The way I see it, a major reason for the 2017 ICO bubble where companies with very limited token use, what are the tokens NIO and NIOX used for and what’s the benefit of using or holding them?
NIO is the utility token that enables the trading terminal functions and features. It functions as a license, allowing you to unlock the app, buy or sell algorithms, or access new modules integrated into the trading terminal. It can also be used as a base pair when trading other tokens on the exchanges that integrate within our trading app. It grants access to our ecosystem and facilitates interaction among peers within it.
NIOX is the protocol token of our smartdex and grants access to special abilities on the exchange. With enough NIOX holdings, users can become VIPs and never have to pay exchange fees ever again. This creates an ideal set of conditions to use our integrated market maker most efficiently. It also acts as a loyalty incentive: the more volume you realize through the market making tool, the more NIOX you accumulate. It also gives exchange users the power to vote for their favorite tokens to be listed on the smartdex, empowering anyone that is an owner of NIOX with voting power on potential new exchange pairs.
We want our ecosystem to fully encompass every aspect of cryptocurrency trading. That’s why we felt it was important to provide a comprehensive set of tools needed by modern traders on a single shared platform. This is what we refer to as the NIO Suite which is comprised of AutoNIO, the Algorithmic Trading Terminal; NIOdex, a smart decentralized exchange; NIOnet, Artificial Intelligence module; and TA.it, a Steemit inspired incentivized trading analysis forum. With all of these products, we needed to provide custom solutions for allowing access to various levels of the suite. The solution we developed took shape with the two tokens acting like binary stars — NIO and NIOX.
4) What’s the 2019/20 plan for Autonio? Please speak about the upcoming sequence of products rolling out.
The focus of Autonio Foundation for 2019–20 is the continuous release of the NIO Suite components and a large-scale adoption campaign to empower new users with high quality, industry-grade trading tools and services to achieve financial freedom. The goal is to enable our users to exercise increased individual control while navigating the crypto market with convenience and a greater variety of trading opportunities. The adoption strategy will also include an educational campaign to introduce people to cryptocurrencies and train them in algorithmic trading by utilizing the tools provided by the NIO Suite.
We have already released the alpha stages for the trading terminal and the smartdex, with the neural network being the next product made available for our users. While we will slowly develop the two trading mediums, the app, and the DEX, the neural network will become the fulcrum of our project. We believe this will provide the unemotional, analytical helper every trader needs and place it at the disposal of all our users. To summarize, during the next two years we will continue to polish and enrich our existing trading tools while providing additional services that complement the crypto-trading experience. As we build out the rest of the ecosystem, we believe it will provide our users with an edge in relation to the rest of the market.
5) Autonio is trying to position itself as a tool for amateur traders to more easily participate in the market. Why is that important and what else needs to happen for this to come to fruition?
First of all, education is going to be a major factor in making this happen. Without it, no kind of tool can enable anyone to trade in an effective manner. You might get lucky once or twice, but without it, failure is inevitable. We will need to provide education and spread awareness about cryptocurrencies, about basic trading analysis and algorithmic trading. We will need to provide people with the right tools and information. These will be key factors that define the success and impact of Autonio.
Secondly, it’s extremely important for traders to be able to navigate the cryptocurrency market without making emotional decisions while trading. The volatility of this market requires a level of vigilance that few are capable to provide and a level of experience and knowledge that few have cultivated.
The goal of NIO Suite is to make sense of the chaotic multitude of crypto-assets with a decentralized environment that utilizes all the needed elements: an exchange, a trading terminal, AI analysis, and an education forum. Only when all of these elements are combined, will an amateur user be able to effectively sail the storms of the crypto oceans.
In order for our vision to be truly realized, it’s equally important to attract expert traders and provide them with state-of-the-art tools and services. A community of active traders who are incentivized to share trading strategies with average users will nurture a social trading environment that allows users with all levels of experience to exploit crypto-asset volatility. This is how we envision that the goals of Prosperism will be achieved and what gives our motivation for this project to succeed.
6) Autonio has got a wide range of different projects, why is it important to have a variety of products?
The Autonio ecosystem comprises of a network of products that are essential to realizing the larger vision of building a prosperous community around algorithmic trading. In order to achieve financial freedom and independence, we believe it is essential to give users the ability to maintain self-custody of their assets in their own wallet and ensure they can trade them with ease. Each of our products serves an important function in making this happen. There are so many different components to modern trading that we felt it was essential to provide a line of products to cater to the entire industry, namely: a decentralized and smart exchange, an automated algorithmic trading tool, a neural network analyzing the markets, and the educational platform that provides the knowledge to properly understand all the concepts needed to successfully become an empowered participant in this industry.
7) What is the benefit of a decentralized exchange compared to a centralized one? What exchange practices could be improved by Autonio?
The crypto space is no stranger to exchange hacks resulting in millions of dollars being lost. This is obvious just by looking back in history at Mt. Gox or a more recent example like Cryptopia. This failure point of centralized exchanges challenges the safety and security of what blockchain generally offers. Because of events like this, the average Joe thinks that cryptocurrencies are risky and unsafe to use. In reality, that risk is often generated by centralized entities managing users’ assets through their engines.
With a decentralized exchange, users always maintain control over their funds through the smart contract. So instead of depositing the funds, one wants to trade into the black hole of a centralized exchange, they will always remain in control, even if the front end of the website becomes inaccessible. No matter what your funds are safe. In my opinion, this is the most important factor when dealing with cryptocurrency transactions, which everybody knows are irreversible by the design of the blockchain.
When it comes to exchange practices, I think the most important improvement is that we will not have hidden market makers that only work for the benefit of the few. We will be offering this tool to all so it can create liquidity in a more transparent way. We will not be asking for insane amounts of listing fees for new projects. Instead, we will be giving the power of new token listings to our community. By using decentralization and putting powerful tools in the hands of our users, we hope to bring a new flavor of competence and legitimacy to the practices in this sector.
8) What is the role of governance for the project, how can users of the DEX participate in future decisions like coin listings or areas where the project could go?
One of the most important aspects of our ecosystem is a quadratic governance model, which we have gathered under ten principles that are collectively named Crowdocracy. In order to explain the concept in depth, I’ll be releasing a 10-part article series to describe the working principles of this governance model and its implications on our ecosystem and potentially on the entire crypto sphere.
9) Autonio had a hard time launching into this never-ending bear market, what were the challenges as a cryptocurrency CEO and founder in a bear market?
Bear markets I believe are extremely important and useful in sorting out trivial and baseless projects from the ones that have a strong foundation and a passionate team. Historically, any industrial disruption or quantum leap generates an exponential growth period, this leads to indefinite optimism among people which can be a dangerous thing. When growth is unsustainable, it brings the inevitable depression, but this is the time that helps separate the diamonds from the dirt.
While you look at other projects that raised tens or hundreds of millions of dollars now being put to rest on the shelf, one might wonder why Autonio is still running and what we did that those well-funded projects failed to do. The answer is extremely simple: sheer passion. No amount of cash can buy passion and dedication. It is the one thing that keeps you awake at night, sometimes several nights in a row, grinding away at the difficult tasks you have yet to achieve.
Although it has been a hard road and we have encountered obstacles around every corner, we as a team have rallied around our collective passion and dedication for the project. This shared drive and our team’s combined skill sets have made my life as a CEO a little bit easier than anyone would expect.
10) Where do you see the future of cryptocurrency? Will it reshape the world in the way the internet did?
Absolutely it will, and I think people are slowly realizing that. More than cryptocurrency itself, I believe blockchain is transforming how we interact, transact and participate. Just like internet brought with it the dot com bubble, blockchain brought with it the ICO gold rush. Now that the dust is settling, quality solutions and long-term visions will prevail, and these initiatives are the ones that will transform all industries.
12) What is the marketing approach of Autonio? How could the community be more involved and activated?
In general, we have preferred to focus on finishing our main products. We have also been steadily working to build a name for our team within the industry. We’ve accomplished this by networking with other crypto projects, collaborating with their teams on some of their ventures and building partnerships. That’s how we became close to BitShares. It’s why the “Godfather” of BitShares, Stan Larimer, is now our advisor and honorary brand ambassador.
It’s how we got to be listed with Netcoins, a thing that is overlooked by many, but it is a very powerful tool. Allowing anyone to access our token now from one of their 19,000+ store partners around the globe. Another example is our most recent partnership with SingularityNET’s DAIA (Decentralized AI Alliance). We consider these relationships to be more powerful than any paid promotional article in any crypto publication.
They’ve allowed us to make money and grow our name recognition among the heavyweights in the industry, instead of spending money and being forgotten the next day.
We are also preparing a larger campaign that aims to recruit more brand ambassadors based on a number of factors: their public reach, alignment with our brand values like Prosperism, dedication to our products, and most importantly, passion towards crypto mass adoption and crypto trading as a lifestyle. This is a progression of our strategy to build word of mouth marketing for the upcoming period. We will be working to make our own users our greatest promoters, not because they hold our tokens, but because they hold our products in their hands, they work with them and they provide positive results. This is our mentality regarding marketing, given how fiscally prudent we must be and this long bear market, we will let our products and ambassadors do the talking for us.
13) How will Autonio tackle the often-discussed issue of scalability?
Well, we are fortunate enough to have given NIO a fully utilitarian purpose as the lifeblood for our trading terminal. NIO acts as a license for the terminal. All you have to do is hold it or use it as a payment for various things on the marketplace. This means that the TPS are not that important for us, as the main playground for our trading terminal are the centralized exchanges, such as Binance, Bittrex or Kraken. However, we are not limiting ourselves to those or the decentralized exchanges from the BitShares environment which are pretty fast. As NIO is still an ERC-20 token, we are looking forward to the improvements that the Constantinople network upgrade will bring. Currently, we are not as concerned with the scalability issue so much, because our decentralized trading terminal is already functioning in fast environments and is able to run in as many instances the user’s device can handle. In regard to NIOdex on the other hand, we have a target to move towards an agnostic medium. It could potentially a blockchain of our own, but will certainly incorporate some kind of multi-platform interconnected protocol, allowing us to be a truly smart and decentralized exchange in every sense of the phrase. Until we take that step, we have implemented a shortcut in the smartdex engine, one that allows us to match orders with greater speed than the Ethereum network would have allowed us. From this point of view, I think we tackled the scalability issue pretty well. Although we are prepared for further evolution at the same time.
14) Crypto has come out of the shadows and institutions and nations are taking notice, what are your thoughts about regulation? How much can be done without losing the true essence of decentralization?
See, while I do agree that crypto has come out of the shadows, and I am very glad about that, I have some reservations with regulation as it might be interpreted when looking at the old ways of the financial authorities. The truth is that beginning with Satoshi Nakamoto’s manifest whitepaper, a new era has begun. Now our goal is to empower the individual. There now is free access to information and all kinds of education. Just look at all the free online courses universities like MIT are making available online.
Although there has been a great revolution in providing access to information, is only logical that a corresponding revolution needs to take place in the financial space as well. One that puts the tools and knowledge in the hands of the many and gives them the freedom to govern themselves. I just read a tweet from Gabor Gurbacs that said: “Thanks to Bitcoin and digital assets, I believe, many people learn about markets, investing, charting, fundamentals, gold, safe havens & other economic concepts for the first time. This is a phenomenal form of education & experience that will shape a new generation of investors.” I think this framing of the societal shift holds very true. What used to be a closed circle back in the ’90s and before, where only a select few had access to capital markets, is now becoming extremely accessible to people all over the world with the internet and cryptocurrency.
While I totally agree and fully support the implementation of increased security measures and greater protection for the individuals that risk their money and sometimes their safety, as well as measures against scammers which I think are the greatest evil for this industry, I think a lighter regulatory approach will be most effective. For example, the taxation on crypto transactions and freezing of bank accounts should be more benign than it is in some counties. We are thinking of ways to link users to their crypto wallets, without revealing their identities to other third parties, so this way you’d be certain you are dealing with an honest counterparty.
At Autonio, we value privacy and autonomy more than anything. No one has the right to expose other people’s lives or personal info for any ordinary reason. To answer your last question, I think cryptography can do a lot to ensure transparency, honesty, and trustless interaction between good actors. It can just as well minimize the ability of bad actors to exploit participants who make transactions in good faith without affecting the decentralization of crypto services at all. This is not a simple equation to solve, but the cryptocurrency space will need to find its own way to balance these concerns. I believe the most important thing we can do as an organization and as individuals is to lead by example, practicing the sort of ethics and values we want to see implemented in this space over the long term, and continually refining our practices and techniques to better reflect these ideas in our products.
some links to #dyor
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