The Delphi Podcast Host and GP of Delphi Ventures Tom Shaughnessy sits down with Emile Dubié, Co-Founder of XDEFI Wallet, a chain-agnostic wallet to store, send and receive all your digital assets from a single place. The two discuss how the wallet works, interacting with dApps, challenging incumbents, and more!
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Hey everyone, welcome back to the podcast. I’m Tom Shaughnessy. I help run Delphi Ventures and I’m one of the co-hosts of the podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have on Emile of XDEFI. Full disclosure before we get started, we are investors in XDEFI. Emile, how’s it going?
Good. Good. Thanks for having me.
For those watching the video we’re using zoom’s immersive background and it’s a little trippy and it’s a little cool. I’m not sure yet.
That’s pretty cool.
So Emile, tell us a bit about yourself, man. How’d you get started in crypto?
Yeah, for sure. I started working in TradFi as an equity analyst in funds. I remember back in the days, a friend of mine or dev would shout to me, it must have been ’13, ’14, and started explaining a bit more about Bitcoin. He was using it for darknet purposes and so on. At the time I think I was a little bit skeptical. I was a value investor and I didn’t really get the value in Bitcoin.
I think a few years later when Ethereum arrived, I started looking a bit more into it and really understanding all the value that blockchain was bringing to us. That’s when I really got interested about the blockchain ecosystem and then started investing mainly Ethereum at first. Yeah, that’s basically how I got in. I knew about it with Bitcoin and I really got into it when Ethereum came in.
Awesome. Tell me a bit about the genesis of XDEFI. For those who aren’t aware, it’s a really nice wallet experience. What drove you to want to create a wallet?
Okay. Basically, after I left TradFi, and I used to work at Bloomberg and so on, I really wanted to work more in a startup environment. That’s what I did when I joined GemFair three, four years ago. Still at the time, I really wanted to build something on my own and that’s not exactly what happens. Basically what happened is that at first both David and myself started investing in [RUNE 00 02 28] early. I think I invested early 2020, invested after the crash in March. At the time we’re both in jobs that were nice, but a little bit boring, and we were looking at what we could do now that we had bags of RUNE, like whether it would be like running a node, creating some arbitrage bots, or anything else really that the ecosystem, the THORChain ecosystem could have needed.
After a few discussions with the core team at THORChain, we realized that what could be really cool is to create a cross-chain wallet, that it would be super useful to connect with any UI interfaces that are powered by THORChain. That’s how it all started.
We had the opportunity to create a POC after discussing with them and they said, “Look, if we see that you guys know what you’re doing, we’ll incubate you and fund you,” and so on. So we did a POC, they really liked it, they incubated us and then that’s how it all started. It was back in July last year, but we really started in August so it’s actually the anniversary of XDEFI this month. It’s been 12 months now since we started.
That’s awesome. What was the genesis though of the THORChain team wanting to incubate a cross-chain wallet? What was the sell for them?
We didn’t really offer anything. The way it works is that at first it was called asgard chrome extension and at some point the THORChain ecosystem would need that type of infrastructure basically, to have a wallet that can be multi-chain and connect to different interfaces that are obviously leveraging the THORChain protocol. So, really what we were allowing is a UI interface that can basically connect users as a vehicle kind of, to a destination that will be basically the other UI interfaces that are powered by THORChain.
Just for context for everyone, how do people custody and move around cross-chain assets today? I know a lot of people use Metamask and they change the network or they use bridges, but could you dive into why XDEFI is really necessary for the cross-chain experience?
Yeah, for sure. Okay. The way I see it is that I don’t think Metamask was created first to support layer ones, other layer ones than Ethereum Mainnet, and it was not necessarily created to support side chains and other Ethereum-based networks. So today, really the way that a user is going to be able to bridge between Ethereum Mainnet and another Ethereum-based network using Metamask is basically using third-party interfaces, which requires a lot of different clicks that are not making the UX really elegant. I think what we’re trying to do with XDEFI is the following.
At the time we created XDEFI, the multi-chain thesis was there, but it wasn’t validated yet. Then came Binance Smart Chain which attracted a lot of volume and attention. Then came [inaudible 00 05 53]. We’ve seen Polygon, now we’ve seen Luna and Solana and so on. I think today, if you want to be able to interact with all these different ecosystem, you not only need to have several wallets. You also need to use different interfaces and bridges to be able to convert an asset to another asset quite efficiently.
If you’re looking at what’s happening right now with DeFi users, they are heavily hunting yields across the board, and you can see easily people that are jumping from the Solana ecosystem to Luna, to Terra, to Ethereum Mainnet to AVAX now and so on. So, the point of XDEFI being a multi-chain wallet is to basically give the opportunity to people to have all the assets not only stored in the same place, but also being able to access any dapps built on any ecosystem really quickly and bridge their assets easily.
So how would that work? Well, basically you would have cross-chain swaps that are powered by THORChain that allow you to basically seamlessly swap between layer one assets. Then you will have bridges that will be an integration of Hop protocol, for instance, or connects that will allow you to connect different Ethereum-based networks together, and of course, intra-Ethereum swaps [inaudible 00 07 08] aggregator like Terraswap or 1inch and other types of bridges. Basically, effectively what you have is a way to reproduce the experience that you have within a centralized exchange but in a decentralized fashion, and giving a way for DeFi users to ape as seamlessly as they can between different protocols and ecosystem in a seamless manner, basically,
That’s really helpful. I don’t mean to harp on Metamask. It’s just helpful for people that have used it, that have one, and the comparisons make a lot of sense to help visualize it. Why hasn’t Metamask given more of a push or more of an emphasis to being cross-chain? Granted, for their success they’re a huge wallet, they have a great user base, but it always obviously seems like an Ethereum-native wallet. Obviously, technically you could use it for any chain. I’ve been using it for Avalanche recently with their bridge. It’s pretty simple. Why haven’t they made more of a push to be cross-chain?
Yeah. That’s a billion-dollar question. I’m really not sure. Obviously, Consensus is really close to Ethereum so I don’t know if something has happened at that level. I have absolutely no clue. That’s the honest answer. Otherwise than that, I guess that… We created the wallet from the ground up to be agnostic and to be multi-chain. We didn’t stop by one chain and then little by little added other chains. We basically started, we already had Ethereum, Bitcoin and Binance supported from the get-go and everything that was developed, both from a technical point of view and from a UX perspective was thought and built in an agnostic way. I think it’s not that easy to do so, but the exact answer, why Metamask didn’t do it before? I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s political. I don’t know if it’s a technical limitation for them. I don’t know.
I mean, you can use other chains with Metamask. It just doesn’t feel native to Metamask’s design though, right? I always feel like I’m Band-Aiding together switching networks and moving it. It doesn’t feel like they have that native cross-chain built in, if that makes sense.
Yeah, for sure. Sorry. When I was saying cross-chain I meant layer one. Obviously you can use other Ethereum-based networks or compatible. I think yeah, it wasn’t built for it. I think the main limitation here is that you have to switch from a network to another from the top and you cannot have an aggregated view of the different balances, which is a little bit complicated. I think there are still plenty of things that can be improved in XDEFI as well, like to be able to especially visualize and display the assets across the different networks they’re on.
For instance, you have your Ethereum. To be able to have potentially an aggregated balance of your Ethereum in total and then a breakdown by Ethereum-based networks, as in you have that much Ethereum on [inaudible 00 10 13] on Polygon, on Ethereum Mainnet and so on. So, I still think they have a lot of things to do at that level, but yeah, I think Metamask was really focusing on Mainnet at first. The fact that you don’t have an abstraction of the concept of chain from the get-go in the first display that you have of their own screen makes it a little bit more complicated to cater for users that are leveraging the opportunities on different Ethereum-based chains.
I totally agree. I’m sharing my screen right now to just… I’m on the XDEFI wallet site. One of the things you brought up was that you don’t have to change networks to use different assets on XDEFI. I think that’s really important because frankly, it’s just annoying switching networks in Metamask and going between them. Could you dive into that? I’ll scroll through this, but if you could go into the design decisions you guys made, that would be awesome, because there’s a lot of differences with how you use XDEFI and how it looks and the experience, and that’s really important from the consumer’s perspective.
For sure. Basically when we first started, we were compartmenting the chain. We had tabs. I don’t know if you remember, but we had tabs and we were really thinking about it from an engineering perspective. Each type of actions that the users are going to take are going to be chain-specific, which is not entirely the case anymore. So we decided really to abstract the concept of change from the get-go and basically have for the users a display which is only showing their assets.
Then indeed, you’re going to have a small bag that gives you the layer one or the layer two on which the asset is, but ultimately you have all the assets in the same place, irrespective of which chain they are on. I think this is really important if we want to give a multi-chain experience to the new joiners which is a little bit similar to what they already know. What I mean by that is the experience that they’re generally going to have, like on Coinbase or Binance or Kraken, because most of the joiners today of the DeFi space, people are not just jumping into DeFi, downloading a decentralized wallet for the first time they ever think about or touch crypto. They’re going to first be emboldened on Coinbase or on Binance. So, this is really what we were trying to achieve from a UX point of view. To have all your assets irrespective of the native chains displayed in the same space, in the same piece of real estate.
Emile, that’s a pretty big design decision and it’s a pretty big difference for XDEFI. How does that work from the user’s perspective? Like, I open up my wallet. I can see that I own, say, BNB and RUNE and Ethereum and Bitcoin, all from one place. I don’t have to change networks. But if I want to receive BNB or RUNE, obviously I have to send it to a different address. How do you abstract that away? Because everyone’s used to just seeing their address at the top of the wallet, but within your wallet there’s obviously a different address per asset. How do people access that and interact with it?
Okay. You have different way you can do it. Basically, if you look at the design that you have in front of you, you can click on plus, and there you’re going to have a screen which is giving you a toggle with an account number and then a QR code. Maybe I can share my screen. That’d be easier.
Yeah, absolutely. I’ll stop sharing mine.
Let me… I have a lot of stuff open. Give me just one sec.
No, take your time. It’s a pretty big design decision too, because most people are just used to switching networks and it’s quite cumbersome. So it’s cool to be able to see your assets in different chains all in one place. It feels to your point like you’re on Coinbase, but in your browser.
I think you need to enable me to share my screen. No, but I agree with you. I think, look, that’s the thing. Being multi-chain comes with the inconvenient of you don’t have just one address that you can display at the top like in Metamask, because if you create an account you’re going to have potentially this account associated with different chains. There are different things that we are actually implementing now. Okay, perfect. Thanks, Tom. That we are actually..
So, you’re basically going to have a toggle to receive whereby you can select the different accounts that you want to select, and then any of the chain that you want to select, and you’re going to have the address and the QR code. I can also send you some screenshots after the call and you can probably add them to-
No, no, this is awesome. Is there another wallet out there that lets you manage all of your assets on different chains from one view?
I think Trust Wallet does something similar. I don’t think they support as many chains as us, but it’s not an extension. In the extension space, probably one or two. Maybe Coin98?
That’s awesome. You’d said earlier that you started out with tabs. What was the emphasis for switching over to this kind of aggregated view?
Well, at first we were really trying to focus on making it work. This is a wallet so what we’re trying to achieve is signing transactions. That the main thing. UX/UI, we’re not trying to go big on UX/UI up front. We basically went with what was the easiest at first. Then we decided to take this UX decision. I think we were discussing with Luke Saunders a couple of times around that. That came from a few discussions we had actually with Luke.
Now, Luke on our team, he’s our CTO for those who don’t know. He’s got an incredible way of looking at things and building. Emile, going back a little bit. You said it’s really hard to build a cross-chain wallet. How hard is it for you to say, add new supported chains to XDEFI? What do you support today as well? Be helpful to dive in there.
Sure. So we have Ethereum Mainnet. We’re supporting Binance Smart Chain, Binance Chain, Polygon, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, THORChain. We are finishing the integration of Terra as we speak, which is going to be released really, really soon.
That’s incredible. It’s probably a dumb question, but when you support a chain like Terra, obviously, does that grant people the full support to use all the DeFi apps, NFTs on that network? Or how exactly… Are there any lines drawn on what full functionality looks like and full support?
No, it’s going to be full support. When we first integrated Binance Smart Chain, we didn’t. We’re supporting NFT so then we also added the NFTs on that, but yeah, it comes with everything. The point is for us to release the Terra integration with ledger support for Terra. It’s not the case yet on Terra, but yeah. This is a full support. You’re going to be able to do everything that you want to do when it comes to interaction with dapps built on the Terra ecosystem, which is amazing, to be honest. Big fan of what they’re doing.
I totally agree. You’re live at a really good time, because last summer we had DeFi summer on Eth, [inaudible 00 18 18], everyone was having fun, but now people are doing yield farming on Avalanche, on Solana, on [Nuchains 00 18 24] and soon Terra for you guys. It’s kind of like you launched at a good time. I’d love to ask if that was planned or not, but it is good timing.
I think it’s exactly the same than when you guys are investing. We had not an investment. This is whatever we call it, like a thesis and that was a multi-chain thesis and it played out. Luckily for us or not luckily, I don’t know if it’s luck or if it’s anything else, but I guess what’s cool is that there is no Ethereum killer. Ethereum is absolutely amazing. I absolutely love Ethereum, but it doesn’t mean that we won’t have other blockchain ecosystems on the side that are going to have different value propositions and are also going to be attractive and got a volume. We can clearly see it with the different layer one that are popping off. As we said earlier, Solana and Terra which are getting absolutely huge, but also with the different Ethereum-based networks, and there will be more in the future and so on.
Really, the beauty of having this thesis playing out is that indeed, there is a need to have just one wallet to be able to interact with everything, because it’s really cumbersome to have in your browser four or five wallet at the same time, and at the same time having to switch from an interface to another to bridge everything together. I guess we were lucky enough to have that.
I think NFT is also important for us. We’re supporting NFTs across the board, on Polygon, on [DSC 00 19 54], Mainnet, et cetera. That’s definitely something which is going to be super useful for the users. Yeah. I can’t wait really to provide this publicly.
Emile, a lot of times when we’re looking at new plays on the venture side, we always look at large incumbents and we say, “Hey, there’s a giant in the room. They can always move into your space. They can add you as a feature. This isn’t a full product.” We go back and forth a lot on that because it is hard. There’s always some incumbent you’re going up against, right? For you, you took a pretty big bet on two things. One, a multi-chain future being a reality, and then two, Metamask not being able to effectively serve that market.
At the time, making bets that big with your life is hard. How did you get comfortable with that? Or are you still uncomfortable a little bit? I just would love to dig into the thought space there because they are pretty big bets for you.
Absolutely. I think there was a third one. I think the main one was the revenue model, because at the time when we built XDEFI and actually when you invest in XDEFI, and that’s why you’re taking the risk in my opinion as well, outside of just the competitive landscape, is how do we make money? Ultimately, it has always been extremely complicated for wallets to monetize themselves. So obviously afterwards, we’ve seen that with swaps, this is crazy profitable and wallets really do have a new revenue model that can be adapted to them and can generate a lot of revenue, which is awesome. That also has played out, that also has been validated since we created it, which in my opinion was the biggest risk.
When it comes to competition, I do believe we’re incredibly early. I don’t see a space such as ours having one huge wallet and no one else. That’s the thing. If you look at the wallet industry, you have different interfaces. Obviously you have mobile apps and it’s absolutely saturated, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t have plenty of players. If you look at Trust Wallet, you have Rainbow, you have Argent, you have Math Wallet, you have Exodus. You have all of these guys, they’re all huge and they all can live together. And you have Metamask as well, kind of. So in the extension market, you don’t have many people either. You have Metamask, which is probably going to retain a lot of users because this is the legacy actor of the space, but you’re going to have plenty of other people that actually need a tool which is different and which is like XDEFI. You’re probably going to have other tools that are going to be created in the next coming years or even months that are going to provide something else that the users are going to want to use.
I just think we’re incredibly early and there is space for all the competitors, as long as you have a good product, as long as you’re close to your community, you listen to it and you develop features based on suggestions and feedback and you listen to them. So I’m not too worried about it. We’ll see how it plays out, but I believe you should have great product line. [crosstalk 00 23 15].
It’s great color. I love talking to people about the risks they’ve taken and going up against incumbents, the difference between features of products. It’s always an interesting question and I appreciate your answer.
The other thing I wanted to talk to you about was, I’ve been spending a lot of time on OpenSea and SuperRare and Rarible and Universe, take your pick here. Obviously it’s a somewhat similar debate if you distill it, right? I think at the end of the day, they’re all marketplaces so they’re differentiating on their approach and their curation and their UI and the experience for users. It really is creative at the end of the day and that makes it hard to have one winner when people are going to different sites for different experiences. I think it might be very similar for the wallet experience. How do you feel on the creative side of XDEFI? Like the graphics and the marketing and the story and the user journey and experience. That could be very different from other wallets and that could lead people to use you for different reasons if they just enjoy the experience.
I think this is really important. I love that you’re referring to marketplaces because I’ve looked at that a lot and that’s interesting what people are coming up with. I do believe that today, the position of XDEFI is really for DeFi users and probably in the first place for people that are a bit more advanced. This is what we’re targeting and little by little we want to onboard more people that are coming from a more mainstream side of the cryptosphere and hopefully provide them with a tool that can use the DeFi [inaudible 00 24 58] really.
What is important for us is to make sure that we have a UI that is as clean as it gets. This is something that we have been working on now, now that we’ve made it work with eight, nine chains plus, once we have Terra. For the marketing side of things and the communication side of things, we haven’t done any marketing so far. That’s not something that we’ve done at all. We haven’t spent any funds in marketings. That’s been pretty organic, obviously helped by the THORChain community that we’re really close to.
I think when you are a multi-chain wallet, you have the opportunity to actually cater for the needs of different blockchain communities and obviously as you go and as you add more chains, you’re basically having these communities that are coming and feeding yours, which is obviously really helpful.
Otherwise, there are a few things that are going to come pretty soon that I cannot really talk about, but which are going to help lots to have people here. Both XDEFI and obviously guerrilla marketing, we’re working on NFTs for probably nine months now. We have something being coming on NFTs that we haven’t released yet, which is hopefully going to attract a lot of attention. And a few other PR moves that are going to happen. I cannot say too much about it. I’d love to, but it’s a bit early.
No, it’s exciting. The NFT visualization side is important. I just go to OpenSea and I change wallets in view. There’s a lot of gallery-type plays out there. Can you expand any more there? I don’t want to push you if you can’t, but it would be interesting to hear through what you’re thinking there.
Yeah, for sure. Look, I love NFTs. I think they’re unique. You can verify ownership easily. They’re liquid, you can trade them easily. It’s a set of features that allows for a lot of different user cases and obviously as a wallet, I believe that we are bound to become like the Instagram Pinterest of the NFT industry. Wallets in general. I don’t mean like XDEFI in particular, although we would love to be the reference wallet for an NFT novice and this is definitely something we’re working really hard on.
XDEFI. A lot of things. There is a new display. First of all, you can already display UNFTs audio, video in XDEFI across three different chains, which you cannot in Metamask right now. We already have a lot of community of NFT projects reaching out to us to provide alternatives to the community members and a lot of NFT guys that are coming because they are just using it instead of Metamask because it can display nicely their NFTs. I think that’s the first step, displaying NFTs.
Then, it’s how can you ease the way you’re managing your NFTs from your wallet directly without having to connect to OpenSea. I think this is really important because this is making the UX much more seamless. We are in the next month, month and a half, going to relase a set of features that are going to be key for that, and some are going to happen afterwards, but that’s going to be like transferring UNFTs easily, sell them in one click. For instance, integrating with NFT20. Borrowing against the NFT from within the wallet. Fractionalizing them. Well, that’s going to be later down the road, but that’s going to happen as well. And obviously, being able to basically what we’re creating as well is a link that you’re going to be able to use to display all your NFTs in one place in a web view, which is basically going to be an extended view of the extension that you’re going to be able to share with your friends, to show off your NFTs, to show your collections quite easily without having to do this via OpenSea.
So, a fair amount of nice things that we can do. We can also have in-wallet Minter and so on. There are a lot of things that we can do and think of. Ultimately, this is what we’re aiming. To provide as many management features as we can to NFT orders from within the wallet or in an expanded view of the wallet. [crosstalk 00 29 21].
I just expected you to say you could put your NFTs in your wallet. I didn’t expect all of those kinds of features on the roadmap. It’s exciting. It’s definitely a lot to build though.
That’s a lot to build. That’s a lot to build and that’s why we don’t want to add too many features at the same time, but there is a few and we are already looking into it and it’s doable.
Emile, we talk about this a lot internally. There’s such a big difference between DeFi and NFTs. DeFi is complex and you’ve got to spend a lot of time to understand it and only a handful of people actually get it. Well, more than a handful, but I think you know where I’m going with that. NFTs are super easy. Everyone around the world gets it. You just have this collection, it’s easy to use. You’re on both ends of the spectrum, right? You’re enabling cross-chain DeFi, which is very complex and really cool. Then on the other side, you’re enabling NFTs for the world and all its inhabitants, which is very interesting. You’re targeting two different markets. On the NFT side, just to cue in, how do you think about getting people to use XDEFI on a global scale? Is it a mobile app? Is it just sharing a link on your Twitter or Facebook for people to view your, say, NFT gallery? How do you think about getting people all around the world use XDEFI on the NFT side?
Obviously, the mobile app is a no brainer. Even if it’s on your display that you have in your mobile app, that will already be a lot. There are plenty of different ways. I think what I’ve mentioned before is going to be a big thing for users so they join XDEFI to use for their NFTs. Just the display. If you’re just looking at the display right now, a lot of communities on this call that are starting to move to XDEFI or actually that want to move to XDEFI but within private so it’s not open publicly, so they’re waiting for the public launch, just because of the display. The day you can transfer and sell your NFT in one click from the wallet, I think naturally we’re going to continue connecting with all the different projects that we’re in touch with to make sure that they have the best alternatives possible in terms of wallet when it comes to displaying the NFTs.
Then it’s all about, as you said, being able to show off your collection. I think this is really important. If you make something that is easy for people to share and to review via social media, I guess you can have a big win. Then there are a few more things, but I can’t reveal everything either. But yeah, there are a few more things that will come as well.
It’s interesting to think about it. It’s definitely a new world and it’s exciting. Emile, just totally switching gears here. One of the most important things to me and I think most people in crypto is security, right? I know I’m always annoying you on new security features and the status of audits and stuff like that. Sorry if I annoy you there, but would love to dig into, how do you approach security for XDEFI wallet from the ground up? Then my other question there is, since you’re adding new chains and new functionality, this gets very complex. There’s a lot of upkeep, there’s a lot of maintenance I’m assuming. How do you manage the complexity of and the security of such a complex project as you add more chains and support?
Audits. We’ve worked with different auditors. I think that that’s very important, regularly do some audits. That’s one of the things. The other thing is making sure that your users are not like… We’re still an extension, and an extension by nature is not the most secure interface. This is something that is important to be honest about when you’re creating a project like that, because if you want to protect your users, you need to make sure that they are developing the correct [ops stack 00 33 28]. I would never recommend to a user to transfer 50, 100K in the extension without using a ledger or a treasurer. That just wouldn’t be smart. What we can do at this level is making sure that we are providing the best possible support for hardware wallets like ledger and treasurer, so right now we are supporting already Ethereum THORChain with ledger. We’re almost finished with Bitcoin, it’s on standby right now, and it will come in the months to come. That’s the first thing. Making sure that we are supporting hardware wallets. So, ledger then treasurer. Treasurer is going to happen thereafter.
Ultimately, there are a bunch of different things that we can have. You can also auto-disconnect apps from the wallet upon request of the users, like something that is [inaudible 00 34 17] in the settings. You can have token allowance. Revoking token allowance from within the wallet. You can have limits. And most importantly I think, there is something that we’re working on that we’ve done a lot of research on and that we’re working on, is the non-custodial 2FA, which ultimately would solve a lot of the inherent security issues associated with basically running an extension. But that’s-
2FA in an extension is incredible. Would that be like Google auth for transactions? Or how are you thinking about that? Trust me, that would save people from a lot of scams and a lot of hacks, I think.
In a similar way. Basically the keys would be split and a bit would be on the mobile and the other on the extension and virtually it’s almost impossible to compromise both devices simultaneously. That would be super powerful. It’s not that easy to implement obviously, but once you pull this off, you have a huge advantage because ultimately it means that you don’t really need hardware wallet anymore. When you are in a multi-channel environment, like having several hardware wallets, it’s complicated since you need to connect every time a different app and on your ledger you’re probably only going to be able to have Bitcoin, Ethereum and a third app. So that would solve a lot from a UX perspective as well. Not just from a security standpoint.
Why can’t you use Google auth today? Why can’t wallets integrate that?
Well, because this is custodial. That wouldn’t be really in the spirit of what we’re doing.
Flies in the face of it. Yeah. That’s a good point. The other side of this is just user education, right? I saw this week on crypto Twitter, a lot of people are just losing their NFTs. Like, they’re sharing their screen, dropping their seed phrase for whatever reason. I know it sounds crazy to you and I, but for new people to the space, they might just try and solve a problem or get a transaction through or something. How do you think through that side of things when people use your wallet?
There are a lot of things. First of all, some of the dudes that lost all their NFTs, they are actually quite experienced dudes. They’ve been in the space for a long time and they’ve just been manipulated on this call by impersonators of the OpenSea teams. I feel so much for them. That sucks. It really, really sucks. As a wallet provider, the best we can do is to educate, as you said, and warn users.
Exactly what happened is that you have this way of syncing your Metamask mobile app and the extension from within the extension, which is basically revealing a QR code after you entered a password. I think what’s really important here is to warn users as much as you can, before you even display the QR code, making sure that they’re not sharing the screen for instance with a third party while they are displaying this QR code, because obviously once you’ve shared it, it’s already done. So, it’s about how you frame the different warning sentences, the wording around security that you’re going to make a difference.
Then for instance, we moved from using Telegram to Discord because Telegram was… There was [inaudible 00 37 53] impersonating me all the time trying to contact users, so obviously that’s an issue. We moved to Discord and we moved towards a ticket system, which basically, not only we’ll never DM you, but if you DM us directly, for instance if there was an impersonator in the chat that says, “Okay, DM me,” and you DM him, you should never talk to them even if you did DM them, because everything I’m making super clear, it’s only going to happen via the help desk and the ticket system. So it’s also at the support level that you need to be super careful, because this is where the impersonators came into play. And you have countless Telegram Metamask channels, et cetera. It’s important to make sure that you make it really clear for users that the support is centralized in one place and no one else than a set of support people and from a given place can help you to troubleshoot any type of issues you may have.
It’s crazy. I do feel bad for people, but honestly, I did not know it was the sophisticated people getting scammed. It’s kind of crazy. If you’re able to scam the sophisticated people, the normal retail people are really screwed.
Yeah. 2FA we have a lot, but yeah. You know, sometimes you’re emotional, like you missed a trade and you might be sophisticated and you’re just speaking in a Discord chat and you have the funder or alleged funder talk to you and you’re like, “Oh, he’s taking care of me. That’s nice. He’s helping me, I’m in distress,” and you forget about OpSec. That happens to anyone. That can happen to anyone. It could happen to you or me in a given situation. I think people need to be careful and at the same time, any projects in the space, not just wallet, we need to make sure that we do everything we can do to protect the users as well. That’s key.
I’m totally with you. Emile, just tell us a bit more about the team itself. How large is the XDEFI team today? What are you hiring for? What are you looking for? What’s next?
That’s crazy. The first time I talked to you Tom, I think we were three in the team. It was David and me and-
I think it was a year ago when we first spoke.
I think we invested around then. Yeah.
That’s from now, actually. So yeah, we were at three, now we’re 22. That crazy growth. Mainly devs. Obviously we have a lot of developers and now we are starting to develop a business team. We have a marketing lead, someone who joined for partnerships, and a content writer. We have someone who is really well versed into DeFi that is going to come to create some content as well for our users. Some sort of XDEFI academy that is going to basically be super useful for new joiners to explain them how you can leverage at best the different features within the wallet, to unlock all the opportunities that you have across the different protocols. We are going to invest a lot in education.
I think it’s important. I think it also makes your project and your products sticky once the users, they understand the full value behind each features and when you apply it to precise user case like using [inaudible 00 41 20] compounds to deposit and borrow using Cream or Curve or a specific user case. We’re designing basically right now a learning mechanism which is going to be integrated to wallet. A lot of things going to come soon.
That’s awesome. The education could be also a path for a lot of onboarding for you. If you’re able to explain how crypto works to the masses, here’s your wallet, at the end of the day.
That’s the thing. You have a lot of DeFi protocols like betting on education and that’s awesome and that’s great and I really promote it. The fact that we’re being a wallet, if you look at the learning pyramid, when the user arrived and downloaded the centralized wallet, you’re basically the best place to take the user at the very beginning of his learning curve. So you can really see the opportunity to help the user to learn from the get-go about off spec, as we said, but also about everything else and explain them little by little until… Okay, first you will try to understand everything that is within the wallet, and then you give some proper, like a user case with app and connect them with and so on. By being a wallet provider, I think at the moment we are acquiring users we are really well placed to educate them at best from the get-go.
I totally agree. Emile, one of the things I always loved about your approach to building was during our update calls for the last year, you brought so much energy. You dove right in. “Hey Tom, here’s the updates, this is what’s new.” It was always so exciting. That’s just a random key point I just loved about your approach, but for new builders in the space, what advice would you give them on creating a project, building a community, taking those big risks that you made or you took? You bet on a cross-chain future and against incumbents. What advice would you give them to a new founder starting a project in crypto?
Look, I think, build a team that you can go far with. People that have heart, that have a good attitude. Not just skills and because they’re known in the industry and so on. Hire people that are good, that also have the right attitude. I think that’s absolutely key. Your team is what’s going to make you able to implement an idea. At the end of the day I don’t really believe in ideas solely. I think ideas are important, but implementation is what makes the difference. Everyone has ideas at the end of the day. It’s much more how you implement it.
I also say, find the right person to back you up from the early days. If you’re looking for investment, don’t just go from names, again. Go for people that are going to be here with you on the long term, that are going to advise you in the best way they can. I think that’s absolutely key. That’s the truth, right? We’re still in the funder market, let’s be honest. There is a lot of AUMs across the different VCs that we have in the industry. A lot of people that have made a lot of money and that want to invest in the industry. If you need some funds, if you have a good idea and a prop that makes sense with a couple or three team members that have some skills and the right mentality, you’re going to find funds. Find the funds from the right place. That’s what I would say. Be picky, because you can. So, be picky.
I totally agree. Money’s cheap. It’s funny, if you have the right vision and the right product, and you can attract the right team, the money’s kind of like an afterthought. A lot of projects I think approach, “Hey, we want to raise X to build out a team,” and it’s hard, but if you get the right team, get the right vision, the money is just so easy to raise. I definitely agree with your approach.
[crosstalk 00 45 24]. Emile, just to close out, what could people look forward to? Where can they download XDEFI? What do you want to leave people with?
You can go on xdefi.io. I didn’t mention that I just wanted to say, community’s super important. We’ve opened an alpha two months after we started to community members via a private community platform and that’s how we built the project really, by having them included and providing us a lot of feedback and bug reports. Just wanted to mention it because I didn’t and I think it’s really important.
You guys can find us on xdefi.io. We also have a Twitter and a Discord. Please join us on Discord. Feel free to ask any questions. We’re all answering in the team pretty often. If it’s not straight away it will be. We have a UI [inaudible 00 46 04] section. Come and tell us what you would like to have in a wallet. We’re more than happy to consider it if that makes sense. We’re going to release the products publicly in the month, ish. So everyone is going to be able to use the wallets really soon. Again, feel free to reach out at any time because we’re super open.
Awesome. Emile, thanks so much for coming on, man. We’re amped to be investors in you guys with all the journey. Thanks again for joining.
Thanks, man. Thanks for having me. Take care.
(00:00:00) – Introduction.
(00:00:29) – First Question: Emile’s Background.
(00:01:40) – The story behind XDEFI.
(00:04:39) – Why XDEFI is necessary for the cross-chain experience.
(00:07:41) – Emile’s thoughts on why Metamask hasn’t pushed to be cross-chain.
(00:10:42) – XDEFI’s design walkthrough.
(00:16:41) – The difficulty of adding new supported chains to XDEFI.
(00:20:03) – Emile’s thoughts on going up against incumbents.
(00:23:27) – XDEFI’s creative edge.
(00:26:22) – Emile’s thoughts on NFTs and wallets.
(00:29:41) – Getting NFT-focused users onto XDEFI.
(00:32:14) – Security for XDEFI wallet / Managing the complexity of security when adding new chains and functions.
(00:39:48) – The XDEFI team today and what’s next.
(00:42:52) -Emile’s advice to new crypto project founders.
(00:45:23) – How to get involved in XDEFI.