Bitcoinist recently reached with Roel Wolfert, co-founder of WHIRL, a socially-driven crowdfunding platform built on the blockchain.
Roel Wolfert is an expert in digital payments and holds the role of COO at Transtrack International, which provides software to banks, governments and organizations to manage their liquidity supply chain. Wolfert is also a consultant to the Bancor Foundation, which manages the world's largest decentralized liquidity network, BeamWallet, the largest mobile wallet in the United Arab Emirates, and Genexi, a biochemical blockchain startup. In addition, he was Senior Vice President of Consulting and Analytics Services at Visa Europe.
Wolfert is actively involved in technological tutoring and diversity initiatives – so we decided to choose his brain on WHIRL and the future of blockchain and cryptocurrency markets.
Bitcoinist: WHIRL is a crowdfunding platform aimed at socialization and based on crowdfunding built on the blockchain. What differentiates WHIRL from other crowdfunding platforms?
Several factors. Firstly, you can launch a campaign only if you have already contributed to others. The number you supported and the funds you have committed increase your Karma, which makes you eligible to start a campaign on your own. So you know that anyone who asks for funding has already "paid the fees" in advance.
Secondly, there is only a limited number of active campaigns at any given time. This means that there is limited competition for supporters' funds, rather than the normal situation where a large number of campaigns compete for the same pool of resources, which often means that no one is adequately supported.
Add to this the fact that we are a cryptography-based platform operating all over the world, the considerably lower rates that our users appreciate compared to those of conventional platforms like Kickstarter (fees from the platform itself, payment processors and withdrawals, taxes, etc .. total of 20% of money collected), and the large number of cryptocurrencies that we accept, and this makes WHIRL absolutely unique and a very powerful proposal.
Bitcoinist: WHIRL brings the whole community's attention to just a few active campaigns at the same time. Does this mean that the WHIRL platform is not decentralized? Who determines which campaigns is focused on?
Campaigns enter a transparent queue, based on the order in which they are sent. Only community members who have enough karma, ie those who have supported enough campaigns in the past, can start their own project. So the process is very simple, even programmatic. There is no way to play it, since you have to prove your "worth" by supporting other campaigns before starting. Ultimately this makes WHIRL very different, both in terms of platform dynamics, but above all, the kind of community and ethos we are trying to cultivate.
Bitcoinist: Using blockchain technology, can we assume that all crowdfunding on the platform is transparent and justified? Who moderates everything?
We have a moderation process designed to filter out projects that would be illegal in many jurisdictions, or otherwise somewhat problematic – for example, we do not allow members to launch drug-themed or adult-oriented campaigns, or those with a political or religious goal. But apart from that, suitable projects come directly into the transparent queue, so that everyone knows where they are and what campaigns will come for the next funding.
Bitcoinist: which cryptocurrencies support WHIRL for crowdfunding campaigns? Are you planning to add more in the future? If so, which ones?
Currently we support 12 cryptocurrencies: ADA, BCH, BTC, DASH, EOS, ETH, KICK, LTC, USDT, XRP, XML and WRL (our WHIRL token). This alone sets us apart from other crowdfunding platforms and the integration of these currencies is a testament to the talent and experience of our developers. We are looking to add more soon and we will also include wire transfers as soon as possible.
Bitcoinist: tell us how the WRL token adapts to the platform. What is the advantage for investors or WRL holders? What is the difference between the WRL and Karma points?
Karma is an internal scoring mechanism. It is not a currency: you can not transfer it or change it. It is inextricably bound to your user account and you earn more when you support a campaign based on the dollar value of your contribution and other factors.
WRL is a cryptographic token, initially hosted on Ethereum but with the intention of moving to EOS in due course. As our internal token, contributions made with WRL are worth more in terms of Karma than other currencies: you will get a "WRL award" on your Karma score. As a result, we expect greater liquidity and speed for the WRL, and our most active platform users will probably use WRL exclusively or predominantly.
For investors, the WRL will be required as that desirable currency. In addition, we will apply a small commission in WRL for each campaign, and some or all of these tokens will be burned, decreasing the supply and helping to increase long-term value.
Bitcoinist: WRL was built using the Ethereum ERC-20 standard, but subsequently it will be migrated to the EOS blockchain. Why EOS? Are you worried about the recent claims that EOS is too centralized?
Ethereum is the right choice for now as it is the most mature smart contract platform: it has the functionality we need and has been tested in battle for years and with millions of hours of development.
However, Ethereum has some drawbacks, including the throughput limit and transaction fees, and so we are trying to move to another blockchain in the future. At the moment, EOS seems to be the best option for various reasons: speed, capacity, functionality, costs and so on. Naturally, we monitor the relevant developments in the cryptographic space and make a final decision based on the information available at the moment. Many platforms have initial problems or a bootstrap phase in which they are not decentralized as it is ultimately desirable – even including Bitcoin, in its early days – so we are not looking forward to seeing positive developments in the coming months.
Bitcoinist: what is ultimately the goal of WHIRL?
This is what everything refers to, and is the key difference between WHIRL and other crowdfunding platforms. Other platforms only concern money: getting funding is the simple goal. And this leads to unwanted consequences, because everyone is competing for funding and unfortunately, some people have figured out how to compete dishonestly. Capitalism, the free market: they are great, but they are by nature amoral. When the highest goal is financed, every other factor is necessarily pushed into second place, including the general well-being of the community. We wanted to structure things in such a way that the free market works for everyone.
WHIRL ensures that projects are funded – in fact, we have designed our platform so that campaigns have a 100% chance of getting the money they need. But instead of being a dog-eating-dog world where everything goes to get funding at the door, we overturn the model on its head. You can only ask for money if you have previously supported other campaigns. In our case, money is used as a sort of social "glue" that strengthens the community. And this is essentially what we are trying to build: a true community of like-minded people and that will really help one another, with financial incentives to make it a reality. A true community, therefore, rather than the empty sense, the term "community" is generally used in the online world.
Bitcoinist: where do you see the cryptocurrency market in 10 years?
Cryptocurrency will only be a normal part of life, integrated into everything we do as regular legal money is today. The user experience will be much better, and most people will not know or care about what goes on behind the scenes, just as they do not care how their iPhone works or as TCP / IP feeds the web. It will be just another form of money. Most likely we will have many different currencies and will easily be tradable with one another. They will be used for different things and no doubt we will have many cases of use between online and offline services. The overall market capitalization will probably be one or two orders of magnitude greater than the current one.
Bitcoinist: where do you see blockchain technology in 10 years?
Blockchain will evolve rapidly, just like other advanced technologies have done. When you think about where the Internet and email were in 1995 – poor user experience, slow and terrible interfaces – and then you look at the situation ten years later, you realize how fast things will change. In the mid-2000s we had a real e-commerce – and only a few years later, almost all of us carry powerful computers, able to access any information on the web and connect with thousands or even millions of people through social media, in our pockets.
The bases have been thrown but the blockchain will change enormously. We will see new systems that will support speed and throughput that are out of reach today. We will see new decentralized protocols based on the same principles but which can not be considered blockchains. At the same time, it seems likely that some of the first blockchain platforms – including Bitcoin and others – will still be circulating. It's an exciting time to be alive, and it's nice to be the protagonists of the revolution!
Bitcoinist: what is your favorite part of the job with WHIRL?
The beauty of WHIRL is that we offer people the opportunity to do good in a transparent blockchain environment. We are using new technologies to implement a new idea. None of this has ever been done before and it would not have been possible even ten years ago, or even five. And this is nice enough 🙂