Interview with Viktor Radchenko, Founder of Trust Wallet on Upcoming Staking Support, Design and User Behavior
GCR sat down with Viktor Radchenko, founder of Trust Wallet, to talk about Trustwallet’s upcoming support for staking, Viktor’s outlook on the evolution of wallets and why he believes in decentralized development.
TrustWallet is an open-source, multi-coin crypto wallet. It enables blockchain developers to build their DApps and wallets natively without having to worry about the low-level implementation details. TrustWallet was acquired by Binance in July 2018.
In case you missed it, check out our “The Small Handbook to Asia Crypto: On Local Ecosystems, Trends and Regulations.”
Upcoming Plan to Integrating Staking and The Verticalization of Financial Services in Crypto
Global Coin Research (GCR for short): Thanks for coming on to GCR Viktor! So who do you think are good Wallet leaders in Asia that appeals to you and have really good designs?
Viktor: So I think the product that I like in Asia would be ImToken, I think they were one of the first one to build ERC20 support. They were like right in time when everything started and then they built really a good product. So another product I like is Cobo Wallet. I think their main focus on staking. This is where we’re trying to also inherit their knowledge to implement on Trust Wallet. So part of it, we’re actually integrating staking within the next couple of weeks.
GCR: So you guys just recently released a web browser as well, and now you’re looking into building staking it to the wallet.
Viktor: So I think the way I look at it is we need to provide tooling on different levels, so we need to have customers who are using mobile, and that would be 90% of the users.
And there are people who are going to be using our products or developers on desktop to build and test, and so we want to make sure that we build products for a desktop as well so anyone would be able to easily kind of experience that, see how the application works.
And because we were using most of the code, it’s pretty consistent across the board. So if you want to build any decentralized application, you would be able to test it on a desktop wallet instead of being on mobile for example. So we’re kind of trying to build products where users are, so we still see big usage on like Windows machines across the globe. It’s smaller than Android and iOS, but still, it’s probably the third use case. So we’re kind of like trying to focus and build the window support for it.
GCR: Yes and then for staking, I think that’s definitely a rising trend in the wallet space in China, I’ve not seen that much here in the US so I thought that was super interesting.
Viktor: I think staking is kind of the future or how many blockchains will work, and I think that the guys who built the Cobo wallet, they had lots of insight into this industry just because there were miners in the past. And so they really knew exactly what will happen next year. So that’s where you want to learn from some people when they have so much insight so you don’t miss out. Because if you don’t have staking, people will go to different products.
GCR: Yeah, for sure, I agree. It just feels like space is getting more and more competitive where before we used to see custody companies separated from staking companies and now everyone is doing some kind of lending, custody, staking and kind of stepping into each others’ toes. Folks now have to offer that all-in-one solution now.
Viktor: Yeah, and I do think the competition will be getting even bigger and bigger every day. The reason is that there are actually more tools available for you to build products on top of it. And I think it’s a good thing that we have more tools to build any product. If you want to build a wallet in a different interface like now, you would be able to easily do it because there are so many different tools you can utilize. So I think that’s where I want to like put all my efforts. like I wanted to make sure not just make sure we build a good product, but also we build good tools for other developers to build products on top of it. Even though if they will compete with Trust Wallet, I’m fine with that as long as they build better products for crypto, that’s what matters to me the most.
Trust Wallet’s Differentiating Features
GCR: We see the current players in the US, and they are currently MyEtherWallet, MyCryptoWallet, MetaMask of course, and we haven’t seen that many new players coming in. What’s your take on that and where are you guys looking to kind of focus on?
Viktor: The way we look at this is that we’re trying to solve the problems that are currently in the market. One of the first problems I see is all these people who have like ERC20 tokens, they want to have a Bitcoin wallet, Ripple, Stellar wallet. And then you know, there are other people who want other blockchain support like Cosmos. So I think the first problem that we wanted to solve it’s like how do you build a wallet that’s multi-coin so you can store as many coins as you want; it’s scalable so you can add 20 blockchains or 100 blockchains. And so there are lots of technological challenges on how to solve those problems.
And that’s what we did with open-source, we built some tooling around it. One of the tools is called a Wallet Core. So the purpose of this tool is its ability for any company or project to add their blockchain into the library, and then we can utilize this library on the Trust Wallet side. So if you want to add Monero, then you come and integrate this into the open-source library and then any other wallet can utilize this to build integration on top of it. And it’s pretty seamless. So that’s how we were able to achieve to support with over 30 different blockchains. So I think that’s the first thing, so want to make sure like you can accept Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ripple.
The second thing we wanted to do is give people decentralized access, and this is what dApp browser is doing. So now you can actually utilize different decentralized applications to stake your tokens. So if you have ether, you can go and stake them on Compound, and then this kind of gives you the ability to utilize any other decentralized application out there. It’s fairly limited, there are not many use cases being covered yet, but it strong. At least there’s some playground you can test with.
With that, we’ve had issues with Apple because they hate it, they don’t want to see any decentralized applications because they’re not going to make any money out of it. So there are lots of those challenges on iOS for example.
The third feature of what we’re trying to do is that we’re trying to build a simple interface to access decentralized exchanges. So currently if you want to use and one of the exchanges, you want to decentralize the exchanges, you’ll see that the experience itself is pretty painful. And so our goal to simplify the interface is like a couple of tabs before you actually swap anything.
So we’re focusing like on a simple use case like how can I give Ether and get some other token back. And so that’s kind of what we’re trying to solve. Yeah, so besides those 3 problems that we’re currently solving, I think the main one is the security, we want to make sure it’s secure, it’s private, so users keep their funds safe on the wallet. And that’s how I think about crypto, that there’s no other way you can build any product, it has to be tested, it has to be well audited and also private because we don’t want to track information about users because that’s another way of exposing other information.
Wallets between West and East; The East Focuses and Ships
GCR: I always wondered, are these wallet players in China and Asia moving faster than the folks in the US, or do you think they are just moving in a different direction? What do you think?
Viktor: I think the people who come later, they usually move faster just because it’s either like they’re getting started or don’t have any users. Like when you just start, it’s so much easier to move faster. So if you just started like last week, you don’t have any users so you don’t have anything to put at risk, and you basically build really crazy things, so many features, everything that user will ask. And then you also know exactly what the purpose for the product you are building. So it’s always easier to kind of get started later and then add functionality. So I think that’s pretty common for any type of business.
But in general, I think you just need to have a specific focus. So most of the wallets I’ve seen recently, they were really focused on just staking. They didn’t care about like multi-currency support, to support like Ripple, Bitcoin, all those. But what they did, they just like let’s just focus on a few use cases like Tezos, Cosmos, all those, and that’s it. So I think when you’re like laser-focused, you can ship product faster and then it will be beneficial for most users.
User Behavior on TrustWallet
GCR: What are you seeing in terms of your user adoption or use cases in Asia versus the US?
Viktor: So I think still a majority of our users are still based in US. Is hodling Bitcoin considered “using” Bitcoin? I think you are, because you’re actually holding something. And that’s what kind of happens with the users, you don’t need to send your bitcoins in order to be a user of Bitcoin or Ethereum.
So what happens in many cases, many people just hodl their coins and they don’t want to kind of let go. They just hodl and this is our users as well. There’s always going to be some percentage of people who are actually using them like many times a day with different central applications, or these people who are trying to use like Kyber swaps or Binance dexs. So I think there’s like different people of different levels. And we also see many developers coming you know, building different applications on top of it. So it would be kind of hard to tell what the use case is, but it depends on the country as well.
So we have many Arabic people coming and using XRP, and then lots of people in like Thailand using like Stellar for example. So I think use cases are kind of different for every country and community in that case.
And one thing I would say is that many users who are in Trust, the way they use the product is whenever they want to do trading, they actually send it to the centralized exchanges, they trade it and then they put their money back into their wallets. So that’s kind of how they utilize it because they don’t want to store tokens long term on exchanges, but they want to have it on their own wallets. So self-controlled wallets.
I think it’s a good use case for many users. And you have really look 10 years from now, I think that would be probably the best experience. And also the good use case is that people are going to control their funds, but we’re not there yet. It’s still too early, but we need to provide that option to them, we need to give power to user to utilize this.
GCR: Yeah. And you guys are also integrated with Binance DEX. And does that seem like something that really appeals to those folks that you mentioned before who would like to keep their own tokens to their wallets?
Viktor: Yeah, exactly. So I think the way we approach this problem, we wanted to build a DEX that will support multi-chains for the long term. So we currently have two providers; so one is Binance Dex, so you can swap any token you have on your Binance chain. And the second one is Kyber Network. So the way I approach this problem is that we don’t want to be specific to like a blockchain or company, we want to extend functionality and provide as many providers as we can. So then you can swap ether to any other token out there. So that’s going to like where I see you regarding our product developers that we want to be open to any projects.
2019 Roadmap and Platform Building
GCR: What’s in store for Trust Wallet for the rest of 2019 and what are you guys working on?
Viktor: I think for us, it would be staking. I would say that would be the main priority for 2019, to make sure we launch staking. And the way we’re going to launch it is as a platform, what this means is anything we will build it’s going to be open-source first all.
And the second thing, any project would be able to come and build staking integrations. So the way it will work you can imagine is this; we’re going to do Cosmos first as a first blockchain to integrate staking, but then if Tezos project wants to get integrated in Trust Wallet, it would be able to come and add-in integration. Even though we support their coin, the way we’ll approach it, they will be able to come and do their implementation themselves.
And so that’s how we develop most of our software, is that it’s self-manageable, so anyone is free to come and do a pull request and integrate their technology. That’s kind of how we plan to scale technology to like hundreds of different blockchains, hundreds of different projects and DEXes and other technology. So I think that’s the only way to go, I don’t think you’re going to have much success in the decentralized space if you’re going to be fully closed source and not being able to kind of work with other projects. At the same time, we keep resources small, so our team is only 10 people. So we’re able to only build the platform layer, and then people just come into integration, instead of like having a big team doing different integrations ourselves.
GCR: Should we see more collaboration and closer collaboration between Trust Wallet and Binance?
Viktor: I think we always do work together on many things. Binance helped us with different projects, so whenever we need to reach out to any project to kind of integrate in Trust Wallet which is super easy for us to do. I think staking, and then the other problem we’re trying to solve as well like how do we make onboarding simpler. That’s something we’ve been considering for a really long time, because we want to make sure that people don’t need to know about their flow price. If that happens, that’s going to be a big breakthrough in terms of onboarding, in terms of getting new users to use crypto. And because you already have your personal device, which is already encrypted and then provides like high security, why not store an encrypted version of it somewhere on your phone and then just make sure you can always back up on any other device? And these users don’t need to ever know about any passphrases or any of that complicated stuff.