This article is the first in a series of written interviews with the founders of the various token protocols atop BSV. The goal of this series is to inform the readers about the different protocols approach, current goals and thoughts on the common issues with tokens directly from the founders’ words.
We are asking each of the founders a set of fixed questions so the audience can get a sense of how they differ, as well as unique questions depending on the details of their protocol.
We are conducting the first written interview with Brendan Lee, founder and CEO of Elas Digital.
What does Elas Digital do that no other token protocol can?
Brendan Lee: For Elas, our main point of difference is the simplicity of the protocol. When a token is created, its attributes represent the administrative definition of a real-world contract or agreement. This might represent an item of exchange (e.g., cash), something that can be redeemed (e.g., ticket or voucher) or something that can be collected as a value-add item (trading card, art). If there is a complex requirement around the use or exchange of that token, this is programmed directly into the output that represents the token using Bitcoin script, fully leveraging the Bitcoin protocol and the validation service provided by miners, minimizing overhead.
It is the careful design of the token life cycle that allows us to define and manage this process for each customer. This is the reason that we can create things like ballot papers that can only be cast if the vote is valid, or issue tickets that leave only a stub. Most token protocols are focused mostly on tokens as something that are created and then endure forever, however we believe that well over 90% of use cases can be fulfilled with single use token outputs, which is something we can design and deploy at very low cost, with minimal infrastructure and with a high degree of flexibility.
What are Elas’ top goals for 2021?
Brendan Lee: A top priority is delivering the first operational elements of the Tuvalu National Digital Ledger project, with a view to accelerating the roll-out of Bitcoin services in that nation. We are also keen to begin engagement with other countries in the Pacific region and the rest of the world.
Second, I would say, is the delivery of our own Elas branded wallet which is designed for enterprise use and leverages the sophisticated multi-signature scripts that we developed to implement our version of the Metanet.
This is in development now and we believe will represent a great leap forward in the usability of Bitcoin SV in corporate environments with sophisticated payment approval processes.
Lastly, but maybe most importantly is to find a strategic investor who we believe is well aligned with our values and understands our goals. This is something we are taking our time to do to ensure they understand fully where we want to go.
What are you most excited to see your customers build with Elas?
Brendan Lee: Definitely one of our goals is to have Elas being used as a primary tool of government. To me, one of the most important superpowers of Bitcoin is that it can allow for a government to publish their constitutional documents, legislation and more using the Metanet, and to program those documents in such a way that the process of approval/updates/amendments is validated by the network, giving the public unprecedented visibility into the process of creating and approving the laws that govern their society.
Through this we hope that people would more readily engage in the political process, ensuring that government really is, of the people, by the people and for the people. It is only through this engagement that we can help people realise that it’s not through the downfall of society that the Bitcoin revolution comes, but through the evolution of government to better meet the needs of everyone.
Once you get to this point, issuing currency, ballot papers and more using Bitcoin becomes an obvious outcome. It’s via this top-down, whole of government approach that we can ensure Bitcoin’s openness and honesty can spread through the economy and fabric of society.
Elas appears to be a more private tokenization solution for businesses—why take this approach vs. more open protocols like RUN, Tokenized, SuperAsset, etc.?
Brendan Lee: We feel that the meaning of the term ‘token’ has been lost in the flurry of speculative activity happening in today’s crypto markets. In reality, if a token is just a token, that is a thing without any inherent value beyond the meager few satoshis it rides upon. We made the decision early on to focus on tokens and services that represented real world requirements, necessitating the closed nature of our development cycle.
That said, we are very open to development partnerships and technology sharing with companies and individuals focused on developing innovative products and services that use tokens in appropriate ways. We have robust token definition protocols and toolset that can do a lot of things we haven’t yet spoken about in public.
How does Elas’ solution fit into the work being done with the country of Tuvalu?
Brendan Lee: The Elas token system works by defining an enclosed sub-ledger within the global Bitcoin ledger. This is defined using a version of the Metanet protocol which allows for multi-signature node control and definition. Within these Metanet structures we can then define sub-ledgers which have their own permissions and controls for their own specific purpose.
During the original conversations with Tuvalu, we showed them some ideas of how this could be employed to build a whole-of-government record capture and service platform that leverages all the superpowers of Bitcoin. Essentially, we are using the Metanet and Elas tokens to create a new form of government record which is paperless, low cost and immutable. Thanks to the structured nature of the Metanet this system can be created such that individual government departments and offices can have autonomy to create and manage their own records and services, while operating within the overall structure of the national ledger.
We were lucky enough to be able to show them how this can be used to manage licenses, transfer land rights and issue currency all within the bounds of the national digital ledger very early on, and thankfully the Tuvaluans are a pragmatic and visionary people and saw that this would allow them to lead the way into the future.
Can you give your thoughts on the ‘Layer’ labels for Tokens? (ex. STAS is L0, SuperAsset is L1 and Tokenized is L2)
Brendan Lee: I feel that being tied to a particular layer limits the potential scope of a system. We have the ability to issue tokens with Stas scripts, or to implement a tokenized agent type system, so whatever the case may be, we can operate at any layer the application demands. Our tokens are simply a digital representation of a real-world contract, or agreement that defines rights to ownership or to redeem a good or service.
It is upon the issuer of that contract or agreement to determine how it is to be redeemed, exchanged, or otherwise managed. Our goal is to meet issuers needs, so not being tied to a particular script, or limited in all cases by the use of an agent, is important.
What are your thoughts on using satoshis for tokens?
Brendan Lee: Satoshis are the primary token of Bitcoin. They carry their own value which is in their capacity to be used as a purchase medium for ledger services. By assigning them a secondary value outside of their primary use case, we allow people to bring the simplicity of Bitcoin into their own systems and processes.
While it is true that you can create outputs that contain zero satoshis and are spendable, we see this as more of a niche use case which will only be leveraged in certain situations. Where something is being created that is intended to be exchanged, using satoshis as a carrier medium is sensible. Where something is being created that is consumed on use, putting enough satoshis in it to manage the fees is also sensible as it reduces the complexity of the redemption process, removing the need to hold Bitcoin.
Do you think multiple token protocols atop BSV can co-exist?
Brendan Lee: Absolutely. They already do and will into the future. I see that eventually there will even be cross-token atomic swaps and things to allow interactivity between systems built on competing platforms. There is only one Bitcoin, but there should not be only one way of doing things on Bitcoin.
If so, why?
Brendan Lee: Bitcoin is an infinite ledger where people compete. It is in our nature to find different ways of doing things, and as such different and competing token protocols will and have already emerged.
This is an important part of the creation of the Bitcoin ecosystem as it allows each individual the choice of what is most appropriate for their business or application.
How is this claim different than asserting that multiple crypto currencies can co-exist?
Brendan Lee: The core difference here is that even though tokens are being managed using different platforms or systems, the records of those tokens are all on a common ledger. This means that it will be possible for someone to buy a product or service that is managed by Tokenized or RUN using tokenized currency that is issued on Elas. The tokens can all be used in the same transaction without compromising the integrity of any particular token system’s ledger or operating principles.
How can BSV out-compete Ethereum?
Brendan Lee: BSV is already light years ahead of Ethereum in terms of its performance and utility, despite Ethereum’s seemingly unstoppable lead in winning the hearts and minds of developers. This is not an insurmountable barrier to our success, and I think it simply needs us to keep building and bringing more companies across onto BSV. Eventually people will realise that Ethereum is irreparably broken and come across. I disagree with the desire to pander to them by creating compatible ERC standards on BSV, as there are better ways of doing things without any of that.
How can BSV profit from picking various positive aspects from ETH and DeFi?
Brendan Lee: I don’t believe that there are any positive aspects to ETH or DeFi. ETH is unusable, and DeFi is just a new catchcry for Crypto scammers to sucker people into their lies.
What impact do you think the LAW narrative has had on BSV with respect to tokenization?
Brendan Lee: The standard of living and comfort we have in the world today is defined by the progress that our society has incentivized through the application of the law to the activities of businesses and government. It’s important for everyone in this industry to understand that law is a tool, and something that can be wielded to your advantage.
It is for exactly this reason that when I created Elas, the first call I made was to my accountant to advise me on the best structure for the company under the laws of Australia. We formulated a strategy that protects my personal interests regardless of the success or failure of the company, and which also protects the company’s own intellectual property from legal challenge.
Elas believes very strongly in the purpose of law and regulation, despite people’s frustration at the ways it can be perceived as a speed-limit to progress. These laws exist to protect people from scammers whose desire is to take advantage of people’s naivety. While the honest developer may see the law as an impediment to progress, they must recognize that neither the regulator, nor the general public has any means by which to judge intent. It is for this reason that everyone’s idea must pass through the eye of the regulatory needle in order to be realized as a business.
For this reason we are very careful to ensure that any customer use of Elas’ core technologies is fully compliant with applicable laws and regulations. This protects us, our customers and their customers, and ensures we deliver the best user experience in the industry.
If you could wave a magic wand and change something about the BSV culture or business environment, what would it be?
Brendan Lee: Great question…
I think it would be for people to stop pretending that we need to be like crypto to succeed. In actual fact we can succeed by running as fast as we can in the opposite direction and showing people that this isn’t just a platform for digital trinkets, but a full-on management system for society to mold and control to its benefit.
Thank you, Brendan for taking the time to answer our questions. Please be on the look out for our next written interview with Attila Aros on the SuperAsset protocol.
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