When it comes to a successful business, having a great product or offering a nice service is just one part of the equation. Any business must take into consideration the user experience and customer service to establish loyalty and build long-term relationships.
It is easy to think of emerging technologies as, well, technical. This is especially true of blockchain and crypto companies that tend to hide these types of inadequacies behind creative front-facing designs and less than technical appeal. For many blockchain and crypto companies, not enough resources are purely and intentionally dedicated to ensuring a solid CX and UX for customers.
Figuring out effective ways to better serve your customers and clients is where the bottom line becomes the top line in business. Here to discuss more on why blockchain-related companies should promote a positive customer experience, is Fabio Canesin, cofounder and lead developer at Nash, a revolutionary decentralized exchange aiming to make blockchain technology accessible to a wide public.
Fabio holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Computational Science. Before working on Nash full time, he spent much of his professional life as a research engineer at Schlumberger, developing solutions for the oil and gas industry. Fabio is well known within the blockchain scene also as a founder of the City of Zion (CoZ) open-source community, which brought the Nash co-founders together and continues to develop key infrastructure for the NEO blockchain.
Danni White: What is Nash Exchange? How did you come up with the idea to create such a company?
Fabio Canesin: Let me first stress that Nash is not just an exchange. We are an integrated financial platform that offers a number of key services. Central to all our services is that we are non-custodial. Users remain in control of their assets at all times – a property that can only be achieved with blockchain. But besides trading, we make it easy for users to invest in digital assets and store them in their own wallets, which will be integrated into our payments solution.
Essentially, we are a fintech company that uses blockchain as infrastructure. Our goal is to make this technology available to everyone for everyday applications, which means we place a great emphasis on providing a simple, intuitive user experience. We also stress legal compliance, so businesses can be sure that using our tools is safe.
Over the next ten years or so, we see traditional financial infrastructure shifting to blockchain because of the security and efficiency it offers. The potential benefits of blockchain for delivering an efficient, integrated global financial system really became apparent to me when I was traveling for work. Digital technologies already offer the fastest options for transferring funds across borders and it is clear that we are moving towards a cashless society. Blockchain is the best means to extend these developments. However, my own experiences getting involved with blockchain, even just as an investor, showed how much needs to be done for this technology to be adopted widely. Users require tools as simple as, or simpler than, the best online banking options available today. This is what Nash aims to deliver – the right tools for the future of finance.
DW: What type of blockchain is Nash Exchange built on?
FC: Our exchange is not built on a blockchain! This is absolutely crucial and forms the foundation of our technical innovation. Blockchains themselves have slow computation cycles, which means they are not appropriate for implementing performant matching engines, like those of centralized exchanges. The key problem our exchange solves is providing high-performance trading in a decentralized manner, without taking custody of users’ assets – and we solve that with an off-chain matching engine.
Essentially, our matching engine is a state channel manager: for all the chains we support, users place funds into state channels, whose balances are periodically updated by the matching engine. We have a sophisticated deterministic system that stays synchronized and use cryptographic signatures to guarantee all trade orders and balance updates are valid. User funds remain under their control in the state channels, but our matching engine can process trades rapidly and carry out balance updates on the blockchain when appropriate.
Our funds management tools are likewise a way for users to interact with multiple blockchains. We generate wallets for various chains and offer a simple interface for transferring funds. Nash uses client-side cryptography to guarantee that we never have access to a user’s keys.
Of course, we do have our exchange token (NEX), which entitles users to a share of exchange fees. This is a NEP-5 token on the NEO blockchain. But the NEX token is not like other tokens that are part of their protocol, it is just an investment vehicle and we could easily migrate if required. NEX is a registered security created to share the exchange revenue with the blockchain community and just that, very simple and powerful token economics.
DW: You focus on ensuring seamless UX and great customer service on the platform. Why are these two things so important for crypto and blockchain companies to understand and get right?
FC: This is important for any company that seeks a wide commercial user-base. But financial services are about as non-specific as you can get. Everyone needs to be able to make payments and store or transfer funds. If blockchain really is to fulfill its potential, it needs quite literally to be usable by everyone. Not many blockchain companies or developers have truly understood what this means. They are building solutions that are accessible to people who are already enthusiasts, who already understand the space, and as a result many blockchain products are essentially built with developers in mind. There are some centralized exchanges that try to offer a simple, accessible experience – but they are not providing real, non-custodial financial infrastructure, and ultimately only serve as speculation platforms.
DW: What were some of the steps that Nash Exchange took to ensure UX and customer service were part of its core initiatives?
FC: Every product we build is conceived with the best possible user experience in mind. Our designers are experts in user-centered design and have worked for many years in the field, with some highly prestigious past employers. User-testing is a major part of achieving great results, and we carry out prototype testing at multiple stages of the design process, iterating on feedback and giving our testers new, improved interfaces to play with. Our online community was able to participate in this process during our public beta program in April, where we gathered a huge amount of useful feedback on the Exchange interface. In terms of support, the same basic principle of hiring skilled staff applies – we’re currently building a support team of experienced individuals who know how best to communicate with customers and solve their problems.
DW: Will distributed ledger technology form the foundation for the financial infrastructure of the world in the coming years?
FC: Yes, this is what we believe, and I think we are confirmed by the entry of major traditional players like J P Morgan into the cryptocurrency space. As economies become even more globally integrated, capital freedom across borders becomes ever more important.
Blockchain-based infrastructure has huge benefits here, since it is borderless by definition. And when it comes to legal compliance, digital securities that take advantage of smart contracts can cut down bureaucratic barriers once initial legal agreements are in place. There are so many ways in which the automated possibilities of blockchain can increase efficiency, and with it prosperity and wellbeing. For example, simple, trustless micropayments can help distribute resources efficiently, like renewable energy.
DW: Can simplicity and practicality be brought to the blockchain technology space to make it more efficient and understandable for the masses?
FC: Absolutely. Bringing distributed finance to everyone is our central mission. People need products that hide the technical complexity of blockchain but don’t sacrifice any of its security – and this is exactly what Nash is building. Ultimately, I think the majority of users will not need to understand that the products they are using are blockchain-based, or what exactly this means. They will just know that it is a new, better way of doing things.
DW: What does the future look like for Nash Exchange?
FC: We are very excited for the future. We are preparing the launch of our MVP Exchange right now, which will be a key moment for the company. Customers will have access to trading across the Ethereum and NEO chains, funds management tools for a number of other blockchains and the option to purchase digital assets with national currencies through our network of licensed partners. But our roadmap extends much further. We’ll be launching our payments solution later in the year and bringing all of these features to a mobile app. At the same time, we’ll be constantly adding trading support for different blockchains and expanding our network of partners to new jurisdictions. As the blockchain ecosystem grows, we hope that Nash will take on a central role and help drive further adoption.