On October 6th, MANTRA Co-Founder Will Corkin engaged in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Ian Kane from Fuse Network. Together, they discussed the partnership between MANTRA and Fuse, MANTRA’s rebrand and multiple product lines, GameFi, regulation, and more.
If you weren’t able to join, don’t worry! You can watch the full AMA video here.
And if you enjoy reading more than watching, we have compiled the AMA highlights for you here.
When asked about what the relationship between MANTRA and Fuse means, Will Corkin said that they’re definitely OG partners, having both launched around the same time back in 2020. MANTRA was also one of the genesis validators for $FUSE and the Fuse network.
Will also said mentioned the importance of validators in securing and decentralizing Proof of Stake networks: By verifying transactions, storing data, and supporting builders on the chain by enabling them to access APIs and query information through the MANTRA x Fuse node. He suggested that there are big incentives for both retail and companies, as running a validator or being a delegator is a lot easier than running a Bitcoin rig.
“The APY is almost 14% right now, and we make sure that we have nearly 100% upkeep of the network as well as one of the lowest commissions pretty much across the board. Don’t just sit on your $FUSE or other assets. Have them work and grow. It’s much easier and a smart thing to do. Not financial advice!”
Will revealed that the MANTRA team was extremely supportive of the Polkadot ecosystem when MANTRA DAO and $OM first launched in August 2020. The team was enthusiastic on being the first mover within that space – focusing on staking, and then eventually moving into other DeFi products. However, the parachains took a bit longer than originally anticipated, so the team – needing more time and wanting to still deliver products started building on other chains. Hence, the MANTRA platform has historically been on Ethereum, BNB Smart Chain, and Polygon – while also having tested out on a bunch of different networks.
Will mentioned that MANTRA is still bullish on the Polkadot ecosystem, however.
Will also stated that the MANTRA team has always been community-focused. He claimed that as the executive team has been present in the space since 2016, they understand that communities are what make or break different blockchain companies. He also compared starting a blockchain project to having a public company (that’s actually private) from Day 1 because they’re selling tokens. Furthermore, he reinforced the importance of transparency, and how it is the community that keeps project owners to focused to their roadmaps and ensure that they actually deliver.
“We’ve always known that community’s the biggest part. We build things for the community. It’s ultimately the community that ends up being the users.”
Will Corkin further shared that one of the major reasons for the rebranding was because what the team has been building over the last two years encompassed a bigger ecosystem than just the DAO.
He revealed that while MANTRA will still have the DAO pillar that will focus on the community, governance, and the Grants program, the team has also been working on three other main pillars.
“We’re not just the DAO, validator nodes business, staking, or launchpad. It ultimately entails a much larger ecosystem that all flows into each other nicely, so there’s a bigger picture here.”
Will said that MANTRA has been pro PoS blockchains since Day 1, running various validator nodes for various chains and had 30+ validator nodes going at the height of it. He mentioned that while they are going to continue to build that aspect of MANTRA Nodes, they are also moving into a more institutional arena.
He added that MANTRA has the infrastructure required to spin up validator nodes for other people or companies. This means that anyone – whether they are a bank, hedge fund, family office, or just a high net worth individual – can stake to nodes like Fuse through MANTRA. This way, they can enjoy the passive income while MANTRA will deal with the uptime and other requirements.
Will stated that MANTRA Chain will be a Cosmos Tendermint and EVM compatible chain. Since the team understands that the majority of DeFi users still use Ethereum, having the connectivity with EVM is crucial. Furthermore, they are also seeing a lot of great development with the Cosmos ecosystem.
He also mentioned that MANTRA Chain is still on Testnet at the moment and is looking to go to Mainnet – most likely Q1 of 2023.
Will revealed that MANTRA has always been pro-regulation and that the team is developing a licensed aspect in sight to everything through MANTRA Finance.
He mentioned that the team, over the last two years, has been seeing the space eventually move towards regulation. That’s why they’ve been working with a number of different regulators around the world to be a compliant and licensed DeFi platform. In fact, MANTRA is currently working with VARA in Dubai in hopes of becoming one of the first, if not the first, regulated DeFi platform there.
“As a lot of this does move towards regulated and compliant ecosystems, we’re at the forefront and able to operate within multiple jurisdictions.”
After the revelation that MANTRA Chain will be introducing its own native token, $AUM, which will have a relationship similar to the one between ETH and Ethereum, Ian had an interesting question.
How will these two tokens [$OM and $AUM] live side by side?
To this, Will responded by saying that $OM and $AUM will be playing separate roles to prevent too much cannibalistic overlap. On one hand, $OM is the governance token of MANTRA, and is used for staking and accessing DeFi products. On the other hand, $AUM will be the native token of MANTRA Chain and will be used for gas fees. Furthermore, Will also mentioned the several airdrop benefits of holding, staking, and supplying $OM.
“We will be airdropping $AUM to all $OM holders. $OM holders will also get airdropped $HELI from HeliSwap and a portion of $SOMA from SOMA.finance that are being issued in the next couple of months. So we’re really bringing a lot of use cases to holding the governance token.”
Ian mentioned that he heard a lot of people on Twitter saying that the space needs fewer blockchains and more killer dApps. To that, Will responded by saying that he does think too many Layer 0s could potentially be too much. However, while he would have agreed with the statement a couple of years, the ecosystem today is much more interconnected. With so many inter-blockchain communications and cross-chain abilities, it’s no longer the case that users are stuck on just the Ethereum or Hedera ecosystem.
Will lauded Cosmos for the way they’ve developed their builder-friendly SDKs. As such, there are many dApps and chains on top of there that have been focusing on gaps that they can conquer, such as the NFT marketplace, DEX & AMM, or peer-to-peer lending and borrowing money market.
He further added that the points they feel haven’t been properly addressed within the Cosmos ecosystem yet were compliance and regulated assets. He revealed that the team either has the licenses in the US through SOMA.finance, or are getting the licenses internationally through MANTRA Finance. Therefore, the team will be able to bring KYC, AML, and decentralized identification on-chain to users to enable them to access different platforms. For example, MANTRA will be able to bring real world currencies, public equities, and traditional securities on-chain and off-chain so that they can be traded in the style of a DEX or AMM. These assets will also be one-to-one backed.
“Cosmos has the inter-blockchain connection to IBC, which makes it super easy to be able to export and transport different assets and tokens within these different L2s kind of across there.”
The AMA also made way for an interesting revelation by Will. He mentioned that, compared to most other blockchains, MANTRA took the reverse chain approach. Most blockchains first launch, and then find dApps to be built on them to prove their Proof of Concept. However, with MANTRA, they launched and first built a number of dApps on Ethereum, BNB Smart Chain, and Polygon without their own native chain. Now that they have an exceptional track record and experience in building smart contracts and products, the plan now is to build their own chain and bring all the products in-house.
Ian also asked what kind of dApps MANTRA Chain is looking to attract developers to build on their chain. To that, Will replied saying that while the window will be a bit open for variety, the chain’s prime focus will be on regulated products and DeFi. He added that they will also be building modules around gaming and NFTs, as they have identified gaps in those aspects too.
Since MANTRA's sister company SOMA.finance has investors that are big gaming companies, such as Animoca Brands and Griffin Gaming Partners, developers will have a strong reason to come over and build.
Will shared his belief that there is a huge potential for blockchain-based games, since numerous people have immigrated from the world of traditional gaming – both developers and players. He did admit, however, that blockchain-based gaming is still significantly behind its traditional counterpart, and for good reason: Traditional gaming has been around for decades after all, while blockchain-based gaming is still quite new.
Will did suggest a specific interest in the play-to-earn model, but didn’t find some companies’ tokenomics supportive and sustainable enough.
While talking about gaming and blockchain, Will also revealed that the team is working on something called ‘GameFi Yield Engine’ – the idea being that users will be able to utilize different sustainable yield sources.
“Let’s say through a MANTRA Nodes system with all the PoS nodes that are generating yields, and having those be able to come into games and provide yields. So it’s not just the token artificially pumping up with new money coming in and just being dumped by people who have been around. There’s a huge market there! It just hasn’t really yet been figured out perfectly in terms of how to get the tokenomics right and the in-game economies that work, promote and prop themselves up sustainably.”
Ian and Will continued their discussion regarding gaming by saying that it is also playing a major educational role. Users who are interested in gaming and want to try out decentralized games will have to sign transactions and create wallets in most cases. As a result, it is teaching people about the blockchain through gaming and bringing a record number of people in.
Will also added that the influx has been caused by several angles. For instance, NFTs brought in users who were into collectibles and arts and made it easier for them to understand what on-chain assets, non-fungible tokens, and fungible tokens were.
“As we have more use cases, that will cause people who are passionate on the off-chain side to actually come on-chain. That’s kind of the rabbit hole, or at least the first taste that gets them to start diving a bit deeper and learning more and more.”
Will expressed his belief that the USPs of both MANTRA Finance and SOMA.finance will be the ability to interact with different securities on-chain. This means that users can use a DEX or an AMM to trade their Ethereum (ETH) against Tesla (TSLA), or Apple (AAPL) against Google (GOOGL).
These will be wrapped assets, but still 1-to-1 backed. Users can still enjoy proxy voting rights and dividends. He further mentioned that the protocols will not be like Synthetix or Mirror Protocol, in the sense that MANTRA Finance users will actually have the paper share in account. If an individual wanted to, they could take their assets both on-chain and off-chain. By placing their assets on-chain, they could then enjoy benefits such as instant settlements. They could also use DEXs and AMMs to avoid issues related to centralized exchanges, such as front running, order book manipulation, and trading against some of the best traders in the world. As such, MANTRA Finance and SOMA.finance will be providing a level playing field and offering that to people all around the world.
While they realize the presence of DeFi maximalists who are against providing details, both Ian and Will are of the sentiment that regulation and KYC are inevitable. Will specifically mentioned that compliance factors are needed so that a federal government can help to protect users. Regulators are working to prevent rug pills and scams, and weed out bad actors, illicit people, and terrorists. Also, with KYC and AML, a lot of the stuff is off-chain and incredible secure, so users don’t have to worry about their information being leaked.
“That’s a big thing if we want to get traditional people to start dipping toes into crypto or even crypto people to start dipping their toes and expanding their portfolio into traditional securities and public equities. This is kind of a crucial step. I’m not saying that it will properly envelop decentralized finance. There is always going to be a market and a place for non-licensed activities. But we think that they’ll play hand in hand and there’s space for both, depending on what you’re trying to access.”
When asked about what he thinks the state of crypto will be in the next 5 years, Will said that he thinks a large portion of DeFi will be working towards permissioned DeFi. This would cause actions such as pools needing to be confirmed and approved before being added in.
“I remember, over the last two years, at the onset of Uniswap, being worried about announcing when you’re going to launch your Uniswap pool. Because someone might come in and make a fake pool and put the link, and it was a huge part of the launch strategy: When do you set up the pool? When do you announce the links? And all of this.”
Will also admitted that there are still a lot of hurdles in the crypto space in terms of the user-friendliness and usability, so it’s the responsibility of the builders and project owners within the space to build products that are able to onboard non-crypto people – or recent crypto adopters.
“And being able to build and make a comfortable environment where they feel like they’re not going to lose their money by clicking the wrong button. It’s definitely an approach that we’ve always taken: having customer service to be able to respond to people, having things like tool tips, step-by-step guides, tutorials. It’s going to be a major part.”
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