OmiseGo has a mission to decentralize the world of financial transactions. The current financial system is filled with centralized intermediaries such as clearinghouses, banks, arbitrators and governments. These central parties have an effect on every transaction as each transaction must travel between multiple intermediaries who do not trust each other. Thus, these middle men create a system to protect themselves and the consumers end up paying for it. With blockchain technology, OmiseGo aims to disrupt this system by creating an ecosystem with four major elements: a decentralized exchange (DEX), a Scalability Network Mechanism, a decentralized cash in/out layer and a Wallet Software Development Kit (SDK).
OmiseGo was created by the Omise team in 2017. Omise was established in 2013 and provides an online payment solution used by thousands of merchants across Southeast Asia. Forbes Thailand featured Omise as “Fintech Rockstars” in 2016 and they were awarded Digital Startup of the year by Thailand’s Prime Minister. After seeing a major opportunity to provide financial services to the hundreds of millions of unbanked people across Southeast Asia, they established OmiseGo.
OmiseGo raised its entire initial funding of $25 million USD in a private pre-sale. They could have raised more as public buyers had expressed interest of $100 million USD, but they chose to stick to the hard cap and not conduct a public ICO. Currently, the OmiseGo team has over 30 employees listed on their website, a majority of which overlap with the Omise team. They also have a very impressive list of advisors, which includes Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin.
To understand the utility of the OMG token, we must have a better understanding of OmiseGo’s end goal. OmiseGo wants to create a peer to peer transaction system that is backed by Ethereum, but ultimately takes place on OmiseGo’s own blockchain. How can OmiseGo operate its own blockchain but also be connected to the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token? OmiseGo plans to be the first ERC-20 token to implement Plasma and Plasma cash. We won’t dive into the Plasma architecture here, but it acts as a scaling solution on the Ethereum blockchain where “child chains,” such as the OmiseGo blockchain, can run under their own consensus algorithms and then only need to settle occasionally with the Ethereum blockchain, the “root chain.” This means that every transaction for ERC-20 tokens doesn’t have to be mined by Ethereum’s slow proof-of-work mechanism, but rather several transactions can happen quickly off chain in a proof-of-stake system and then one final transaction can be broadcasted onto the Ethereum blockchain, which prevents backlogging the Ethereum network. This architecture is vital to OmiseGo because a peer-to-peer transaction system will need to compete with the likes of modern centralized payment processors in order to see mass adoption. Right now, Ethereum can handle less than 20 transactions per second. Visa is capable of handling more than 24,000 transactions per second.
If the launch of OmiseGo’s blockchain is successful, the utility of the OMG token will be providing owners the ability to act as “miners” in the proof-of-stake consensus algorithm. Every transaction that takes place in the ecosystem will have to be added to the OmiseGo blockchain by a miner and in exchange the miner will receive a transaction fee. While these transaction fees are small for each individual transaction, if OmiseGo sees mass adoption, transaction fees will become a substantial amount and there will be a big incentive to own and then stake OmiseGo tokens for the opportunity to add transactions to the OmiseGo blockchain.
There are four major parties that need to be incentivized in order for OmiseGo to create a successful ecosystem: the users, OmiseGo holders, Electronic Payment Providers (EPPs) and OmiseGo itself.
1. Users - Users need to be incentivized to transfer funds using the OmiseGo network, which therefore needs to be cheaper and faster than current standards. For the unbanked, current standards don’t really exist. The unbanked population is confined to hard cash, which is inherently insecure, hard to keep track of, and hard to prove payment history. Even for most of the banked population, sending money is slow, costly, and relies on trusting a third party. OmiseGo’s proposed solution offers cheap, fast transfers and the ability to send assets across borders without extra fees. This will be very important in the remittance system and the transfer of value in developing countries.
2. OmiseGo holders – OmiseGo holders consists of stakers and miners. As previously mentioned, OmiseGo holders are incentivized to maintain the blockchain because they earn a transaction fee for each transaction they process. As expected in a common proof-of-stake system, the more OmiseGo in your wallet, the more likely you are to be chosen to add the next block to the blockchain and receive the transaction fees processed in that block. OmiseGo can also be bought and sold on the platform along with any other available digital or fiat currency.
3. Electronic Payment Providers - EPPs consist of merchants and wallet providers. In order for more liquidity to come to the ecosystem, EPPs must be incentivized to provide their services on the OmiseGo platform. The main incentive for EPPs, which has only been established through major partnerships, is the extra revenue gained by offering users the ability to buy and sell via OmiseGo. If implemented into daily transactions, OmiseGo will save merchants the 2-5% fee charged by a credit provider.
4. OmiseGo - OmiseGo must be incentivized to develop a secure and scalable service and to update it in the future as new issues arise. This incentive is driven by the 20% of all OMG tokens locked up in a company wallet. Therefore, the goal for OmiseGo will be to make their lockup holdings as valuable as possible. The way to do this will be to create an attractive, functional product for users and to obtain large partnerships with EPPs.
CONSENSUS ALGORITHM & SCALABILITY
OMG is an ERC-20 token, so it is currently reliant on Ethereum’s proof-of-work algorithm and associated scalability. However, OMG is at the forefront of Plasma, a scaling solution for Ethereum as previously explained. OMG is relying on implementing a child chain that uses a proof-of-stake algorithm. A proof-of-stake algorithm makes this project extremely scalable. While the solution has not been fully implemented yet, the minimum goal is to match current centralized payment systems in transactions per second.
OmiseGo has a strong following with 37.5k followers on Reddit, 286k followers on Twitter, 9600 Facebook followers, and 1300 followers on Medium. In the enterprise sphere, OmiseGo already has partnerships with Thai bank Krungsri, Credit Saison, TrueMoney, McDonald’s Thailand, and several others. Their partnerships have a combined valuation of around $30 billion USD.
OmiseGo is attempting to provide simple and cheap financial services for the massive unbanked population of the world, starting with Southeast Asia. In 2016, it was estimated that only 27% of people in Southeast Asia had a bank account. However, in 2017, it was estimated that 53% of the population was using the internet and that number is growing rapidly, up 31% from 2016 to 2017. On top of that, the vast majority of internet users were mobile internet users and there are more mobile subscriptions than there are people in Southeast Asia. While a minority of the Southeast Asian population has a bank account, a majority has internet access and the gap is continues to grow.
OmiseGo sees the opportunity to ‘bank the unbanked’ by enabling peer-to-peer transactions across borders and currencies to anyone with a mobile connection. Natural enterprise competitors include remittance companies and payment processors. The remittance market is massive: $613 billion USD in 2017 and expected to grow 4.1% in 2018. While OmiseGo is not a credit company, if it can be implemented into daily microtransactions, it should also take a piece of the credit market due to reduced fees. However, credit clearly plays a major role in the economy, so we do not expect OmiseGo to replace credit companies.
In the cryptocurrency space, there are no direct competitors to OmiseGo. Some might argue that Stellar Lumens is a competitor due to their plans for cross-platform transactions and a decentralized cross-currency exchange, but Stellar Lumens relies on credit from anchors, which are often banks, and thus requires end users to have a bank account. See our Stellar evaluation for more information. OmiseGo is different because it attempts to create a cashless system without reliance on banks; users will have accounts with hard value that is not credit.
ADOPTION FRICTION & EASE OF USE
OmiseGo faces friction in a couple of areas: technological friction and friction from a societal paradigm shift. The technological roadblock stems from the reliance on a second layer to the Ethereum blockchain that allows a solution like this to scale very quickly. OmiseGo needs to implement Plasma or some other platform before they can offer their product to the public. This is on their roadmap, but it has been delayed once before. Besides the second layer chain, this project is a massive technological undertaking. It is a very broad project that attempts to provide a complete financial service for the unbanked, which includes a wallet, an exchange, and a software development kit for enterprises to integrate solutions with the OmiseGo ecosystem. The team and advisors are very well respected in the industry and have proven to be successful with Omise.
Besides friction from the mere challenge of developing the platform, adoption also requires a paradigm shift in the way that the unbanked world uses money. While there is a massive market for this solution, OmiseGo needs to somehow convince the market to use their product. This will require heavy marketing and perhaps incentive programs because financial services typically have higher adoption friction than most economic sectors.
Current State and Roadmap
This project is still under development, but the team is very transparent with their followers. There are often posts on social media, and their website stays up to date. See https://omisego.network for the most recent roadmap.