After six very exciting months, we are proud to present our work from this grant cycle! We were able to end on a great note, by showing our work to our local community (pic above). Along with technical development, it's important to us to be able to communicate our idea to everyone, so we invited a group of friends, family, co-workers, and the public, all from different backgrounds, to share their first impressions of our project in our first ever public screening and demo.
In broad strokes, our intentions were to work with legal counsel and technical talent to carefully and correctly implement a working demo of our project Gib, a gift card for the Internet. We were also (and still are) really interested in Rafiki, so we set a goal for ourselves to have at least one pull request for their repo. Last but not least, we wanted to create public facing media. Initially we thought this would be through a technical blogger. In the end, however, the technical writing was mostly for commenting out code, and our idea for public facing media became more playful as we instead focused on a concise and clear 90 second explainer video! It is with a deep sigh of relief that we can share in this update that we were able to fulfill each of our goals.
We quickly became aware of the significance of acquiring a money transmitter license for our product. We were fortunate enough to have a few leads on securing a specialized counsel to guide us. The most promising of which was through a panel Adelya did a few years ago in NYC about blockchain technology. Through this connection, and a few months of meetings, we were able to secure a contractual relationship with Kimberly Monty Holzel, partner at Goodwin Procter LLP. She has been instrumental in helping us understand how, as our product matures and based on the services it will offer at different stages, it will trigger various compliance needs.
For reference, we are currently based in NYC and while we aim to make a product that is compliant globally, we figured we should focus on local compliance first, then nationwide and so-forth. An interesting side note, we previously had web monetization enabled on our company website, astar.app, by way of an Uphold wallet. It has since been disabled as Uphold works with the Department of Financial Services (DFS) in the State of New York to obtain a BitLicense (most recent date of notice 7.11.22).
Kim helped us understand how we can stage growth of our business with respect to various compliance triggers. The advice gave us clarity regarding which direction we should grow, namely, beginning with a closed loop (vendor specific) card that also includes (for the time being) daily transaction limits per user. We welcome the advice as a “walk before you run” growth path.
We were very excited to expand our technical team with a new hire. The important lesson we learned was how difficult it can be to hire the right fit and how valuable a good working relationship is. After a good bit of searching, we were lucky to work with a full-stack developer, Tyler Altenhofen. Tyler saw our post from the Recurse Center network, “an educational retreat for programmers who want to become dramatically better with a community of peers doing the same” (link), a program which Alex has also been a part of.
It was very important for us to be flexible when building out this project. We initially set out to build a TypeScript-based payment manager using the Interledger’s Rafiki package. We realized, however, that the development infrastructure necessary to our project’s success would be better off built from an even lower level. Tangential to this – the PR that we submitted to Rafiki arose from a difficulty we had in setting up the early-stage package on our own hardware.
Our communication and marketing efforts are our website deliverable, gib.gives, which has our interactive demo and our explainer video aimed at the general public. Please note our current build is only for desktop. We will push out an update for mobile dimensions in the coming weeks.
Next we will slightly shift gears from tech to economics. We want to focus on the legalities of implementing a contractual relationship with a vendor for a closed loop gib card. This will involve working with our lawyers, as well as bring on resources for market research.
We would really appreciate it if folks would try out our demo and leave feedback!
Gib.gives (our desktop demo site).