On the 12th of April, we have successfully harvested the fruits of a busy one and a half year of hard work. Allow me to show you, in the midst of this euphoric whisper, that — for me — what it means to manage a startup today.
Who knows me knows exactly that although I have always worked around multinational ventures, I have also taken my fair share of building startups as well. INLOCK is not my first successful startup…. of course if you allow me to predestine our story successful. In fact, the basic wording is already wrong. INLOCK is not just a company and more than a startup. INLOCK is a project and I consider myself as the project leader.
INLOCK is a (token) ecosystem under construction that is owned by the token holders and through the token they are able to affect its operation, because there is one thing in common with the many services INLOCK currently provides and will provide in the future: every fee has to be paid with ILK tokens and every ILK spent is funneled back into the ecosystem without any control and intervention as it was described in the whitepaper.
With two dozen years of professional experience behind me, I have to say all projects are different. When I came up with the idea in the autumn of 2017, building another story literally from scratch, I repeatedly wondered if I was too old to manage such a project, but obviously driven by the desire to prove the opposite, since after many-many years I found a story I could believe in.
With a tough eleven-year big bank career and experience behind me, I decided that it’s time to get on the blockchain train and create a platform where everyone can be their own bank. Regarding crypto assets, it is vital to create a number of higher-level peer-to-peer financial intermediation platforms with a technology entry level not higher than what a neobank or webbank requires today. We call this gap the adoption paradox.
So what happened on the 12th of April? We have successfully delivered the first live client loan demand, which was happened to be receiving the desired amount from two independent lenders in a true peer-to-peer way. The transaction was completely smooth following several weeks of testing and half a year of development. With this historic event, we can say that we delivered the promise we undertook at the beginning of last year: (on exactly January 31st) as I stood on the congressional stage. Soon after, I told FintechShow that we think fintech means far more than getting behind the big banks and doing fancy PFM UIs on PSD2 OpenApi. Maybe this boldness brought the attention of Fintechzone magazine — and I have the honor to open the FintechShow Crypto Economy Section with my presentation this year…. by the way this year the Crypto Economy Section will have a dedicated room, which will include 4 lectures and a round table discussion as well.
But back to our first live transaction… how much work does it truly mean? It would be hard to describe it, so I can only punch numbers. The actual development started in the spring of 2018 when we released an MVP demo prototype. That’s where the actual development started last summer. Quite precisely on July 29 last year, the project left its infancy. At least on that day, the first private GitHub commit took place, the project was already developed by six people and it was impossible to maintain the code without GitHub.
— — — — — — — — TECH GEEK DETAILS INCOMING — — — — — — — -
For almost one and a half years the various components of INLOCK were coded by a total of 14 individual developers, but of course, there were ones who only got involved in specific tasks, but the core team was with us almost from the beginning. I’m almost certain to miss some of the names — if I do its unintentional. So thank you for your contribution to the development:
[‘iFá’, ‘Dávid’, ‘Krissz’, ‘Peti#1’, ‘Peti#2’, ‘Benjámin’
‘Attila’, ‘Balázs’, ‘Laci’, ‘Dzsí’, ‘Gyula’, ‘Greg’]
… and of course, to Norbert, who brought us to the light regarding the UI and thanks to him we discovered that there is life beyond PHP... What did this dozen coders achieve in just a year? In its 11 repo masters, there are nearly 4,000 commits, in which, in addition to net programming, there are about the same amount of code reviews, pull requests, and of course an amazing amount of conflict merges. In the latter, of course, according to my public GitHub profile, I did not excel… I rather shoveled the code with two hands, so the guys always have something to refactor and fix.
Of course, these numbers only mean something for those who worked on a similar project before. Maybe I could best describe this to everyone else what we put together as:
A fully automatic peer-to-peer credit platform, where credit transactions take place without any human intervention, we have no impact on who gets credit, when and from who. It happens based on market supply and demand. The peer-to-peer parties cannot communicate with each other in any way, nor do they know each other. Moreover, in the vast majority of cases, the borrower receives a loan from tens or hundreds of individuals; also a fully automated margin call management tool is taking care of the protection and management of credit collateral, which excludes the possibility of manipulation at the technological level.
It is important to note, of course, that INLOCK is not a decentralized app… on the contrary, it is a centrally controlled monster where decision-making logic is not transparent at all. It can’t be because transparency and market competition never go hand in hand. However, the system has been designed to operate in a completely autonomous manner and in the coming months we will strive to make this autonomy as strong as possible. The ultimate goal is enormously simple: A credit platform that operates completely independent (without the need and the possibility for intervention). Research is being actively done, with which we can truly decentralize more and more components. Of course, keeping in mind that the primary goal is functionality. INLOCK is not tech-geek stuff, it was an important goal from the first minute for INLOCK not to require more knowledge and experience to handle for customers than any crypto wallet… I think we’ve achieved that and we intend to keep it.
Beyond the development, of course, let’s not forget that we have run an ICO here, against considerable resistance, practically timed in the middle of the biggest crypto / ICO depression period to date. Here, too, I could list the colleagues who took part in this hard work, but since we are talking about 30 people here from six countries who directly contributed, instead of writing the list of names… I would like to thank everyone for participating in our business. Many of you are still involved in this venture because the hardest part of the work is still ahead of us.
How do the phases of a startup look like?
(1) Idea (2) Concept (3) Financing (4) Development (5) Validation (6) Market entry
We have already ticked the fourth point today. Now comes the 5th point, which is aimed at a simple assumption: Does our product, our solution is truly required by people? And if so, is the demand substantial enough to keep the platform up and running and its ecosystem to prove itself.
So I could say in advance that, in the case of INLOCK, the path to validation is quite smooth, since we did not just accidentally create a fully automated system, so the operational and administrative costs are drastically converging to zero. We do not need a huge staff for the maintenance, nothing slows down the platform with unreasonable bureaucracy, if someone wants to borrow and choose the current best offer, then within seconds they can send out the credit received from the platform and spend it on what they planned. No holidays, no opening hours…
Let’s just stop here for a moment… How true is this statement that the process only takes seconds? Where are the credit checks and other well-known obstacles that traditional credit processes are often filled with? Without having to give a lecture on the operation of INLOCK, let’s look at an end-to-end process:
The customer needs a fast (say Hungarian Forint based) refinance loan and has Ether as coverage. Signs up for the INLOCK platform (email and password required only), then transfer in the Ethers to be used as collateral, waits for network confirmation let’s say 5 minutes. It takes less than 10 minutes to get your credit from the start. The customer requests a $500 USDC loan, which will be offered for example — at a 7% APR. So the annual interest rate is 7%, but the customer only needs the loan for 30 days, the debt amounts to a total of 502.87 USDC, for which if he happens to choose a 200% overcollateralization level, he has to lock ~ $1005 worth of Ether on the platform and pay about 430 ILK fee for using the platform (about $5 worth of tokens). There is a 2-minute window to accept the credit offer. Upon accepting it, the customer can immediately transfer the USDC to one of the local exchanges (eg. MrCoin in Hungary) and receive Forints onto the bank account. All of this does not take more than 20 minutes from the start in total. And of course, there is no credit check, no customer identification (you don’t have to upload all your documents and your entire photo album). Well… it’s really that simple in practice…
Of course, the situation has to be seen realistically, the product must prove itself in the coming months.
And if it does… well, then comes the hardest part: market entry, that is, business development. What does it mean to market such a product? Something that makes the development, the ICO management and the conceptualizing look like a walk in the park. We’ve been working on INLOCK’s business development for nearly a year now, and I have to say even with some very serious partner agreements, sometimes I have a feeling like wandering in a maze without a torch… Of course, if I want to be honest… the core team and I are eager to wait and try that particular phase 6…
Csaba Csabai — Cofounder, CEO at INLOCK