This is part of a series of interviews with founders and builders in the Web3 space called the Web3 Growth Handbook. The official handbook will be released in the coming months, but you can read all of the other available interviews here.
"I hope the Web3 space focuses more on other benefits that can be introduced to users beyond privacy. I don’t think privacy will be a real selling point to normal consumers. But frictionless markets are real benefits that can be sold to normal users."
The token economy is a major part of what drives Ethereum. We’ve seen tokenized versions of trading cards, shoes, and even sports contracts. We’ve also seen tokens developed to represent a stable currency. This has helped create the decentralized finance (DeFi) market. Tokens can do a lot of things, but AlphaWallet founder Victor Zhang thinks they can do more. His company has built a mobile wallet that supports traditional uses of Ethereum tokens, but they’ve also built a scripting engine that can take tokens and make them “smart.”
Founded in November of 2017, AlphaWallet offers both their mobile wallet and a scripting language that enhances the existing capabilities of smart contracts. TokenScript, as they put it, “makes tokens smart.” TokenScript extends the capabilities of tokens by integrating into the underlying smart contract and offering rich features that end users and developers can use in addition to simply paying for things and representing real-world assets. AlphaWallet has raised $2.3 million to help them achieve these goals.
We had the chance to talk with Victor about his experience in Web3. We discussed DeFi, blockchain, and building for businesses versus building for end users.
How do you define growth?
For us, we tried three different growth paths. This is because we deal with three parties: the mobile consumer, the developer, and the business. The businesses are the people who have the authority to tokenize the rights. When we started focusing on developers, we didn’t have much luck. When we focused on consumers, trying to use existing smart contracts and make them more user friendly, writing a TokenScript file, we also didn’t have a lot of success. The user base was too small. So in the middle of last year, we started focusing on businesses to help them tokenize the rights to things they have the authority to tokenize. By doing that, we create a b2b2c platform and their users become our users.
What has been the most difficult part of growing your company so far?
I think everyone in the industry is facing a similar issue. It’s the construct of blockchain technology itself. For blockchain, if I’m the only person using the technology, there’s no benefit. It requires the involvement of multiple parties and that makes it more difficult to grow a company. When we partnered with businesses, we realized there were built-in users there for us.
The main challenge for us is we cannot develop all the technology in one run. So, we have to gain market share while also continuing to build.
What do you think needs to happen to overcome these issues?
I think the best thing is focusing on the token itself rather than the dapps. Dapps just use tokens, so if you don’t have good value to tokenize, there won’t be useful applications. All we will be left with is crypto-native tokenized rights like cryptocurrencies themselves. We need to try to bring in more businesses that can tokenize rights and that will help grow the market.
What tools do you wish were there to help you grow?
Messaging is definitely a must-have tool. It’s high up on our technology wish list but we haven’t decided what protocol to use.
What are your predictions for Web3/Blockchain growth in 2020?
I hope the Web3 space focuses more on other benefits that can be introduced to users beyond privacy. I don’t think privacy will be a real selling point to normal consumers. But frictionless markets are real benefits that can be sold to normal users. For example, after you tokenize rights, each token can become an open API. This gives anyone the ability to integrate without going through a gatekeeper.