In this interview we will meet Aleksandr Vat who is one of the initiative Free TON enthusiasts. He was one of the top three winners of StableCoin Design Contest. His decision proposes the creation of a cryptobank LibreBank, the stablecoin of which will be backed by TON Crystal. He will tell us:
- About himself and his competencies in various areas of business;
- How he joined TON and his participation in the Telegram vs. SEC court;
- About his activity at DeFi SG and more.
Svetoslav Bauer: Aleksandr, Hello! Thanks for coming. Please tell us about yourself and what you did before joining Free TON.
Aleksandr Vat: I received my first degree as a radar stations programmer in Military Aviation School in Stavropol. I was a navigating operator, flying navigator, second place on the plane. It was perestroika time: we did not fly, life became hard, and there was no money, so I quit. I quickly received two university degrees one after another and started my own IT business. Second education was in Banking and Finance, financial management. The third one was legal – I graduated from the Leningrad State University.
My IT business was successful. At first I was a programmer, then became an analyst and then ended up leading the company. Two years after graduation I started my own company. I lived and worked in Russia. My partner and I got to the point where we were involved in ambitious projects with Rosatom, Roscosmos, and Territorial Generating Company No. 1 (TGC-1). There were very large projects. The largest one was valued over 100,000,000 rubles.
Then I got tired of this: tenders and kickbacks. Life seemed wrong. I decided to give up everything to sort myself out. I was downshifting for a couple of years. Eventually I moved with my family to the Tenerife Island (Canary Islands) where I started as a freelancer from scratch. In 2017 I found out about cryptocurrency, and all this time I worked with it. Participated in several ICOs. One of them (Crypt-ON) was quite successful in terms of fundraising, however, was not implemented due to the investor’s decision. I got experience and learned how the blockchain community works, what blockchain is in general, what is Ethereum etc.
Then I was invited by Ronnie Boesing, the founder of OpenLedger, an ex-partner of Dan Larimer, the creator of EOS. They used to work on the Bitshares project which was one of the first major blockchains alongside Bitcoin and Ethereum. Then Dan Larimer left to create EOS and Ronnie Boesing decided to create Graphene. My task as a product owner was to create its blockchain. This is a Danish company where I worked for a year and a half. We made the MVP of the Graphene blockchain. Then Ronnie left to secure fundraising for the continuation of the project. I had free time, so I dug into the TON white paper.
I was impressed by the technical perfection of this blockchain. I actively joined the community in the fall of 2019 to become one of the first members of the TON Community Foundation. Since then I participated in the creation of the legal document and was one of the representatives of Telegram’s interests in the court against the SEC as AMICUS CURIAE (“friends of the court”) until it all collapsed, i.e. when Telegram lost the case.
Svetoslav Bauer: Very interesting. Could you tell me in more detail why Free TON attracted you so much? And why did you choose DeFi Sub-governance?
Aleksandr Vat: I consider blockchain as a tool for solving many problems in the existing society: building a government, a banking system, a voting system, decision-making, transparency, etc. For me blockchain is not only a current source of income but also the fulfillment of some life goals and purposes. I believe in a better community, cleaner, more democratic, less dictatorial, less centralized and ultimately freer.
TON white paper showed me great opportunities for building this community, technical excellence and the most relevant blockchain for building a free community. When the trial was lost, I interpreted it as the proof that centralized institutions were not ready to give up power and were strangling decentralized systems. I dropped out of the project for a while. Then I saw that the freely launched Free TON community was moving forward and the project was developing. And in September I again joined the community.
Getting familiar with the project I chose the SG, which corresponds to my experience the most. As a product owner I know two things well: how to build marketing for a project and how to build a blockchain technically. Being the financial expert I have worked a lot with financial instruments. In ICO we created a complex product including the financial system, Escrow-service and p2p exchange. Therefore, DeFi is the area where I am the most proficient in. I came to this SG and became one of the initial members.
I believe that DeFi as the second wave of ICOs, provided a market to the blockchain, promoted its growth and gave it a second life. DeFi is like a circulatory system in the blockchain. At the moment only active, purposeful development of a decentralized finance system built on top of the Free TON blockchain can ensure a growth of the Free TON blockchain.
Svetoslav Bauer: Thanks for the details. It was interesting to know. Would you please tell me what are you doing now in this SG?
Aleksandr Vat: I came at the beginning of the DeFi SG formation. We started with the usual tasks: with the selection of the jury. We have already held three contests. We have very complex requirements for the jury as we need specialists who understand what DeFi is. We have to search for such people throughout the whole blockchain community, from all possible blockchains. It took us three stages to attract about ten members of the jury. It was a difficult process.
To answer what tasks we managed to solve, I want to clarify what the DeFi system currently represents, which we can and should build on top of the Free TON blockchain.
I would highlight 3 key elements:
1) We need bridges with other blockchains to collect liquidity, so that people can deposit their cryptocurrency in Free TON. They will most likely do this because the TON blockchain has lower fees, higher speed and does not have some of the inherent problems that other blockchains have, primarily Ethereum, for example, the notorious front-running problem. So people can earn more by participating in DeFi projects on Free TON.
We have held competitions for bridges with Ethereum and Polkadot. Polkadot was chosen as a blockchain that is designed to communicate with all blockchains. Through Polkadot we can build bridges to other blockchains. This is a strategically important issue, although it is a rather complex blockchain. An Ethereum bridge is easier as Free TON uses the Solidity language. On the other hand 80-90% of the DeFi market is on the Ethereum blockchain.
2) Stablecoins are required. DeFi stablecoin is an essential part. Decentralized finance is mainly built on the principle of liquidity pools with cryptocurrency on one hand and a stablecoin on the other hand. Accordingly, there will be no DeFi without a stablecoin. As I said earlier, I consider DeFi to be the circulatory system of the Free TON blockchain, and then stablecoins can be called red blood cells in this blood. I was writing a stablecoin contest with the help of Vladimir Maslyakov and other members of DeFi SG.
3) DEXes are required. More than ten entries of different quality were submitted for the DEX competition, so it was difficult to assess them. There were also adequate essays written by the good technical specialists who understand how the Free TON blockchain works, but do not understand how decentralized finance works. It was also the other way around. But there are also essays with completely unique characteristics. DEX, for example, is speed comparable to centralized exchanges or StableCoin independent of external oracles. DEXes can definitely be called the HEART of the Free TON DeFi ecosystem.
Svetoslav Bauer: I see that you like to collaborate in this SG. What do you like about your SG team? What is needed for better cooperation, in your opinion?
Aleksandr Vat: What I like most about DeFi SG is its professionalism. This is the key quality needed for DeFi. Professionalism from the financial perspective and understanding of processes, as well as professionalism in the technical implementation of the DeFi mechanism. This is what we have. Many participants in Sub-governance have their own companies. Someone has $4,000,000 in the liquidity pool. For DeFi this is not that much but it demonstrates that people understand what they are doing. Some team members have their own working projects, bots or even exchanges. This is the first and key feature.
I noticed that people here stick to the decentralization principles. In controversial moments they are ready to vote on the blockchain to accept new changes. There is no attempt to impose authoritarian thinking and centralized approach. This SG is truly decentralized.
I say this with a bit of a bitter experience that I met in other SGs that declare decentralization, however, in reality some participants are trying to build a hierarchy for themselves. But thank God – this was suppressed by the vote of the entire community.
Speaking of the cons, I personally do not have enough professional communications on the implementation of specific contests and their results. For example, how to treat certain proposals in the works whether they are meaningful or nonsense. Everybody is professional here and apparently they just do not have enough time. On the other hand, when I really need some information I reach out, and I have never been not answered or helped in some question.
The more important issue is not specifically in DeFi SG, which, due to the complexity of the topic, has not yet come in very many market professionals with good implementation proposals. We seek them out, pull them out of other blockchains and interest them by unique TON capabilities. And we need liquidity from other blockchains and other sources. The recent announcement of the Free TON DeFi Alliance and their Proposal is a step in that direction. And a step is absolutely in the right direction.
Svetoslav Bauer: Great. I think this information will be helpful. We all need to observe how processes line up in different SGs and emulate in the best practices. What would you like the most to learn or implement in Free TON?
Aleksandr Vat: Most of all I would like to see Free TON the way the Durovs saw it, especially Pavel Durov, in his original white paper. Let me draw your attention to what is now clear that some things cannot be implemented in this form. If we omit the technical aspects and leave the business idea, then I would like to see business opportunities being realized as a result which were written in the original TON’s white paper with all the features, including instant payments, a system of non-blocking sites, the ability to store files distributed, instant messaging between shards, etc. This is a large set of mechanisms that would allow building a free Internet and free payment systems. I would like us to achieve this goal as a community of free developers and professionals in various fields.
Svetoslav Bauer: Yes, it is obvious that this is not easy to implement, but surely many people in the community, like you and I, hope that it will be implemented. Now let’s move on to another question. Who in DeFi are top-notch professionals in any given area? Who would you like to work closely with?
Aleksandr Vat: Everyone at SG DeFi is highly qualified. I don’t want to distinguish anyone in particular. Except that I can say that I interact more with Sergei Shashev, Vladislav Ponomarev and Vladimir Maslyakov and I am completely satisfied with their professionalism. Beyond our SG I would mention Mitja. I think he has strategic thinking. It is worth talking to him for five minutes, and you are fired up by some of his business ideas and thinking. I admire his professional approach. Another participant is Fedor Skuratov. I highly esteem him as a specialist in building communities and promoting better communication. I also work with him a lot and I think he is a valuable asset for Free TON; he can help build a serious community.
And the third person I would like to mention is Dmitry bitjudge. He stands out with his ability to write a high-quality document in the shortest possible time. He delivers incredible volumes of useful material. Dmitry is the top professional.
I have spent most of my business career in hierarchical and centrally managed companies. I am genuinely surprised by the effectiveness of building a fully decentralized community. I expected the efficiency to be times lower compared to the fast authoritarian management systems. On the contrary, sometimes the quality of decentralized decision-making allows avoiding a large number of mistakes and getting the result faster. I am sure that in the future Free TON will be studied by professors as one of the first successful cases of a successful decentralized community. Good luck to all of us!
Svetoslav Bauer: Aleksandr, thank you very much for such a meaningful conversation. It was interesting to meet you. See you!
The interview was prepared by the MOVETON team. Translated by Adrian Chase.