This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the movers and shakers; individuals who are making extraordinary contributions to the growth of the Proton blockchain–whether by adding tokens to the chain, creating products, or just offering their stalwart support. This installment features, Rylan Co-Founder of Storex, the first e-commerce marketplace solution built on Proton.
Storex is an open marketplace/crypto exchange whose products are warranted through decentralized escrow (using smart contracts). Hence, it is unlike any other marketplace we've ever seen on eBay or Amazon. This is because Storex is built upon blockchain technology and uses Web 3.0 payment rails. Users of the Storex marketplace can buy or sell goods and services in exchange for a variety of cryptocurrencies. Storex is also the first company to announce integration with WebAuth.com on the Proton Blockchain.
This past September, the Proton team released WebAuth.com (Web3) payments platform designed to make online purchases secured through biometrics and frictionless transactions using fiat to crypto on-ramps. (Note: in December, WebAuth.com. got an upgrade meant to encompass an entire suite of cross-platform tools, including: a mobile wallet on IOS and Android as well as a Web 3.0 experience accessed right in the browser.) Both the website and wallet also feature bridges to other blockchains including Binance (BEP20), Ethereum blockchain, together with Proton mainnet support. While Storex is on track to be the first to release their marketplace on WebAuth.com, it is features like these that will attract many more developers to build Web3 solutions on Protonchain.
Dan: Hello and welcome Rylan (from Storex). I'm really excited to have you for this interview.
Rylan: Hi Dan, thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to sharing our project with you [on this blog] and the Proton community.
Dan: Your company has created quite a stir in the community since arriving on the scene. But Storex began on Ethereum in 2019. What were some of the reasons why you made the switch from Ethereum to Proton? Also, did you look at any other blockchains before choosing Proton?
Rylan: We’ve been very grateful for the reception our project has received since moving to Proton. But we originally created Storex on the Ethereum blockchain back when gas fees were a fraction of what they are today. We were mindful of the increasing gas fees during the latter stage of our development process and hoped ETH 2.0 would arrive soon. But after delays to the Ethereum upgrade, [we were forced] to choose between waiting for the upgrade or migrating to another blockchain. It was an extremely difficult decision to make, but our team decided to migrate elsewhere after consulting our community.
We considered migrating to Binance Smart Chain and other Ethereum Virtual Machine-compatible blockchains, but [we] had concerns about their gas fee models and the costs involved with bridging assets. One of our team members discovered Proton through Twitter and liked the platform enough to personally invest in XPR. After informing the rest of our team about Proton Chain, the solution to our problem became clear. [Proton's] zero fees were incredibly appealing to our project as we believe most of our transactions will involve low-value items. Very few people ... [are] willing to purchase goods or services on the marketplace if the transaction fee exceeds the value of the product. Proton’s support for cross-chain assets was also incredibly useful; [because] we no longer needed to facilitate the bridging of assets ourselves [since] Proton intuitively does this for us. [Moreover,] Proton’s focus towards payment processing ultimately drove us to migrate to Proton Chain, even [though] we had to re-create the blockchain code from scratch and heavily modify our back-end.
Dan: Can you talk a bit about how you plan to take advantage of the Web3.0 technology stack of WebAuth.com and Protonswap.com (decentralized exchange on Proton Chain) for your e-commerce platform?
Rylan: The Web3 technologies provided by the Proton team are very useful to Storex, [because] users on the marketplace can integrate their Proton wallet with their Storex account via the Proton Wallet app or WebAuth.com. This allows users to approve transactions on the blockchain throughout the Storex platform; [which] includes the creation of listings, and the purchase of goods and services.
As for ProtonSwap, it will allow our [Storex] users to quickly convert their assets as needed. [ProtonSwap also allows] merchants on our platform to choose which cryptocurrencies they accept as payment. So in the event the buyer does not hold any of the accepted cryptocurrencies, they can quickly use ProtonSwap to convert [their] assets.
Dan: On a recent AMA (ask me anything) Q&A held on Twitter, you shared plans to use Amazon's infrastructure for customer deliveries. Can you explain how that will work?
Rylan: We did mention on our Twitter AMA that Amazon provides a service called Amazon Shipping; which allows third-party websites to deliver packages through their own delivery infrastructure. This would be useful to a project of our size since we can fulfill many orders with Amazon’s next day delivery. We are looking into making this service available for all of our merchants, rather than just the official Storex storefront.
Dan: The ability for sellers to have their own custom storefronts is really next level stuff. Kind of like Shopify for crypto. Would you agree?
Rylan: Yeah! We are trying to offer as much customization to the merchants [storefront owners] without detracting from the general theme of the [Storex] website. Merchants can create and customize their own storefronts on the [Storex] marketplace. We also decided to give sellers the ability to arrange the layout of their storefront [utilizing] featured listings displayed at the top. Customization options also extend to color palettes and branding. A template system will facilitate all of these features in a future update that allows community submitted templates to be implemented (by a voting system).
Dan: How will you ensure that customers will receive what they order. Will payments be held in escrow via smart contract (on the Proton blockchain) until delivery?
Rylan: Yes, Storex will provide decentralized smart contracts for buyers and sellers who want to make use of them. This escrow service will only release the funds when the buyer confirms receipt of the goods; or there is inaction from the buyer after a certain amount of time; or else a dispute has been resolved through the resolution centre by community arbiters. Sellers choose the terms of a sale. But, it will be clearly displayed on the listing if the seller requires payment via our escrow service –an optional feature.
Dan: I'm not sure that "caveat emptor" and "DYOR" will be sufficient to gain and to keep the public trust. You must have faced some challenges in making sure Storex marketplace operates as permission-less as possible within framework of an e-commerce platform.
Rylan: Absolutely! Having the entire process as decentralized as possible, without negatively affecting the user experience, is the main objective. We are mindful of our legal obligations, including removing illegal goods from our databases and responding to cease and desist notices. However, we have no control over the data on the blockchain. So, it is impossible for us to fully remove listings as they will still be persistent* on the blockchain (but not accessible via our user-interface).
(*Note: These blockchain listings will remain fully inter-actable and can make use of our escrow smart-contract. So it will be very interesting to see how these smart-contracts are used outside the scope of our website. I believe this quasi-decentralized e-commerce model will be the best alternative to centralized commerce without straying too far from regulatory obligations and consumer trust.)
Dan: Which crypto currencies will Storex support?
Rylan: Storex will support STRX, XPR, LOAN, and every xToken available on the Proton Chain. The list of supported cryptocurrencies will grow as more cross-chain assets are implemented onto the blockchain. The possibility for supporting custom tokens also exists depending on community consensus.
Dan: STRX is the native token for your platform. Please talk a bit about the tokenomics of STRX.
Rylan: STRX is the native token on the marketplace with a maximum total supply of 2 billion initially distributed via airdrops on Ethereum. We created a conversion tool which allows STRX holders on Ethereum to convert their tokens without paying gas fees. This does require holders to actively convert their tokens, (meaning there will likely be unclaimed tokens as people forget about projects or lose access to wallets). Any tokens not claimed by April 2022 will be airdropped back into the Proton community. The STRX token itself will have a number of uses including:
- natively supported payment method;
- 3% cashback; promoting listings and storefronts will also be payable in STRX;
- KYC-verified users can stake STRX to gain eligibility to arbitrate disputes between buyers and sellers;
- and digital vouchers can be created with STRX for use during the checkout process (users can gift vouchers to friends/family or those without a Proton wallet).
Dan: Are there any regulatory hurdles to offering a 3% cash-back rewards program?
Rylan: In the United Kingdom, security tokens are subject to financial regulation. Exchange tokens and utility tokens are not. STRX will fall within the latter categories, providing both utility and an exchange of value. The cash-back reward merely reimburses some of the exchange value, and provides no additional investment rights.
Dan: When will the Storex platform be live?
Rylan: I wish I could give you a precise date...[but] I can assure you that we are working as quickly as possible to release the marketplace without compromising security or quality.
Dan: Thank you for sharing with us your very innovative project on the Proton Chain. In closing, do you have anything you would like to add?
Rylan: Thank you, Dan for giving me the opportunity to talk about the Storex platform. We are incredibly grateful for the support from the Proton community since we announced our migration. We haven’t encountered a community as helpful and enthusiastic as this one, and we look forward to developing more within the Proton ecosystem. We will be distributing more STRX tokens via giveaways and airdrops on our Twitter page, so stay tuned.