Interview with OKEx CEO Jay Hao and Unstoppable Domains Founder Brad Kam
Recently, OKEx integrated Unstoppable Domains into its crypto wallet system to improve the overall user experience and enable faster payments from peer to peer. To discuss the groundbreaking partnership and how custom crypto wallet addresses will impact the future of the industry, we’re speaking with OKEx CEO Jay Hao and Unstoppable Domains Founder Brad Kam. To get started, we’d like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to our audience about the integration.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the collaboration came to light?
Jay Hao: OKEx has long-admired the work of Unstoppable Domains in enabling cheaper and faster payments and making cryptocurrency more accessible to everyday people. We also share in a joined belief that onboarding people to cryptocurrency should be as easy as possible. It was therefore a natural collaboration for us.
Thanks, Jay. Likewise, we’ve seen OKEx as a leader in innovation for the blockchain industry and exchanges. We felt that this was a natural fit in allowing users to easily get onboarded to crypto. It’s important for exchanges like OKEx to leverage human-readable names as the standard method of introducing new users because it removes any initial fear of using cryptocurrencies.
How do the custom addresses Unstoppable Domains provide break down barriers to crypto adoption?
Jay Hao: User experience is still one of the major barriers to mass adoption. Although the crypto industry has made great strides in improving this, unless we can make sending payments as simple as using a credit card or a well-known payment service like WeChat Pay or PayPal, many everyday users will simply not consider it. No one is looking for a service that makes their life more complicated.
Asking users to provide long payment addresses that are impossible to memorize and that expire constantly is simply too much of an inconvenience for many users. Moreover, they need to provide different addresses for each different currency they want to receive. This means that, although they receive the benefits of near-instant payment, it can take a long time to set the payment up.
Thanks to our integration with Unstoppable Domains, users can now create their own domain name, which can be very simple, easy to remember, and used over and over, such as sally.crypto or tommy.crypto. Even more importantly, they can use this domain to receive payment in all the different currencies supported by OKEx wallet and Unstoppable Domains. This makes receiving payments infinitely easier and faster, thus dramatically improving the user experience. This is a great step forward in breaking down that barrier and encouraging more users to transact easily with crypto.
In what ways do custom cryptocurrency domains improve the speed and simplicity of sending crypto assets?
Jay Hao: Since all you need to receive any cryptocurrency supported by OKEx and Unstoppable Domains is your domain name, it eliminates the trouble of recalling a complicated wallet address and greatly speeds up the process. You can also reuse it as many times as you need, infinitely, so it can be saved in address books – unlike traditional cryptocurrency addresses that expire – and you can receive all currencies to the same address, rather than having to provide one for ETH, one for BTC, one for OKB, etc.
This also greatly reduces the risk of human error, either typing or copying the wrong address or selecting the wrong address for a certain cryptocurrency and having it lost forever. This is no longer a worry using a cryptocurrency domain.
How do these Unstoppable Domains reroute to traditional cryptocurrency addresses?
Jay Hao: I think that Brad can explain this better, but essentially, users add their cryptocurrency addresses for BTC, ETH, OKB, or whatever currency they wish to receive to their .crypto domain. Then, when someone sends a payment to their domain at a supporting wallet like OKEx, the wallet reroutes the payment to the correct cryptocurrency address.
Thanks, Jay. Simply put, a blockchain domain is an NFT that lives inside your wallet like cryptocurrency. Like every ERC-721 token, it can store different types of records inside the smart contract. For blockchain domains, this can be an IPFS hash, email, social handle and also cryptocurrency addresses. When a user enters his domain in the wallet application, a look-up happens in the smart contract and the domain routes the transaction to the attached address. Because a blockchain domain is an NFT, you can easily send it around from wallet to wallet to change ownership. We’ve been working on this with several wallets and echanges like OKEx so that in the near future, you’ll be able to use your domain to send and receive crypto basically anywhere.
What are some other benefits of Unstoppable Domains in general?
Jay Hao: Another really big benefit of creating a domain with Unstoppable Domains is that they are user owned . Since they are hosted over multiple nodes on the decentralized web, unlike a regular domain on the existing internet that can be ceased or taken offline, the only person that can take your crypto domain offline is you. You also only pay a one-off registration fee and there are no ongoing renewals after that since you own the domain rather than rent it from a centralized party.
Brad Kam: Yeah, beyond ease of use, I’d say decentralization and ownership are the other big two reasons behind what we do. The internet as we know it is flawed because much of it relies on centralized authorities like ICANN and GoDaddy. As we work towards building Web3, the internet that’s controlled by the users, people can be confident that their website isn’t dictated by another entity. See it as DNS 2.0. It has new features like payments and most importantly that users are in control of their domain names, not companies. Everything that they do on web3 is truly in their control, whether they use their domain as a wallet, a retail website, an art gallery, content page, whatever, it’s all up to them and no one can take it away from them.
Why did OKEx choose to partner with Unstoppable Domains?
Jay Hao: At OKEx, we are constantly striving to improve the user experience and make onboarding the next wave of people into crypto easier and more intuitive for all. This partnership with Unstoppable Domains for us was a logical step since we share these same ideals and beliefs. On top of that, Unstoppable Domains is making great contributions toward the development of the decentralized web and we are always looking to partner with innovative pioneers in the space.
Do you think a fully “decentralized web” is possible? If so, by what year do you project this to happen?
Jay Hao: I firmly believe that a fully decentralized web is not only possible but an absolute certainty. We now have the opportunity to correct the mistakes we made when building the internet, giving users control of their own data again, and making it a fairer and more efficient ecosystem for all. The technology is still young, and we need to reach a place in which blockchains can scale to adopt billions of users and interoperate with each other.
We are already seeing great strides in blockchain interoperability through projects like Cosmos and Polkadot, and blockchains with high throughput that can support large-scale dApps and users such as OKExChain, Algorand, and others. Also, Ethereum’s transition to ETH 2.0 will be a watershed moment in furthering this development. But I think we are still in the early days. If we compare it to the development of the internet, perhaps we’re still in 1995. Although the pace of development of the decentralized web will certainly be faster, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a fully decentralized web for several more years to come.
Brad Kam: We also believe that the internet is inevitably heading towards Web3, and that’s ultimately what we’re building towards at Unstoppable. You have property rights in the real world, but you don’t have property rights on the internet. The decentralized web is all about giving users digital property rights – you control your domains, your data, etc. When people begin to see that they have the option between a legacy system in which they don’t own their data, versus a decentralized network that provides more security and ownership, they’ll go with the latter every time. This obviously won’t happen overnight because it requires a lot of the main features of the internet to be overhauled onto the decentralized web, like chat, content platforms, et cetera. It’s tough to put a number on it, but we’ll get there, even if it takes five to ten years. We’re in it for the long haul.
Early on during the dot com days, there was an explosion of demand around domain names. How has the demand been since the launch? And has it increased along with the general crypto market trend?
Jay Hao: In the early dot com days, most people didn’t really fully understand the value proposition of the internet and no one could have imagined the central role that it would play in our lives. People started to really realize what a useful tool it could be a few years later and began clamoring for domains I would say in the late 90s and up until the bubble burst in 2001. It’s still early days for the decentralized web. It is my understanding that Unstoppable Domains has already registered over a quarter of a million domain names, but the first real peak in demand has yet to arrive. I will allow Brad to elaborate further on this.
Brad Kam: We’ve actually just doubled that number with over 500,000 registered domains. There have definitely been early adopters that see the future potential of blockchain domains and claimed any names, words, or phrases that they believe to be valuable in the future. We’ve also just started releasing what we call Premium Domains, which are short and common names in high demand. “Win.crypto” was the first to be bought for $100,000, breaking the record for the highest price of a blockchain domain ever purchased. So people are definitely seeing the value in this, and we expect more to come on board as we see the NFT space blowing up and people are excited to get their hands on these as rare collectibles.
What do you have to say about comparisons between crypto and the early dot com bubble in general?
Jay Hao: I think that we can draw comparisons, in the fact that new technology is not well understood in the beginning, people are quick to reject it, to call it a scam, to dismiss it. We have been seeing the same thing with cryptocurrency over the years – and still are, in many cases. It’s possible that we are now starting to see something similar to the start of the dot com bubble when demand started rising, gradually, then suddenly. This will produce very high volatility in the markets and may push prices to unrealistic levels before they correct again.
Either way, just like the internet, cryptocurrencies are a long game and they aren’t going anywhere. There may be several ‘bubbles’ on the way to mass adoption which may see some of the early adopters shaken out of the markets as they are replaced by more innovative competitors. But the future direction is clear and I think that those investors who missed out on the early days of the internet and investing in the IPOs of some of the companies that are now dominating our lives will not make the same mistake again this time around.
And how else will cryptocurrencies eventually intersect with other internet technologies, much as they have with Unstoppable Domains?
Jay Hao: There is so much potential for cryptocurrencies to improve all aspects of our daily lives and intersect with other internet technologies to provide us with solutions to protect our data, improve efficiency, eliminate transaction barriers, and have a substantial impact on the global economy.
We will see this more in more in many different areas from NFTs and fan interaction in sports and gaming, to open finance, improving the security and efficiency of IoT devices, rewarding content creators and musicians, holding companies accountable for their actions, enabling fast and fair payments for smart energy… and so many more use cases that we cannot even imagine at this stage of the game. We are living in very exciting times and are privileged to witness so much innovation that will improve the lives of all individuals on earth.
What is OKEx doing to mark this partnership?
Jay Hao: We are launching a series of incentives across five weeks to encourage more users to try this new feature and get them to share the word with their friends. This is a really big step for OKEx to improve the overall user experience for our customers and we want to make sure the integration reaches as many of our users as possible!