Request AMA with John Ennis, Biz Dev Lead at Gnosis (Transcript)
Read the full transcript of the AMA with Gnosis, covering key topics including the Gnosis Safe product, its use case, future developments and partnership with Request.
👋 Request enthusiasts,
We invited John Ennis, Business Development Lead at Gnosis, to our very first Request AMA on our Telegram chat group. Our Head of Strategic Partnership at Request, Christophe Fonteneau led the session with discussions around the Gnosis Safe product, it’s use case and future developments as well as unveiling officially our partnership, among other things! Here’s a recap of the questions and answers that were exchanged during the AMA.
———— AMA session begins ————
Q1: Can you introduce yourself and how you got into blockchain?
Hey everyone, I’m John and I’m leading out ecosystem development for the Gnosis Safe. I’ve been tinkering with blockchain since 2015. I’m a big fan of it.
I dipped my feet in during my college thesis which focused on P2P energy markets. And since then, I have well and truly fell into the rabbit hole… particularly when it comes to Ethereum.
Before joining the Gnosis Safe team back in 2020, I co-founded and product managed an enterprise-focused blockchain solution with the consultancy firm, Accenture. That was fun… but my passion has always been pushing Ethereum and its infrastructure for decentralised finance.
So you’ve been immersed in blockchain since your college days.
Q2: Give us an overview of your product/project for the crypto/blockchain space and how did it get started?
Well, first of all, the Gnosis Safe (or the Safe which is what we like to call it) is a self-custodial wallet to manage digital assets. We created the first Gnosis wallet back in 2017. Mainly as a result of the ICO craze.
During this ICO frenzy, many projects needed a secure way to store their funds as a team, since they were acquiring a large amount of funds from their token sales and needed a secure way to manage the funds collectively.
We created this multisig wallet with the view to accommodate this need of secure fund management, particularly for ourselves at first!
Many projects in the space soon started to audit our contracts and began adopting the wallet for themselves. We then decided to mobilise a full dedicated team around this Gnosis wallet and re-market the product as the Gnosis Safe.
Currently, roughly $20 billion is managed using the Safe in ETH and other ERC20 tokens. If we were just to take ETH in terms of the total amount managed with Gnosis Safe, it would be over 2% of the total ETH supply!
Indeed, having a multisig wallet with the highest security standard is on everyone’s top of mind. That’s a huge amount of total value managed on the Gnosis Safe.
Q3: What is the problem that you’re solving with the Gnosis Safe?
I think most users of Ethereum are familiar with a single key wallet, often referred to as an externally owned account (EOA) e.g. Metamask. These accounts are secured with a private key, which can be transformed into a 12 word “seed phrase” for the user.
If that private key is compromised in any way, the funds can be stolen. It essentially means there is a single point of failure in your wallet setup, the seed phrase.
This is where the Gnosis Safe comes in. Since the Gnosis Safe is a smart contact account, it solves this problem through defining its logic at the smart contract level, instead of a protocol level account. This gives users more power and flexibility to implement access-control schemes such as multi-signature thresholds.
The Gnosis Safe has an in-build feature called Multisig which allows users to define multiple signer keys (owners) for a given Gnosis Safe account, as well as a threshold of signatures required to execute any transaction on this account.
This is especially useful for collective asset management by companies and organizations like DAOs, as well as individuals who need to customize the security level of their account.
Through the Gnosis Safe and Smart Contract Accounts, we can address the security issue for both individuals and teams just using one key and one seedphrase to manage their funds on blockchains.
Mike Belshe (CEO of Bitgo) had a great analogy on the value of multisigs. He was never comfortable having single-signature wallets (Metamask / Ledger etc) lying around his house since he was always terrified that his 3-year-old son could find the device / notebook which contained the single seed phrase / private key and then pour milk over it or throw it out the window! Which would result in Mike losing access to his funds. Single sigs = single point of failure!
Multisig prevents by having multiple devices / owners eligible to access funds even if one owner loses access to their account. They can even replace that lost / compromised owner account as long as it complies with their multisig policy e.g. 2 signers out of 3 owners or 5 signers out of 7 owners.
Wow, so essentially giving authorised users more control, accessibility and power over how they can manage their digital assets.
Q4: Who is your product for? What are some of the use cases for your technology?
Our product is available to any individual or collective that wants to interact with Ethereum.
Many businesses and DAOs are key users of the Safe. Rely cause of the additional security and fund access control it gives them. E..g, say you have 3 main stakeholders in your business, you are able to set up the wallet to require approval from all 3 people before the transaction is sent.
This assures that no single person could compromise the funds. If that team processes a lot of transactions everyday, you can even reduce this to 2 people. It’s completely up to you and your team to decide.
Individuals who value security are also key users of the Safe – a single user could have their account controlled by 3 signer keys with a threshold of 2. Whereas one key is a hot-wallet that can be easily accessed, another one a more secure hardware device, and finally a third backup key stored in a secure location. So the user can easily prepare a new transaction or DeFi interaction with their hot-wallet and then use their hardware device as a two-factor authentication. If any of those two is compromised or lost, the funds can still be recovered using the third backup key.
The power of smart-contract accounts does not stop there, as further modules can be enabled such as the Gnosis Safe Spending Limits module that allows defining allowance thresholds where only 1 of the signer keys is required to trigger a transaction. So in a company setting a Gnosis Safe could be used with 3 out of 5 people required to sign a transaction but special allowances can be defined where smaller transactions can be conducted by an individual member.
Finally, there is also a huge potential for recovery mechanisms that can be implemented this way, ranging from social recovery schemes to recovery via a trusted custodian.
And that’s why you’re trusted and used by many prominent players in the blockchain space.
Q5: What does the future hold for Gnosis Safe?
A big focus over the upcoming months is further improving the UX and optimizing the onboarding experience. We will also be providing a lot more contextual information to users so it’s easier to get information about their asset holdings and the exact outcome of any transaction they conduct.
DeFi is often accompanied by a lot of uncertainty and anxiety on the side of the user, and we want to build an asset management solution that creates trust and educates users. All of this means that we will be able to address less technical users who may lack prior experience with self-custody solutions.
We also look forward to making it even easier to develop and list Safe Apps so we can onboard even more projects and provide a single interface for all DeFi interactions, as well as continuing to build out the feature set of the Safe mobile apps to make them the most secure and convenient way to sign transactions.
We also see Gnosis Safe becoming the operating system for DAOs.That’s why we’ve built module called SafeSnap, which enables decentralized execution of crypto governance proposals. Combining the Gnosis Safe with decentralized governance platform Snapshot, SafeSnap is a module that allows on-chain execution of off-chain votes.
We’ve been testing with SafeSnap ourselves since part of our vision is to become a DAO. This AMA is a great opportunity to officially announce our collaboration / partnership.
Q6: Can you tell us a bit about the partnership, collaboration and benefits that come with it working with Request?
First and foremost, Gnosis are active users of Request when it comes to paying out in crypto to our ecosystem partners such as our project partners, community developers and bounty hunters. It’s an incredibly useful product for our own operations, and we very much back the team behind it.
We also support Request natively in our Safe Apps interface where you can now create, share and pay crypto payment requests straight from your Gnosis Safe Multisig account. Or you could log in directly to the native Request app using your Gnosis Safe via the Walletconnect bridge.
Request enables a seamless experience for individuals and teams to file payment requests and invoices while Gnosis Safe provides the account infrastructure for how these funds are securely sent out. It’s a great example of how traditional processes can be turned into permissionless, decentralized use cases without compromising on a smooth UX.
John, we appreciate the kind words and the valuable support we get from your team. It’s fantastic to see the benefits gained from this partnership for both our organizations and our users.
Q7: What is the best way to follow all your upcoming news and updates?
The best place to get started learning more about Gnosis Safe would be our landing page, where you can create your own Gnosis Safe. (https://gnosis-safe.io/)
Developers interested in building on top of our open-source stack can check out the Developer Portal, and get started building Safe Apps.
Q8: Is it possible to use a keystore file in the safe?
We use our on keystores for the Safe e.g. https://help.gnosis-safe.io/en/articles/4866738-how-are-private-keys-stored-on-gnosis-safe-mobile. We’re putting a lot of effort into integrating Safe Apps and making it a seamless experience for projects / devs to build and deploy on our Safe App Store. We want to have 50 apps in our app store this year! And of course, improve the UX of the current Request app in our App Store.
Q9: With Gnosis and Request in a formal partnership, does this open doors for other business partners in other markets?
Gnosis and Request offers a secured and seamless experience to crypto first companies for managing their invoices, expenses, salaries, supplier payments in a secured way. In terms of opportunities, this is an open door to traditional businesses to dive into a secure crypto experience.
Q10: With Paypal launching into crypto, do you see this as a threat at all being they’re not truely defi?
I think it will help increase adoption and help onramp and offramp into fiat and crypto. Tesla accept bitcoin now and other cryptos will follow in due course. ETH will be there soon. Hopefully fortune 500 businesses that follow in Tesla’s footsteps will start thinking about using the crypto, rather than just accepting and storing it.
Elon Musk does a good job in term of adoption, enabling crypto payments for his Teslas. Any business can start getting paid in crypto using Request invoicing. Customers can pay from their Gnosis Safe app.
———— AMA session ends ————
That’s the end of our AMA session with Gnosis. Stay tuned for more to come!
Gnosis (GNO) builds new market mechanisms for decentralized finance. Our three interoperable product lines allow you to securely create, trade, and hold digital assets on Ethereum. The Gnosis Safe is a smart contract wallet with multi-signature functionality at its core. Multi-signature allows you define an access/control-scheme through multiple signers that need to confirm transactions. Easily interact with popular decentralized finance protocols to invest, trade and manage digital assets.
About Request Network
Request (REQ) is an open network for transaction and payment requests built on Ethereum. It’s first product, Request Invoicing, allows anyone from freelancers to small businesses and organizations to create, store and access invoices and receipts in a universal, decentralized network. Users can easily send professional, secured, compliant invoices and receive payments in traditional currencies like USD and EUR — or digital currencies such as USDC, DAI and USDT among many others in the list.
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