FIO is the acronym of Foundation for Interwallet Operability. It is an industry consortium that consists of leading cryptocurrency wallets, digital assets exchanges, crypto payment processors, and various other entities and community members dedicated to the pursuit of blockchain usability through the Protocol. FIO is a Cayman-registered non-profit firm that includes a Board of Directors that consists of multiple industry leaders. The Protocol aims to operate as a Decentralized Autonomous Consortia (DAC) in the future. Currently, the foundation is encouraging everyone to participate in helping define the FIO Protocol and to provide feedback on how to improve blockchain usability.
Recently, Abhiruk Bhattacharyya, the Community Manager at The Coin Republic, interviewed Luke Stokes, managing director at FIO Protocol. The session covered how this decentralized service layer removes the risk, complexity, and inconvenience of sending and receiving tokens and coins identically across every blockchain. Moreover, he also discussed how he entered the cryptosphere and what makes him bullish over the industry.
How did Luke Stokes venture into blockchain?
In 2013 actually, in January, I spent about 50 bucks, and I got two and a half Bitcoin because my first transaction with Bitcoin was about $20 a Bitcoin At the time. So I just really went on the deep dive. I spent hours and hours and hours in Bitcoin talk.org, which was the only place you can find out about it. There are very few podcasts and very little educational content out there. And so I would just be reading through forums trying to understand what this is. And that whole year just got more and more exciting. I did eventually get involved in the steam blockchain, which is now the hive blockchain. I was really excited about human-readable addresses as part of the hive and how you could just do an everyday activity that you already know how to do, which is blogging, and then earn crypto that way. And that was very exciting.
There wasn’t enough, you know, awareness about it. And now I see we’re just at that right timing, and in the next probably four or five years or so, some people say we’re going to reach a billion cryptocurrency users, which is an incredibly astounding number. Most people can’t comprehend how that can happen so quickly, but we looked at it as the adoption curve of the internet. So again, it was about seven and a half years to get where we are, now 2 billion users. And the curve of adoption of crypto is actually much steeper, so they’re estimating it will take even less time.
And so there’s just this perfect moment to be able to introduce a usability layer that makes it simple and makes it easy to understand. So it was around the end of 2018 that I, as I was doing consulting and advising through that year, found out about the Protocol and started helping out as a part-time consultant, kind of went from there as a part-time consultant to the chief decentralization officer.
What made the team create the FIO Protocol?
David Gold, Co-founder, and CEO of Dapix, originally planned to be a VC for ten plus years. He’s where he saw the kind of distribution of the internet all the different companies that got an investment on the internet. He saw the usability problem being solved with the internet. And he saw the crypto space, and he was kind of leaving their investment funds in the company he worked with for the crypto space. And he saw this idea. And he just decided, instead of just investing this, I want to kind of go back to my operator roots and actually run it and become the CEO and build this company out.
So he made that choice to do that. And as I said, I kind of came on later as a consultant kind of helping with the project at the end of 2018. But when I saw it, I just immediately decided this is what’s needed. And eight and a half years now that I’ve been in crypto, most of my friends I tried to onboard, they just are confused. And they’re stressed out, they see this long hash of characters, and they’re like, wait if I get one character wrong, and I send my money, it’s just gone forever? Or how do I know this is actually going to my mom when I send this money like it just doesn’t have her name on it. So it isn’t evident, you know.
So the idea that you could make a decentralized payment request, and it comes directly from the person you expect to say, hey, this isn’t the exact token code, the exact chain code, here’s a memo to explain what it’s about. It just gives people so much more confidence, and frankly, just joy. Like, it’s just fun to do so much more fun than the stress that you get with this irreversible, immutable transaction that people are so worried about making a mistake with. So I just thought it is something that has to happen for adoption. And that’s something I’ve always been passionate about since 2013, and I was giving presentations about how Bitcoin is going to be more disruptive than the internet. And I just really believed for a long time that this is the future.
How is the atmosphere in El Salvador about Bitcoin?
I just had an idea. I’m like, wait, if they’re going to be doing this crypto law, what if they gave every single person in El Salvador a few addresses just like onboard them to kind of the new experience instead of, like, installing landlines or whatever, just go right to the cell phone. So that was kind of my thinking, like, jump right to the best experience. And so, I tweeted this to the President as an idea. And I sent it to a friend of mine, who works with Brock Pierce on his team. And he’s like, that’s a brilliant idea. And he immediately started a group with Brock and some other of his advisors. And they’re like, Yeah, that’s a great idea. And then next thing I know, I’m in a WhatsApp group, with a whole group. That’s like going to Salvador, and my friend is like, I think that means Pack your bags, Luke, you’re going to El Salvador. And so this was like a week for you. Timespan was like, tweeted something, and then the next week, I’m in El Salvador.
I had a short presentation, just talking about Bitcoin adoption again, and where it’s going, and how vital usability is, and how we would like to offer this to the people of El Salvador as a user experience layer. And so we had two different days of meetings. We had this big kind of bus that they provided us, so they toured us all around. And so we met once.
The first day was kind of what we call the White House. The next day there was, I think, the minister, the finance office, and again, it was a huge table, a whole bunch of incredible people representing the government. And one of the things I was so impressed with all of us actually was that this didn’t feel like interacting with the government. It actually felt like interacting with entrepreneurs. We felt like VCs that were being pitched to. And one of the ways that they did this is they talked a lot about non president’s approval rating, which is around 92%. And they’re 70%, you know, of Congress as far as their party, so they have a supermajority in Congress to get anything they need to get done.
But they focused on their COVID-19 response, which I thought was really interesting. At first, we were kind of like, why are they spending so much time on COVID. And then they explained it, and they built this incredible three-story mass vaccination center, they created this incredible like it was a smaller hospital. And they basically extended it from like, I think around six or eight beds, to, you know, 3040, plush beds, plus all these different TV cameras and remote medicine. So they had us get on the bus and tour these places, and to get a first-hand experience of what they’ve accomplished in a really, really short period of time. And they made it very clear to us, we are the team that implemented this response. And we are the team that’s implementing the Bitcoin law. And so it was one of those examples where we were all just shocked to think, wow, this is the way the government can act. They can actually move quickly and decisively.
Where does Luke see the foundation by 2025?
It’s a little bit hard to imagine. It’s kind of like saying, hey, here comes the internet. In the early days, as I said, I started building websites in 1996. And like, you know, animated gifts were more exciting than right. And then we couldn’t even imagine Netflix, and we couldn’t even imagine streaming a video call like we’re doing now. And so I think, in some ways, it’s almost impossible to imagine the incredible things that will be built on top of this Protocol. But at the same time, we have a couple of glimpses of that. So, for example, NFTs are very exciting Non-Fungible Tokens, this idea that you can tokenize anything in the world, you know it starting with art. But, still, it’s going to extend to real estate and ownership of vehicles and anything you can imagine.
But it’s very, very complicated. It isn’t evident to know, did I buy a real genuine NFT from the original artist, or did I get scammed by someone copying their image, redeploying it on a different contract, and pretending to be the original artist. So one of the things that we’re developing as an enhancement to the Protocol is signing NFT’s and ft signatures through the field protocol. So I can, as an artist, sign my work with Luke at Stokes cryptographically, prove that I am the author of this piece of art, and at the same time, prove that the content of the art is what it should be by the time you get it as the end-user.
And one of the ways that you can do that is with something called a hash, and we can use a process to verify this exact image that you’re buying is the exact image that the author intended. And I think that’s really important. So NFT signatures are just one example. So we’ve got ideas for secure routing of multi-signature transactions; we think multi SIG is going to be incredibly important in the future.
Also, account key recovery, the idea that you could have social key recovery, just as simple as a field request, hey, I lost my phone, I lost all my money, what do I do. So you could actually have portions of your seed phrase, for example, sent out to a bunch of your friends, and you could initiate a request to say, Hey, I lost my account. Would you please call me on my phone and verify that this is actually me? And I’m hoping you’ll give me back, you know, a couple of those words that I sent you, you know, six months ago, whatever it might be. So I think being able to make account recovery is really important. I think there are and there are a number of other things like a request for signature, you know, when you’re interacting with DeFi, a lot of people have to use MetaMasks and some of these other more confusing interfaces. Whereas we could have it as simple as a request functionality saying, hey, such and such an application would like you to sign this transaction, giving you all the details in human-readable language, what that’s about.
So that includes, you know, gaming platforms and NFT platforms and all these other things if they can all have a similar friendly user experience. So I think that’s phenomenal, and it’s one of the few opportunities for this industry to kind of work together. So often, there are people in their own little silos. They’re doing their own crypto tribal thing where it’s like, it’s my coin or nothing, or they’re doing their own thing where it’s like my exchange or my wallet. Everything else is a competitor, where this creates an opportunity. In contrast, an industry, we started building standards to work together, meaning, a rising tide raises all ships, if we actually create a great experience for everyone, we’re going to onboard many more millions of people, we’re going to have more customers, we’re going to have happier customers, fewer mistakes, fewer tech support frustration.
So I’m very, very excited about that. I like imagining that world, you know, what would it look like to have this Protocol be adopted everywhere, because then we have a mechanism, a consortium, we call it the Decentralized Autonomous Consortium. In this field protocol, people can work together, and we can have these competitors talking to each other about their industry and saying, Hey, how are we going to deal with the travel rule? Should we do that with a feeling request? You know, how are we going to deal with these regulation concerns and just getting people to work together and realize that we’re kind of the main thing that they’re trying to become better than would be the central banks and the variety of the systems that we all kind of rebelled against a bit of bit to get into blockchain and crypto.
FIO Protocol understands the issues faced while transacting with cryptos. The team behind the foundation knows how significant it is to understand and appreciate the concept of money. It’s nevertheless essential to com[prehend where the movement of blockchain and crypto comes from. Hence, following the strategy of the Protocol, it seems within a few years, the non-profit organization will grow at a tremendous pace.