Blockchain

Interview with James Fennell Tempelhof, COO of Bitnation on PAT Token Sale

James Fennell Tempelhof is the COO of Bitnation, the world’s first Decentralized Borderless Voluntary Nation (DBVN).  In this interview, James will be sharing the details of the Bitnation Project and the Opportunities of the ICO.

1) Could you please tell us about yourself?

I was born in the UK and trained as an engineer, building software for my postgraduate thesis. I have lived and worked for most of my career in conflict zones in Africa and Asia.  I was Head of Humanitarian Operations for CARE, one of the world’s largest NGOs and an Executive VP for Armor Group providing security for diplomatic missions and humanitarian agencies and clearing landmines worldwide. I also worked for the UK Government as an adviser on governance and conflict prevention in Africa and Asia. I’ve been a freelance principle consultant on governance for the past decade, and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham in the UK. I joined BITNATION, my wife Susanne’s start-up and a big idea in 2016 as COO, and am also an investor and co-founder.

2) What is Bitnation and what is a Decentralized Borderless Voluntary Nation (DBVN)?

Bitnation is creating a blockchain jurisdiction in which peer-to-peer agreements can be made, disputes resolved, and contracts positively enforced through reputation.On our jurisdiction, you can make enforceable agreements without recourse to third parties (governments or a judiciary).

Security and justice is the raison d’etre of centralized governance platforms – nation states to you and me. We cannot build a peer-to-peer world unless we can provide security and justice with distributed technology too. That requires a legal domain – a jurisdiction – which people can join to secure their lives and assets from violence and dispossession.

Communities can also be built on the jurisdiction as Decentralised Borderless Voluntary Nations (DBVN) which share a common goal and set of rules (a DBVN is the governance service equivalent of a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation – DAO).

Completing DBVNs can offer services to users in our jurisdiction -this means that a free market for governance services is possible increasing choice and driving down costs.

3) What inspired you to launch a Blockchain and Cryptocurrency venture with Bitnation?

Both I and my wife and Bitnation Founder Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof worked in governance in conflict zones up to 2012. I witnessed the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and many other events that suggested that centralized governance had a fatal flaw – that the machinery of the state could be turned against its own citizens, and exclude them from society – sometimes to the point of death. Developing decentralized governance technology has become a crucial mission for both of us. To help build a safer and more productive world for everyone.

4) Why is it important for there to be decentralized nations and why should individuals join?

Governance is the least innovative sector of human endeavor. There have been few real innovations since 1945, although technological and economic advances have transformed our lives beyond recognition in that period. As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are disrupting the global financial system, we expect Bitnation to do the same to the global governance system in a positive and life-affirming way.

Security and justice is the raison d’etre of centralized states. We cannot build a peer-to-peer world unless we can do that with distributed technology. That requires a legal domain – a jurisdiction. Bitnation is creating a blockchain jurisdiction in which peer-to-peer agreements can be made, disputes resolved and contracts positively enforced through reputation.

The basic logic is that we need users to be able to access our jurisdiction both as individuals and as communities – we call them voluntary nations. Why? Because people like to form communities because they enhance cooperation and can aggregate services to negotiate economies of scale.

Initially, users will want to use our jurisdiction for parts of their lives, not opt-out completely, and we will offer services alongside legacy governments, and fill the gaps where jurisdiction or services are weak. Users will make contracts because it’s cheaper than using legacy legal services or join communities that can offer them services or opportunities they cannot currently access through their local government like basic income or peer-to-peer security.

As those services gain traction we expect existing nation-states to accommodate them. Some smaller states and those that want to trade citizenship will be early adopters (Estonia, Singapore, Switzerland and so on). We have a legal team working on a programme to test our contracts in legacy nation-state legal systems and build legal precedent for them over time.

We can only succeed if we outcompete existing systems. A useful analogy is an email and the postal service – email reduced the importance of the postal service but it was never necessary to explicitly compete against it. The benefits of email over a postal service are clear, and users intuitively choose to send an email instead of letters. Similarly, the benefits of using a transparent, fast, cheap and voluntary governance service instead of something slow, expensive and opaque will be clear. Our user-base will thus grow organically as the utility of our technology increases.

On our jurisdiction, you can make enforceable agreements without recourse to state authority or judiciary. Communities and nations can also be built on the jurisdiction to offer services to their members – this means that a free market for governance services is possible – increasing choice and driving down costs.

The first functionality offered is to create communities as smart contracts, but peer-to-peer agreements (also smart contracts) and the AI driven reputation system powered by PAT will come soon after in the development roadmap.

We use a chat (actually a mesh network) as the primary protocol, as all agreements begin with a conversation –  and our research suggests that chat platforms like Telegram, Whatsapp and WeChat are used for making business deals increasingly.

The difference with Bitnation Pangea is each client in the mesh – each user – can also write smart contacts to a blockchain. We start with Ethereum – but we can integrate others in the future and offer users a choice of which blockchain they want their nation/community or individual contracts to run on.

This core infrastructure – an off chain mesh network linked to blockchains –  is extremely flexible and configurable. It allows many other third-party blockchain services to be offered on the network for users, or communities of users. And that creates an ecosystem of competing service providers.

5) What problems does BitNation help solve?

It is estimated that over 1 billion people will be online workers by 2025, offering their services globally and requiring jurisdictions and governance service providers that transcend arbitrary national borders and legal boundaries.  Further 2 billion people are working in the informal ‘System D’ economy or stateless, with few legal protections, and desperately in need of a cheap mechanism to make and enforce binding agreements. The expensive and inefficient US$600 Billion global legal services industry is unable to offer useful services in these markets and is ripe for disruption.

Presently voluntary citizenship is a commodity that can only be acquired through the purchase of real estate or financial investments, subscribed to via an online service, or assembled by peer-to-peer digital networks. Thus it is currently the preserve of the wealthy. Bitnation wishes to open up options for voluntary citizenship to everyone.

6)How does blockchain technology help BitNation accomplish this?

We use a chat (actually a distributed and encrypted mesh communications network) as the primary protocol, as all agreements begin with a conversation –  and our research suggests that chat platforms like Telegram, Whatsapp and WeChat are used for making business deals increasingly.

The difference with Bitnation Pangea is each client in the mesh – each user – can also write smart contacts to a blockchain. We start with Ethereum – but we can integrate others in the future and offer users a choice of which blockchain they want their nation/community or individual contracts to run on.

The first functionality offered is to create communities as smart contracts, but peer-to-peer agreements (also smart contracts) and the AI driven reputation system powered by PAT will come soon after in the development roadmap.

7) Can you tell us more about the technology and components of your Pangea ecosystem that makes it function?

On our jurisdiction, you can make enforceable agreements without recourse to state authority or judiciary. Communities and nations can also be built on the jurisdiction to offer services to their members – this means that a free market for governance services is possible – increasing choice and driving down costs.

This core infrastructure – an off chain mesh network linked to blockchains –  is extremely flexible and configurable. It allows many other third-party blockchain services to be offered on the network for users, or communities of users. And that creates an ecosystem of competing service providers.

Our PAT token drives the reputation system on Pangea, which provides a native contract enforcement mechanism. Pangea awards three non-tradable sub-tokens for 1.) making and successfully completing contracts and arbitrating disputes (keeping your word), 2.) building and populating nations and offering services citizens rate highly, 3.) developing and updating smart contracts that are highly rated by users. Users can only rate ‘machines ’ – smart contracts and nations – not other users (to prevent popularity contests), while a machine (AI) rates users against set criteria.

PAT is a tradable reward (like air miles) for building up a good reputation (accumulating non-tradable tokens). It can be used on the platform to buy services and exchanged for other digital assets – we have a deal with shapeshift already. You can also use any other crypto to buy services and trade on Pangea, but the use of PAT will provide a small discount.

8) How much do you intend to raise in the PAT Token Sale and what are the steps for contributing?

Our hard cap is $30 million, of which we have already raised $2.7m in a presale late last year. The ICO begins on 25 March, and is a reverse auction model – which means the market determines the price of the token.  That provides purchasers will more guarantees against pot-ICO token price shocks – as the market will already have spoken before PAT is listed on exchanges.

Participation will be via our website and links will be posted there and in our telegram channel. There are bonuses for participation in the first hour, day and week, and private sale bonuses are available up to midnight on 24 March. Only ETH is accepted during the ICO, and the minimum purchase is 0.05 ETH. Join our telegram channel for live updates https://t.me/PangeaBitnation.

9) Do you know which exchanges the PAT token will be traded on at this time?

We have agreements with Shaeshift and Bancor to list PAT, and we will also list on decentralized exchanges such as 0x.  We have also applied to Binance, OKex and other centralized exchanges for listing post ICO.

10) What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working to launch your ICO?

We have been preparing for our ICO for nearly 12 months now. It’s a major undertaking and – if you are a serious project – not one to be taken lightly. During the course of that period, the market has changed dramatically – from euphoric to more measured and astute. And the fortunes of crypto have also fluctuated wildly. Keeping pace with the market, emerging regulatory changes and the evolving crypto ecosystem is a major challenge.

However far and away the greatest challenge has been to ensure that we have a working beta software for the ICO. We have been determined to go to the market with functional software – not just concepts and ideas. We have invested most of our pre-ICO raise on technology for this reason. We believe our engineering speaks for itself and provides a clear indication to potential token purchasers of our intent and capacity to deliver a groundbreaking platform which will attract mass user adoption. You can now download an early beta of Bitnation from Google Play and it will soon be available for iOS devices too.

11) What’s going to happen to BitNation after the token sale concludes and what where do you see things in 5 years?

Our roadmap for the next 12 months is fairly intense. We plan to have all the elements of our jurisdiction integrated into the software by Q1 2019 –  the ability to create peer-to-peer smart contracts from chat, the reputation and arbitration systems (including PAT functionality on the platform), and an API to enable third-party developers to create governance service applications to run on Pangea.  There will also be improvements in the UI/UX frontend and an Electron desktop client for Mac, Windows and Linux.

The second area of importance is to build user adoption. There are organic incentives to adoption in the software (PAT is initially rewarded to nation builders for populating the platform), and some large online communities have already let us know they want to move to Pangea from other communications platforms.

We plan a public launch of the software through a major marketing campaign in Q4 2018, once the beta has matured. This will continue through 2019/20 and beyond.

We also plan to invest in our ecosystem during this period to kickstart the market for governance services our jurisdiction is designed to support.

Initially, users will want to use our jurisdiction for parts of their lives, not opt-out completely, and we will offer services alongside legacy governments, and fill the gaps where jurisdiction or services are weak. Users will make contracts because it’s cheaper than using legacy legal services or join communities that can offer them services or opportunities they cannot currently access through their local government like basic income or peer-to-peer security.

As those services gain traction we expect existing nation-states to accommodate them. Some smaller states and those that want to trade citizenship will be early adopters (Estonia, Singapore, Switzerland and so on). We have a legal team working on a programme to test our contracts in legacy nation-state legal systems and build legal precedent for them over time.

We can only succeed if we outcompete existing systems. A useful analogy is an email and the postal service – email reduced the importance of the postal service but it was never necessary to explicitly compete against it. The benefits of email over a postal service are clear, and users intuitively choose to send email instead of letters.

Similarly, the benefits of using a transparent, fast, cheap and voluntary governance service instead of something slow, expensive and opaque will be clear.

Our user-base will thus grow organically as the utility of our technology increases, and in 5 years time we expect Bitnation to be the go-to technology for making binding agreements and accessing governance services in many parts of the world.

12) What are your marketing and sales strategies to achieve that?

Bitnation’s jurisdiction is a consumer product and, in addition to traditional marketing and advertising strategies, have a four pronged strategy to build user adoption.

  • The technology has an in-built game theory to encourage adoption.  Users can earn PAT tokens for creating and populating nations, making and completing agreements, arbitrating disputes and developing useful smart contracts. We expect these incentives to organically drive users to the software.
  • We are also targeting a range of existing online and offline communities to move to our jurisdiction. These include large online crypto communities, cultural and activist groups. These will provide a major boost to user numbers in the early years.
  • The creation of plug-ins for Pangea on existing platforms like Whatsapp and Telegram will also enable us tap into existing online communities.
  • Our IRL community of ambassadors and embassies will be galvanized to increase support for user communities worldwide – this approach bridges both marketing and customer support, especially as we test our jurisdiction in a range of legacy jurisdictions to improve customer confidence.

13) Could you tell us a little about your team and customer support?

We currently have a team of 15 engineers, of which 12 are full time and 3 part-time.  We also have a nine-person full-time operations team, including executive, communications and marketing, legal and finance experts.  Customer support is currently channeled through the communications team to legal and technology as required, and supported by our ambassador network in 30 countries. This will be expanded after the ICO, and we are already providing training for ambassadors in customer support.

14) Would you like to talk about your legal and security measures?

BITNATION GmbH is incorporated in Switzerland, in the Canton of Zug and BITNATION Americas Ltd. is incorporated in Belize. BITNATION GmbH has wholly owned subsidiaries in Singapore and Estonia. In line with our philosophy, Bitnation’s team is borderless, with clusters based in Western Europe, West Coast USA and Canada and Latin America.

We have a full time Chief Legal Officer and a Diplomatic Engagement Officer working on legal issues, as well as lawyers retained in the jurisdictions where we are incorporated.  We also have a very experienced Chief Security Officer who also is a blockchain developer blockchain, but works full time on maintaining and protecting our infrastructure.

Our ICO will be compliant with the jurisdiction in which the tokens are sold, although US residents and IP addresses are prohibited from participating.

Our token and sales contracts have been developed by our partners ADBK, who have developed contracts for many great ICOs, and they have been externally by ZKlabs, who is a highly reputable smart contract auditing outfit.

15) Do you have more information for our readers?

You can speak with Bitnation team and community members on Telegram and our Facebook pages and groups (search for Bitnation Pangea, Bitnation Governance 2.0 and many regional groups). We’re no longer able to add people to our Slack channel, unfortunately, due to changes in Slack policy. You can also meet with the Bitnation team in local meetups around the world. There are currently several meetups each week across Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Look up local meetup pages for Bitnation, and on the Bitnation Facebook pages for meetups and hangouts.

Read our white paper for the overall vision and visit our GitHub repository to follow and contribute to our code.

Bitnation token sale website

Bitnation Telegram newsgroup

Bitnation Telegram chat group

Register on our website for email updates

Follow our Steemit blog

Download Pangea from the Google Play store

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