Welcome to Bitspark's official roadmap update. Following the Zephyr tokensale, we posted an initial roadmap here outlining some of our goals and timelines. Now we are following up with a more detailed roadmap and the reasoning behind the decisions we have made. In this roadmap the specificity we can go into will be Quarters, with estimated based on 2018.
Expected Outcome of the Zephyr Project:
A cash in, cash out remittance network enabling anyone anywhere in the world to send and receive money instantly via physical money transfer shops, for virtually free powered by the Bitshares network and supported by pegged Bitshares Smartcoins (MPAs) all incentivised by the Zephyr rewards system.
Step 1: End of Q2 2018
- Company rebranding completed
- New landing page for Bitspark and ZEPH investor page live
- New UX/UI design for platform
- BETA Sendy mobile app live and available on Google Play Store.
- Bitspark Decentralised Exchange (DEX) gateway live.
Firstly, adding ZEPH to Spark (Spark is the product name for the Bitspark remittance platform) is not as simple as running a Bitshares node, adding a new currency in our system and letting people buy and sell orders on Spark. Bitspark is a remittance company, we have transactions and commitments for money transfer businesses already and we need to ensure anything we do is competitive to our existing Bitcoin based system and will not disrupt company operations for a smooth transition. If we switched everything to Bitshares tomorrow our payout partners who currently settle in bitcoin cannot easily settle the local fiat in Bitshares, therefore we would not be able to transact and the business would grind to a halt meaning no money transfers could take place until our partners at the other end make the switch. So it is imperative that there is a time period in which we make the transition, initially we said at the time of our tokensale the switch will take 12 months and that is still correct but in the meantime we are building a hybrid approach to ensure we can route transactions in both the old and new system at the same time.
The Hybrid approach
When a transactions comes in today in GBP in Spark, we convert to BTC and sell that BTC for fiat in the destination currency like IDR, HKD, VND etc. This happens instantly and because its bitcoin there is an active GBP/BTC as well as BTC/VND markets and deep liquidity through brokers. If this were executed on BitGBP today there is not enough liquidity there yet to support it so it wouldn’t be viable, eventually there will be and Spark will be the one bringing the liquidity. However right now we are building a system that we can easily switch order routing between either the old way (via BTC) or the new way (via Bitshares) depending on the size of the transaction and the means in which the partner in the destination wants to receive settlement. The idea here is to over time move the goalposts on what
will require a switch or not, as we build up more liquidity in Bitshares (this happens everytime a remit happens essentially, so more remittances = more Bitshares liquidity) we can ensure more and more transactions get routed via Bitshares, eventually hitting a point where the old system is turned off. The threshold for switching will be based upon transaction size, and competitiveness in terms of total cost. If bitshares is the best way to move $200 between currencies (e.g. bitUSD/bitJPY) then we will use that, otherwise we will default to the old system. We think this can happen in a matter of weeks or months fairly easily.
For our partners who currently take BTC for settlement, the hybrid approach even with the old method will still utilise Bitshares, however we will be trading smartcoins for Bitcoin UIAs. If we used any of the existing BTC UIA gateways (Openledger, Cryptobridge, Rudex) the withdrawal times for BTC are unpredictable, for example with some Bitshares gateways it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 days to receive a payout from withdrawing your UIA via a Gateway. That's not good enough for us to be able to utilise for remittances where everything is expected to be instant. We therefore are creating our own gateway for BTC (and other coins) so we know what we can depend upon and the infrastructure is owned by us and we are therefore not at the whim of a third party. This is why the creation of the Spark DEX Gateway is important as the hybrid approach we will still need to convert say BitUSD into BTC somehow in order to deliver BTC to our partners in Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Nigeria etc. We will do this on the Bitspark gateway.
Spark is bringing new money that is not currently in Bitshares, into bitshares, therefore over time this new liquidity will provide a solid base for us to transact solely via Bitshares pegged cryptocurrencies. We will be the buyer in the markets for various pegged smartcoins so if traders want to create the smartcoins Bitspark will always be there willing to buy at slightly over the market price.
Step 2: Rollout in Production End of Q3 2018
- New Front end for web remittance platform
- New Sendy incl ZEPH integration
- Backend trading logic for Bitshares complete and live
- ZEPH integrated as rewards in Bitspark web
We aim to at the end of Q3 2018 have a newly designed and fully functioning remittance platform integrated with Bitshares and ZEPH. This means the newly designed web remittance platform is live in usage in production and it enables anyone from anywhere in the world to sign up and become an agent in the Spark remittance network. We will have integrated the main committee issued smartcoins at this stage but Bitspark issued smartcoins will likely need to wait until Q4. We intend to have ZEPH integration ready in Sendy at this stage and the ability to convert to/from other currencies within Sendy although the web platform is the higher priority than Sendy at this stage. This is perhaps the hardest milestone but the core functionality of the Zephyr project will be available at the end of Q3 with future developments to be on enhancing and iterating on feedback from this release.
Step 3: Incentivisation kicks in End of Q4 2018
- Cash to Crypto functionality implemented on the Bitspark web remittance platform
- Cash to crypto functionality implemented for mobile topup agents
- Open Source Trading bot development (likely contributing or forking another version of DEXbot, will be OS)
Zeph rewards are part of all incentives as any fee paid on any transaction in Spark (sending money, topping up a balance) therefore as we ramp up traction on Bitshares and remittance transaction more buybacks happen on ZEPH.
It is however also important to note there are additional incentives we can expose to customers to incentivise uptake of the Spark remittance platform and thereby increase ZEPH transactions. In order for the world to go cashless with crypto there needs to be locations to exchange the cash at, into and out of crypto- these locations are Spark remittance agents (businesses) or mobile topup agents. We are calling this the Decentralised cash to crypto network for now.
Being a Portal
One of the problems money transfer agents have is all over the world they are being ‘de-risked’ by banks. This means banks are closing their bank accounts often for no reason other than the bank is no longer wanting to provide an account to that type of business, this often means the money transfer business who relies on a bank at some stage to send money goes out of business as they can no longer transact. This leads to further consolidation in the market with the big companies who have special deals with banks gaining market share at the expense of the smaller operators. The only way to fix this globally in a reliable manner is to remove the need for a bank in the first place and operate with what money transfer businesses already know and understand, cash.
There are two main issues money transfer agents have when dealing with cash:
- How do Agents get cash into the system to begin with
- How to agents get their digital balance in the system into cash
Usually a money transfer agent would deposit cash at a bank or receive payment of money from their platform provider to their bank account. But if the MTO needs to operate without a bank they need a solution to the cash problem, enter Spark.
We aim to complete functionality to enable Bitspark remittance shops to be cash in/out locations for crypto by the end of Q4. When shops can exchange the cash they have on hand for crypto this enables them to deposit crypto (value) to Bitspark remotely without the need for a bank. They can now use this cryptocurrency in their Spark account to transact and this cryptocurrency could be BitUSD, BitCNY, Bitshares, Bitcoin or any other crypto. Likewise if a shop has a large digital balance in Spark and needs cash, they can exchange it directly with someone for cash, reducing their digital balance and receiving cash again without a bank.
But why would someone visit a Spark shop to exchange cash/crypto? Because they will make money. Whenever an exchange takes place the shop will be free to set a price they are willing to exchange it at which will always be better than the market rate (essentially its a fee they will pay to alleviate them from the burdens of having a bank). If a Spark shop has 100 bitUSD they need converted to cash, they can offer to exchange it for $99 in cash. The purchaser with cash then will get 100 bitUSD and only paid $99 in cash locking in a 1% profit. The same is true for the reverse, with the shop exchanging $100 in cash for 101 bitUSD. This ensures a market is established to ‘liquidate’ the balances of Spark shops of which ZEPH rewards are also tied to.
To read more about balance liquidation mechanics read Bitspark’s $ZEPH whitepaper. [https://bitspark.io/investors]
Market Making Bots
Spark also intends to develop and maintain an open source trading bot for the Bitshares DEX. The reasoning behind this is simple, more liquidity is better for Spark making transactions. Currently there is an exciting project on Bitshares called DEXbot which is open source and funded by a worker proposal. We look forward to working with the DEXbot team in whatever capacity is best, this might be either contributing to the DExbot project directly or forking it, keeping it open source and developing it separately. The decision for this will be made closer to development beginning on this milestone.
The Tajikistan Project
Bitspark is working with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to bring the Spark Platform and Sendy App to Tajikistan to service the vital money transfer industry in the country.
As an update, Tajikistan UNDP is undergoing training facilitated by Bitspark about cryptocurrency, how it works and improving deeper understanding about Bitspark’s plans for the pilot. Since the teams last visit, Bitspark has been lucky enough to have key players engaging with Project Zephyr ranging from government and financial institutions who will endeavour to see this project into fruition. In the course of this, we are learning that larger organisations have their own pace. As time moves on, with our other milestones met, we are considering actively driving this solely ourselves there regardless.
This completes Bitspark’s detailed roadmap for now. We hope this works as a guide to keep everyone in the loop as to our current development efforts and of course this roadmap may change if it is necessary to do so. Bitspark is excited to continue as we have since the company’s token sale to complete the necessary steps to remove barriers to cryptocurrency mass adoption and fulfil the broader mission statement of making a decentralised network of crypto + cash enabled agents all over the world.
As always feel free to join Zephyr Telegram chat here!