In this 40-minute session, John Nahas and Nicholas Mussallem of Ava Labs sit down with Peder Muller and Alexis White of Deloitte to discuss how blockchain can be used to help drive value for organizations and how Deloitte leverages Avalanche’s technology to help communities accelerate their recovery from natural disasters and other events.
They will also cover how such integrations can help streamline and expedite recovery efforts, simplify and secure document retention, reduce costs and risk, and build resilience across compliance standards.
Full Transcript From This Interview
John Nahas: Welcome everybody to the second powering business with Blockchain presented by Ava Labs. Today we’re really excited to welcome our partners from Deloitte to talk about how Deloitte is using Avalanche to power business. If you tuned into our first Powering Business with Blockchain, we discussed payments and all things USDC related with the CEO circle, Jeremy Allaire. And as many of you may know, Ava Labs is a strategic alliance partner with Deloitte. I’m John Nahas. I’m Vice President of Business Development here at Ava Labs supporting Avalanche and I’ll be moderating today and leading this discussion. We’ll do some quick intros from the Ava Lab side, we’re joined by Nick Mussallem, Nick, why don’t you just do a quick intro of yourself?
Nick Mussallem: Sure. Nick Mussallem, Senior Vice President of Product at Ava Labs, responsible for everything product related inside Ava Labs and also have been working very closely with the Deloitte team on both the Alliance and Close As You Go, which we’ll talk about today.
John Nahas: Great. Thanks, Nick. Alexis, why don’t you welcome and why don’t you give everyone a quick intro on yourself?
Alexis White: Thanks. Hey, everyone, my name is Alexis White. I work at Deloitte and I focus full time on business development for Close As You Go and making sure that we accelerate our sales efforts and starting in the southeast, but really nationwide to scale.
John Nahas: Thanks, Peder.
Peder Muller: Thanks, John. Hello, world and see there’s a lot of people from everywhere. My name is Peder Muller. I am the solution architect for Close As You Go, I’ve been with Deloitte for about three and a half, four years now. I have a heavy background in cybersecurity and protocol analysis, did a lot of work for the US government. I’ve been in the blockchain space since about, say 2012 when I built my first Bitcoin ASIC miner on 28 nanometer architecture. I know that’s like ancient technology now, but that’s what we did back then 200 amp service in my house, I almost blew up the place. But here I am now building software with blockchain. And looking forward to talking about it.
John Nahas: Thanks, Peder. So both of you have mentioned Close As You Go. That’s the first product that Deloitte has developed with Avalanche, so why don’t you guys give everybody on this webinar a little bit of background as to what Close As You Go is and how it’s being used and what the intent is?
Alexis White: Sure, well, I’ll start by setting the stage on our first use case, which is FEMA Public Assistance. And I know we’ve got an international crowd. So I’ll explain a little bit about what public assistance is and how we use Close As You Go in that space. But essentially, public assistance is a federal reimbursement program that’s administered by FEMA or the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And it provides federal funding to help communities respond to and recover from disasters. So what FEMA does is they will reimburse state and local governments in certain eligible private not-for-profit organizations, for the cost of anything related to recovering from a disaster. So that could be picking up debris from a street or doing emergency protective measures before disaster hits, permanent repair work to infrastructures, such as damaged roads or bridges. So all those things the local governments and state governments are responsible for paying for, but FEMA will reimburse them up to 75%, and sometimes more for the cost of those recovery efforts. So what applicants do is they’ll submit requests for public assistance to the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, within 30 days of the disaster declaration. So what the applicants are responsible for doing and why we’re helping in this space is they’re responsible for demonstrating that they are eligible applicants that whatever facility they are repairing or fixing is an eligible facility, that they have jurisdiction or legal responsibility to perform the work to, to repair after the disaster, and then also proving that any costs that they expended, are reasonable and substantiating those costs. So there’s a lot that goes into that review process. It’s multi layered. There are a lot of actors involved. You’ve got the local government, the state government, and then FEMA at the federal level. And so all of those different organizations are working together to administer this very complex program. There are a lot of regulations, there’s a lot of documentation, and also some distress that you see in grantor grantee relationships where there are large amounts of dollars being administered. So that’s where Close As You Go comes in kind of acting as the agnostic place where you can see there’s an immutable record of all the actions that you’ve taken in your recovery efforts to make sure that you’ve done that in a compliant manner. So that’s just a high level overview of our FEMA use case. And Peder will get a little bit more into the technical side of Close As You Go and how the blockchain helps with that.
Peder Muller: Yep, so Close As You Go. Let’s talk about what that is. This is a private instantiation of Ava Labs awesome technology living in GCP. So we’ve taken the blockchain and we privatized it in our instance of GCP that Deloitte controls. Around the blockchain are a whole bunch of services that we use for scaling services such as file store, file base, sequel, all the good stuff that you can find in your typical cloud environments, that’s important. And I want to keep this theme going throughout our talk here is that blockchain is not the solution. And everyone’s like, very focused on that. But blockchain is part of the solution, the solution that answers the challenge, something that is inefficient, something that is expensive, something that doesn’t work right. That’s what the solution does. Blockchain centric solutions put blockchain abstracted away from the actual use case, the actual solution that you’re using, because let’s all face blockchain is a back end technology, and it should be. In this case, blockchain does a number of things. It does all your classic logistics pieces, it does auditing, it does tracking, you can see what’s happened all that good stuff. But some of the cooler things it does, that we’ve leveraged here are what I’ve coined as cryptographic permissioning. And what I mean by that, my team, we have this philosophy that you can use blockchain in a cybersecurity method. It increases your cyber posture by creating an extra layer of security around critical functions within the tech stack. I’m not putting down Active Directory that, that all still works. But something like using a smart contract for determining critical functionality and what you can do as a user and can’t do as user is a super powerful tool. Because now we can create smart functions or smart contracts, that one determine what you can do. Tell us when you do them. And three, keep a record of when they were done. That’s really powerful. When you’re talking about let’s say, for example, updating firmware on a device. Imagine creating a bridge or a gate where you have to create a blockchain transaction to sign that as a authenticated administrator. Same thing here works in Close As You Go. Our administrators have keys that can change environments for our clients, and our clients have keys that they use to sign on. Now I know I’m thinking how they sign on. Well, we use a service called Magic link. Magic link is basically an email link that clicks they get sent to you, and you click on it and you sign in that way. Is it 100% secure? No, nothing is 100% secure. But it is an extremely powerful way to make it as secure as possible. And so this is all powered by smart contracts. And that’s a really cool thing we’re using blockchain for in the system. In the end, Close As You Go is a platform for workflows that can be customized to a use case, in this case, use cases. Go on from there, John.
John Nahas: Great. Yeah. Thanks, Peder. Thanks, Alexis. That’s fantastic. I believe you guys have a demo. So before we get more deep into this, why don’t we show people what you guys have actually been built, and give people kind of an idea of what it’s like to build a real world solution. That’s you being used by real economies and governments. That’s with it with the blockchain architecture in the background.
Alexis White: Sure. So what you’ll see are what a user would see when they first log in, and again, they use that magic link. So it’s a password list entry, they just have to log in, without a password, which the feedback that we’ve gotten from clients and pilot users is that, you know, it’s really awesome not having to remember a password or typing a password every time you log into the application. But essentially, in the pre event activity section of our platform, we’ve divided it into four categories. And these are the four categories of information that FEMA is going to request information for when an applicant or a sub applicant is submitting their request for reimbursement. So the first section is your vendor management. And that’s going to be a list of all the vendors that that applicant was working with in their recovery, making sure that they’ve done their procurement and their contracting up to federal regulations and making sure that they’re staying within those requirements. We then have our facilities equipment and materials section. So again, you have to prove that it is an eligible facility and that you have the legal responsibility over that facility. And there’s a host of other information that FEMA will require so pre disaster photographs to verify that you were keeping up with the facility and prove the facility condition, excuse me, before the disaster maintenance records, all that information that FEMA is going to require can be uploaded here. Similar with equipment and materials, any equipment that a jurisdiction might be using in their recovery efforts, such as a cop car, or a truck that they’re using. They can actually link that piece of equipment to its equipment rate with FEMA. Lastly, any materials that they’re using, so things like batteries, sandbagging, nails, hammers, any type of material that they’re using in the recovery, they can upload and have a record of all that information here, along with invoices and receipts. Next are the policies, procedures, plans and permits. So Peder mentioned earlier that the platform can be somewhat customizable to the use case. And then also if a locality has their own policies, their procedures, any plans that they have in place that are specific to them, this kind of acts like a document library so they can upload those policies to prove to FEMA, you know, this is what my pay policy was before the disaster. And it’s in compliance with how I paid my employees when they were responding to the recovery efforts.
Peder Muller: Alexis can I just jump in there one moment.
Alexis White: Yes, sure.
Peder Muller: I just want everyone to realize that. Some of you are thinking, where’s the blockchain? What’s the point you don’t see the blockchain, the blockchain shouldn’t be seen. But it is working in the background whenever something has changed in the system that is reflected in the blockchain. And like I said, go back to my discussion about cryptographic permissioning whenever you want to change something that has to be confirmed through a blockchain transaction to let that happen. So there’s a lot of blockchain happening in the background here, you just don’t see it.
Alexis White: Right. And I’ll show you an example. Actually, if we go into vendor management, I’ll click into my vendor. And this is where they could upload the contract that they have with that particular vendor. So if I were to click into and view that contract, I’m in as an administrator, I can see the blockchain transaction, but an end user would not see that transaction happening. So if I click to view this contract, you’ll see up here it’s recording my action in the blockchain, and I’ll get a little pop up saying that transaction was confirmed. But our end users don’t see that. So the blockchain is working in the background constantly. Any action that you complete in the in the platform is being recorded in that ledger.
John Nahas: Awesome, this is super exciting. So I guess pivoting a little bit. Peder, I’ll turn this over to you. Why is there a need for blockchain in this specific use case and and future use cases similar to this? And then building on that on top of why is a blockchain needed? Why Avalanche?
Peder Muller: That’s, that’s awesome. It’s because why, why blockchain? Everyone always says, well, why need blockchain? Well, I think we’ve gotten kind of bogged down in that question, why blockchain and then we follow these stringent rules about, well, trust and doesn’t need to be distributed and all this. I’d like to leave the message that forget all those rules. Blockchain is a tool that we developers and architects use to build software. It’s no different than including other protocols, your SMTP is, you don’t care about SMTP, you care about your emails working. This the same situation here. We picked blockchain because we wanted the security piece, the cryptographic permissioning. That took some development, but it fits nicely in there because of the natural cryptographic features of blockchain. We wanted the tracking, the auditing portion, we all know blockchain does that well, you can do anything from tracking letters to tracking functions, executing in a stack. That’s important, and blockchain answers the mail there and the blockchain fits nicely in there. It’s not contrived. It’s not forced. It doesn’t, well, and like I said, there are other technologies that do that. But blockchain complements those very well. So that’s why we picked them. Specifically, Avalanche, why do we pick that? Well, from our perspective, the Ava team has a really good understanding of enterprise software and how blockchain fits in enterprise software. Now, what am I getting out there? I want the blockchain world out there to understand that we can’t force feed blockchain down the throats of people that aren’t interested in blockchain. You can’t just say, public Etherium go, okay, that’s not how it works. It’s not, not at all. You’ve got to do this step by step. And we needed a partner who understands that, you know, okay, first step, here’s a private instantiation of Avalanche inside GCP. That doesn’t mean we don’t support a public instantiation of it, not at all. But, for example, the US government is not ready for that. They’re not ready to say, here it is, if you don’t like it, too bad, deal with it. No, no, no, we have to do this in steps. And that’s the pragmatic approach to blockchain. You can’t fix the world, you can’t fix everything all at once. We got to gradually get into it. And eventually it will be so integrated, that we won’t even be talking about we won’t have these, these webinars, it’ll just be another protocol we included in, in our technology. And I think that’s, that’s the most important part about the Avalanche team. They understand that this is big, absolutely. But for people to consume it, we got to break it down to little pieces, and we do that inside our technology.
John Nahas: That’s awesome. Peter, thanks for for going there. Nick, I want to turn this over to you. I know that you know, on the product side and me on the business side, we see a ton of enterprises and companies that come to us and say we want a blockchain solution. And then when we usually say why it’s the because they want a blockchain solution, not that it’s needed, but they just want that. So we spend a lot of time, usually pushing back unless there’s true value. Of course, the Deloitte team is building amazing things. And we’re excited about this partnership. But I’d like to kind of pivot a little bit to you, Nick, and kind of, you know, to talk to our participants here and let them know kind of where you’re seeing right, a lot of this enterprise kind of interest coming from, what cases matter? And what kind of don’t?
Nick Mussallem: Sure, yeah, I mean, so, you know, when I first learned about the Deloitte use case and what they were doing, we were super excited. It’s very unique in the fact that this is not a cryptocurrency play, right? You have to extract the cryptocurrency completely out of this, this is blockchain. Without crypto, governments aren’t gonna hold crypto on their balance sheets. And so what we’re doing is we’re really looking at a problem set, right? How do we create transparency, government agencies are unnecessarily complex in what they do. And there’s a lot of different channels that need to be involved, to get a single process through, right, to get a FEMA application approved to get the recovery funds down to the people that need them, you have to go through various agencies at various levels. And they all need to have some sequential dependencies on proof of what has happened in the past. And so that is an ideal use case for blockchains. Because you have both the auditability, as Peder talked about, and you have the accountability in the transaction history, you also have tamper resistance, right. And so by creating this very clear workflow management, which it really is, and taking all these agencies, they can really understand where everybody is in the process, the applicant can understand where they are in the process. So that becomes a lot more clear. And then you can make sure that the process was followed as it was supposed to be followed, which reduces all you know, any clawbacks that could happen, which is just unnecessary waste of time in not the appropriate use for these funds. So this was a very exciting use case for us. And we were super happy to support their team in delivering this. We look back, and so they’ve done this, this implementation on the private instantiation. And we’ve looked towards where do we go from here. So where we think there’s a lot of value is moving from private and the private always have a case to what we’re calling a public private, where you’re taking these types of applications, and then you’re essentially publishing a hash to a public chain. And what that public hash does is it gives you a proof at a point of time, it’s basically an attestation as to what the state of the chain is at any given time, which allows for several different functions, but the main one would be tamper resistant. So if it was ever changed in the past, you could essentially go back and figure out what the state should have been in what has changed in that process.
Peder Muller: I’d add to that, Nick, that, you know, it’s what that attestation can do is provide proof of something that can be private. So if there’s information in your system, not just the blockchain, but all the systems around it, if there is a state, a hash of that state, you’re basically letting people know that everything is as it should be, from that point without actually revealing what’s in the system. That’s powerful.
Nick Mussallem: Absolutely.
John Nahas: So hey, I mean, look, we’re going into a lot of these the technical details, which are exciting and amazing. I’d like to pivot to Alexis real quick as someone on the BD side. Alexis, when you’re out there talking to municipalities and localities and partners that might be adopting Close As You Go. Of course, the high level understanding of Close As You Go serves the purpose. But do you build into that pitch? And to that explanation, the blockchain element and the Avalanche element, and if so, at what level? And what are you seeing kind of from the people that are using it? What are their questions as to the role of blockchain here? Or I guess the, to repurpose this question, how much emphasis are you doing on the blockchain side? And then what is what are the responses that you’re getting in the interest from party?
Alexis White: Alright, well, we see kind of a wide variety of responses. For the most part, a lot of our clients or a lot of the people that we were talking to have a very, they don’t have a high level of familiarity of blockchain. And if they do, they think Bitcoin, so they aren’t familiar with how it would interface with our platform. And so what we do is we kind of approach it from a security aspect. So we have a lot of clients that say, Oh, I don’t want to upload all of my information online because some incident happened with some other vendor and all this stuff happened and we’re touting it. As there’s security in that blockchain, you have the immutable record of all the actions that you’re taking. And eventually also whoever’s reviewing what you’re uploading, whether it be the state or whether it be FEMA. They also have like Peder mentioned, that auditable trail have all the information that you’re uploading, and that helps to expedite their recovery. It helps them and their security of all the documentation they’re submitting. So to answer your question, we keep it relatively high level but really what resonates with a lot of the folks that we’re talking to is just the security in the blockchain, and how that could potentially help them, get their funding faster, and also reduce the clawback.
John Nahas: So I think for those at home or at work watching today, a key takeaway is that despite all of us being kind of very deep into this technology, and working in it, and, and kind of encapsulates everything that we do for the common person or for the end user, it’s kind of abstracted, right. So ultimately, for as much as we think we’re far along in this journey, we are still at the very beginning of where this technology can really start to impact people’s lives in real world use cases, outside of the traditional crypto stuff that people are kind of used to on a daily basis.
Peder Muller: I’d argue we’re still in the hype cycle, John, I mean people still ask about blockchain. Like I said before, once we stopped talking about it, and it’s just part of solutions, then we’ll be there. As Solution Architect, whenever I talk to the clients, and we’re talking about what’s the possible solution look like? I’m trying to mention the word blockchain. I mean, when I go to DEF CON, I tell people there, you know, outside these walls, people don’t care about you, don’t care about blockchain. They care about answers to their problems. That’s all we need to do.
John Nahas: Yeah, I’ve said this on panels before, right? When they ask that the typical question of when do you know blockchain has arrived? And I, and my typical answer is always when you don’t know it’s being used. Right? That’s right. Nobody cares, what’s behind Venmo and Zelle, and PayPal, and what are the other technology they’re using. As long as it’s faster and cheaper and better in, in any aspect, then we’ve arrived. So that’s awesome. Um, Ped er, you know, I’d like to kind of hammer down on the Avalanche use case, right. And kind of what about Avalanche in particular makes it ideally suited in your opinion for enterprises more broadly, not just Close As You Go?
Peder Muller: Well, I guess there’s a couple of ways to look at it. From the technical point of view, people want, they always want to ask about transactions per second, right? We all get caught up in that number. In terms of finality, Avalanche is amazing. I mean, what are we down to less than a second, whatever, a second. I call it instant. That’s pretty much instant, to me. That’s a big talking point for people get caught up in that. I’d say from there, though, it’s not so much about TPS, transactions per second, as it is transaction design, that’s more important. And Avalanche in terms of design, and those transactions, Avalanche follows the standards, if we have those yet, I’m not sure. But, so your solidity developers out there can jump right into the pool with Avalanche and start building out smart contracts. I think from my point of view, that is going to be the eventual standard, how things are done. So that makes it, gives it a big support group for developers. And I’d say the Avalanche developers have been super supportive and in our strange usage of their technology. And that’s a big piece, why Ava Labs? They’re not in their little hole somewhere that are not accessible. They’re very accessible. And I think they’re open to new ideas about blockchain. That’s important for other firms out there, you’re looking to use blockchain for whatever use case. That’s super important that that conversation continues. And that and in my opinion, that conversation is as public as it can be. I think I’m pretty sure Ava understands that. And yeah, from a personal point of view, we’ve known the Ava team for a while and I can definitely vouch from them from my point of view that they’re awesome. And that’s, that’s an important piece.
John Nahas: Thanks, Peter. Well, we know why Deloitte chose Avalanche. Nick, turning it back over to you. Can you kind of, you know, building all Peder said, as to why, why Deloitte? What are you seeing on your side? Right, that makes Avalanche ideally suited for enterprise use more broadly, in a number of different applications?
Nick Mussallem: For sure. And I just want to build on Peder’s point, too, that, you know, the Deloitte team has really opened our minds to, hey, there are these use cases that are specific to government, that maybe we hadn’t thought about, right. And we kind of get into that public private one. And then I think as we get into enterprise, what we’re seeing is, no, it’s not, there’s going to be a single blockchain to rule them all. Or even, there’s going to be one shoe that fits, in one shoe size that fits everybody, right? Uh, blockchains need to be customized, they need to be specific to the use case of, of what the builder needs. And so in the case of government, right, we need subnet, right? So their own blockchains is essentially what Deloitte has done here, they’re very talented team that’s just build an instantiation of it, but Ava just making that much simpler now with subnets so that you can just create your own blockchain and then at a level below that start to customize it, not at the smart contract layer, but at the VM layer, and so what that’s going to allow is for governments to meet the security needs they need, they’re going to be able to control who their validators are. And they’re going to be able to create no pre-compiles or anything that they don’t want the smart contract layer to make everything more secure. And so the goal then is with partnerships with like AWS and GCP, is basically to create these push button deployments that government agencies that have then said, we approve of this structure, of this subnet, of this blockchain entity. And so it’s much faster for them to get to market and therefore, ultimately, you know, like Alexis, and Peder talked about bring the solutions back to solve problems, and in kind of abstract the way the blockchain technology.
Peder Muller: And on that point, Nick, a fast one. One thing I forgot to mention, going back to the finality piece, because this has a user interface. In this case, we use a React front-end in our effort to react sorry, terrible pun, but in order for it to react quickly, the blockchain has got to be quick. It’s got to reach finality, it’s got to be in a state that it can react to. That’s an important piece for us. Because if our clients feel like, this is going too slow, why are we waiting on the blockchain to close? That’s a deal breaker. That’s a major piece of Avalanche that fits in here, in the use case and the user experience. Remember, UX is awfully not talked about enough in the blockchain world and UX is an important part or no one’s gonna want to use blockchain technologies.
John Nahas: So Nick, you said the magic word of the month for us over here at Ava Labs, and then the broader Avalanche ecosystem. And that’s subnets. So can you for those of us joining today, kind of give a quick, kind of update primer on what subnets are like, and how, where we see the use cases, in this particular instance, more with enterprise, of course in government, which you touched upon, but can you give a high level on what subnets are, and why we’re so excited about them?
Nick Mussallem: Sure. So subnets are essentially custom blockchains, and they’re built, they’re extremely flexible, and they’re built to suit what the use case needs are for them. So, you know, we’re seeing heavy subnet usage for in really two areas. One is gaming, and game-fi, right. And so, gamers have very specific needs, they need really fast throughput, they need low time to finality, and they need to keep their transaction costs low. And they do this by creating specific blockchains that serve their needs, the same for government, right, they have a totally different regulatory confines to work around. And so what the subnets allow them to do is to create their own blockchain, customize that blockchain specific to their needs, through the use of custom VMs, pre compiles, and then really be able to manage who validates and who participates in that specific blockchain. So subnets as a whole, custom blockchains for very specific sector based use cases.
John Nahas: Peder, building on that, how do you see kind of subnets for your use cases and for future use cases for Deloitte and your clients?
Peder Muller: Indeed, subnet has a play here, we are in the planning phases of the subnet idea, going back to the attestation hash, we have a couple other ideas around it. Because this is a government play right now, there are, let’s call them subtleties that have to be addressed, you know, questions that are asked, there are people who are not as tech savvy on blockchain like some of us. So the second you mentioned an idea like, well, why don’t we put a public hash out there. They might not know what hashes, they might not know, that doesn’t mean we’re putting out private information. There’s questions that need to be answered and people need to understand and be comfortable with it. That’s part of the challenge with blockchain technology. We build it but many people are not comfortable with it, even though many of us understand that the walls we tear down actually create better security features. But that’s the change in the paradigm. And when people say blockchain is a disruptive technology, subnets will be the same thing. They will be disruptive within the blockchain world. Because again, going back to these stringent rules have been falling in the last couple years. Those rules really don’t apply. It’s all about the solution. And I think subnets are going to fit very well into many people’s need for that bridge between private and public, or protection of whatever is private from the public yet still giving the attestation to the public.
John Nahas: Awesome. We’re starting to get a bunch of questions coming in from those listening but before I jump into those, Alexis, I want to kind of turn this back over to you now kind of public facing right, where, so you’re out there discussing Close As You Go but where do you seeing kind of also what are you hearing from your clients and from voice clients as so kind of solutions for things that they want, right? Like where do they want to see blockchain whether that makes sense or not as we all know, there’s always, there’s not a necessary solution with blockchain always. But where are you seeing the demand? Where are you seeing the interest mostly from your clients?
Alexis White: A lot of the interest is coming from, so I’ll start by explaining how the FEMA application process works. So you have three levels, essentially, FEMA at the top is the grantor, and then you have the state level, in the middle as the applicant, and then any entity within that state that’s eligible, a local government, a county city, some eligible private nonprofits, they’re submitting that application through the state who then submits that to FEMA. And so I think really, where the interest lies is figuring out how to create again, trust between those three, as they’re submitting their information, FEMA is verifying that, it’s reducing the amount of time that FEMA has to come back and say, hey you didn’t do this right, or, hey your contract is missing this piece of information. And so where the interest really lies is just how we can work together with a reviewer. So whether that’s the federal government, whether that’s the state government, and then the local sub applicant, how those they can interface a little better reduce those questions between the two, reduce the time spent kind of figuring out where the documentation lies. And just having it all compiled in one central location, is the biggest draw. And I think also, a lot of times a lot of these governments that our teams work with, or that we go and talk to, they’re doing this on paper and an Excel file, and especially for the information that’s stored in a facility on paper if you have a disaster, so you have a tornado or hurricane that levels of building that has all of your files and all of your information in it, then what do you do? How do you submit your documentation, you don’t have it, so you can’t submit that information. So really, I think the biggest draw is just having it all in one central location that whether you’re a reviewer or you’re submitting your application, everyone can kind of log in and see where that information was submitted, when it was submitted. And so there aren’t any questions about you know, when something was done, or how it was done.
John Nahas: It’s awesome. Great. Thank you. To those of you tuning in or that are in, there’s a question and answer, Q&A button on the bottom. So feel free to ask any questions. There’s a ton over here that I’m filtering through, some are relevant, some of course, are not. So I’m going to try and focus on some of those. I do want to spend the next 10 or 12 minutes going over some of the questions that those in the audience that have asked us. The one that caught my attention that I’d like to kind of turn over maybe to Nick and then Peder over to you as well. Somebody’s asked is it, do you guys envision or see it feasible to create kind of a no code software like a WordPress or Wix or Shopify version of blockchains for small businesses or medium sized businesses to kind of deploy their own use cases on blockchain? And if so, how far away are we from that reality?
Nick Mussallem: So this is something we’re working on now, right. We definitely think it’s feasible. And it start, you know, we really are working to extract the blockchain layers away. It’s not the people that want to build are building towards a specific use case, the meta around consensus algorithms, the networking layer, launching, supporting blockchains is something that we really want to take out as much as possible. And so that’s where the partnerships with AWS and in working towards managed services goes, as you work your way up that stack, say, into the solidity layer, we know of several partners that are working on just that, which is kind of no code, either drag and drop logic, or other means of putting in certain key repeatable functionality. I do think there’s always going to be a level of customization based on the use case. So I think the world of, you know, just push something out that just doesn’t require any technical skill set is probably a way out, but I think there’s a path in between there, that’s what we’ll probably see in the very near future.
John Nahas: Okay, Peder, do you have anything to say?
Peder Muller: Yeah, I would. I’m on the same page with Nick. Right now, though. I think we’re further away than we are closer right now. The rub with blockchain is, it is inherently technical. I know people don’t like to hear this. And I’ve gotten arguments on LinkedIn with people. But I’m here to tell you to design properly with blockchain, you need to understand it from a technical level. If you do not, the solution that you can think of might be disastrous. There’s subtleties and nuances that right now are not addressed by low code, no code platforms. I’m not saying they don’t exist, and they can’t be done absolutely. But it will still require an understanding of decentralized design, distributed architecture design, and all the things and buzzwords we use inside the blockchain development world. It’s gonna be tough, but I think there is a future in it, once we figure that part out.
John Nahas: I’m smiling and smirking when you said you’ve argued with people and fight with people on LinkedIn about this because I argue with Nick about this all the time, where I come up with ideas with partners. And Nick, Nick tells me it sounds easy because it’s hard. The things that to the average person sounds easier sounds like a simple solution. It’s simple and easy, right? Because technology allows it to be so. And that technology usually is very difficult and complex in the background to allow things otherwise, that would be difficult to be easy. Shifting over. And Alexis, you can give a stab at this. There’s like several questions that I have, I’m going to try and condense them into one that has to do with UX and UI. So how difficult I guess do you see the UX and UI experience with blockchain being and kind of what you guys have done with Close As You Go as abstracted away, right? So does blockchain need to be visible? I know you showed a demo in which it’s there. But what I mean, I guess what challenges are specific to blockchain with UX and UI, you can start.
Alexis White: So like I mentioned in the demo, it’s not visible to our end users, it’s really just visible to us. And so there isn’t a challenge that we run into so far. I kind of think of it like car insurance, you know it’s there, you have it if you need it, but you don’t really think about your car insurance on a day to day. And that’s kind of how it is for our clients. You know, they know it is a blockchain enabled platform, they may not know necessarily what that means for them, unless they needed it, right, unless they needed to audit a record of what they’re doing. And so I think it’s important in that having it there. But as far as having it in the user interface, our clients, they don’t need to know that it’s there. They don’t need to see the transactions, and at our end, every time there is a transaction, we have to click and accept that transaction. And so it makes it a little easier for the end users when they can just make do an action and they don’t have to worry about having extra clicks. So I don’t really see it being as a challenge the way our awesome development team has developed the platform. It’s not something that is a blocker or a hindrance to our users using the platform.
John Nahas: Peder, what are you seeing is kind of the challenges on the UX/UI side?
Peder Muller: I think the challenge is as a general statement is people want to showcase the blockchain. But like I keep encourage them don’t showcase it. And that reflects the UX UI. Just recently, I had a discussion with someone about web three, and fill out the context here. But I think the web three is the UX expression, the UI expression of blockchain. I’m still wrestling with the idea that web three might be a sub category of blockchain or if it’s a technology on its own that supports blockchain. Because web three and blockchain they are, they are different things. They’re not the same thing. But I think as we go forward technologies, like web three will help us abstract blockchain further away, but still have it power the back end.
John Nahas: So I’ll jump in here and give a personal opinion as well. You know, I often, you know, asked, you know that question, like I mentioned earlier, right, when is it arrived? And I say like we all do here on this call that when you don’t know it’s being used, but I might have somewhat of an opinion that I’ve gotten some flack for, in that I think web three people or blockchain kind of base people are somewhat elitist in the sense. And what I mean by that is, we try to talk about this open financial system and building better tools and more more transparent tools and breaking down barriers, yet, the barrier to entry is so high, the educational floor is so high, you need to buy crypto, you need to send it to a wallet, you need to connect your wallet, there’s a seed phrase, there’s all these complexities, that for people that are trying to be inclusive in this technology, we have set a very high floor, my mother is never going to use a meta mask, you know, my kids aren’t going to know how to, aren’t going to be buying crypto on an exchange. So ultimately, the floor needs to be lowered. Right? UX UI needs to be just like we saw as Close As You Go. You don’t even need to know that it’s being there. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is faster, cheaper, better product, right. And as a base layer foundation Avalanche allows for that. Question from someone in the group that I think is good for those tuning in, especially on the enterprise side. Peder, maybe could you explain the main difference between creating a solution using a blockchain versus what people would normally use in like an AWS or Google Cloud or some other database, right? Why? Why go this route? Just, you know, for most people, why use this, when and then I guess people normally think blockchains are more expensive and slower, so.
Peder Muller: Right. Well, why? I think it’s up to your solution architect, and if they understand distributed architecture, they’ll find a place for that blockchain if it’s appropriate, I emphasize if it’s appropriate, not forced in there, you don’t build a hammer and then look for a nail. As I said, with like, for example, our log on and our credentials in the system, we could use Active Directory. Absolutely. But we chose to use smart contracts instead. Why? Because we felt that some of the potential attack vectors within Active Directory, for example, privilege escalation attacks. We could eliminate bad word, we could minimize the option and minimize the attack surface for these classical threats, both insider and outsider threats. It’s really is, it goes back to design again, it’s all about what your client or the problem set is. And if it’s appropriate at that moment, yes, there are absolutely many services and technologies that work that are similar to blockchain. But if you find that the cryptographic powers of blockchain and the distributed powers of blockchain are appropriate to solution, and they give you some kind of advantage, or betters your situation, then absolutely, that’s the time to use them. And don’t get hung up in all the rules and sit there and you know, trust and all this stuff. No, no, don’t don’t get too lofty think of it from a purely technical point of view.
John Nahas: Okay, I think we have time for one more quick question. So somebody ask, are there networks who have taken steps to address self sovereign identity problems, do Avalanche have plans for an SSI style tool in the future?
Nick Mussallem: So I mean, we have this whole world that we call decentralized ID. This is also a core tenant of the roadmap of our core release that’s coming out in the upcoming weeks. So yeah, we want, I mean, though, there’s so many promises of web three, specifically one of them is the ability to own your own data. So instead of going from site to site and giving them the necessary data, you basically own your data. And then you either have a single source, which you trust to, to provide that data out, right? Or to say, like, yes, I can authenticate that this is true. Or you just give it like a zero knowledge proof, which I think is like the golden goose, where somebody asked for something like, hey, does your SSN end in 1234? And you basically say, yes, I can prove. You know, there’s a proof that I can say that allows you to say yes, that’s what it is when the transaction happens. So definitely something we’re heavily focused on. It’s on the roadmap for this year. And, you know, these are new problems that we’re solving, I think, in this case, and so we need to make sure that the solution we’re putting forward does actually solve the problem, and not just create new problems. And I think that’s what we’re very carefully considering while we rolled this out.
John Nahas: Awesome, Nick. Well, thank you for that. And thank you for for highlighting a lot of the things that are coming out of the product team at Ava Labs. Alexis, Peder, thank you guys for joining us today. We’re really excited to see Close As You Go continue to grow. Alexis, so thank you for that effort. And Peder, thank you for of course, building on Avalanche. Would love to continue if we’re going to continue building more things. And I think as everybody has seen, with the excitement, around subnets tons of new use cases are going to be taken advantage of here. I’d like to thank you all who are joining us today for your time and for your questions in the second part of the Powering Business with Blockchain series. This record, this webinar will be recorded and will be available for those of you that were not able to watch today or to share with colleagues. So thank you for your time, and we’ll catch you at the next one. Thanks, everyone. Thanks, everybody.