Project Name: How should we refer to your project?
Background: What problems do you aim to solve? How does it serve our mission of a user-owned internet with more privacy and self-sovereignty?
Governments are extending and implementing ever more invasive application of their financial regulations regarding crypto currencies, especially KYC and AML provisions. This thwarts the ability of individuals to protect their financial privacy. AssuredArt’s (AA) main purpose is, while staying within well-defined (in the U.S. and most elsewhere) MSB (Money Service Business) constraints, to greatly lessen the effectiveness of these regulations.
AA may also provide a viable venue to enable less recognized digital artists to commercially establish themselves.
Project Overview: What solution are you providing? Who will it serve?
Using NFTs, AA will sell digital art priced or reckoned in both fiat and stablecoin currencies. Some (or all) of the AA art (to be determined by business considerations) can be returned for a refund. If the client bought a piece in fiat they (or a subsequent owner) can receive a refund in an equivalent currency stablecoin (minus a restocking fee). If they bought in stablecoin they (or a subsequent owner) can get a refund in fiat (minus a restocking fee). In this way, clients (or subsequent owners) can convert their fiat to token and back with minimal costs and slippage. After the initial purchase the NFTs can be repeatedly sold, traded, etc., including perhaps on other platforms.
The selection of art pieces will mainly focus on those from less established, independent, artists and some with exclusive relations with AA.
AA will predominantly serve small-medium crypto currency participants (compare with LocalBitcoins).
Scope: What are the components or technical specs of the project? What will the final deliverable look like? How will you measure success?
Digital, visual, art will be created as NFTs (as a Non-Fungible Token) to be either NEP-4 or ERC-721 compliant.
These NFTs will be offered via AA’s online gallery.
Our business target, at the end of 3 full years of operation, are (compared with reported 2019 performance of LocalBitcoins):
• Annual run-rate trade value: $4 billion worth of transactions
• Annual transaction run-rate: 5 million.
Budget and Milestones: What grant amount are you seeking? How long do you estimate that the project will take in hours? If the project is nontrivial, please break down the project into milestones, with a clear output (e.g., low-fi mockup, MVP with two features) and include the estimated work hours for each milestone.
Total Grant Request: $20,000
Total estimated project time (to alpha): 320 hours.
(milestones - scope of work, deliverable, and grant amount of total)
M1: Low-fi website mockup of AA with basic user interface, multiple galleries and simulated purchase and merchandise return. 10% of grant.
M2: Add and test administrative backends for art and transaction databases, including simulated fiat purchase payment tracking (and bank API, if practical) and fiat returns. 20% of grant.
M3: Build and integrate NFT (e.g., Mintbase) service and platform. NFT generation of art tokens and trading tests. 30%
M4: Add and test association of stablecoin art value. 10% of grant.
M5: Initial banking, capitalization and corporate related expenses. 20% of grant.
Team: Who is building this? What relevant experience do you bring to this project? Please share links to previous work. Are there skill sets you are missing that you are seeking from the community?
The overall project will be led by Steven Schear https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenschear/. Steve has over 30 years of successfully bringing retail and financial transaction processing, communications and crypto-related software and hardware to market. He has used private digital currencies since the 1990s, Bitcoin and other crypto currencies both as an individual and professionally.
Colin Ellis will create and maintain the website. He’s been chief software architect specializing in social media, e-commerce, and network infrastructure. Experienced with all phases of the development life-cycle. Significant experience in web development, software architecture, product growth and server infrastructure.
We are seeking a developer to help design, build and (perhaps) initially operate the NFT-related back-end until Mr. Ellis or another IT professional can assume that role.
Risks: What dependencies or obstacles do you anticipate? What contingency plans do you have in place?
Assuming the perceived risks and value proposition to the intended market are acceptable the main hurdles will likely come from: fiat transaction, banks, regulators and marketing costs.
Fiat transactions: Since AA will operate without a physical presence it needs a means to accept and dispense fiat with clients. The experience of Mr. Schear (see Community and Supporting Materials) has shown that a U.S., fiat-based, cypherpunk, business can operate using only or primarily U.S. banking services. Clients outside the U.S. may also effectively use these means.
Banks: Despite the widespread growth of crypto the acceptance of such business clients is often still a sore point for many banks, because they often deposit large sums of money in the bank and then soon wire it out to a wallet or brokerage. Keeping a minimum balance means the bank makes nothing on the account but they have all the compliance costs of reporting and investigating without any of the profits they would usually earn on such an account.
AA will need to nimbly navigate around these business shoals.
Regulators: The European Union’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) brought art dealers into the scope of anti-money laundering (AML) regulations in Europe. For works sold at 10,000 EUR or more, the new rules require dealers to register with the government, officially verify client identities, and report any suspicious transactions.
With the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 (NDAA) antiquities (which includes art) dealers are now subject to the provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). These antiquities dealers are to report any cash transactions over $10,000.
Reasonable efforts have made efforts to determine that the business and its planned operations do not fall under any standard interpretation of a MSB and therefore the necessity of it to comply with AML and KYC. However, as has been seen in the case of e-Gold, one cannot assume regulators will approach businesses based on digital currencies with any sense of a fair or just application of laws. In the U.S. corporations have up to 6 months to file as MSB before being subject to regulatory actions. As a backup, AA has tentative plans to employ a “moving window” of nominees and inexpensive LLCs / shelf corporations to acquire the business assets (but not the goodwill) every 5 months. Essentially a fresh business to restart the regulatory clock.
Marketing costs: T.B.D.
Community and Supporting Materials: Do you have previous projects, code commits, or experience that are relevant to this project and proposal? What community feedback or input have you received? How do you plan to share your plan and updates with the community as you proceed?
Mr. Schear operated a successful, online, business (unlinQ) from 2007 – 2011. The venture sold virtual, prepaid, VISA and MasterCards priced in USD but sold mostly for cash, money orders, and digital currencies (e.g., e-gold, Liberty Reserve, 1mdc and Pecunix). The high margin business sold mostly to offshore clients. The business only shuttered due to changes in federal regulations. He was involved with the creation of one of the earliest attempts, after DigiCash, at creating a digital currency using Chaumian blinding. He was VP of Business Technology, from 2016 – 2018, at Stashcrypto a crypto wallet developer based in Austin, Texas.
Mr. Ellis was DevOps Manager at Stashcrypto, a start-up fintech company. There he maintained the existing infrastructure, provided support to the development teams, and to maintain their custom Gentoo built, ‘bank in a box’, product. He was responsible for creating, testing, and maintaining the ebuilds of the software stack on the physical product and on the corresponding server infrastructure. Also, developing and maintaining the Continuous Integration test environment used by the development teams for both c++ builds and android app, and virtual machine versions of the application stack for development, test, and for cooperative development with corporate partners.
Community feedback: Since AA is currently pre-alpha there has not yet been any attempt at community outreach. The developers adhere to the product philosophy of Steve Jobs, that most people have to be shown, even use, a new product before they can fathom why its important and they need it.
Matrix: What is your handle on Matrix and have you joined our community channel #cypherpunkguild:matrix.org?
My handle is @phil.n.thropic:matrix.org
I have joined the #cypherpunkguild:matrix.org community channel.