During the second quarter of 2019, Nash increased our management focus on the team’s performance. By concentrating on people and processes, we successfully brought execution to even higher levels. This will continue to be our management focus during the third quarter, as we believe we can still improve the speed and quality of execution across several teams. The processes we began to define and the formal workflows we began to implement are an important step in preparing our company for growth.
A second important mission over the past quarter was collaborating with important players and customers in the payments industry to define how the Nash Pay product should be brought to the market and what features it must possess.
The greatest testament to our success in pushing execution across the whole company was the large number of deliverables reached internally. The most significant milestone we achieved was the preparation of our minimum viable product for release on 23 August. From that day on, we will be able to improve our product thanks to feedback from customers and Nash Community members, many of whom we hope will become customers. Hearing from passionate users will be key if we are to reach our goal of offering the best user experience and customer support on the market.
The last quarter saw Nash achieve the major goals required to prepare our minimum viable product (MVP) for public release. The redesigned matching engine protocol we announced last year is complete and our user interface has been further refined in the light of April’s beta programs. The team is currently focussed on quality assurance (QA) ahead of launch, which will follow the timeline below:
- 8 August: Mainnet deployment of smart contract systems and launch of a closed platform for internal QA.
- 12 August: Second phase of user testing with members of the Nash Community.
- 22 August: Closure of our present live site (used for the referral program) and data migration to the new site.
- 23 August: Global public launch of our MVP, offering NEX token staking, ETH/NEO cross-chain trading, funds management tools and fiat ramps. This also includes the launch of an iOS/Android mobile app for facilitating Know Your Customer (KYC) background checks.
Fabian Wahle’s legal team has continued to achieve significant breakthroughs over the last quarter, making Nash an industry leader in terms of compliance:
- Nash will be able to operate in the following nineteen US states at launch: Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. This level of US coverage is superior to what some established industry players will be offering. We have begun compliance work for all states, but since each has its own process, further states will be added on a case-by-case basis.
- Nash will be providing the first stablecoin markets within the European Union, offering USDC markets soon after launch
- Further licensing and legal work has significantly de-risked our business in the face of rapidly expanding regulatory oversight.
On the business front, Nash has entered a partnership with one of the largest credit card processors in the world. In addition to offering fiat ramps through our currency partners, this will allow us to provide credit card support, with users being able to buy digital assets directly from Nash. Further partners will enable Nash Pay to offer fiat settlement to merchants via global FX markets, with our partners sending fiat to the merchants.
Ten new employees have joined Nash over the last quarter. In anticipation of further expansion, we have redesigned our team structure and project management process. To improve coordination, Nash has replaced capability teams with product teams based on time zones. Every two weeks, we produce a potentially releasable version of our applications, with incremental improvements. This process of consistently testing and shipping stable software has led to a significant increase in productivity, and the company is now prepared for scaling to a larger operation.
During Q2 we performed foundational work for plans to expand our lineup of products during Q3 and Q4 of 2019:
- We aim to introduce a second-generation authentication protocol that will represent a step forward from the current “private key” process of providing blockchain signatures.
- Our mobile app will enable another user security upgrade, with Secure Enclave technology providing a similar authentication experience to the best online identity management platforms.
- Bitcoin support is crucial for volume on our exchange. We plan to implement our innovative Bitcoin trading protocol as soon as possible, allowing users to trade Bitcoin in a decentralized, non-custodial manner for the first time.
- In addition to the US and Europe, developing countries will be a major market for Nash, including Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia. We will hence be localizing our products for use in all of these regions.
- The launch of Nash Pay in both Europe and the US is planned for 2019. Although Nash Pay may not generate significant profits in the short term, it plays an important role in winning and retaining customers for our other products.
- On 5 August, testing began on the initial designs for the cryptocurrency wallet features of our mobile app. While KYC features will be available at launch, we plan to update the app progressively over the rest of the year, adding a mobile wallet, Nash Pay integration and a mobile-friendly interface for the Nash Exchange.
Applied Research and Technical Hiring
Ethan Fast has taken on leadership of our Applied Research team, as well as being responsible for technical hiring within the company.
Joining this team is our new applied cryptographer, who will be working on threshold signing, multi-party computation and other challenges. In addition to several years of industrial experience in the telecommunications sector, they hold a PhD in electrical engineering and have significant publications in the field.
Over the last quarter, our Applied Research team has built a prototype for increased account security using ECDSA threshold signatures, conducted a literature review of academic work in multi-party computation and researched secure approaches to distributed key backup for enhancing the key recovery process.
Security and DevOps
The Security and DevOps team, led by Samuel Hagan, was joined in the last quarter by one new engineer. With over ten years’ experience in software development, our new SecDevOps team member has spent the last two years building a large-scale distributed content delivery network in Elixir/Erlang.
The team continued to achieve significant milestones during the second quarter, including:
- Implementation of a release tool for secure production deployment.
- Definition and implementation of secure policies for system maintenance in production.
- Definition and implementation of real-time alerts across all critical systems, including the detection of process and network anomalies.
- Implementation of blockchain infrastructure within the Kubernetes pipeline.
- Improvement of core infrastructure reliability by migrating to a managed message broker and upgrading the persistence layer of the matching engine.
- Successful completion of three additional security audits with no critical findings by Security and NCC Group, as well as an internal infrastructure security audit.
Settlement and Portfolio
Thomas Saunders’s team, focussed on blockchain and payment integration, welcomed two new engineers this past quarter. At Nash, they will be assisting with blockchain settlement and cryptography research, and taking on a product management role.
Over the second quarter, the Settlement and Portfolio team achieved the following major goals:
- Completion of our TypeScript/Node.js API client and testing of client API libraries with liquidity providers.
- Further integration testing across all systems (testing, development and staging environments) using real blockchain funds with the market-making bot.
- Finalization of the settlement engine and related processes.
- Addition of redundancy and failsafes to blockchain- and funds-related processes.
- Onboarding and integration of currency partners.
- Initial work on payments solution architecture.
- A full security review, resulting in a number of upgrades.
Key goals for Q3 are full wallet support for Bitcoin, Litecoin and related chains, and the implementation of our non-custodial Bitcoin trading protocol.
Trading and Accounts
The Trading and Accounts team, led by Luciano Engel, deals with the matching engine and exchange infrastructure. One new engineer joined this team during the second quarter, having previously bootstrapped two SaaS products as an entrepreneur, built multiple web apps, websites and mobile apps as a contractor, and worked for eight years architecting compilers for a top-ten technology firm.
Q2 saw the continuation of work from Q1, with a focus on wrapping the system for production. Feedback from the Nash Community and information from our beta program has translated into new features, the elimination of bugs, performance tweaks and much else, leading to an overall improvement in performance. For the first time, all aspects of our application are working together in the setup we desire.
Payments and Mobile
Over the past quarter, the team has made steady progress on both Nash Pay and our mobile app. Besides important work on concept and business development, initial design wireframes for Nash Pay have now been completed. The first version of our iOS/Android mobile app is now ready for release, providing tools to complete Know Your Customer verification (KYC). Moreover, prototypes and wireframes for future releases of the app, offering access to additional Nash services, have now been completed, with user testing set to begin in August.
Marketing, Communications and Design
In addition to continuing our public relations work with various media outlets, Carla Paiva’s Marketing and Communications team spent the quarter finalizing materials for the exchange launch and planning our post-launch campaigns. Upcoming campaigns include a video strategy with a focus on YouTube and a “We Are Nash” campaign based on engaging the Nash Community.
Within this team, the support group has continued to expand and now covers multiple time zones, with technicians available to answer customer inquiries directly via email or live chat. Our new European support staff have many years’ experience in the customer service industry, including work for financial services companies (both on and off the blockchain). The team has worked to improve the AI support bot and to expand our knowledge base, which will soon include user guides, a comprehensive set of FAQs and educational materials on blockchain technology.
The Design group, led by Nathaniel Walpole, was joined in the last quarter by a new designer who will focus on working with the Marketing team to produce new visual assets. They have eight years’ experience in visual and interaction design and until recently worked for a major job listings platform.
The Design focus of the last quarter has been responding to feedback provided in our beta program. The team has tweaked and reworked those parts of the platform that caused major issues for many users, always aiming for the highest standards of user experience. In addition, our mobile app designs have progressed and are ready for user testing, and a new blog design, in line with our brand style, is now ready. This has allowed us to migrate the Nash blog from Medium to our own domain, which will help improve the visibility of Nash in web searches.