I’m literally just going to get that out of the way so that I don’t have to think about doing it, but don’t worry – I’ll be serious from here on out, I promise. Apart from being the battle-cry of teenage girls everywhere, OMG is the token attributed to the OmiseGO platform, an offshoot of the well-established Omise e-commerce payment company based in Thailand.
That’s actually pretty important – while OmiseGO is almost worryingly ambitious, they do have a strong background and plenty of resources through Omise and major key partnerships to help with achieving their goals. Let’s start with a breakdown of what exactly Omise does.
Omise is kind of like the PayPal of SE Asia. The company acts as a payment gateway allowing people to transfer money to third party bank accounts, and the underlying service is simply value exchange. However, while that might seem frivolous to people who live in countries with many such payment options, the company actually provides a much-needed service to Asian nations with regions lacking in traditional banking infrastructure.
Not everyone has a bank account, and Omise essentially provides a third party account that can link to a customer debit card. The company was awarded Digital Company of The Year last year by the Prime Minister of Thailand. They’re supported by Alipay, MacDonalds, and Minor International, and reportedly partnered with 550 corporations worldwide. So, they have a lot of the infrastructure and connections that could support a successful cryptocurrency platform.
OmiseGO is a different kettle of fish. The project is pretty nebulous and is described on the website as a Digital Asset Gateway with its own blockchain, a decentralized exchange, a white label SDK (software developer kit for making apps), and a clearinghouse technology product, offering “secure and rapid transaction clearing with the use of Ethereum smart contracts and protocol consensus”.
That’s a lot of features. By setting themselves up a payment gateway, they’re facing a lot of competition, and it’s hard to say whether there’s room for a project like this in the market. Obviously, it all comes down to the quality – if they can compete, they’ll be the only project offering such a wide array of features and could end up providing a service for people in Asia as well as around the world.
Michael from Boxmining pointed out one use case that stuck with me, describing a situation where migrant workers from Indonesia want to send money from Myanmar home to their families. OmiseGO are marketing themselves as the perfect alternative to current solutions like Western Union which are far more costly than what OmiseGO proposes. While other cryptocurrencies could provide the same service, Omise has the widespread brand recognition throughout multiple countries all with their own (sometimes incompatible) banking systems.
Because the region is comprised of many small countries with different currencies, cross-border value exchange can be very difficult to pull off without getting ripped off, and with the huge amount of migrant workers sending small amounts liable to get eaten up by platform fees, there’s a real gap in the market for a solution.
If OmiseGO can establish themselves as the go-to value transfer service for people with no bank accounts or poorly-structured banking services sending small amounts of money with low fees, they might have a winner on their hands.
The fact that the platform is a trustless program that can’t and won’t choose to freeze or withhold funds could also make a big difference.
OmiseGo allows transfer of OMG, Bitcoin, and Ethereum.
By Joseph Poon
Did I promise to be serious? I did, didn’t I. OK then!
Joseph Poon is the co-creator of the Lightning Network, a protocol seeking to divert the processes that slow down the Bitcoin blockchain to a “side chain”, essentially allowing Bitcoin to process fast transactions and scale with the influx of new users.
Poon wrote the OmiseGO white paper as well, with an interesting spin on crypto’s unofficial “Banking the unbanked” slogan. Poon proposes the opposite – the aim of OmiseGO is “Unbanking the banked”, offering an alternative to often ineffective traditional banking. An alternative that aims to be cheap, fast, trustless, and with low fees regardless of where the value is coming from and going to.
Poon is a big name in crypto, and collaborated with Vitalik Buterin on the Plasma project creating a Lightning Network-esque scaling plan aimed at keeping Ethereum running at full speed as more and more projects start to run on its blockchain.
Partnerships and OMG token
The token is an ERC20 compliant token, just like many others out there. The main thing it has going for it at the moment is the potential adoption. With the approval and support the Thai government has shown for Omise and the many partnerships both Omise and OmiseGO have cultivated, they’re off to a good start in the admittedly competitive space.
Currently, OmiseGO is partnered with SBI Investment, SUMITOMO MITSUI BANKING CORPORATION (SMBC), Ascend Capital, SMDV, Golden Gates Ventures, East Ventures, and MacDonalds Thailand, one of the largest Payment service providers in Asia.
Only time will tell if the project will be successful, but with such a huge headstart on government support and financial infrastructure, it’s definitely one to keep an eye on!
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