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Companies

Veil wants to make decentralized financial products frictionless for mainstream users

Quick Take

  • Veil is a peer-to-peer trading platform built on Augur
  • The company is founded by Y Combinator Alumni Paul Fletcher-Hill, Graham Kaemmer, and Feridun Mert Celebi
  • The company’s goal is to make Augur’s platform accessible to mainstream users through easy to use interfaces and faster and cheaper transactions

One of the major drawbacks preventing consumers from adopting decentralized products and apps is the friction-filled user experience. For a decentralized prediction market platform like Augur, users are often forced to go through a time-consuming multi-step process just to interact with its features.

Veil hopes to change that. Founded by Y Combinator Alumni Paul Fletcher-Hill, Graham Kaemmer, and Feridun Mert Celebi, Veil’s goal is to make Augur’s platform accessible to mainstream users. Augur enables users to create and trade prediction markets on a variety of topics from sports, to elections, to crypto prices. Every market is settled by a decentralized set of oracles — eliminating the need for centralized market makers. However, as previously mentioned, the process to access Augur is often too confusing and time-consuming for your average consumer.

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 “Too often we take for granted that our users share the same philosophy as us,” CEO Paul Fletcher-Hill tells The Block. “We sometimes copy centralized products and just create a decentralized version of them rather than coming up with totally new things that are differentiated as products and not because of their implementation.”

And Augur is no different. To maintain its decentralized features, Augur requires its users to download its app and sync it to Ethereum’s network, a process that can take hours and that is even if you can get your app to start syncing. “There need to be companies and products that are built on top of decentralized protocols to bring them mainstream,” Fletcher-Hill says.

In addition to a streamlined user-interface design, Veil says it’s improving the Augur user experience in three primary ways:

  1. Its platform eliminates the need for users to download and sync their apps to Ethereum’s network.
  2. Its platform makes trading on Augur faster and cheaper by using the 0x protocol, which reduces the transactions required to be made on-chain, and offering a customized version of Wrapped ETH, called the Veil ETH, which bundles two transactions (wrapping then approval) typically required by 0x, into one transaction (wrapping and approval).
  3. Its platform settles markets faster than Augur by offering a paid instant settlement feature, enabling users to immediately sell their shares to Veil at a reported price rather than waiting for Augur to finalize the market. To avoid settling contentious markets, Veil will only offer instant settlement for markets it has vetted. The firm will initially support four markets: crypto derivatives, hedging products, the Grin cryptocurrency, and Academy Awards.

Veil’s user interface

To be sure, while Veil’s offerings and user interface do help lower user friction, the process of using its any decentralized platform is still complex. Veil users will still need to use Web3 wallets and extensions like MetaMask or Cipher to trade on Veil. Furthermore, Veil notes that its initial users will be “sophisticated hobbyists.”

Veil tells The Block that it has raised a fundraising round in the single-digit millions to fund its growth, from notable investors like Paradigm, Sequoia Capital, and 1confirmation.

As to why Veil is focused on building on decentralized networks, rather than taking the much easier centralized route, Fletcher-Hill says “we believe in a decentralized web and that people should be able to use sophisticated financial products without giving up access to their money,” adding, “as a developer it’s just easier to program things like payments, trade execution, or settlement using a smart contract platform than the traditional banking system.”

Veil will launch on the Ethereum mainnet on January 15, 2019. The firm tells The Block that “hundreds” of users have already tested its alpha product.


Image credit: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov