Pillar — 2020 Product Vision

Written by
Drew Harding
Chief Product Officer
January 31, 2020

I recently wrote a recap of Pillar’s progress over 2019. Much of our development last year was focused on core wallet technology including the addition of smart contract based accounts, support for layer2 payments and the development of our Offers Engine v1, enabling in-wallet token exchanges. Many of these features are accessible via our Early Access Program, where users have been testing and providing feedback.

Pillar Project 2019 Recap

We are proud to announce that we are extremely close to rolling out this functionality, along with an accompanying UI, to all users in a full production release. This means that these features will no longer be restricted to Early Access members, but available for all to use. In addition to this, we are introducing brand new features designed to increase overall usability and utility of the PLR token. This update brings us one step closer to our vision of a single token experience. One where the PLR token sits at the center of the platform and powers all its features.

With a strong wallet foundation now laid, Pillar plans to place a strong emphasis on platform distribution and adoption through key partnerships and collaborations. We have built a powerful application and taken care to implement an intuitive user experience that is digestible for non-crypto natives. It has always been Pillar’s goal to offer a simple, easy-to-use platform aimed at a less-technically savvy user, however, we have had to balance that goal against the realities of both the market and the state of technology. Advancements throughout the last year in security, functionality and overall usability have increased significantly. In turn, we are collaborating with new projects that will expose our platform to new audiences, grow our user base and allow us to validate feature demand / product usability.

Dank Memes is one of the largest, internet-native entertainment companies in the world. They produce mobile games, eCommerce applications, live events and custom content in conjunction with brand sponsors focused on internet pop culture.

Dank Memes owns and operates ~14 extremely popular Facebook groups with a total of 15.2 million followers and a monthly reach of over 185 million people. These properties appeal primarily to the 18–24 year old demographic with some skewing slightly higher (25–34 years old). Geographically, they have a global reach with the largest audiences located in the United States with other major audiences located in Australia (Oceana), United Kingdom, Philippines (South East Asia), Mexico and Brazil (in no particular order).

The subject matter produced by the Dank team, as you can imagine, is focused on pop culture and memes. All of it is culturally poignant, often times taking a leading narrative in social commentary (the Dank team is the originator of the ‘Stonks’ meme designed to put focus on the problems of the modern financial system). They recently released a series of mobile games where their community can earn Dank coins and redeem them for physical items. These coins could be thought of as loyalty points or a closed, in-game currency for redemption of goods. The Dank team has recognized this as an opportunity to also introduce web3 to their community and educate them about the opportunities of the emerging digital economy. They have decided to offer an ERC20 token that will be 1:1 pegged to the Dank points on their internal platform. Pillar has been selected as the premier wallet partner for roll out to their creators and community. Through a partnership with the Abridged.io team, Pillar will be developing a dedicated web wallet to serve Dank and its users.

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are technologies of the future. And following the trends and history of the internet, it’s easy to extrapolate that the primary users of this technology will be the generation of tomorrow. Pillar believes it is important for us to attract younger users to the platform in order to establish brand recognition and build loyalty as those users grow up and become the leaders, driving the future of the digital economy and emerging virtual landscape. We believe we have an obligation to educate the youth about how to take back control of both their finances and their personal information — and Pillar is the tool to enable that.

Pillar has always been focused on its vision to provide a robust solution for personal data management. The technology solutions to enable this have precedent in academia and recently, commercial applications have recently begun to emerge. The challenge, however, is not so much the how, as the why. Even though the tools may exist for a person to safely store, manage and share their data, if there are no direct use cases, what is the value in doing so? We recognize that we are at the forefront of this exploration and believe that the first utility for this will likely emerge to address the bloated and broken advertising industry.

1World Online is one company who has been working to address these problems since 2015 through better incentive alignment between publishers, advertisers and their audiences. Their custom software platform provides interactive ad placements in the form of polls, surveys, quizzes, etc. leading to better engagement and more accurate data collection. Major global publishers including Newsweek, IBT, Times of India and others have adopted their platform and rolled it out across their digital properties. They have also done direct deals with major brands as well. Their platform is driven by 1World token (1WO) which is an asset backed token where one token is equal to one CPM (Cost per Impression) on their network.

Users are directly rewarded with 1WO tokens for engaging with ad units (polls, surveys, etc.), making them an active participant in what has historically been a closed market conversation between publishers and advertisers. Advertisers wishing to use the platform receive a discount for placements by paying with 1WO tokens, increasing market demand and closing the economic loop. Pillar has partnered with the 1World team to add PLR token as a unit of payment for advertisers utilizing their platform. We are also exploring native integration of 1World polls and surveys within the wallet as a first step in building a data sharing economy. Users would be directly rewarded with PLR tokens for anonymously answering polls and surveys for different brands looking to do market research. As this integration evolves, we can also begin to imagine a situation where a user is directly incentivized by a brand to share additional data in exchange for discounts on products and services. Of course, user participation would be entirely voluntary and at the user’s discretion.

Most importantly, Pillar has partnered with the 1World team to act as their preferred wallet partner. Identifying the right wallet has been an ongoing challenge for the 1World team and we are excited to be the platform of choice for their token holders, advertising partners and growing community.

Ocean Protocol is another team that is working to shine a light on the existing, shadow data economy. Ocean is building a protocol for the data economy including a decentralized data exchange with a tokenized service layer that securely exposes data, storage, compute and algorithms for consumption. This allows for data to be shared while guaranteeing traceability, transparency, and privacy — enabling data owners to access a wide range of marketplaces and services. Their goals are highly aligned with Pillar’s. Whereas Ocean is focused on the infrastructure and protocol layer including how to capture and expose the long tail datasets currently held by large corporations and governments, Pillar is focused on the consumer layer looking to enable individual data management and monetization.

The Ocean team has been hard at work to develop a new token standard that includes an encryption/decryption layer to allow for the easy, secure exchange of data. Pillar is excited to announce that we are collaborating with the Ocean team to support this new standard and allow for the secure transmission of data throughout the web3 ecosystem.

Additionally, Pillar is exploring a native implementation of Ocean’s data marketplace allowing for our users to access and monetize valuable data sets. This collaboration is a major step towards kick-starting the new Data Economy, enabling consumers to not only take back control, but also capture value from their data.

Pillar has been working on our intended solution for personal data storage and management since the beginning of the project. In fact, we have quite a clear plan for how to accomplish this and what it would look like from a user experience standpoint. However, the technology around identity management has continued to evolve and it’s important that we stay in line with emerging standards and best practices.

Additionally, we have been reluctant to introduce data management solutions without a specific use case or utility for doing so. We have a saying at Pillar — ‘People don’t care about a Driver’s License, they care about driving a car.’ Now that’s not to say that licensing isn’t important, but rather emphasize that its the ACTION that the credential enables that is important. The fact that people can store and manage their personal information is only as valuable as the utility that said control affords.

Pillar has developed a robust and secure core wallet foundation that provides a strong baseline for us to implement these solutions and we believe the industry has matured to a point where viable use cases exist and will begin to accelerate. More specifically, we are excited about our partnerships that will enable Pillar to lead the narrative for these use cases.

For too long, most of our information and habits have been captured by corporations, stored on their servers and sold to/by data harvesters. We are working with others to empower a new approach, a completely new architecture for data stored online. However, rearchitecting data management has many moving parts. First and most important is storage. Users need a dedicated, secure place to store their data where they are entirely in control.

Pillar has chosen to partner with Textile in order to provide a solution for our users. Textile is an open source framework that provides a decentralized database, remote storage, user management, and more over the IPFS network. They offer a solution for ‘user-siloed data [intended] to reverse the flow of data and its derived value so that users, not apps, capture it.’ Their technology provides a distributed, scalable and flexible database solution and access control for decentralized applications. Pillar is building an intuitive, mobile user interface that leverages Textile’s solution and enables our users to easily and securely manage their information.

Pillar is adopting the W3C Decentralized Identifier (DID) open standard for how this data will be defined, categorized and stored. A Decentralized Identifier or DID is a globally unique identifier that enables the controller to verify ownership. They don’t rely on any centralized registry or directory as blockchain technology has enabled the opportunity for federated / decentralized identity management. User’s data will be stored on Textile’s database framework in the form of DIDs in order to provide a well-defined, open and interoperable method for data transmission and consumption.

But how does a user PROVE the accuracy of their information and validate that they are actually the controller? These ‘verifiable claims’ may include a qualification, achievement or general piece of information about an entity’s background such as a name, address, university degree or driver’s license. Pillar has researched the standards for expressing and exchanging such claims against credentials, allowing them to be verified by a third party and avoiding them being locked into proprietary platforms.

Building the Personal Data Locker: Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) & Verifiable Credentials (VCs)

All of these pieces will serve as the foundation for our personal data management solution, which we expect to introduce alongside new ways to leverage both DIDs and Verifiable Claims including financial services, data exchanges and DAOs.

In 2019, the Ethereum community was marked by an explosion of new DAOs and DAO frameworks along with major updates and releases by existing ones. However, you may be asking yourself — what is a DAO? DAO stands for ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization,’ however, these words often confuse the intentions behind these frameworks.

The goal is to enable the creation of flat hierarchical organizations with no executives or top-down management structure. The ‘power’ or governance of the organization is handled completely by the shareholders / members themselves. They also run on decentralized infrastructure such as blockchains with no central authority or platform managing the underlying software. Members are given voting power based on the number of shares they hold in a particular DAO. Shares are generally received in exchange for tribute to the DAO bank or awarded for performing work on behalf of the DAO. These rules are set and voted on by each DAO independently. The members vote on initiatives and/or coordinate funding to solve problems and achieve their goals — while the underlying platform is entirely driven by code running on decentralized infrastructure.

There are a variety of DAO frameworks and approaches to managing such organizations. Aragon, Colony, DAOstack, and others are larger, feature rich platforms that have taken more of a top down approach. MolochDAO, another framework that launched this last year, has taken a bottom up approach aimed at solving the most immediate needs and coordination challenges. To quote the DAOHaus team, “[some] DAO frameworks and projects are looking to solve for every use case and build technology suitable for large organizations, Moloch is built more upon the idea of a DAO as a primitive solution to human coordination [for] testing real-world use-cases. Moloch as a framework is very un-opinionated and can be combined/enhanced with many different currencies, functions, and extensions.” Based on the Moloch framework, DAOHaus has created an interface, Pokemol, designed to be the easiest DAO discovery and deployment tool.

Pillar recently launched a DAO via DAOHaus in order to coordinate our ambassadors in a more efficient and structured way. We are also looking to empower our ambassadors to fund and vote directly on Pillar marketing initiatives. However, Pillar sees DAOs not only as a great coordination tool for our own ambassadors and project, but also as a solution to be utilized directly by our users as well. In partnership with the DAOHaus team, Pillar is working to create an even more intuitive solution for the easy deployment and management of DAOs.

In combination with our efforts around identity and personal data management, along with our social features, we expect to be able to facilitate better coordination and open up new opportunities for DAOs including location-specific, credential-restricted, etc. Our goal, in conjunction with the DAOHaus team is to work to introduce the first ‘Action Network’ — the evolution of the Social Network where ‘likes’ are replaced by ‘votes’ and users put funds and direct effort behind solving the issues they consider most important.

Pillar has been closely following the emergence of decentralized finance or DeFi platforms throughout the Ethereum ecosystem. There are new financial services for lending, borrowing, and trading in a completely trustless and decentralized manner — and we are excited to introduce this to our users.

Along with personal data management, we expect a large part of our product development efforts this year will be specifically focused on this area. There are many different providers with different approaches to these services, so the challenge for Pillar will be to condense them into a clean intuitive interface and provide a simple user experience for interacting with each. Pillar has directly identified a handful of platforms that we believe have great potential and will be valuable to our users.

Aave is a decentralized, non-custodial money market protocol where users can participate as depositors (lenders) or borrowers. Depositors provide liquidity to the market to earn a passive income, while borrowers are able to borrow in an overcollateralized (perpetual) or undercollateralized (flash loan / one-block) fashion. The Aave protocol introduces an innovative tokenization model compared to other interest bearing tokens (cDai / Compound, etc.). Instead of being defined by an exchange rate against the underlying asset, the Aave interest bearing tokens (or aTokens for short) are pegged 1:1 to the value of the underlying asset, and they increase in balance rather than in value. This means that users can see their balance grow directly in their wallet! aTokens are also easily transferable and users can redirect the interest stream to another address including friends, family members or a charity. Users will soon be able to deposit tokens onto the Aave platform directly within the Pillar Wallet in order to passively earn interest.

PoolTogether is based on the concept of a “No Loss Lottery.” Users join a pool by buying a “savings ticket.” Each ticket gives you a chance to win a prize, but even if you don’t win, you are still in control of your initial funds and never lose anything. It’s a way to save money with a chance to win more. The lottery winnings are generated by interest that is generated from the pooled funds of all participants. When you join the pool, the money you used to purchase tickets starts earning interest along with all the other money in the pool. A lottery is conducted every 7 days on Friday. The winner is awarded via all the interest that has been earned since the last drawing. You can buy or withdraw tickets at any point, with no restrictions and any tickets that you own will automatically be re-entered into the following week’s drawing. Ticket prices are 1 DAI, (a stablecoin that is pegged to $1) and each ticket increases your chance of winning. This is a great way to save money while also having a chance to win more.

Sablier is a ‘real-time finance’ or ‘money streaming’ protocol designed to change the way people get paid and pay others for services. The solution was developed to initially address the payout schedule problem with salaries. Instead of a lump sum being delivered at extended intervals (bi-monthly or monthly) individuals can now receive compensation for their work in a continuous, streaming manner — with instant access to their earnings. Money streams can also act as collateral for other engagements such as freelance contracting, taxes, rent, or any sort of subscription. Users can select payments to be streaming by the minute, quarter hour, hour or daily for maximum flexibility. In fact, check out this Tweetstorm by the Sablier team discussing all the potential use cases. As you can see from this list, the potential applications are massive and we think that money streaming will be a great feature for all Pillar users.

TokenSets enable traders and crypto users to automate asset management strategies by simply acquiring a token. The underlying Set protocol allows users to group together different tokens and synthesize them into a single higher-order token that represents and is collateralized by its underlying parts. TokenSets are entirely trustless, as smart contracts autonomously hold the underlying tokens as collateral — meaning there is no counterparty risk. For the first time, anyone in the world can subscribe to automated portfolio strategies without the need to sign up for a bank, exchange or brokerage account. There are no management fees and no minimums when acquiring a Set token on TokenSets. Users are always in control making wealth creation easy and accessible to anyone.

TokenSet trading and asset rebalancing strategies are codified into and executed directly via smart contracts with no action required from the holder. Users can automate trading strategies like buy the dip, long/short, stop loss or dollar cost averaging. These conditions can be as straightforward as “if the price of ETH goes above $1,000, then sell everything into 100% DAI.” And since Sets are ERC20 tokens, they can be sent to others, exchanged, shorted, lent out for interest or potentially used as collateral to borrow. Set Protocol have also recently introduced SocialSets which allow users to select trading strategies designed by other individuals including some of the top traders and influencers in the space. Simply buy a trader’s Set to copy all of the trades they make.

The world of DeFi is coming to your Pillar Wallet in a major way!

Beyond all of the new collaborations and functionality that we are looking to introduce in 2020, we also have a number of pending and new enhancements planned for Pillar’s core wallet.

Pillar will soon launch the first relayer designed to accept PLR token to cover all on-chain network fees. Instead of needing to pay with ETH, users will be able to pay with PLR. Users will pay the specified fee (in PLR) to the relayer, which will take the transaction, wrap it in ETH and post it to the network on behalf of the user. In addition to network fees or gas, users will also be required to deploy their new Smart Wallet account in order to activate it. Similarly, this fee will be payable in PLR token directly. This means that all required fees moving forward will be designated in PLR, enabling our users to operate their wallet, send funds and collectibles, deploy their Smart Wallet and more — completely with the PLR token.

Pillar is also excited to announce that it will be rolling out support for ENS names using dedicated Pillar.eth subdomains for all our users! Every user will be issued a subdomain based on their Pillar username where they can now receive any Ethereum based asset. For example, if your username is ‘Alice,’ your wallet address will be mapped to the ENS address alice.pillar.eth. Every user will have an ETH address that is easy to read, type and share!

The Pillar design team has been hard at work improving the existing user interface and adding new screens in order to accommodate the production release of our Early Access functionality. Using our custom design system, we now have the ability to quickly and easily make updates. Among these changes are a new, simplified onboarding experience, the addition of tool tips throughout the platform in order to help guide users, an updated exchange interface and many other usability tweaks throughout the application. Last, but not least, I am happy to announce that we will be introducing dark mode! The Pillar Wallet will be available in two different design themes — dark and light. You’re welcome night owls!

Pillar’s new design system allows us to easily update button placement, icons, and copy throughout the application without needing to re-work every screen. As a result, we are now ready to introduce additional language support as well. Pillar will initially focus on latin-based languages, but we intend to make this an ongoing effort, introducing additional languages and support for our global community. We hope this will also help to increase adoption in new regions.

In anticipation of the production release of the Smart Wallet, Pillar has developed a dedicated web portal to enable enhanced security and recovery functionality for Pillar Smart Wallets. Users will be able to easily set up a secondary access key to their personal smart contract. Once set up, users can use the Pillar web portal to lock / remove access to their primary wallet key and assign access to a new key on a new device once they have a replacement. You never have to worry about losing access to your funds again. In the future, we intend to enable specific spending limits and other features as well. In fact, we consider this our first step towards supporting a complete web-based wallet platform for managing keys and assets.

Smart Contract Insurance

Having backup access and a recovery mechanism for one’s assets is a great addition, but there are situations where that isn’t enough. What about the potential for contract bugs and exploits or hacks occurring as a result? Pillar wants its users to feel as safe with our platform as they are with the funds in their bank account. As such, Pillar has partnered with Nexus Mutual to offer Smart Wallet Insurance. This is the first premium user service that Pillar is introducing. Specific details are still being outlined, but users will soon be able to purchase an insurance coverage plan for a monthly fee paid for in PLR tokens.

Smart Contract Account Updates

Early last year, Pillar identified an opportunity to partner with an emerging technical solution that made smart contract account and payment channel support extremely easy. We made the decision to engage the team as an early partner and support the creation and ongoing development of what would become the Abridged.io SDK. We were the first project to adopt their technology solutions, which were also utilized by many other dapps and teams throughout the year. Testing and feedback enabled them to refine and improve their SDK to be even more robust and as such, they have recently completed their v2 SDK release.

Ecosystem Zoom Out Ep. 3 — Pillar & Abridged

Throughout this time, we have maintained a close relationship and found that our vision and goals are greatly aligned. They have decided to focus on web3 development tooling and the emerging no-code movement in order to reduce friction, streamline development and increase the user feedback loop. This focus will be specifically targeted at existing web2 communities in an effort to ‘go to where the audience is,’ learn what those users want, and leverage this information asymmetry to increase overall web3 adoption. Pillar has decided to continue our collaboration with the Abridged team and will be working with them to upgrade our existing smart contract accounts and as a key partner in supporting our partnership with the Dank Memes team.

Pillar is also working to add new features to our Exchange functionality. The first one is based on a need that we have seen in our community, as well as many others — the ability to directly trade with peers in a secure way. Often times in chat rooms and/or in person, there is a desire to trade a specific token directly with another individual. Pillar is developing a simple smart contract escrow that allows users to securely engage in these types of trades. A user lists the price and quantity of the token that they are looking to sell and other users agree to purchase. The contract is designed as a fill-or-kill, which means that the buyer must take the entire offer or nothing at all. Settlement is handled entirely by smart contract and completely atomic. Initially, this will ONLY be offered for ERC20 tokens, but we are looking to support other standards in the future.

One of the biggest updates to the Pillar Wallet last year was the introduction of our Offers Engine for in-wallet cryptocurrency and token exchanges. We are constantly working to add new DEXs and token swap services and have the addition of Kyber, Airswap, 1inch, and Bancor currently planned.

Another new feature that we plan to introduce is push notifications for exchange functionality. This is a tricky feature as each DEX/token swap has a different architecture and implementation, but we have already begun work to support it. On the back of this functionality, Pillar will also be able to support custom, user-set price alerts. Users will be able to specify a price point for tokens when they will be sent a push notification.

With the introduction of the Pillar Smart Wallet, users now have two different accounts where their assets can be stored — an externally owned account (legacy key) and a personal contract wallet (smart wallet). Users will soon be able to specify which account to use for both buying and selling assets via the Offers Engine. Some of these platforms ONLY work with key-based wallets at this time, so those will be restricted, but we do expect support from most in the near future as smart contract wallet designs become the de facto standard.

Last but not least, with the recent introduction of Bitcoin support in the Pillar wallet, we are also looking to directly integrate Bitcoin into our Offers Engine as well. We are exploring options currently and will have a detailed update with more information as we get closer to a final solution.

Pillar Payment Network Upgrades

One of the most exciting additions to the Pillar Wallet last year was the Pillar Payment Network (PPN) + Synthetic Asset exchange enabling instant, gasless payments and seamless token swaps when exchanging with other users. Our implementation is known as a hub and spoke where Pillar sits at the middle of all exchanges acting as an intermediary in the process. It is proprietary to our platform and we want to make it more extensible and interoperable with other state channel solutions.

We have recently engaged in conversations with the Connext Network team regarding how we can support the emerging generalized state channel standard. Accordingly, PPN users will soon be able to utilize the PPN to transact between different wallets and dapps. It also means that the PPN will soon be able to handle the transmission of data over the PPN for use in games, dapps, identity, IoT hardware and more. We believe that the PPN is key to the future of our platform and want to ensure that it can be leveraged beyond just the Pillar ecosystem and for uses beyond payments.

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