Interview with Deepanshu Tripathi, Founder of AssetMantle
NFTs have brought forth a digital revolution to the dynamic world of Web3. Use-cases stretch from digital graphics to tradeable game assets; and now the foundations for ownership and identity in the metaverse.
The evolving utility of NFTs has earned this technology the status of becoming one of the fastest growing asset classes of the year. Is this a passing trend, or will the growth continue?
It’s our great honor to have invited Deepanshu Tripathi of AssetMantle for this exclusive interview hosted by Staking Rewards’ Mirko Schmiedl and Kenneth Garofalo.
The highlights of the interview include Deepanshu’s unique view on:
- AssetMantle’s positioning and key value-added role in the NFT market landscape today
- Defining the NFT use-case today verse what it will look like in 5 years
- How NFTs will become increasingly important to all kinds of blockchain activity
- Web3 gaming and Play to Earn
- Whether NFTs need their own dedicated blockchain in light of recent events
In this written summary of the conversation, we recap the key takeaways concisely.
If you would like to experience the nuances of the conversation, make sure to watch the full 0.58hr video interview on Youtube. Alternatively, catch the full 0.58hr podcast on RSS or Spotify.
Lightning Round Questions for Deepanshu
First investment outside of BTC and ETH?
Most underrated crypto project?
$ADAM and $ATOM are still very underrated for the kinds of technology communities that are built around them.
What NFT project got you hooked?
Comdex: Deepanshu says that this particular project tokenized real world, high sea commodities and that it was super interesting to the use-case outside of just art and collectible energies.
Most inspiring crypto personality?
Vitalik Buterin because of his technical communication and commentary on how technology and social economic aspects collide with each other. This has been his biggest influence.
Portion of portfolio staked?
Majorly staked, approximately 80%. Deepanshu shares that liquid staking makes up a large part of his investment strategy.
Activity to relax from the wild NFT and crypto markets?
Competitively surfing and swimming; but not as much after focusing on crypto.
Deep Dive Questions for Deepanshu
Primary audience? NFT creators or NFT consumer purchasers?
The biggest problem that Deepanshu has identified is with respect to the adoption of blockchain technology and web technology. It’s the “friction” that users who aren’t into crypto, or who are new to crypto, have to go through; the learning curve before they can participate in the ecosystem for the first time. He suggests that this is especially true for creators. They should only have to worry about what they like and what they’re good at, which is creating awesome and beautiful art.
Majorly, AssetMantle wants to reduce this friction; to build a marketplace and to have a very clear centric. They are trying to get as many new entrants as possible, from both creator and collector sites. Deepanshu mentions that they’re not crypto native; but that they’re primarily focussing on creating an initial phase that’s shifting towards community which is going to be sustained by curation, discovery and marketing.
Product market fit that’s different to other players and key features missing from typical NFT transactions?
There are a few points of differentiation that AssetMantle is trying to tackle.
(1) Majority of NFT projects are built on smart contracts on layer one; which heavily uses power consumption and transaction processing overheads. In this case, technology becomes a blocker. Further, there are a lot of big marketplaces out there where the front end does not perform as well because of technological issues related to asynchrony of the blockchain, etc.
Bringing the tender mint core consensus engine into picture, lowering gas fees, quickening the finality of non-probabilistic transactions, reducing overheads and implementing all NFT codes at the blockchain module level is a core focus. TPS could increase if power and gas consumption decreases.
(2) There isn’t a singular place (wallet) for NFTs. Every marketplace has a different web app. From a user perspective, the big interoperability problem is that there should be a singular place to keep all of your NFTs. Deepanshu refers to this as a “X”. One wallet where users can view all of their NFTs without having to scan contracts at the native level.
(3) Finally, Deepanshu shares the differentiation that AssetMantle is trying to bring to a user’s onboarding journey. They intend to make this frictionless (to assist on the technological aspect), and to help through the curation, verification, marketing, and art and price discovery processes.
Dealing with NFT security to reduce the likelihood of hackers inserting malicious code into users’ wallets?
After reading through several cases, Deepanshu believes that the difference lies in Web2 which compromises the security flow. AssetMantle’s focus is to try and base everything on Web3. This includes exchanges, the bidding process, and royalties.
All of these components have been defined at the website level to reduce the attack surface that Web2 had introduced.
Secondly, Deepanshu has seen that a lot of compromises occur because of the mishandling of keys. His company is tackling a whole new set of users that are not only excluded to creators; but collectors as well.
He posed this question: how do we build a form of chain authentication, that even if you compromise your keys, you’re still able to recover and retain your wallet? The way that AssetMantle has done this is through something called interidentity, where your wallet is actually linked to your identity and the addresses are just authentication mechanisms. You may end up losing your seats, but you will never end up losing your identity. Thus, reducing the likelihood of an attack.
Thirdly, hacks have happened through demographic mechanisms, which is where hackers try to mimic someone else. They identify you as an address that has a fixed length. At the end of the day, the majority is anonymous… So how do they verify if a particular hash belongs to a given person? Deepanshu shares that this is where identity comes into play. You have a readable “human identity” that can be verified and seen.
All of the protocols allow for many different kinds of flows. There is no entry point for malicious code to interfere with transactions that are handled by AssetMantle.
Thoughts on the market for NFTs outside of social signaling?
The first use-case that AssetMantle ever picked was a complex commodity distributed exchange platform, built to enable trading and financing of commodities through Web3 blockchain so that the information would be recorded there. Deepanshu mentioned that the main purpose was not to have a crypto based commodity sale, but to have an unhackable admin information system; where misconducted transactions could be utilized in a court of law.
“Those NFTs were huge,” shares Deepanshu, “and when we started to build the project, we did not even know that the term NFT was a thing. We just built it out as data objects that have models similar to that of an MVC project.” Cosmos ended up publishing an article which acknowledged AssetMantle as the first in the world to do a non-standard NFT IBC transaction.
They considered all of the different kinds of use-cases that NFTs would have in the future so that they would be able to accommodate them as well (from collectible art base use-cases to complex commodity trading). Deepanshu refers to this as a multi-tenant platform, which implies that multiple different kinds of use-cases and platforms could be onboarded on top of a persistence layer.
Deepanshu’s second point is to consider which NFTs are valuable and which are not. Not so long ago, there was no bias and users were generally not bullish. Currently, there is a huge explosion of NFT projects and people are struggling to understand what NFTs actually mean and what gives them value.
So, what constitutes a valuable NFT? When cryptocurrencies came out, the general populace used to call it “magic internet money” that only the internet nerds use; critics argued that it had no value in the real world and that it would never have value in the real world. “Look at us now,” says Deepanshu. In 2022, it does have value. NFTs are facing the same thing.
Deepanshu’s assessment is that whatever is not on chain, is not valuable. If you buy an image on Web2, it may or may not exist in the future. Contrary to this, Bitcoin that’s been purchased would be maintained in an account for the next 1000 years if the chain is still alive. The same guarantee should be given to NFTs that people are buying, but the majority of them do not come with guarantees. Majority of them come with Web2 resources that definitely will not last.
The market, understanding of the technology, and the use-cases are not very known to both the creator and collector; they’re still exploring and understanding what gives it value and what doesn’t. So, Deepanshu says, there will be a lot of NFT projects that are there just for the sake of it.
Thoughts on Play to Earn and the NFT economies around Web3 gaming?
As a gamer himself, that’s one thing that Deepnashu shares that he has always regretted. The reason why Vitalik Buterin started to build ETH was because he used to play World of Warcraft; and he was not able to effectively exchange, sell or display his grind. There was no use-case.
Deepanshu believes this is how we’ve transitioned from the normal web to social media, and now to the metaverse; where ownership of digital assets is given value. NFTs are the way to go.
Ownership and value differentiates the metaverse from plain old video games.
Thoughts around recent events?
Gas fees: you only replicate a process as many times as the probability of fault. Your expectation of fault tolerance is no more or no less. The cost that is spent on replication and fault tolerance only increases with the use-case, which is what’s happening with Ethereum. All the applications, irrespective of their security requirements, are being replicated as many times as possible.
Empirically speaking, the cost of security requirements force gas rates to go up. Because of this, all the singular simple use cases had to cease their operations.
Do NFTs need their own separate blockchain to create a stable and consistent user experience?
Deepanshu suggests that any application with more than 1000 or 2000 users should definitely consider learning on their own chain; or at least any system that is meant to scale. If it’s built on a shared resource with multiple projects, it introduces limitations and you’re going to face scalability issues.
Other than scalability, there is also a storage aspect. Blockchain storage is the most valuable resource that exists. From this perspective, it makes sense to run on an individual, optimized chain, which will optimize on either storage or number of transactions.
In AssetMantle’s case, they are functioning as a multi-tenant that allows for multiple marketplaces to exist. It’s a block that is applied to a mechanism that onboards as many indicators on top of the ecosystem as possible.
Thoughts on how to improve the Ethereum network to make it better able to serve the NFT use-case?
Front running prevention is something that will hugely help use-cases, shares Deepanshu. For example, if an NFT is listed, you can already see what a user is willing to bid without seeing the value first; because you know what that person is willing to pay, it implies that you can front run and increase the value of the transaction.
A preference mechanism that Deepanshu thinks can solve this whole thing is a technology called VDF (Variable Delay Functions).
AssetMantle has 1000 wallets. Transactions that have been made in the last two weeks are approaching one million; the chain (at the time) is only two weeks old.
Majority of airdrop mechanisms are based on snapshots. There is no controller and no one person can predict what chain and what snapshot would be taken. Deepnashu shares that you’re either lucky or unlucky, it’s like a lottery. The second problem is the number of users maxed in the airdrop, if you’re taking a snapshot, at that particular time are the users that you’re going to get: no more, no less, irrespective of who you would have wanted to have participated. So, if airdrops are always based on a snapshot, the total number of users in the ecosystem will always remain constant. There is no place for new people, right? Which is wrong, explains Deepanshu, the whole purpose of airdrops is to give access to people to try your platform.
This is why AssetMantle chose a mechanism that is not based on historical data, or a snapshot that no one has control over. There is a gamification aspect, and there are efforts that you can put in to ensure that more rewards are allocated to new entries and participants.
In their recent stakedrop, Deepanshu shares that his team were expecting around 5000 participants per chain but that, in the Cosmos hub alone, they got 65,000 wallets. They had only engineered and optimized the chain for 10,000 wallets which led to some delays and users getting angry and confused.
Tokenomics and targeted staking yield for MNTL?
Deepanshu shares that, with respect to economics, 50% of their initial circulating supply is to an end user of the platform. The technology is a small part of the platform; it’s the creators and the collectors that make the platform what it is: community first. The token is the currency of the culture and AssetMantle aims to distribute this to people whose culture is fit and at the same time, to incentivize projects that are coming on board (community pools).
These pools are meant to spend tokens based on community proposals and projects with enough liquidity inside it to bootstrap doubts. The more the token use-case and value increases, the more value there is to give out to new projects, the more resourceful the tokens become, and the more they can all scale up together. The flexibility concept here, explains Deepanshu, is that an increase in token value leads to more adoption, and more adoption leads to increased token value; it all feeds into itself.
Secondly, there is a dynamic aspect, which is the inflation data. AssetMantle’s team have committed to this particular project for the last four years, and for the next 20 years to come as well. By that time, they expect the fees on top of the chain to be enough to support the validators and POS consensus. Initially, the inflation is set to 75% and believed to be halved every two years. Tokens are not with users who initially held majority, but with users who are using it for a more equitable distribution; people who are holding the token are the ones that become the recipients and the people who are trying to run the token or trying to exit the token are the ones who will never become bigger holders of the token.
Thoughts on the genesis creators that were selected?
Positioned more on the technical end of onboarding creators, Deepanshu admitted that he isn’t one to understand or curate art but that his business team have designed a mechanism to onboard genesis creators. Their vision is to onboard creators who have never participated on Web3; or who have never created NFTs before.
Currently, distribution channels are not well built for creators and web changes enable them to take ownership of their distribution and royalties.
Secondly, AssetMantle was not expecting to onboard huge use-cases that would just overtake the chain; if the overall token value is not equal to the NFT on top of it, then there is always a chance for a hacker failure. This is a place to which AssetMantle is slowly growing (onboarding bigger and bigger use-cases).
One piece of advice for new NFT investors?
Deepanshu shares that new NFT investors should consider the value of NFTs before they decide to purchase them. The following aspects should be considered: rarity, who created it, and how much of it is on chain versus on the web (if it’s on chain, it’s guaranteed to stay forever).
Want To Follow or Learn More About What AssetMantle Is Working On?
AssetMantle on Staking Rewards: stakingrewards.com/earn/asset-mantle
Deepanshu Tripathi’s Twitter Account: @deepanshutr
AssetMantle’s Twitter Account: @AssetMantle
AssetMantle’s Website: assetmantle.one