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Web3 Galaxy Brain

Decent with CTO Will Kantaros

25 July 2023


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Nicholas: Welcome to Web3 Galaxy Brain. My name is Nicholas. Each week I sit down with some of the brightest people building Web3 to talk about what they're working on right now. My guest today is Decent co-founder and CTO Will Cantaros. Decent is an NFT service provider that has helped over a thousand creators deploy NFT projects to Polygon and other EVMs. According to Will, hundreds of thousands of collectors have minted over 6 million NFTs on Decent's contracts. Their new product, The Box, is a web checkout SDK that lets users pay for mints and other transactions on one chain with assets held on another. On this episode, Will and I discuss Decent's evolution from an NFT dev studio into an NFT infrastructure provider, their shifting focus to cross-chain interactions, and the infrastructure choices they're making to enable cross-chain minting. It was good to get to know Will and hear how they're approaching cross-chain transaction user experience design, which is only becoming more important by the day. I hope you enjoy the show. As always, this show is provided for entertainment and education purposes only and does not constitute financial advice or any form of endorsement or suggestion. Crypto is risky and you alone are responsible for doing your research and making your own decisions. Hey Will, how's it going?

Will Kantaros: Hey, what's going on?

Nicholas: Not much. Welcome. Thanks for coming through to talk about Decent today, this morning.

Will Kantaros: Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it. I'm actually in Paris right now for ETHCC.

Nicholas: Oh, not the morning.

Will Kantaros: Currently the afternoon.

Nicholas: How's ETHCC going?

Will Kantaros: It's good. It's good. I got in yesterday. There was a handful of people looking to meet up with and events and such.

Nicholas: Awesome. I heard the energy is electric this year.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, no, it's simply been fun so far. Yeah, I've really enjoyed just getting to meet up with a lot of people in person. Yeah, a lot of Twitter DMs becoming real world interactions, which is always nice to have.

Nicholas: That's great. Are you mostly meeting up with NFT artists, infrastructure kind of people? Who are you excited to meet? What kind of teams?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, great question. I would say probably a handful of sort of all the above. Really a lot of people on the infrastructure side, I guess. in particular, given the nature we're doing is moving more and more into payments and infra. So working with a lot of different sort of like crushing development teams and the like. But yeah, really all the above.

Nicholas: Awesome. So your CTO is your official title at Decent. Is that right?

Will Kantaros: Yep, that's right. So I was the co-founder of Decent along with Will and Charlie. But I have a technical background. So responsible for a lot of the coding and development within Decent internally. By proxy to that, I guess I'm the CTO.

Nicholas: Yeah, so Decent. So well, okay, tell me a little bit about your background first. What were you doing before? Were you in college with them as well before?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, yeah. So I was at Brown studying math, computer science, economics. Definitely had more of a background on the engineering side. Did a handful of tech internships, sort of the standard kind of track. Was at MongoDB, Facebook, and Coinbase. And I think Coinbase really had the opportunity to work a lot more with the DeFi side of things and really dive into crypto. Really really enjoyed it and enjoyed kind of what I was able to work on there. And at the same time was talking closely with Will and Charlie, looking to spin up Decent sort of from the ground up. I was really excited about the potential of one, working with them and then two, just opportunities to kind of be building my own thing and then really just working more closely in the crypto space. So ended up going through Y Combinator for that back in winter 22. And I've been doing Decent ever since.

Nicholas: Decent the company, not quality of life.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, exactly.

Nicholas: That must come up a lot. So you mentioned that you're meeting with a bunch of infrastructure people given the way the business has been going. Maybe could you just, for people who aren't as familiar with Decent, maybe they just heard about the box, but they don't really know the history. I know you started with working with a lot of artists, right? Doing like custom contracts, helping them get online, on chain. Maybe can you give us a little bit of sense of the trajectory of Decent from the start to where we are today?

Will Kantaros: Absolutely. Yeah. We'd love to do so. So Decent has really evolved quite a lot since our inception. Would say back in the day, we definitely had a primary focus on trying to kickstart artists' introduction into Web3 and crypto. Primarily building out custom min pages and NFT pages for artists, primarily in the music space. And then as we grew, we realized that a lot of people really enjoyed the contracts that we were building and liked the product we were offering. So we actually ended up expanding it to create one-click NFT deployments on the Decent site, allowing users to basically leverage any of the existing contracts and interfaces that we had on our website. And from that, we have seen really quite a lot of different users use Decent to deploy their own contracts and really take advantage of the really emerging and vibrant ecosystems and communities within crypto.

Nicholas: You started off making the contracts and then folks came around or you found some people who were looking for help building contracts, you built for them and then generalized?

Will Kantaros: The latter. So we were building for like a small subsector folks looking to sort of create their own NFT deployments. And then from there, I realized that it used to be useful to a lot more people. So I ended up kind of generalizing that in a way that allows anyone to go up and spin a contract in as little as like 30 seconds.

Nicholas: Kind of a parallel path to Manifold or I don't know if Third Web started that way, but these kind of started work with individuals and then become more infrastructure plays over time.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, yeah. So definitely very, very similar there. I think one of the unique things that I think we were able to offer was access to L2 ecosystems very, very early on. So letting users deploy their contracts to not only Ethereum, but also to Polyon, Arbitrum, Optimism. And we actually saw like quite a lot of growth and usage in particular on those L2s. I think to date we've had over 6 million NFTs deployed and vented through Decent with like hundreds of thousands of different actual unique addresses. Through that, the overwhelming majority of all of them came across L2s. And we really began to see this fairly interesting problem beginning to arise where the communities that were minting and deploying to Optimism were very much not the communities minting and deploying to Arbitrum or similarly to Polyon. And we were looking for a way to actually sort of like solve some of those pain points and actually like increase the top of funnel for all of these artists as well as making the interaction and purchasing flow as easy as possible.

Nicholas: So you were saying that your customers were like limited by the number of people who were on a specific chain?

Will Kantaros: Yeah. Okay. So yeah. So if you kind of think about the general like transaction flow for a user, say a user wants to support an artist or support some NFT collection. They go to the site, maybe they have funds on their Metamask in Ethereum, maybe they don't. And if they don't, they have to then, you know, send assets to their wallet through something like Coinbase. And then once they get to like Ethereum, they see that the collection is on a chain like Arbitrum. They would then have to bridge said token to Arbitrum. And then theoretically, if you're paying with like USDC or some other ERC-20, you then have to go to like Uniswap or some other DEX and actually swap those tokens. So then end up like finally being able to purchase the thing that you came to like sign off to buy in the first place. And that entire process we thought was like very broken and very fragmented. And that was really the inception for the box, which has been sort of the primary offering of Decent for the last few months.

Nicholas: I just had a couple questions before we get to the box.

Will Kantaros: Yeah.

Nicholas: Do you have a sense of like? how many projects have launched using your tools overall?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. So the number of different creators are I think roughly around 1000 that use our platform. You know, in terms of total, Mintz has been close to 6 million. And then users that have actually collected those products have been in the hundreds of thousands. So really quite substantial volume, actually. And I think that's something quite exciting to see. Yeah.

Nicholas: That's crazy. Do you know what the trading volume is on those collections?

Will Kantaros: So it's interesting. you asked that. I would say the trading volume of those collections is certainly lower. I think a lot of times, the value props like creators will end up seeing for launching NFT collections. While at first may seem like strictly for monetary value, we've actually seen like quite a lot of interest and excitement around sort of like non-financial aspects of this as well. Primarily, I guess, a good example of that would be we did a release with Adam Levy back in the day, where users had to first follow him on Lens before they were able to mint from his collection. And in doing so, he was able to really build out like this entire social graph for himself on Lens, where I think he had over like 20,000 mints on that individual collection. And that sort of catapulted him from being fairly like another sort of regular person on Lens to becoming really quite influential on the Lens ecosystem. So that was an example there of sort of, I guess, the non-financial value aspects.

Nicholas: The host of the mint podcast for people who don't know.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, exactly. Another example was an artist that did something similar where every user had to like input their email before they were able to mint. And that allowed him to reach like tens of thousands of users just like that from his sub stack basically. And that again was able to provide just like very, very interesting and exciting social graphs, I guess, through the process of minting NFTs.

Nicholas: Super cool. Yeah. So what you're saying is basically, it's not strictly about maybe the use case that people have honed in on for the decent tools, at least for launching contracts, it's more about building communities and less about like secondary volume measurements.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, I think I would say so. And I think that's probably fairly similar to the case across the board with a lot of different NFT collections. I would say other than like the really the pure like blue chip NFTs, the majority of these sort of like open edition contracts, I think there's a lot more value sort of in the minting than in the secondary sales.

Will Kantaros: So yeah, great that you asked. I think up until around February 2023, the overwhelming majority of NFTs minted on Decent was on Polygon. And then since then, those numbers have actually really exploded on Optimism as well. And Optimism has become like the overwhelmingly dominant, I guess, like network with which NFTs have been deployed on. And I think it's like quite interesting to sort of see like different communities and people kind of like rally around different chains there. But I also think like very much it is definitely still like quite early days in L2 minting. And I think like people are definitely currently exploring different opportunities and options there. So, yeah.

Nicholas: I know in the past, I listened to I think it was Charlie talking about like rentable NFTs and the wrapped products. Were those successful and for what kind of applications?

Will Kantaros: So rentable NFTs was a product that I think we were particularly excited about, essentially allowing users to like create these NFT contracts and actually like rent out the rights for a user to use these contracts sort of in the future. I think like you can see like a fairly sizable amount of use cases for products like that. Some examples of that would be something along the lines of, suppose I'm a user that has some Ape or some other NFT contract like that and I want to allow... And there's some like allow listed token gated like in-person party that I will not be able to attend. It would like make a lot of sense to like lower the barriers to entry for other people in space to actually like rent that NFT and actually go and sort of like capture the utility that that NFT is able to create. And then sort of like see like those types of markets kind of begin to grow.

Nicholas: So it's like temporary ownership of something.

Will Kantaros: Exactly. Yeah.

Nicholas: Maybe it's too early in the market for it though.

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So it's interesting. There's really a lot of different like requirements for those types of products to like, I guess fully see like true growth. Some of those really just kind of come down from like social conventions, whereas like different products in the space would have to go from sort of checking to see like who the actual owner is of the NFT to seeing who the holder is at that time. And it's like some very, very slight nuance but like way with which you're able to sort of like check and see like who's in possession of said NFT is like slightly different than seeing like who the address is that like technically owns it on the smart contract itself. And I think like until...

Nicholas: Did your rental contracts change who the owner was or they changed some... there was an additional function that would say who the temporary owner was?

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So I think under the rentable EIP that we were using, there was an additional field in place that changed who that holder was but not who the actual owner was. As is the case for most sort of like rentable implementations. And I think like there's been... it's sort of one of those like kind of funny things where like the more something sort of I guess continues to grow in early days, the more different standards people end up making. And it's like, you know, what's that bit where it's like, oh, there are like 19 standards in this space and like none of them actually work together. Let's make a 20th standard that'll like, you know, put them all together. So I think like, you know, that definitely has played a part in, I guess, why potentially we have not necessarily seen that...

Nicholas: Sure, the EIP has not...

Will Kantaros: ...larger growth in that space.

Nicholas: ...real traction.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, yeah. But admittedly, as well, I think our focus like very much shifted towards the box as well roughly around the same time. And because of that, like, it ended up sort of like playing a bit of a second fiddle to box development.

Nicholas: We'll jump to the box in a second. But I wanted to ask about the wrapped staking contracts also before we jump off.

Will Kantaros: Okay, absolutely.

Nicholas: So those basically let you like issue ERC-20s to people who stake in NFT. So they let you wrap any NFT contract for enabling the staking function. Is that right?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So suppose I'm in a collection and I want to like sort of provide some like additional value to my users and the actual holders of those NFTs. I think like we ended up seeing a fair amount of traction with that for artists that had their own social tokens and wanted a way to like fairly distribute those social tokens to their like social graph. And the best way to do that, they thought was through using our like stake NFTs that allow users to mint and trade these NFTs. And then for the time that they actually hold on to those NFTs, they're able to receive rewards based on, you know, how long they've been actually holding those relative to the size of the underlying ERC-20 in the pool.

Nicholas: Cool. Got it. But now, Focus has switched to the box that you found that like the most, the biggest unlock for your users and I guess maybe for the broader ecosystem would be enabling this cross-chain liquidity for NFT minting.

Will Kantaros: Yeah. Yeah.

Nicholas: Is it really dedicated to like? the way I've been sort of characterizing it is it's like Stripe checkout for cross-chain NFT minting. Is that a fair summary?

Will Kantaros: I would say it's a fair summary. I think one thing that perhaps we have not really potentially sought after in the market currently but exists in the underlying architecture is it really is one click checkout for any on-chain transaction. I guess like agnostic whether or not it's like NFT purchases or not. The value there is essentially like, suppose I'm a user that I want to trade some like nonsense coin on some like random chain. There's really like a ton of steps that need to be done before you can actually do said trade such as like bridging, swapping, getting the liquidity, etc. And being able to really just like capture as a DApp the user at their point of liquidity, whether that's on the chain that the DApp is on or with the required token that the DApp requires, no longer actually becomes a pain point for users. One thing we found when we're doing some internal customer service was that like over 80% of users, if they go to either an NFT website or any other sort of crypto website and they don't have the tokens that they need on that required chain, they will end up just not actually like executing the transaction or purchasing the good. So trying to remove like all those unnecessary steps to really create a single click checkout experience, we see it's like a pretty massive value unlock in the space.

Nicholas: Yeah, definitely. So it's so OK. So the first thing to acknowledge is that it's not just for NFT minting, it's for any arbitrary transaction. And I guess it's easy for developers to front end devs to set up a correspondence to a particular function calling any old contract on any chain.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, exactly. So yeah.

Nicholas: No, go for it.

Will Kantaros: I was going to say, yeah, so currently what it is, is just like an npm package you can install. And then all you have to do is add in like three or four lines of code that will auto generate this like really quite pretty front end UI. that sort of like would take the place of wherever your purchase flow would currently exist on a DApp. And all you need to pass in is just like the function call itself. And then we'll sort of route on the back end like where that liquidity is coming from, from the user's standpoint.

Nicholas: Very cool. So which chains do you support right now?

Will Kantaros: So currently we're supporting Ethereum, Optimism, Polygon and Arbitrum with plans to support quite a lot of additional chains actually in the upcoming few weeks. So stay tuned on that. But I think we should, you know, we're excited to have over 30 different chains supported, I guess, in the next quarter.

Nicholas: Wow. Is it challenging to support a new chain or the architecture is so similar that it's actually pretty easy once you have the first one set up?

Will Kantaros: 100%. So it's a little bit of both. I think for most EVM chains, it's fairly easy to actually just add new ones in. Adding support for Solana or other non-EVM chains gets like slightly harder. But we are currently working with a handful of different bridge suppliers to actually like make that process really quite easy. And just sort of aggregating between those bridges, like the cheapest routes at the fastest sort of times for bridging and using those to actually go about like passing in from chain A to chain B.

Nicholas: Yeah. So I want to talk about the infrastructure that you're using. But before that, just on the UX side, I noticed that when you're purchasing, I think the demo on the Box site is on Arbitrum NFT and then it's sourcing liquidity from whichever of the connected wallets, assets across the chains that you mentioned. If you go from one of the L2s, it's like an optimal route and it can be minted immediately versus like Polygon takes 20 minutes or so to confirm. Maybe could you explain a little bit why that's the case and if that's true for all other L2s or which ones have this kind of instant finality feeling?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. So the reason for the kind of like it's like delayed finality with Polygon in particular is currently what we're currently using is one of the bridges that we're using for Polygon, it like waits for 512 block confirmations for the transaction to actually get bridged to the other side. So that is why I guess at the current state of the Box, there is that sort of like wait there. We are actually hoping to change that basically by the end of the day today to make that Polygon billing be instantaneous as well.

Nicholas: So you don't have to worry about reorgs anymore?

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So we essentially are working with a handful of different bridges and they sort of have different sort of, I guess, assessments of finality risk that they're willing to assume. And we end up kind of like passing that off to them to actually go about how our bridges look. So for example, for this Polygon one, we're actually pretty excited to be working closely with the Axelon and Squid teams to sort of make that process be as quickly as like 20 seconds. So back to that sort of like near instant feeling of just clicking a button and having your transaction go through.

Nicholas: Super cool. I was reading the docs and you're using Layer0 and Stargate to do the cross-chain bridging. How are you using each of them and what do they each supply to you?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. So Layer0 is the underlying bridge message protocol and Stargate is sort of the token dex on top of that that allows you to swap from token A on chain A to token B on chain B. So I guess we're primarily interacting directly with Stargate. But Stargate is sort of like the underlying tech and Stargate is actually sort of Layer0. So that's sort of, I guess, how you can view it. We're sort of set at the top of the stack, Stargate kind of in the middle and Layer0 at the bottom. But I think we are quite excited to begin to announce and launch these additional bridge networks as well so that we can continue to get faster execution times for users as well as better liquidity routes for users as well.

Nicholas: So you'll just be picking between the options that you have plugged in, whichever gives the fastest route to purchase it. to finality on the source ETH chain or whatever asset is being spent in order to issue the NFT on the resulting chain?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. So it's actually quite an interesting problem to be solving on our end. Whereas if you're a user looking exclusively just to bridge tokens from chain A to chain B, you probably care the most about the rate that you're getting for that token on different chains. But if you're kind of a front-end component looking for instantaneous payments or that instantaneous payment feel, you end up having to weigh the differences between best routes as well as fastest finality times as well there. And so we actually sort of weigh both of those inputs slightly differently and then sort of like through that, we'll fetch whatever bridge we find is best for meeting both of those goals for users. And we'll sort of route through that instead.

Nicholas: Got it. I know the docs also mentioned this Delta Bridge algorithm. that is what sort of I guess the Stargate feature that helps with this instant finality determination. Do you know much about that? or is there any information you can share about the algorithms that they're using to decide whether or not the, like how are they able to establish whether or not the funds have actually been transferred on the source chain? I guess that's my real question.

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. So admittedly, I'm not like a silly, like incredibly, incredibly knowledgeable on the Delta Bridge algorithm. I have like scanned through their web here before. But if I recall, I think a lot of the sort of tools they're using there is I guess passing these multi-sig relayers across these different chains in order to actually sort of like solve problems around scalability, security and like liquidity depths. But yeah, admittedly, I think I'm definitely not necessarily as in the weeds as the Stargate and Layer0 team should be for some of those types of things.

Nicholas: So sure, I'll have to get them on someday. So do you worry about the risk assessment of like integrating new bridges, cross-chain bridges and then being able to offer quicker finality? I guess the risk is that they say that something is confirmed on the source payment chain and then the NFT is issued on the resulting chain. But ultimately, the funds don't make it.

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So great question there. And definitely something we thought about like quite a lot. Uniswap actually in February launched a sort of like their bridge assessment analysis and the bridges that they actually really, really supported. And I guess we're able to confidently discuss, confidently confirm that they're quite secure in this actually happening. And I guess sort of finality being assured is along Wormhole and Axelar. And I think we're quite excited to sort of be integrating them in the upcoming weeks and sort of like using those two as well to ensure like one, like the highest level of trust amongst us and our users. And sort of between those also trying to reach the highest breadth of total users amongst different chains sort of on our platform.

Nicholas: That's cool. So if people want to see that, that's the bridge assessment report from the Uniswap Foundation. Very cool. I just found this on Notion. So I can call any contracts with this or any function on any contract with this. I guess, do you see any applications that make particular sense beyond the NFT minting? Or I guess maybe Stargate and these other Wormhole, Axelar, maybe they will ultimately have SDKs for doing kind of arbitrary transactions. And so the box would be more focused on specifically minting. or how do you see it playing out?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100 percent. So I guess a few things there. One, I might want to flag that for our NFT purchase flow through the box itself. Not only do we provide support for minting, but we also aggregate the optimal price for both minting and secondary sales. So rather than when a mint sells out, you need to go to OpenSea or Blur or somewhere else to actually like end up purchasing that asset instead. If a NFT market wanted to implement the box directly into their site, they would actually be able to just fetch the cheapest routes, both from primary and secondary sales in the same place. But it's actually a value unlock that we find similarly helpful for the same reason why having to go to a bridge or a DEX beforehand to actually make a purchase of an asset becomes quite tiresome. Similarly, going to a website, finding an NFT that you like, seeing that it's sold out, having to go on Uniswap, search for that contract, sifting through the scam contracts that are also being deployed under the same name. It becomes quite a process. And so actually aggregating primary and secondary sales into the same button is quite helpful. I think that's something that we're particularly excited about, I guess, in the NFT space. With respect to the larger crypto space as a whole and how we sort of plan on fitting in there, I guess kind of end-state goal would be just to be like the default crypto payment modal across chains and really across transactions. So ideally, every transaction happening on a crypto front end would be through the box. And we're definitely making significant strides to make that a reality. I think outside of the NFT space, there's fairly interesting use cases, I guess, with DeFi platforms as well. A lot of different DeFi platforms, I guess, for example, have like, you know, per contracts or different derivatives platforms across chains. Or I guess, yeah, like there are derivatives and perps platforms for different chains. And I think like sort of being able to aggregate liquidity from both like paying with something like Solana or Optimism or Polygon for a transaction that will ultimately happen on Arbitrum is just like increasing that top of funnel by like, you know, a very sizable amount. And I think that's something that we're really quite excited to sort of explore further over these next couple of months.

Nicholas: Super cool. I noticed that the box doesn't support free NFTs across chain. Why is that?

Will Kantaros: Would you mind elaborating that a little bit further?

Nicholas: Yeah. From the docs, my impression was that the like a free to claim on a cross chain is not supported by the box. But maybe that's changed and maybe the docs are just out of date.

Will Kantaros: No, 100 percent. Yeah. Appreciate you flagging that. So, yeah, that's quite interesting. I think like that has to do with some of the sort of the previous, I guess, architecture choices that we made

Nicholas: where like

Will Kantaros: to actually execute some transactions from chain A to chain B, you need to pass some like microscopic amount of actual like, you know, cash actually to actually do that. So for if you were trying to claim something with the box from Arbitrum on Optimism, you have to pass in some like dust amount of ETH to actually make that happen. But that is something that like, you know, obviously is not the ideal UX for a user. And that's something that we've actually changed. So that will also be up like very, very soon there. With that being said, free to claim purchases still very much exist if you're paying on the native chain. So I have some free to claim transaction on Optimism and I can just click on that same thing from Optimism, actually go and do that for you. So that requires like no actual cash there. So that process very much does exist.

Nicholas: Basically, the box will handle same chain payments. Yeah. Also, obviously. Okay. The idea is, I presume, to, you know, remove the friction so that people don't have to worry so much about it. If they don't happen to have ETH or whatever token on the, you know, on the chain in which the NFT is being minted, they can get it somewhere else. But if they have it on the same chain, might as well. So free to claim works on same chain. And then you have the secondary stuff. I'm curious, where are you sourcing the liquidity for the secondary purchases if it switches into that mode once the mint is complete?

Will Kantaros: 100%. Yeah. So we actually are quite close with the team over at Reservoir. And they have like a fairly extensive API and docs there that allow you to fairly easily dispatch the best quotes from different marketplaces, you know, on different networks. So in our back end, you know, when we're fetching for the lowest, like, asks on secondaries, as well as like the cheapest prices for primary sales, we basically just use Reservoir there to actually get the cheapest secondary prices. And then also just use like the mint price as well, compare the two, get the best price for a user. And the user ends up just clicking a button to get the best route for said NFT. Very nice.

Nicholas: If people are curious, Reservoir, Peter, co-founder of Reservoir, was on the show two weeks ago. So you can learn more about that on a recent episode.

Will Kantaros: Saw that. That was great.

Nicholas: Yeah. Awesome. Thanks. The structure of the box contracts is a proxy factory. I was curious if you could walk me through a little bit what the contracts are. Is this something that anybody using the tool needs to deploy? or is there like a canonical contract that everyone using the boxes is integrating with?

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So great question there. The way that the box is set up is like the contracts have been deployed across the chains that we are currently supporting. And then we actually have an API call for a user where I guess if they're not integrating with the front end directly, with our NPM plugin front end directly, they can actually make a call to the API and that API will respond to them with the transaction data necessary for them to plug into either your VM and actually make that call on their end. So there is ideally no contract interaction actually necessary for a user just because the params needed end up getting slightly hairy. You have to sort of fetch the best paths from swaps on the same chain as well as the best routes or bridges from chain A to chain B. And then compiling a call to some bytecode to actually execute a transaction on the destination chain. So that gets like quite hairy to actually sort of like do yourself. So we build out these APIs to make that process like really quite seamless for a user. Really all they need to know is like I have a token and that token is on chain A. I need this amount of token on chain B to execute this function, press the button and then we'll return the function. call for them to actually execute said transaction.

Nicholas: Can you describe a little bit what the contract back end architecture is really like? How do you get it done for people just using the JavaScript SDK?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. So the back end on our side is really it's like a collection of multi calls where user from. so if if I'm a user with I guess like token A on chain A and I need to get to token B and an amount of token B on chain B, we kind of like work backwards from that final amount to where the user is starting from where we fetch the optimal route on something like DEX for token basically for like that destination token to the bridge token needed. And then from that bridge token, we then swap that basically do that route from bridge token on chain B to bridge token on chain A. And then we do that swap again for whatever DEX is needed to get the initial token for the user there. So it's a collection of like fairly simple math. You have to call like several times in a row to actually get the starting amount needed. And then from there, like the user's press the call button and that will essentially like kick off the process on chain A for that function actually go through and then that gets passed through a bridge. And then the message on that bridge gets sent to the contract on the other side. And then after like reading sort of the call data there and decoding that, we're able to do the swaps needed to get to the final, I guess, like execution of whatever sort of like arbitrary calls being made on the back end on the second second chain.

Nicholas: So from the perspective of the person minting, they send you a token directly. They don't need. if it's the native coin of the chain, they can just send it. And even if it's an ERC20, they can just send it. or are they signing an approval in advance?

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So for ERC20, you have to sign an approval in advance. Seems like there's kind of no way around that sort of for the short term. But for, I guess, other than just sort of like approving just a higher amount than what you need for that single transaction. But if you're sending just like the native chain for that token, all you have to do is send that token, send that native value.

Nicholas: In the path where it's a native coin, basically the Decent and Stargate contracts are like custodians of it during the process of communicating the data cross chain. But actually, I'm kind of curious. I don't really know why you have to do the approval if ultimately in the other in the native coin case, if the Stargate and Box contracts are running all these multi-calls and executing, really custodying the funds during the process of cross-chain execution. I'm curious why it's even necessary to do the approval on the ERC20s and why I can't just send the ERC20 to your contract anyway, which is doing all the work.

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So great question there. I think it's definitely been the convention for a lot of contracts that interact with ERC20s. Do more of like a pull and then execute rather than like the user pushing and then executing. So because of that, the two-click approach where you're both signing an approval and then calling our call, which will then sort of like take the funds from your wallet two hours and then go about doing that execution flow is generally speaking, just kind of the standard there. So that's kind of how we go about doing that. It ends up sort of being necessary when you think about like, I guess, like who the signer is at any different point in time. Yeah.

Nicholas: Because the multi-call needs to move funds on behalf of a person. So it needs to have approval for multiple steps of moving tokens. I wonder if you could simplify it to just passing the tokens to the multi-call. I guess you would still need a, it would have to be a transaction in which you send ERC20s to the box and also execute the cross-chain transaction. It's not just a transfer of ERC20s. Or if it was, the box would have to have some kind of, actually, I guess there is no such thing as on ERC20 received, but like some kind of hook that or some function that would accept the tokens, but maybe that's not possible with the transfer as ERC20 is written.

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So I mean, that's something we've definitely thought about before. And I think we're happy to kind of like look back on and think through some other alternatives as well. But I think sort of under like existing architecture, I guess like signature for an allowance and then sort of the transfer from is the kind of like it's like, you know, like us and auditors are content with. So yeah.

Nicholas: I guess. Do you have any hopes for account abstraction, maybe simplifying that into just one transaction. or do you think the box has any intersection with account abstraction?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. I mean, I think the box and the kind of traction actually sort of like aligned quite well. Like IE, like having like, you know, different users sort of like passing in gas for the user themselves, as well as sort of like this mitigation of, you know, like superfluous signatures from both like the user and the, like, I guess like the box contract, like a contract, like obviously helps like solve some of those points. I think one thing that like we were quite excited about is there are definitely like a lot of plans for a lot of the functionality that we're describing kind of in like the quote unquote, Ethereum roadmap of the future. But the nice thing about the box architecture currently is that it really just kind of works with everything that sort of exists in crypto today. Because of that, I think like one that helps us really get like a jumpstart in sort of, you know, business development conversations and like onboarding users. And we basically see like, as some of these sort of like EIPs end up getting like passed and like, you know, approved, like, it was sort of like, it makes sense for us also sort of continue to be kind of so definitely excited for kind of traction. Cool.

Nicholas: And I think also like, do you support credit cards or any kind of custodial or custodial wallet solution for people who don't have MetaMask or Rainbow? What have you?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, so great question there. As of now, we currently view ourselves as like, almost a fundamentally different problem than the support of credit cards. With that being said, like in the sort of long term, like we definitely do see a merge of the two and like planets for credit cards in the near short term. But I mean, like, if you think about like, you know, I assume you're a DeFi user and trader of shitcoins across the board. But like, if not, like, I mean, generally speaking, with people that we've talked to, people that, you know, have a MetaMask or have done some sort of like on-chain transaction before, they actually end up being the users that like do not use credit cards. And if that's sort of the audience that we're trying to go after and make that process as easy as possible for them, credit card support ends up becoming like, lower in the priority for things that we're looking to offer. Right.

Nicholas: People who have cross-chain liquidity don't need credit cards support.

Will Kantaros: Yeah. Yeah. So people that are looking to, I guess, maybe do more sort of like nuanced DeFi interactions or like mint NFTs on like Optimism or something like that. Like, you would imagine that people coming to crypto for the first time, credit cards becomes quite valuable. People that want to be using the box, I guess the underlying sort of like use cases are slightly different. So I think just like offering support for some of these like cross-chain payments from native wallets is like quite valuable and something that does not exist currently. And I think we're just excited to kind of be building out in that space. With that being said, definitely credit cards are sort of on the roadmap for the short to midterm future. I think we're excited to kind of like continue to build with credit card, companies out there to make that a reality.

Nicholas: The box charges 0.00044 ETH on Arbitrary Mint Optimism and 0.00077 ETH on Ethereum and 0.81 MATIC on Polygon for transactions. Those are for transactions that are, what does this say, that are not direct mint or secondary purchase. For example, if you're transacting on the chain of the NFT and then in a token, there's no box fee. Yeah. Maybe can you tell me anything about the thinking around the fees?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, absolutely. So our thing around the fees is if a user is trying to do any existing transaction that they could already do without the box in place, it makes absolutely no sense for us to be charging a fee on those. So i.e. if I come to a website with USDC on Optimism and I'm looking to make some contract call that requires USDC on Optimism, that could be implemented already just using Ethers or any existing, I guess, JavaScript library that interacts with crypto. And it makes very little sense for us to be charging a fee on something that already can be done. We do see fees, however, being quite valuable in just having an economically sustainable company. And also, essentially, we can justify our place of fees in those locations, primarily because the user ends up paying almost for the ease of use to actually have their transaction go through as quickly as possible, rather than needing to go to a bridge, do the bridge first, you can go to a DEX, do the swap first, and then call the function. Us providing that as a service to the user is where we can justify adding fees.

Nicholas: I think that's all the questions that I had. Outside of the box, what kind of direction is Decent taking? How are you thinking about the meta project that is Decent?

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So I guess maybe as discussed at the beginning, I think really, again, the end goal for Decent is to be the default payment model for crypto. So really just meeting with as many different staffs and teams in the crypto space right now that are looking to meet users at their point of liquidity is our end goal. So what that means for us is doing a lot of continued conversations with them, as well as continuing to find pain points with our existing users and figuring out the best ways for us to solve those issues for users in a way that sort of perpetuates that continued growth and success with the box. I guess how that plays out. in terms of product, we see that as expanding the number of chains that we're offering from four to 30 plus, improving the UX in a way that makes the quoting and routing of these fees instant, and then the actual transactions of these fees also near instant. And then one thing that we've actually been particularly excited about is looking at how these new chains end up being deployed, in particular, yes, in the optimism ecosystem, as well as other ecosystems in the space. I think a lot of these chains are going to find potential issues with respect to bootstrapping liquidity on those networks. And we see the box actually as a very, very valuable piece of infrastructure in that space where users can quite quickly and quite rapidly begin to actually interact with these new chains and networks, simply by using their existing liquidity on Optimism, Arbitrum, or Ethereum or Solana, or wherever else they're coming from. And I think that's something that we're still sort of early days with figuring out how to, I guess, build out the optimal architecture to support chains as they're being added. But that's definitely a space that we're really quite excited about as well.

Nicholas: So more tooling for checkout and less like one-on-one partnerships with artists, most likely?

Will Kantaros: Yes, most likely. We still very much do have, I guess, a fairly flourishing HQ for artists to deploy contracts and meet with their fans. But we do see ourselves, I guess, in the future, I guess, potentially moving a little bit further down the stack to really just provide ease of use for the artists. One, in deploying their contracts and then two, also in getting users to mint collections through the box as well.

Nicholas: Very cool. Is there anything else that you're looking forward to either at ECC or for the rest of 2023? What's on your mind?

Will Kantaros: Yeah, 100%. I guess one, I've never been to Paris before, so I'm particularly excited for ECC and also getting to explore Paris. That'll be quite fun. Higher level, I think I'm definitely quite excited to see, I guess, a lot of the narrative around Intents continue to shake up. Decent, I think very much fits somewhere, maybe not directly into that mix, but somewhere loosely in the mix. And I think we're excited to continue to build with that in mind. And then in particular, we're very excited to see this influx of new chains being deployed, either through the OP stack like Superchain or things like BASE coming to launch in July and August. And those are definitely quite exciting for us to try to be as impactful as possible in those releases as well.

Nicholas: Extremely cool. Awesome. Will, this has been a great conversation. Is there anything else you wanted to mention before we call it quits for today?

Will Kantaros: No, I think it's been great. I think I've definitely been excited to be able to chat through all these things with you, provide a little more context about the box and what we're doing over here at Decent. And yeah, I really, really appreciate you giving me the platform to spread the message further.

Nicholas: Absolutely. Where can people find you and where can people find Decent?

Will Kantaros: Absolutely. So you can find me on Twitter at Will Canteros. I think I'm tagged in the space. And then Decent as well on Twitter. Also just at Decent XYZ. We have a pretty great creative creation team and content flow coming out of the Decent basically every day. Keeping up to date there on future partnerships and launches either from artists, creators, or networks.

Nicholas: I forgot to ask, how many people are at Decent these days?

Will Kantaros: Yeah. So we actually just hired someone actually at the beginning of this week, or the beginning of last week, who has been fantastic. And that brings the total up to eight full-time employees. That's been really fun. Yeah.

Nicholas: Awesome. Awesome.

Will Kantaros: It's definitely, yeah.

Nicholas: Growth period, early days.

Will Kantaros: Yeah. It's definitely been quite fun to see my role change from being more hands-on in the building to actually having to do a little bit more in the greater architecture and delegation flow to additional devs on our team. It's definitely been interesting to learn about the nuances between the two. And yeah, really, really excited. Can't express that enough.

Nicholas: Awesome. All right, Will, thank you so much for coming through. Thanks to everybody for coming to listen to this special episode recording on a Monday, a rarity for this show. Later this week, on Friday at 5pm, I'll be talking to the founder of ETHscriptions, who's also the founder of Genius, one of the co-founders of Genius, the lyrics site. And yeah, this episode will be coming out next or maybe the week after while I'm on vacation. So Will, thanks so much. This was great.

Will Kantaros: Awesome. Thanks so much, Nicholas. I appreciate it.

Nicholas: Yeah. For sure. Have a great time at ECC.

Will Kantaros: Thank you. Take care.

Nicholas: All right. See you, everybody.

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