Shingo Lavine is the Founder and CEO of Ethos, a leading crypto technology company. Ethos is Shingo's brainchild and under his direction Ethos has brought two world-class products to the market, the Ethos Universal Wallet and Ethos Bedrock. While only 20, Shingo is a globally recognized expert and thought leader in cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies.
Keep reading to learn more about Shingo's vision for the Voyager x Ethos partnership and his thoughts on the future of finance.
Voyager: Tell us about when you first decided to invest in crypto.
Shingo: It was several years ago when I first became enamored with the space. I come from a computer science background so the technology drew me in, but the intersection between what was happening at the protocol level with what was happening socially and economically was too fascinating for me to ignore. I read everything I could find about it and decided that it was worth putting some money in.
How did Ethos come to be? What was your lightbulb moment?
Ethos started when my aunt came to me and asked me how to buy Ethereum. This was back when ETH was just a few dollars. She found it extremely difficult to navigate the purchasing and wallet creation process and eventually gave up. It was at this moment that I realized that her experience was likely one that many other people had which was holding crypto back from becoming the world-changing monetary revolution that it is. There needed to be a company that was making crypto open, safe and fair for everyone.
You started Ethos at 19, the same age that Zuckerberg started Facebook. What’s it like being a CEO when most of your friends haven’t even started their careers yet?
I at least have Zuckerberg to thank for making it a little more “normal” for 19-year-olds to start companies! My friends are very supportive and quite a few even helped with a lot of the work on the UI/UX and community management side early on. Starting a company like this is much more of a calling than it is a career path and building Ethos was something that I believe is necessary for the crypto space.
Ethos has become one of the most trusted wallets in the industry. What’s the secret sauce to building a successful company in the crypto space?
Transparency, trust, and grit. People in the crypto space expect a much higher level of transparency than in the traditional space but are also very appreciative of constant communication. For an industry that sometimes calls itself “trustless,” there is a lot of trust building that needs to happen in order for people to use your product. Lastly, grit is important to work through all the issues that are going to come up and is often the difference between successful and unsuccessful teams in early-stage companies.
Some of the noobs have heard a lot about “hot wallets,” “cold storage,” but are afraid to ask the differences. Can you give an expert 101 explanation on each and where Ethos falls?
“Hot wallets” refer to wallets that are always online while “cold storage” refers to funds which are kept completely offline. A good example of a hot wallet is an exchange wallet, while a good example of a cold wallet is a private key written on a piece of paper.
Ethos falls somewhere in between those two as the keys aren’t “always online” like they would be with an exchange account, but they are held on the device. Ethos provides users with their private keys in the wallet creation process which they write down and at the point, store in “cold storage.” You could even delete the keys off of the mobile app if you don’t want them accessible to the device at all. We believe that mobile self-custody is the future of how people are going to spend and transact in the crypto revolution.
What about the Voyager x Ethos partnership excites you the most?
Voyager and Ethos are going to be tackling some big problems that have existed in the crypto space for quite some time which would be difficult for either organization to tackle on their own. In particular, we will be solving for liquidity and custody in a way that nobody else has. The benefits will be felt by consumers through lower fees, liquid custody, dynamic token functionality and a whole lot more!
How does Ethos bring more security to traders with Voyager?
Ethos is going to be building a custody solution on Ethos Bedrock that solves what we call the “custody trifecta” of speed, liquidity, and security. Oftentimes other custody solutions sacrifice security for speed and liquidity or speed and liquidity in favor of security. Bedrock Custody will be blending hot and cold storage by decentralizing key storage in a way that will provide consumers with access to funds when they need it with extremely high-security standards.
When talking about our partnership you coined the phrase “custody trifecta.” Can you explain what this means?
This refers to having to choose between speed, liquidity, and security. Speed refers to how quickly you can access your funds, liquidity refers to how much of your funds are available at a given time and security refers to how safe your funds are. Other custody solutions often prioritize security over speed and liquidity by keeping 98% of their funds in cold storage, but if more than 2% of the funds are moving in a given day then some people are denied access which has sometimes happened!
Ethos will be bringing to market Bedrock Custody in a way that it doesn’t sacrifice speed or liquidity for the sake of security while at the same time not sacrificing an ounce of security for speed or liquidity. You’ll always have access to your funds when you need them.
How will Ethos bedrock integrate with Voyager?
Ethos will be integrating Bedrock Custody, an application built on top of the Ethos Bedrock APIs, directly into Voyager, allowing consumers to deposit and withdrawal crypto. The Voyager trade execution engine will also be made accessible to the Ethos community with a wealth of functionality within the platform for the ETHOS token.
You called Ethos and Voyager a “match made in heaven.” We agree, by the way! What are some of the synergies between our two companies?
Custody and Liquidity go together very naturally. Ethos solves for custody with Bedrock while Voyager solves for Liquidity with the smart order router. Together the two solutions can enable a lot of new functionality and unlock a lot of institutional offerings by having the best-in-class solution on both sides.
What about the Voyager app is different or exciting to you?
I’ve already gotten a sneak peek at it and it looks amazing! I think what Voyager is building is going to solve a lot of open problems in the crypto space. A commission-free, easy-to-use trading platform is desperately needed and the Voyager team’s deep experience in building consumer-centric apps comes out.
What does the future of finance look like to you?
I see a whole new set of applications and products built on the concept of “programmable money” secured by decentralized cryptographic protocols. Tokenized securities, self-sovereign identity, cross-market liquidity, decentralized governance… the list goes on and on! We are at an exciting junction in technology where we know there is something revolutionary going on, but can only imagine a fraction of what is possible.
What I do know is that liquidity in the crypto space will be akin to the “HTTP” or “DNS” of the internet. It is the foundational economic protocol for the future of money and it hasn’t been fully and properly solved. Voyager and Ethos are laying the groundwork for a whole new financial paradigm.
We are at an exciting junction in technology where we know there is something revolutionary going on, but can only imagine a fraction of what is possible.
What are the biggest obstacles the crypto market has to overcome to reach mass adoption?
I think the major issues in the crypto space are Lack of Liquidity, High Fees, Inaccessibility, Too Dangerous and Poor Customer Service. Crypto markets need to become more liquid, at low cost, in a way that is accessible and secure with proper customer service. Nothing in the industry right now delivers on this. Mass adoption will come when these issues are solved.
What do you wish more people knew about crypto? Which crypto myths do you want to bust?
Crypto is not a tool for drug dealers and criminals, but rather a technological revolution similar to the introduction of the internet. There is so much potential that can be unlocked by crypto and blockchain technology that people have only begun to scratch the surface of the capability for social impact on a global scale. It is an exciting industry that needs guidance and infrastructure which is what we’re here for.