Episode 315

Trust Wallet – Building and Growing the Official Binance Wallet

Viktor Radchenko

As the crypto ecosystem continues to grow, wallets and exchanges are quickly evolving to differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. Viktor Radchenko, CEO and founder of Trust Wallet, joins us this week to talk about why he created a noncustodial wallet solution, what makes Trust Wallet unique, and how the acquisition by Binance has allowed his team to focus on a long term vision. Viktor helps us understand what it means to be part of the Binance Ecosystem, and what he believes the future holds for wallets, key storage and custody.

Topics discussed in the episode

  • Viktor’s bio and how he ended up moving from the Ukraine to the US
  • How hacking games got Victor into cryptocurrency
  • What Trust Wallet is and its’ strengths in the wallet landscape
  • What it means for Trust Wallet to be secure, open-source, decentralized, and anonymous
  • What Viktor believes the future holds for wallets and key storage
  • The Binance acquisition of Trust Wallet
  • Trust Wallet’s policy for adding new coins and the criteria they look at

(3:21) Viktor’s Transition from Ping Pong to Computers

(5:06) Coming to the US, from Ukraine

(6:01) Security work and the different types of Hackers

(7:03) Vulnerabilities and Botnets, in 2010

(10:00) From security to coding, and App development

(11:41) Building an app connecting truckers with parking and more, then into logistics.

(16:44) Finding Bitcoin and Crypto ’13-’16

(19:30) Meeting his own need for an open-source mobile ethereum wallet.

(21:41) Trust Wallet, today.

(24:26) Monthly Active Users and Ecosystem Growth.

(26:03) What ‘secure, open source, decentralized and anonymous’ means to Trust Wallet.

(28:16) On interoperability enabling, crypto adoption, and different visions for the future of crypto wallets.

(32:31) Smart Contract wallets.

(34:41) The future of wallets and Key Storage

(38:09) Unbundling of key storage and security from the application layer, DEFI, and the ecosystem.

(40:05) Working with different mobile platforms.

(42:53) What it will take for mobile platforms to change restrictive policies

(46:55) Support for EIPs 721 and 1155, via the Apple store

(47:30) Binance Acquisition of TrustWallet

(50:54) Integration with the Binance Infrastructure

(52:06) The Future of Self-Custody

(54:01) Roadmap for Trust Wallet

(55:53) On storing seed phrases in the cloud

(59:52) The future of Interoperability

(1:00:54) Requirements for listing in Trust Wallet

(1:03:58) Business Models



Sebastien: We’re here with Viktor Radchenko. Victor is the CEO and founder of Trust Wallet. Victor, thanks for joining us today.

Viktor: Hey guys, nice to be here. Thank you.

Sebastien: tell us a bit about your background and how you got into crypto.

Viktor: Oh, it’s a long story. probably split it into phases before crypto and after crypto. I think my history started when I moved to the US, initially… or no, I’ll go back a little bit earlier. I used to play ping pong for quite a long time. I was the best in my state, I would go to different championships and just play ping pong. And then I was doing it for seven or eight years till I was 14. And then I got injured for a different reason because I was doing parkour at the same time. I thought, Okay, I think it’s the time for me to sit at home now and then learn about computers. since then I would spend most of my time doing computers. In the beginning, it would usually be all about gaming, hacking different games and trying to see  how you can game the system. That’s where I got really interested and curious about technology itself.

Viktor: I was trying to dig into how technology works. How do you hack? How do you like, find different ways around it. And this is where I learned about these basic things. And then, when I was in university, I was doing a few things, writing my own community of security folks. And at the same time, I found the vulnerability of the bank. I got hired to the bank while I was in university, just for that reason, because back then infrastructure would be super vulnerable. There would be lots of sequel injections on pretty much any website. That’s back in 2010. And yeah, I was like doing these three things at the same time. And at some point, I got in trouble with, government for doing security things. And there were political reasons as well. At that point, I had to leave my country and then go somewhere else.

Friederike: Your country being the Ukraine, right?

Viktor: Exactly. Yeah. Back then I was in Ukraine, was pretty fun. I lived there for like, almost 18-20 years. Yeah. And then I left my country and moved to the US. I had an opportunity to go to Alaska, first, live in Alaska for about four months at the fisheries factory, and then move to Sacramento. That’s where I basically found my house to live for some time, and then live there eight months illegally until I get my documents here in the US. It was really fun times because sometimes you would go in the street and then, police would stop you and start asking questions about your identification. And at that point, I would be illegal, but I had the ID. I got lucky that I did not get in trouble with that. But at the same time, I was applying for refugee. This is how I got my documents here in the US, but it was a pretty interesting process on how to do that.

Sebastien: That’s a fascinating story. What security things were you doing when you’re working in Ukraine? I mean, I know you. You don’t want to go into much detail, but what can you tell us about the types of things you were up to?

Viktor: Yeah, usually there is a, I would divide it into three different types of security, right. there’s like white hackers, gray hackers, and black hackers. they’re all interconnected, because they usually share the knowledge on different things. Whenever you do research about vulnerabilities and different frameworks, then you could be a white hacker, at the same time you’re going to share that with everyone else. what bad hackers would try to use that information against the developers, they will try to actually upload their shells into older frameworks. This means they get over they will go control over oldest computers on the internet. That’s tricky part because you never know who’s doing black hacking or whites that I think your goal is usually like, how do we improve security overall, because the goal is to find vulnerabilities and then find a way how we can fix it.

Viktor: Back in 2010, it was like a really big situation, because it’s not about just vulnerabilities on the frameworks itself. whenever you go to any website, you can find different sequel injections. But what the worst part was, because all the browsers were vulnerable. If you’re using Windows, then the chances that you will get a virus while going to the website is like 20% or because that’s how vulnerable it was. If five people would go to the website, one of them will get a virus. That’s like a really bad situation. And then when once you get a virus, you basically get hooked into this network of different computers. Usually, hackers would get all your credit card information, any passwords you stored in the local storage, what are they’ll just steal everything you have in a computer, plus, they get to like put different things in the computer. you’ll be part of the botnet, which you will be participating in DDoS attacks and then you will be mining different bitcoins and then that person wouldn’t even know because they just have a virus on it. And the attacker can just run different commands they need.

Sebastien: people using botnets to leverage the people’s computers to do Bitcoin mining back then?

Viktor: It could be anything. back when I was it’s not yet because it was back in 2010 or so. But I think later I would say like people started doing it in probably 12-13, or so. But before that was usually like botnets for those reasons. It depends on what user it is. Because if you have a really fast computer, then you could be part of the botnet. If not, you would be doing something else. hackers usually try to think about, try things out of the box, whatever they need to do. They would run like proxies VPN on their computers for their own purposes. And you can sell that too.

Sebastien: Yeah, is that where you’re where the things you were involved in? Was it? Were you just sort of caught up in something that was seen by the government as nefarious or did you have political motivations or Anything like that?

Viktor: I mean, it’s littered with both, because, if you have some influence because it was running a community of this, right, people want it to get information about the other people. I’m a pro-privacy person. Whenever they told me to give them information about people who are part of my community, I just rejected it. I didn’t want to share any information because it’s private. Yeah. And that’s when you get in trouble.

Sebastien: Okay, that’s when you fly to the US. Okay, you felt that you were under risk or where you’re under? Like, were there threats coming your way from the government that led you to flee or how did that happen?

Viktor: Yeah, definitely had some tracks from the government. Usually not even though the government tells the police right, but they’re part of the government. that’s where you have communication with. Yeah, but I think it was definitely risky. I did have and I got in trouble with them. And I just wanted to avoid the situation because I tend to avoid anything that’s risking my life.

Friederike: know they think that’s generally good policy, avoiding things that are riskier to your life. he then came to the US, and he got a refugee status, and now even had citizenship, right?

Viktor: Yes, that’s correct. Yeah. was doing the process itself, in 2011, and it took me eight months from the beginning to the end and so once I got my documents, this is when I started I started learning about coding. I used to be a security person, I would like to research and learn about how technology works. But that point, I never knew how, how do you write code? I think those are like two different things. Even though I know how to write scripts back then. I didn’t know, how do you build software? How do you build software that scales? I think those are two different things. You usually have seen people in crypto where they know how to write software that works, but it’s not software that could scale. I think that those are two different things to keep in mind.

Viktor: Since then… I started the company when I was in Sacramento. I live in Sacramento, and then I was talking to different people around me. Most of them were either mechanics or truck drivers. I don’t know why, but that was, that was it. They told me about one problem that something was like, super annoying to them. that I heard that problem from all the truck drivers there in Sacramento, they told me like, it’s hard to find parking whenever I need to stop because they have a limit of like 14 hours to drive a date. Then only 11 of those physically can drive. The rest left for to do the different types of things. At that time, I thought, like, oh, this is actually interesting!

Viktor: I was starting to learn mobile development back in like 2012 now, I guess, yeah. then I felt like we were called to build an app that allows people to find parking like specifically for their truck drivers. This is how the company started without me even realizing because I wanted to just solve a problem to a specific truck driver, and then turns out that there is a bigger problem in space itself. We started with building a small app that allows people not just to find and parkings at night, but find truck stops, weigh stations, and then different types of rest areas, and make it even social. The social part is actually what made it interesting because other people were able to share information with other folks. you understand this better. Most of the people who are in trucking, they still used notebooks, on paper to write down all the truck stops where they usually stay and then we’ll write down all the restaurants that were nearby that was pretty fun.

Viktor: Whenever I would talk to anyone they would say like, wow, this is just amazing! I switched from writing down on the piece of paper, and using it now. what that’s what impressed people and they started using a map and I was doing it for over a year and then at some point we realized that there is a bigger problem in the market. we can scale into building not just service for logistics to plan your trips, but aliento helping companies and truck drivers to find jobs. what this means you can connect, both parties, carriers and shippers and allow them to ship different things around the globe, or around the US in this case. that’s where we started to build this buffer, which allows any company come in and say, like, I need to ship this big container from A to B, and then we will use technology to find the proper driver who can accomplish this job for them. that was our job.

Friederike: The goal being to have as few empty passages as possible, right?

Viktor: Yes, correct. I think if you think about trucking, right, it’s all about optimizations, like how do you make this trip the cheapest? What many truck drivers are doing, they usually go either full or half full. Their goal is to optimize and make sure they have as much as they can in there. Yeah, in the cargo itself. They always try to optimize because there’s always logistical problem, because there is always someone who’s loading them. They would get on the call, they’ll try to figure that out, like, what loads there are, because it’s all about you need timing, then you have distance, and you have like different cities that you can go over into. You always try to optimize, like how much time I’m going to spend on this or like picking up or dropping out. You always try to like, fill your cargo as much as you can. Yeah, it’s pretty tricky business, because I don’t even know if there’s any technology to do that yet, because that needs to be optimized because it’s still done through cell phones. People just always give a call, try to figure it out, like the small details, by the way, you fill out this information. Then the general details are like, here we go, here’s the most optimal way to get this work done.

Friederike: Yeah, and I mean, basically that’s an NPR optimization problem, right? Basically, it’s really difficult to find the best solution, but finding a better solution than the one that you can find, with a pencil and a pen on a phone is probably fairly trivial?

Viktor: Yeah, it’s definitely a big problem in general logistics, as you mentioned. yeah. Then you definitely want to optimize as well for the pricing how much you get. That’s what’s important. Yeah, then most people’s all the way to think about it, right? They only want to drive for like a week or two in the states. you need to keep that in mind, because they want to be home in like two days. How do you optimize your route to be there? Then, do all those other things on the way?

Friederike: you have hard constraints and soft constraints? Yeah, it sounds super difficult. Are those projects going?

Viktor: Yeah. I think the history about this project is, that certainly myself for about like a year and a half or two. Then at some point, I met with a co-founder of the company, we started doing things together. We raised some money around like 20 million. Then at some point, we just decided that I would need to leave the company because I would be more like on the product side, and then some things just didn’t work out with me and the founder. I decided to leave and do something else. then the company is still around, we actually sold it to a different company. they still continue doing the project, but not as active as we were doing before. Yeah, I think it’s good to have that kind of check mark. That you sold the company, because you always need to get things from point A to B. and make sure you have some ending to it. then you always can move to next things to learn and build. Yeah, one thing to mention is that yeah, whenever I moved from Ukraine to us. This is where my mind changed from being like doing security into like building things. I think that’s where I got interested in actually, and being passionate about building rather than destroying or just doing research.

Sebastien: How did you transition from this into crypto?

Viktor: Yeah, I did know about crypto probably back in 2013 or 12. Even because I used to live in an apartment complex with someone who was showing me how to buy drugs on Silk Road. That was quite interesting.

Friederike: Of course.

Viktor: You’d be passionate about it. What for me at that point, I didn’t really pay attention to the details on Bitcoin, but it was just interesting to learn. He told me about how he uses Tor to access these websites and how he buys these things. Then he told me about bitcoins and he’s like, yeah, you definitely want to buy this, even though I didn’t really understand what it is at that point. He said, like, I spent $14,000 to buy bitcoins. I was like, you crazy, like, why would you spend much but back then Bitcoin was like $9. I’m not sure it’s probably like 12 or 13. It was interesting to hear someone as crazy as him because at that point, you just don’t understand yet what it is and how technology works. Then it takes like, seven years until you have realization on what technology was.

Then probably a little bit later, in ’15, my other friends joined the company Bread Wallet, or even 14. He started Working on Bitcoin. he was the source for me on, like just crypto itself. Whenever I would see him, he will explain what crypto is at this point, like what other things they’re working on. It was interesting to learn along the way, since Bread Wallet is still, like one of the major wallets, and he was doing the Android version for quite a long time. I was learning from him quite a bit. then at some point, he messaged me on Facebook was like, oh, guys, there is a thing coming out. Ethereum you should buy. I went to Coinbase and bought some Ethereum and was like, “okay, cool”, and then just forgot about it.

Viktor: A year after, my friends were going to the DEF CON. DEF CON is the security conference for people who are really interested in security and hacking at that point. They thought like, Oh, do you want to go with us? I was like, definitely like, I’m super interested in as you guys know. Then we went to the conference. At the same time, there were lots of meetups about crypto. This is where I learned about crypto. I learned about Monero at that point, and I met with fluffy pony, and at that point, I didn’t know who he was. My friend said like, he’s just a big troll on Twitter. I was like, that’s cool. I met with him, and then the organized really cool party back at the DEF CON. I think this is the time when I started learning about crypto, but as well, this is where I realized that I have some Ethereum on my account. I was like, oh, wow, this is interesting. What can I do with it? Then I went to participate in different Icos.

Then what I realized, because mobile developer, for me, using mobile apps is the most intuitive way to interact with the technology. I couldn’t find any apps that you can use for my tokens on a mobile device. if I’d like, yeah, I have these tokens, I need to go to my Ether wallet, wait for a time until it loads all the list of tokens. Then I need sometimes to edit information and put my contract addresses, decimals values. Those were super complicated things to do. I build something open source in about three weeks. It was small and did only a few things like, send and receive ether. Then I added support for ERC20. Think that was the basics I built in about a month and released it to the App Store. I’m really good at prototyping and actually get things to the end and then just like build it an open source, but actually get it to the market. That’s really important because you definitely want to learn from people and users. Once I got to the market, I just told all my friends I knew about the new crypto, I told him to download, start using it. Maybe in about, like a week, we already had like 200 people, and most of them were my friends.

They started using the app and give me feedback. What they really liked was one feature, particularly, I called it “automatically tokens”. whenever you load your phone, it will automatically fetch all the tokens that you have on your addresses. That was a super cool feature because you don’t need to ever know about like different tokens like adding them constantly or manually. You will just import your wallet and just everything. Just shows up. That was impressive for most people when they tried it, because they would realize that there are more tokens that they even imagined they have on their wallet, because there will be lots of airdrops or some other tokens just sits in the wallet. Yeah. That’s how I got started into learning about crypto. Because usually the way I approach problems, is that… I need to have a problem. Then, I could come up with different ideas, solutions on how to solve it. then usually, there is no ending to it. There’s just another problem, just next to it. You just continue doing it until you find another problem. It’s pretty fun. It’s a fun process, I would say.

Sebastien: Can you sort of describe at a high level, what is trust wallet today? Where do you think it’s serving the community in a way that perhaps is under-served today. What is its particular strength?

Viktor: Yeah, I would say, the way like transport was designed in the beginning, it was open source. My goal was to, how do we build technology that’s easily scalable to different block chains, to different technologies, protocols and standards. What currently Trust Wallet, is a wallet to access a decentralized world. That’s how I would describe it. What I mean by that is the access to first, having access to your own private key. I think that’s really important because you own your destiny by owning your private key. Second, you have access to digital assets. It’s really important to have really good coverage of digital assets. Because technology wise, they’re hard to support, because there’s lots of work involved into writing code for crypto. that’s what trust does.

Well, we have support for over like 30 different block chains and different types of tokens. This part is open source. We have a library that we build for anyone to use. It’s called a wallet score that has a standards for implementing any of the coins, if you want to add your own coin, you just comment, just follow the standard that we already described. Then the second is like how do we give access to different decentralized applications? Staking, borrowing money?

Like how do we build an infrastructure to make it accessible to everyone. Then at the same time keeping security and running everything on your phone. Because phones are currently considered to be one of the most secure devices, because their using secret enclave. Then their affiliation system designed to be secure by itself, because every app that you’re on on your phone already sandbox, you don’t need to care as much about like some things. It just makes security much better for the end user. based on those descriptions, what we are doing currently just wallets is trying to build this like infrastructure that’s available for anyone to build, even though we don’t open source the mobile apps itself, the UI parts. We do open source every anything else that will need your attention in terms of security audits. If you want to audit the code, it’s all available in the GitHub, everything regarding like transaction signing, mining generation, all of that is there.

Sebastien: Right. you’ve open source, the, essentially the library, called Wallet Core.

Friederike: How many users do you currently have? Can you say, how much value is stored in instances of the Trust Wallet?

Viktor: We don’t track any of the information… we recently just added support for doing Crashlytics, which was a big pain in the ass because we couldn’t actually track what crashes happening in the mobile app. We had to install some analytical tools to see what crashes are happening and where they are happening. We just recently started getting the data in terms like how many people actually use Trust Wallet and think it’s around like 400 Thousand monthly active users or something around that. Then the information is great, I’m happy to share anything but learned from just building Trust wallet. But that’s what the numbers are.

I don’t think they’re growing as much like in terms of the growth itself, since 2017. I think what happened back 2017 we’re able to get to like 150,000 monthly active users just providing ERC 20 wallet, and that happened pretty quickly because there was a big need in terms of just, participating in token sales. But now what I see is most of the people who are staying in the app, they actually use it quite actively everyday pretty much because used to be the time when people just participated in token sales, and then they gone now. I don’t see them often. It’s probably like 10% of people actually left. Now what we see what activity we see is that people actually actively using for their own purposes and there’s much to explore, in terms of different applications that already been built. I think that’s what the current statuses in terms of like beta and users.

Sebastien: On your website, you say that the Trust Wallet is secure, open source, decentralized and anonymous. Describe what you mean by, what do those different adjectives mean to you and what stands behind those things?

Viktor: Yeah, if we’re talking about decentralized, right, I think the one important topic to bring is, okay, you own your private key. But the second question is, do you follow standards? Because if you don’t follow standards, then whatever, like something happened to your app, then the question is, can you restore this on some other application? If you don’t do that, then you’re not decentralized because you can break some things and people not available to restore their wallets and some other devices. What do you mean by that is that, you own everything, pretty much and then you have access to those decentralized applications… smart contracts, they’re not going away, you can easily interact with them in decentralized manner. that’s what it means.

Security wise, I think security is about lots of different things that could happen. Right? It’s all about, do you open source your code that does all the magic with crypto? Second, do you have all the tools on the phone itself used correctly? Using secure enclave, using key chain? Do store all the data securely, do allow people to set pass code to make sure no one can just get into the app. I think security is all about like those small details that allows you to sleep well at night and not to worry about someone getting in trouble. Yeah, the anonymity aspect is that we don’t really collect any information about the users we don’t collect their addresses any of that information either. We know who they are. Most of the other like centralized wallets, they would usually collect information about their, no first name, last name emails and different types of information. But we’ve tried to stand on the side where we don’t know the user and we just build a product for them. That’s what decentralized markets will do is that you don’t really know who that person that interacted with you. I think that’s how we need to design our systems is that to be on the side where users control the data, they don’t expose unless they wanted to.

Sebastien: I like to stay on one of the aspects. You mentioned that you talked about decentralization and the importance for users to be able to take their seed and import it into other wallets that would adhere to the same standards is that this is a topic that different wallets have different approach is when it comes to this. So, a couple of weeks ago, we had Omer Shlomovits and Ouriel Ohayon, Co-founders of ZenGo on the show, and, they’re building a very different type of wallet. They’re leveraging threshold signatures in order to secure users private keys. his point of view is that the wallets will will create their own ecosystems and that in the future, because of the layers of complexity to build on top of wallet applications, it will become harder and harder to ensure compatibility between wallets. in your view, this is something I guess that’s quite important this ability to, for wallets to remain compatible. How do you see this going in the future? Do you see a future where wallets are their own sort of walled garden ecosystems or where all the wallets are compatible? Or is there some other scenario that I’m missing here?

Viktor: Yeah, I think it’s a tricky question to answer. But in general, being compatible is a big thing. Technology, right? You want to make technology work? Well, you want to make it compatible. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to actually explore TSS technology, I think TSS is actually proven to be really good. I think it’s good that ZenGo is doing it. I don’t think it needs to be compatible from the beginning. It could be compatible in the future. in general, because yeah, you’re not gonna have the same, 12 words to import to a TSS or anything like that. But what’s really important is to always try new ideas.

You never know which will work. If you think, oh, yeah, we need to stay compatible with 12 words, then threshold signatures would never happen. That’s why, we definitely want to try that and see if it works. Then if you think about the wallet, even 12 words will disappear. I think, if you think about technology, that’s not really intuitive for the end user, and there’s going to be old abstracted away, and then all you would need to do either like use your biometrics or some type of data to login into your wallet. Then this is going to be all stored into your iCloud to where everything authenticated with your own data. Generally, the onboarding part or the security of your own private key will be abstracted away for the users. which is quite nice because less work for you to do. But the second part is whether wallets will become, close communities. That depends on how your company’s run. If you have investors, then you got in trouble. You’re going to have lots of investors all the pushing you into creating this closed ecosystem, because if you don’t, then people could easily be used to other apps. You always need to catch up and make sure you stay on the top of the product. I think it’s a different use case for TrustWallet because we currently part of the binance. We don’t have that incentive to make money.

Our goal is just to simplify crypto adoption. By now, that’s the reason why we like open source lots of things. We build them as modules. Because we do want people to create lots of wallets on top of it. There are already hundreds of walls being created just using the library itself. That’s where we try to be really good at, not just help ourselves, but others. But then the second part is like the ecosystem. If you think that you have investors, right, like the best thing you would do, you probably want to create this ecosystem that’s probably closed because people are not going to leave other products easily. they will always be with the product. Then on top of it, you can hook up with different services that will allow people to buy sell crypto exchange, and the more people say, Well, your product The more profits you will have at the same time because wallets would be the interface to access different decentralized applications. This is where any wallet is able to monetize. Because if you’re the front end for buying crypto you can charge more fees if you allow people to know exchange crypto then you can make small cheese. That’s what exchanges are doing. I think if you want to build a successful business you want to change that’s what the current status is because otherwise it’s really difficult to find any business model that works.

Friederike: Well this is super interesting and that’s a lot to unpack here. I really want to get back to the binance ecosystem in just a bit… first, can you talk a little bit about smart contract wallets and how you see them?

Viktor: In general, smart contract wallets are a good technology, but there’s limitations to it. It’s definitely good that you have different customization features. You can customize your daily spending limits. You can add different guardians, who have access to your wallet itself, is definitely a good future set. I think there’s limitations too. there’s like a feature, right? There’s a bunch of them that you can set because it’s all programmable. If you can program your smart wallet, that’s actually pretty cool. then there’s a problem with like being compatible, which is fine. I think being not compatible is okay. But you’re trying different technology. That’s not possible just to connect it together in a way.

There is a limit to how many different currencies you can support. It’s not easy to support both Ethereum and Bitcoin at the same time. you definitely want to choose whichever you want to support. But you think that there’s going to be a couple of winners in the end, there’s going to be a couple of platforms that have lots of volume and usage. you maybe make sense just to focus on one, try to polish the experience. maybe in the future, you can even change your product that would be a smart Wallet for one blockchain but it would be not that smart using Bitcoin, for example. You can always, custom my because, some of the things could be encapsulated or abstracted away from the for the user to make it look simple. In the background, you could run, the smarter wallet functionality. But in the front end, the UI itself, it will be just as simple as using any other app. you definitely want to try it out and see which one will work. But there’s a couple of wallets Argent there’s the guys who are doing smart contract wallets, I’ll definitely look and talk to them and see what they’re building just going to get a touch, just get a sense of, what’s out there. Yeah, but in the end, it’s all about, Who’s going to build a better product, and you never know what things will work well, until you actually try and ship it to the whole world.

Sebastien: I’m curious what you think is sort of the future of wallet and key storage like at the moment, these things are mostly in most applications, I guess sort of bundled, right you have your key storage system, whether that’s, 12 words or less, or any other like hardware wallet or whatever, right there’s, there’s some form of key storage solution there of smart contract wallets also. Then there’s all these service layers built on top. Simply storing coins is one service, then you have things, defi applications than you might have things like a like a, like a DEX built into it, social recovery and these sorts of things. These are all feature sets built on top of key storage. What do you think the future looks like? Do you think that perhaps these different layers will be unbundled from unique applications? Or will they continue to exist as like a vertical and within one app?

Viktor: Yeah, totally. Um, I think if you look at any market, usually what happens, any company would try to build the product first. That’s how you always want to think about, let’s go product first, and then how we can help developers, afterwards. I think where the point where we build a product that base, and then what we feel would be really useful to build now is how do we expose the interface for people to interact with trustable? Easily? That’s what many will do at the same time in the next couple of years. How do you expose your methods for anyone to use the app itself? That’s where we see, lots of usage will happen on the deep linking side.

If you can imagine this as more like a Facebook SDK type of thing, where you just say, I want to log in with a wallet, and then you don’t really worry, like which wallet it is, because then we will work it will just identify which wallet is installed. It will try to open the wallet sign transaction, and then you just get back to your app. I think all those apps will be definitely unbundled. But to be honest, there is nothing to unbundle yet. All the mobile apps that they’re just limited. There’s only a few apps that have been built. What I feel that should happen is that we need to definitely unbundle that part. We need to build an easy interface for anyone who’s like a mobile developer to come in and say, Oh, you want to go defi up. Here’s how you do it. then you don’t need to worry about the key management because the world will handle it for you. As a developer, it makes it easy for you because managing private keys is super hard. What they will get a focus is building a product itself and utilizing the SDK to send transactions.

I think there’s going to be some time until these entities will come on the application layer, and maybe even couples later years later will see this happening on the operational system level as well. Then even Samsung already doing it for Android. now you will be able to access your wallet on the OS level itself. you don’t need to even have wallets installed. This is utilizing the secure enclave from Samsung itself easily. I think that’s the proper way to do it itself, because you want to unbundle that as much as you can. you build those building blocks for any developer to come in and easily build can integrations. Because if I wanted to build a defi app at the moment, then I would need to build all this like thing. that you mentioned like a wallet and your security built in and all of that it just too complicated. most people don’t have enough resources to even explore those ideas.

Sebastien: Yeah, I think I agree that I feel like in the future, increasingly key storage and key security will be unbundled from all the different applications that that exists. Then, I guess the wallet space will become more of a service layer where you download an app, and then that app connects to different key storage solutions that you might have key stored on. Then from these apps, you can interact with DEFI services, and it’s like a banking services layer, I guess, on top of key storage and key storage is just another layer on top of that, and like there are different players operating at these different layers. Finally got you guys at Gnosis have built a smart contract wallet. I wonder what your thoughts are on this idea of unbundling, and if this is something that you think about,

Friederike: We must actually do so. We do actually see the wallet as an entrance way to the ecosystem, like the browser was, in the early internet days just with an inbuilt payment channel. That’s currently what’s missing in, traditional web to process. I would very much like to speak about defi and the ecosystem.

Sebastien: Defi is very much the Hot Topic dejure at the moment. everyone’s talking about dApps. Everyone seems to be trying to build some data marketplace, but there is one barrier that many in the ecosystem are pointing to, and that is that Apple and Google are not very receptive to having data marketplaces in their app stores in wallet apps. I’m curious if you could share your insights because trust wallet does have a dApp browser. But at least when I tried it on My iPhone, nothing comes up.

Friederike: I’m on Android. For me it works perfectly.

Sebastien:  I think this is this is an apple problem. Okay. yeah, well described, describe your experience working with the different mobile platforms.

Viktor: Yeah, that’s definitely an issue for us. Since I’m a developer as well. I’m really into just the absolute ecosystem itself. I think if you look at Apple itself, they are always pretty strict about the rules, what’s allowed what’s not. then there’s a few things to mention dimension that’s not usually being encouraged by Apple publicly. But one important thing is Apple, they’re the ones you have a business model that works for them. Then what happens right now is all these mobile apps are being released, and it is against the business model for Apple. Okay, across the board, we have had two issues with Apple for the past two years. First issue was back in 2018. Regarding collectibles, the main problem was that cryptokitties will list it inside the app. There were mentioned somewhere in the code. We found that and they said, no, you’re not allowed to mention anything about collectibles. Neither you want to show any suggestions to the user itself, like where to find them how to, just get access to them.

That was the first problem. The second problem, one of them is, in 2018, early this year, we were informed that dApp browser, it’s not something that Apple likes. I think they were really against from is not giving access to that. We used to have a list of different publications that users can just press in explorer. That’s going against the business model for Apple, because whenever you lose those apps, users can go and buy collectibles. This is where Apple would want to have a 30% cut, which doesn’t happen with crypto because there is no way to even charge this. Neither most developers are willing to pay for that percent. That’s where the problem comes in.

Then even communication about this problem, it’s pretty tough. Whenever you try to reach out to Apple, sometimes you want to get a response within a week. Sometimes they would be pretty practice. Whenever we have any issues, we usually try to contact them via the phone. It’s probably the most effective way because you can just ask direct questions and discuss anything you want. I have a person, now where can call up and just ask questions regarding problems we have. They will be pretty explicit on what they want from you. they will be explicit that, giving access to dApps is against their business model. and I totally understand that because you definitely have the problem, but at the same time, it’s this moment, it’s small, what they want to avoid is having this problem to grow. Because if they’re not going to stop now, it will be it will come up much later and they will have bigger consequences. That’s why Apple is trying to be pretty strict on this, trying to cut down on any potential threat in the future.

Sebastien: But do you think that at some point, if that’s, gain some significant traction You think that they’ll need to change the policies? I mean, if you think back to, three, four or five years ago, yeah, probably about five or six years ago, cryptocurrency wallets were not permitted in the Apple App Store. you needed to have an Android phone if you wanted to use cryptocurrency and then after some time Apple opened up and now you can now there are cryptocurrency wallets in in the Apple App Store. Do you think there will be some shifts at some point? What would need for that to happen?

Viktor: Yeah, there will definitely be some shifts. I think what will need to happen is that adoption right is the user demand if user demand something Apple will find ways how to make it work yeah, it’s definitely like dude, like come up with some ways and say, yeah, you would need to be, some cards from doing payments or paying for digital content. What Apple is a key with is payments, they feel that payments, it’s not something they are willing to charge like percentage on because it’s not easy controllable itself, but what they don’t want to happen is the digital content to be sold without them. Getting the percentage, I think that’s what the issues are, but at the same time, if any technology will get adoption, there’s always going to be some business models built on top of it. That’s what Apple is pretty good at.

There’s one thing to mention, which is how Apple looks at different apps in different regions, which is not really fair, in my opinion, because they have lots of leverage in some countries, but not the other. Here’s one example that actually got what it is. Okay, Apple doesn’t have much leverage in China, because there are not many people using an iPhone. In order to make it work, you need to have lots of iPhones being deployed in China. The reason how you can get that adopted if you have Wechat installed in the app store, or you have the chat installed in iPhones itself. What happens WeChat wants to have access to different media applications that the run inside by Apple says No, we are not allowed to do that. What happens then Apple doesn’t have a choice as not just to let them list those apps, because otherwise no one is going to buy iPhone in China. That’s what it is. Then if WeChat is not installed, an iPhone is pretty useless in China. For that reason, Apple has different rules for China companies. If you go to like I’m token, you would still be able to use the apps, and then other services that’s not allowed in, for example, Trust Wallet. This is the market where it changes on territories. Apple is okay with that, as long as they have leverage to some things. It’s a very tricky question, but it’s definitely not clear in terms of guidelines for Apple, because for some apps that would say one thing for the other app, different things. It’s tricky to find the balance between what’s allowed what’s not, because it’s not very well defined in their guidelines.

Friederike: Do they say this is for the purpose of quality control. do they say basically, things that are offered in the App Store, you’d expect to have to be a reasonable quality and not to be malware. Basically, if you create an app store within the app store, we have no control over what you let users installed through your app. Is that the official line?

Viktor: Yes, that’s the official line. I tend to agree, based on conversation with them. It sounds like yes, they’re okay with you listing different applications inside your application. But one thing to keep in mind, whenever you submit an application, you will need to list all the applications that you already have there. you need to provide their developers with an Apple developers ID. As long as you provide that information, they will be able to review and make sure those applications meet their standards. In this case, because there’s many apps, and they’re listed on different kinds of domains, and then there’s a way for you to submit a list of those applications, because there’s just many and you don’t even know who is running those. That’s the point of crypto, you don’t really know who runs the website.

Friederike: Yeah, for sure. How did you get around the case of the non-fungible token? Because I know that Trust Wallet, it supports EIP 721, as well as 1155. Right?

Viktor: Yes, correct. I think at this point, because they’re not publicly accessible until you see one, Apple, okay with that, because you need to find somebody who’s going to send it to you, or if there’s a way to buy it. That’s why they were trying to cut down on usage of dApps. Because if you don’t know how to use it, then you don’t know how to buy collectibles. That’s pretty easy for them. In this case, they are limited for you.

Friederike: Let’s segue into another topic. You were acquired or Trust Wallet, it was acquired in 2018? By Binance. Can you tell us how that came about?

Viktor: Yeah, it was pretty interesting, because I started TrustWallet back in September 2017,that’s when I started writing the first line of code. Then around March or February, I decided to go full time. I wasn’t doing full time for about six months or so. The reason why I had to switch full time because there was much demand for, different product features and just support, I had to like switch my time to it. Then at that point, I started thinking, alright, we need to raise some money because I have like a team of two or three people now. We need to definitely stay afloat somehow, and then find a way of how we can monetize ourselves in the future. Because wallets themselves don’t have a really good business model from the beginning unless they have lots of users.

You can think of it as like Chrome browser, right, which doesn’t have a business model, but at the same time, it fits other purpose in the ecosystem, it just provides good access to the internet. The same thing is here is that we want to build that interface of the blockchain itself. I started raising money. We want to first get into the route of raising money for the token sale. We wrote something about Trust Platform, which is a platform which allows people to access different applications with different token economics, and other things. I was able to raise money for that, and at some point, I started talking to Binance. They were mentioning about just investing money into the company itself, not the token, because I was going for the token, because it’s usually easier to raise money that way. Then, while talking to Binance, I realized how powerful the company is in terms of what they were able to achieve in just a short amount of time. Then they are profitable, which makes it easier for a company to stay and grow. Because if you have money, you can always reinvest them into technology, and just grow business itself. It was pretty difficult for me to work on different problems.

Viktor: I’m not a big fan of running HR, doing business, all of those in a company that could happen. For me, I’m all about the product, like that’s my passion, and I don’t want to do it or deal with anything else. So, we talked to Binance and then I went to meet CZ. Once I met CZ, I think the deal basically got closed, because I realized, you know how good the person is like he’s really an open person, he is really passionate about crypto. What I realized is that, I would want to have such a leader working with me to actually make the make things happen. And I decided that we need to join Binance and just keep moving forward in terms of development for crypto. It’s good because we have a single focus to focus on decentralized finance, and just will build a wallet that allows you to access different financial tools on top of it. It worked out for both of us, because now Binance has something to offer for their users in terms of decentralized access. Then you can store money on Binance if you want to, but you have your own way of doing it. It’s good to have the ecosystem but at the same time, it’s not limited because anyone could use the app itself.

Friederike: On your website, you say that you have a deep integration with Binance infrastructure. What exactly does that mean?

Viktor: Yeah, we do have lots of integrations in the app itself. One of the things we wanted to give access to is DEX’s. We currently support two providers. One of them is the Kyber network that allows you to swap any ERC20 token pretty much. That makes it easy to swap all the tokens that you got into like token sales, but at the same time we provide a fully fledged exchange for Binance DEX. You can think of Kyber as a swap from one token to another, but for the Binance tax itself, we have all the functionality to do orders. you have an order book, you see details about like all the incoming order books. It’s nice, because this is the beginning of building all these decentralized exchanges. I believe there is going to be way more in a couple of years and I’m really looking forward to other companies building them. We would be really happy to support like 0X or any other protocols that will be out there because as long as they provide good technology for us to integrate would be happy to support all that. Because we already have the interfaces we already have, like architecture and building to support multiple providers.

Friederike: What do you think the future of custody and self custody looks like? I mean, basically, with binance being a big exchange in a custodian of other people’s assets, and TrustWallet being, the non custodial little brother, to say, how do you see that evolving in the future?

Viktor: My vision on this is that we, are they technologically trying to compete with each other, in terms of, how easy to use and how secure they are. It’s competition between custodial and noncustodial. I feel like the custodial solution is still better for the end user, because they’re much easier to use. They’re cheaper usually, and then you don’t really need to worry about anything because the company will take care of it for you.

Then on the other side, noncustodial is definitely a better option, if you think in terms of security, but it’s not for everyone. I think the technology knowledge is not there to basically state that it’s secure that you’re not going to lose your keys, you’re not going to lose your phone, you’re not going to get hacked or anything like that. I don’t think we can claim that for noncustodial. Because it’s not good to claim that. But what should happen is that we need to definitely improve technology on the noncustodial side where from, there’s a different type of wallets as well as that, what if this is a hardware wallet? How do you make sure you never forget your recovery phase? Because if you had it written down somewhere on your table, and then your ledger or treasure is gone, and then the the phrase itself gotten to, what do you do, right? it’s actually the issue of the user itself. But how do you protect that, how do you build those social recovers right into the heart of wallet? How do you build that right into the software wallets? I think the challenge is still on the technology side, rather than something else. I feel that we just need to improve that part of technology to make it easier for the user to use it. then there’s definitely benefits to that.

Friederike: how are you intending to improve that? Basically, what’s the roadmap for Trust Wallet?

Viktor: Yeah. I think we would like to improve that on using the current technology in terms of using different secure enclaves. What do we feel that other companies should build like Apple and Samsung is to have easy access to secure enclave information, and then social state recovery building. Because, on the other hand, Trust Wallet doesn’t have to be a key store for your private keys, I think what would be a better option is to be the interface to all the crypto instead. Basically, that’s our mission to just allow easy access to the crypto services like decentralized finance. all the part regarding the key chain side, it could be done by the OS level itself at some point, but because it’s not done yet, we need to build our own technology for it.

I think this will switch over as we discussed, maybe like a couple of years, but that’s where we would like to be on is that like how to build that easy access and not worry about like the keys. It’s anything that will happen that will try to improve that will definitely add up. But what we can do right now we can build, you know better technology in terms of like storing your keys encrypted somewhere on your iCloud account that allows you to always like expert, those keys, those things we can utilize. those solutions could work on other platforms as well. It’s possible to do that on Android. We’ll just try to build those integrations and see which ones work well. You can utilize different biometrics, use that to encrypt information, not allowed to do by default itself. We need to use some third party is the case that allows you to do face recognition. That’s what Zengo is using. Pardon me. But I think those are cool ideas to try. You definitely want to have a decentralized way of growing technology where every wallet has their own way of like doing technology then we can learn from each other and see which things work which not.

Friederike: Do you think that storing seed phases to the iCloud account is a good solution for most people because Basically if you look at the passwords of the typical iCloud users, they’re often super weak. Right? basically, do you think people have enough of a sensitivity to the issue that if they lose that key or if they lose their seed phrase, they lose access to the money?

Viktor: Yeah, I mean, it’s a tricky question because you always need to pay attention to how much you’re storing as if you store large amounts of money. You definitely want to go like a hardware wallet to make it secure. But I think most hardware, like software wallets, will be made for simple security. Most people currently on earth will probably have less than $1,000 that they own. In this case, you might actually work for most people to just have an encrypted version of the password. you can enforce how strong you want the password to be. If you enforce a really strong password, then it will be encrypted that no one can even decrypt it easily. Plus they need access to their Apple account.

Sebastien: This is all like layers of security, right? you might have a strong password on your Apple account, but you might use a password manager that has a weak password. So one has to secure basically every layer of security, so that whatever key is being… and then you might have a simple, something as simple as like once computer being compromised where anyone can have access to that. I feel like there’s different layers of security here, which for most people is too complex to even comprehend that, where the weaknesses are in that in their personal opsec.

Viktor: Yeah, exactly. Also, if you look at the bigger picture those are the things that should be coming from the providers itself. Apple needs to put better security on those accounts. Because even thinking about the wallet right you can afford some of the things but if the platform itself is broken, like it would be hard to build any applications on top of it. Apple is pretty good at keeping security of the apple accounts even though there are some weak passwords that could be done but at the same time they try to avoid those situations. But it’s a tricky question because most people still all store like their recovery phrases in one password. one, like if you get access to one password, then you get access not just to like the receipt phrase, but also 100 other accounts that are out there that you can utilize. it’s definitely lots of weak points.

Sebastien: I think an interesting business opportunity for a company like Apple would be to provide some form of key storage solution or even like the ability for someone to generate, a TSS share, and then have Apple generate the other one and maybe you have, a third one as a backup somewhere. But sort of like a bitgo situation, where, they’re you’re leveraging TSS and Apple as a trusted source, like as a trusted third party, holding part of that share. then while developers could be the basis Okay, we’re like we’re leveraging the apple TSS SDK and building our wallet or whatever infrastructure on top of that.

Viktor: Yeah, I think that’s definitely something that should happen. I don’t think it will be happening from Apple anytime soon, like not in the next couple of years, unfortunately, yeah, of course. But what would be interesting to see how Samsung will do it, because Samsung has the biggest one of the biggest players in the Android space. If they do it, and then Apple would basically think about how we actually catch up with them. I think it’s all about this game where if something works, then other companies will come as well. They will change their minds. Even though Apple said they’re not interested in crypto, it doesn’t mean they’re not going to come to the market. There’s going to be lots of demand. we’re going to build enough technology to get to the point where we cross to Charles and and then now it’s the time to adopt it because you don’t have an option people are going to be buying Android. Right?

Sebastien: Trust Wallet is unique in that it supports many, many tokens and it seems like you’re adding new tokens all the time. If one follows your blog is always new features being added to the add to that to the wallet. Why are you taking this approach? What do you think the future of interoperability looks like?

Viktor: Yeah, regarding tokens, I think we try to add as many tokens as we can, because every those tokens, have a community of people who would like support. I definitely think it’s needed. Sometimes in order to test out technology, you actually need to have it in your hands. So I think in the end there’s going to be a few winners, most likely, who will be running, like it would be like one central blockchain that handles everything. There’s lots of different applications, different block chains inside of it. It’s going to be pretty massive thing. But at the moment, we’re just trying to expand support for different inner crypto usages. Yeah, that’s where we’re going into that.

Sebastien: How much is that strategy directed by Binance? Binance supports many, many tokens in their exchange and their dex. But also, some people have sort of criticized them for taking money to list those tokens. How much of that strategy is coming from binance? Do you take money for supporting tokens on Trust Wallet?

Viktor: We don’t ask for any money. It’s actually pretty clear. We have our own website, Google Developers, that trustable. com, we state exactly what’s required to get listed on Trust Wallet. I think the rules are pretty simple. You have got to be in the top 50 in coin market cap. The reason why we have this rule is because if we don’t set this, then it makes it hard for us to add lots of coins that are super small, and it makes it hard for us to manage their nodes and running infrastructure for them. they’re the usage would be super small. We will spend too much time managing our own resources. That’s the reason we tried to set the bar higher than other companies. But besides that, it’s all free to integrate and then you can see exactly all the integrations on GitHub. It’s pretty clear all the companies that did integrations in the past three months, it’s probably like five companies, they created pull requests, they followed all the guidelines. Then it just gets integrated.

Sebastien: They’re doing their own integration, essentially. then you’re just adding them in?

Viktor: Exactly. It’s not even us adding because what we try to do, we try to just like guide them, and aldo quarter view and make sure, everything is good and secure. But besides that, we just let other companies do it. Because they know their technology much better than us. What turns out to be is that when we want to integrate a new coin, it just takes more time for us to learn how every detail works. Then we’ll just spend more time doing integration instead of companies coming in and then doing everything themselves.

Sebastien: Okay, top 50 in the coin market cap, but are there any criteria for determining if these coins are scams, or if there is anything like that?

Viktor: Yeah, there’s a little bit more criterias, but usually, if you’re Top 30-50 usually follow automatically. One of them is to make sure you have really good documentation. Because without documentation, we won’t be able to review code, make sure everything’s good. We need to have stable access to all the nodes. Because nodes writing is super hard. you’ll always want to have nodes to test and then have some backups. You want to make sure that team is good. We would always do some background check and make sure like the team who’s writing it is fine. Yeah, that’s probably our priorities. But in general, we are just trying to see which one has the most usage. If there are people, we definitely integrate it even if it doesn’t follow those like rules that we mentioned.

Sebastien: Are you running any of these nodes are those projects are running nodes?

Viktor: Yeah. currently, we try to ask those companies to run nodes for us, at the same time. Yeah, we just run most of the nodes ourselves. Yeah, we do have them as backups as well, just to make sure there’s always a fallback.

Sebastien: Okay. This carries quite a cost I presume. Does Trust Wallet intend to make any money? Or it’s just is this just a service that Binance feels it needs to have in order to maintain its ecosystem and is carrying that cost?

Viktor: Yeah, I think for the wallet it’s difficult to have a business model in the beginning, you can have a business model, if you don’t I don’t think you will have the big growth. It’s hard to balance both. But I think for us right now, the focus, like how do we build more technology, and then just make it everything as free as possible for anyone to use. But regarding business model for wallets, I think there’s lots of interesting ideas to explore. one of them, because we started doing staking recently.

One idea would be, if you wanted to go this route, is to run your own node. Let all your users validate your node. In this case, you could be making a percentage based on how much being delegated. That’s one idea. Then you can have different access to different applications like dapps, where you can charge a small referral fee. Those ideas. then plus we have a fiat gate. we have integration with simplex, monta, wire. We could be charging fees and that. But for us, it’s not as critical the moment because Binance itself is profitable. then it’s good that we have this opportunity just to run the team build technology and not to worry about the business model. I don’t think many companies have that ability. But I’m just happy that we have this. and we’ll just utilize it as much as we can.

Sebastien: Cool. Well, as we wrap up, where can people learn more about Trust Wallet and all the different things you guys are building?

Viktor: Yeah, I think we just recently launched the community. That’s where we would like to share more announcements, more ideas on what we’re working on. But in general, we’re pretty accessible on Twitter. I think that might be the easiest way to get in touch. But otherwise on trustwallet.com. I’m pretty open. I will always do it about Trust Wallet. I talk to anyone who asks interesting questions.

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