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Just like every two weeks, we hosted our latest AMA this March 31st. On this occasion, Head of Marketing Mike Chan hosted Oliver Gale (CEO), Adam Spiers (Chief Architect), and Saif Akhtar (Head of Product) for a great conversation on the present and future of Panther.
Below, you can find our transcript of this event, which 100 members of the community joined. You can also find the original audio as a Youtube video if you prefer to listen!
Transcript starts here
Would you like to share any announcements with the community?
Oliver: Yeah, the third distribution of $ZKP to Public Sale participants has just happened on both Ethereum and Polygon. For those who did not know, those who didn’t elect to receive their tokens on Ethereum will receive them on Polygon.
Across the two blockchains we deployed essentially the same staking version of Panther. The ZKP token was deployed, as was the ability to stake it on Ethereum. This created major challenges for some of the Public Sale investors who invested smaller amounts; so our team sprinted ferociously to deploy the Polygon staking feature, enabling bridging between Polygon and Ethereum.
In production we had one small hiccup that was addressed, and we are much more like a unit moving forward with a smooth road ahead of us. We’re certainly better prepared because of it.
What is the status of the DEX listings?
Oliver Gale (CEO): The notorious DEX listings. This is the short answer to it, and I could give a really, really long answer…
Internally, we have prepared some recommendations between multiple ways that liquidity can be provided to increase the liquidity footprint of $ZKP. From exchange listings, we have had success in getting venues to agree to list $ZKP as a token. That’ll be one option.
A second is to use — and I did mention it last time we spoke on Telegram — the Ichi Partnership. We’re still working through some due diligence there. We have done tech due diligence on them, and we’re happy with what they put together.
The third option is (for Panther to add) DEX liquidity, directly and through third parties. Of course, everyone in the community can be a third party providing LP liquidity to UniSwap.
Where we see ourselves at this moment is really in a transitionary phase, moving from post-$ZKP TGE liquidity staking and into the deployment of Multi-Asset Shielded Pools (MASPs). This is when Panther really comes to life as a protocol, offering privacy services to anyone that wants to, essentially, mint a zAsset and transact with it.
The road between here and there does require a bridge of liquidity. We’re considering different ways in which we can provide that liquidity. I think it’s fair to say there is internal consensus that we will provide DEX listing liquidity. I am waiting on the Board of Directors to greenlight the proposal. I do feel that there’s a high probability we will be providing native liquidity onto Uniswap in Ethereum and Polygon.
Markets have been pretty stable over the last month or so. The logical expectation would be that the world of people out there is a world of buyers. We’re excited to get this across the line, but, you know, from my seat as the CEO, I’m sort of evangelizing, advancing the initiative, and waiting for some green lights from the board, which I expect I will get. That is the status of the DEX listings in a short answer.
One thing I can add to that is that we’re taking an increasingly quantitative approach to partnerships and initiatives that we’re launching. There’s been a hiring spree and upskilling, creating a super squad of a team, if you will. That was promised, and it’s being done. One of the positions that we’re filling and seeking to fill is that of quant analyst with DeFi experience, so that we can really do a feasibility assessment and provide some expectations, or at least some models around what happens when either the DAO or our team provides liquidity to one DeFi protocol or another.
There is a fourth concept that came up recently, quite unintentionally, as we were just spitballing ideas. We could actually create a DAO proposal to incentivize and reward LPs on Uniswap. That’s something Saif and I were talking about yesterday. Saif, if you want to chime in, is that something you think we should pursue?
Saif Akhtar (Head of Product): Hey, Oliver, I’m glad you brought this up, because this is something that we seriously need to consider, because the name of the game is rewarding, and I think there are several other protocols that are doing similar things. Not only that, but (I think) rewarding community for LPing on DEXes is, in general, a good idea. We should definitely think in that direction.
Oliver: Yeah, I feel like that’s the point, we’re supposed to bootstrap it as a community. So, if we provide some liquidity, and then we have a proposal for that to be augmented by the community providing Ether, Matic, USDC, or DAI liquidity to trading pairs on Uniswap while being rewarded in $ZKP for that, it feels like a win-win.
Again, I would say that DEX liquidity isn’t like something you do, and then forget about it. It’s something that is always going to be a strategic objective, to provide liquidity, enhance liquidity and access to it, and manage it in a capital-efficient way.
In answering the question and getting into a position for us to provide DEX liquidity, we’re also, at the same time, bringing in the people and putting in place the systems, so that, when it comes to other partnerships and scaling up of this type of activity, we can do it more efficiently.
For those in the community who are impatient or feel that we could and should be moving faster, I just ask for a little bit more patience. What we’re doing is addressing systemic growth bottlenecks. Once we address them, we’ll be able to move a lot faster, and we will. We’ve proven that when we get a system in place, we do move faster and we’re able to execute efficiently. So, you know, no fear should be there.
A market maker was mentioned before. Does a market maker exist, and what role will they play between the centralized exchanges and the DEXs?
Oliver: Well, centralized exchanges have an important role to play in large liquid markets. They also play a role for people who are novices to DeFi, or just have no intention of interacting with DeFi. It’s a convenience fee, and the convenience fee is paid in listing fees, in swap fees, which tend to be higher than on DEXs. On the upper side of that spectrum, you can get great capital efficiency on a centralized exchange.
On the other side of the coin, you’ve got really efficient markets on Curve and Uniswap on their more liquid pairs. That’s not to say that, in fact, the AMM model isn’t effective, or the on-chain DEX model isn’t effective.
The simple formula would be that every venue that facilitates the buying and selling of $ZKP has some subsection of unique users. The more venues that $ZKP is swappable through, the more liquid it is, the more users are exposed to it, the better and healthier the project is. As I said, we have goals over this quarter to provide liquidity on multiple centralized and decentralized venues.
We’re also focusing on the fact that liquidity should be driven by organic demand and organic demand is driven by utility of the protocol and the first section of true utility, or true unique utility, will be the Multi-Asset Shielded Pools. $ZKP staking is, economically, a fantastic investment. Most of our team, if not all of our team, stake tokens in those pools. But that’s a pure financial plan, against the unique value proposition that Panther is bringing to DeFi and Web3.
Which company will audit the Panther protocol?
Saif: It is not a question of which company will audit Panther, but which company has been auditing the protocol since the time we launched our first token. Since then, we contracted Certik last year, and Certik has been our first primary partner for auditing all the smart contracts. They will be auditing the shielded pools and zero-knowledge circuits as well. They have done our first audit for the front-end application’s security as well.
Apart from Certik, we have 21 Analytics, which we have also contracted as a secondary auditor. They have helped us in auditing in quite a short amount of time. We’ve had good feedback from them as well. Sometimes there are urgent needs, for example, things that we deployed in Polygon that require a quick audit. The secondary auditor has been very helpful in providing that, given the situation that pretty much all the auditors are so busy.
What’s the auditing strategy? Will each incremental deployment that goes live be audited before deployment or just the MVP?
From a strategy perspective, it is very plain and straightforward: Every smart contract is audited. They are given due time, we expect feedback, we go back and forth, we work on the feedback or on explanations, we go back and tell the auditors “oh, we actually mean this.” We also prepare pretty good documentation, flows, and all of that for the auditors to really understand what we’re trying to do, so we can get good feedback from them. Once we reach a final agreement, we agree on priority items, severity 1, 2, 3… All those kinds of audit findings are discussed and resolved. Only then can any smart contracts, any programs be deployed in production.
We will continue with this process and move forward. I do want to say that there has been a discussion initially in the ZK space. We are talking to one more specific company, a small company, but with personnel who do ZK-specific audits and we might get their help as well, if we need to. So yeah, that’s the plan.
Is there a plan to burn the ZKP token?
Oliver: I’m not a fan of burning tokens. What a token burn represents is, obviously, a decrease in supply, and then, reallocation of that unit of value that was burned across all the other remaining token holders. It can be deflationary. It’s deflationary if you’re burning more than you’re minting.
When we were designing the ZKP token utility, the thought process was around empowerment of the DAO, and so $ZKP has a pseudo-deflationary characteristic in production, where, when you use the Shielded Pools, Reveals, or the private bridges, you can pay in any number of accepted tokens that the DAO will determine and approve. We do that from a user experience perspective. We’re not asking mass adoption users to hold $ZKP in their wallet in order to toggle the privacy switch in their Web3 wallet or whatever the experience may be. That’s just suboptimal. Instead what you have is, the DAO accumulates a treasury in these different instruments, then, through DEXes — which goes back to the reason why DEX liquidity is relevant — the DAO will acquire $ZKP on the open market and hold it in its Treasury. And in so doing, obviously, it takes it out of circulation for now, having a similar impact in terms of redistributing value.
There’s an open debate: Should a DAO’s treasury in its native instruments be valued, or should it be considered like authorized shares in a company, and therefore not actually contribute to the market cap? That’s a whole separate debate. It’s a really interesting one, and I’d love to talk about it in some other forum, maybe. The point is, when you buy back the ZKP tokens through the DAO, you reduce the supply which is available on the open market you create by pressure.
You simultaneously leave the DAO to put that ZKP back to work at a future date, if need be. The DAO may want to issue grants, or it may want to issue rewards for one activity or another. The decision and my view on this, and this applies in almost every circumstance is that re-acquiring your Treasury is more capital-efficient than burning it, because the act of us reacquiring the Treasury is 100% aligned to the best interest of the project, and it may have those capital requirements. Whereas if you’re burning $ZKP, and value is accruing to, say, holders or non-active members of the community, that value is lost to the protocol. By buying back the Treasury and allowing the DAO to reallocate it, we are improving our efficiency whilst achieving the same mechanics.
What is your marketing strategy?
Mike Chan (Head of Marketing): We definitely recognize we can do a lot more with marketing. Oliver has put a mandate to scale up our marketing, big time. Now, what does this mean? This means that you will see a lot more content about what we’re building at Panther, about our opinions, stance, and expertise on privacy, DeFi, and more, a lot of educational content in different channels.
It could be written content, it’ll be video, it’ll be visuals, way more social media activity. Many more community events like these AMAs, extending marketing programs with our partners, more speaking engagements for our co-founders, Oliver and Anish, and more conference marketing. Now we are getting past COVID a little bit more and some of the in-person conferences are starting up again. So we will have a larger presence there. There will be an ambassador program. So you, Panthers — or Pantherians we’ll figure that out — can help us grow, organically. And we’re launching products soon, so there’s going to be a lot of marketing around those launches.
Of course, I love the willingness to provide feedback from the community. If you have any ideas, suggestions, we are absolutely happy to hear them. There are actually some pretty good suggestions submitted already through these questions, like creating a “Panther Academy” with animated explainer videos. I love that. Definitely putting that in the pipeline. Keep those ideas coming. Feel free to tag me and Zork in Telegram, Discord or Defiants Crew, tweet at us… etc. However you want to send us suggestions, we will absolutely look at them. Bottom line is there is much more marketing to come, and you will see that very soon.
Are there any plans to extend the current staking phase and top up the rewards pool if private staking gets delayed?
Saif: There are no plans to top up the current staking phase. When push comes to shove, would we be required to do that? It’s hard to say that now.
The plan, though, is basically that Advanced Staking should piggyback on the current Staking programs that are running. It’s a technical, strategic approach that we are taking with Advanced Staking which leads further to the full protocol launch, which we can call Panther Core.
I’m not sure if there has been some content already about Advanced Staking and what it is, but you can say Advanced Staking is an initial version of Panther Shielded Pools. PRPs (Panther Reward Points) are going to be created in the shielded pool, and those PRPs can later be reimbursed for $ZKP, which is our core reward mechanism for privacy, increasing privacy in Panther Pools. So, the answer to that question is, we plan to deploy Advanced Staking right after Privacy Staking, so things should continue in that direction.
What will be the product of Panther’s partnership with e-Money?
Oliver: As it pertains to e-Money — I’m going to go back to the same principle which has been applied to the DEX liquidity question and liquidity management overall: we’re focusing on “how can we be successful at scale?”
One of the key components for long-term success in the Ethereum ecosystem, the Polygon ecosystem, to Flare, then Near, etc., are our partners on those ecosystems. What will enable us to scale is having an ability to offer a Panther service, which integrates into these protocols and offers them privacy and trust tooling or selective disclosure tooling, using zero-knowledge proofs. That is a strategy that we’re articulating now.
We did a number of partnerships, not just e-Money. If you look at 2021, we announced a number of partnerships. These protocols are unique in the services that they offer. So, from our perspective, it’s important that we create standardized adapters, call the DeFi universe or the Web3 universe, offer to enable them to utilize the Panther core services, and ultimately, the Panther bridge services.
Going back to the e-Money partnership, another comment I’d made prior was around stablecoins generally, having an interest in providing and entering into partnerships with stablecoin issuers, to enable zAsset stablecoins, or private stable coins. You know, the e-Money partnership fits directly within that bound. It is an important part of our thesis, which is really not to play singular bets on chains or providers, but really to provide agnostic tools that can scale.
Why hasn’t that partnership moved yet into production phase? Well, we’re taking a step back at the moment and focusing on what are the next major themes and major tools that we have to unlock. We’ve hired a handful of people. I say, a handful, I think seven new team members have joined. Thankfully, and impressively, a number of architects and cryptographers have joined the tech team, we have Mike as CMO, we’re in the process of hiring in the finance team an analyst and a CFO, etc. Sometimes you have to take a step back, and make sure that you have your systems, your people, your processes in order before you advance into the deployment phase.
As I mentioned in this AMA session, we’re in a phase in between having done the TGE and simple staking, and on the other side, the release of Panther core. What we’re preparing for is post-release, and rapid scale-up of partnerships and integrations and we need to make sure that we have the right people, the right processes around those people and the right technology, and support tools to be able to rapidly expand the ecosystem.
Mike: Let me just jump in here for a moment. We are also working on coordinating some more marketing and education around that partnership with e-Money, so there’ll be some things coming up where we can learn more about that.
Is staking in Polygon, as it’s deployed now, Experimental Staking?
Saif: To clarify, although we may have used different names, Experimental Staking and Advanced Staking are the same thing.
We may have used different names because, in one way, it is experimental for the core protocol. Before launching and opening the floodgates for MASPs with all different types of assets, we would be experimenting with UTXOs and assets created which have sort of no value until redeemed. So at first it will be only PRPs and maybe zAssets created just for the staking part that will be in the shielded pools.
It would be a chance, a period of time, when we would be experimenting, learning, battle testing, trying to see how a shielded pool behaves. What are the structures of people depositing… Well, not of people depositing, but of those assets created in the shielded pool, and things of that nature. That is why it was called Experimental Staking, but, in other words, it is an advanced form of staking because it gives you rewards in PRPs, and it is going to merge into the main Panther core. And pretty much everything that I said about Advanced Staking in the earlier question applies. That is the answer in short.
What are PRPs in short?
Saif: PRPs are Panther Reward Points. This is a mechanism by which the Privacy Staking reward works. When you deposit or transact in the Panther Shielded Pool, you are rewarded in PRPs, then you can convert PRPs into ZKP as rewards. And this is basically the whole one way quasi-AMM methodology of rewarding. The reward in itself balances the amount of users equally distributed depending on the demand and supply of how the protocol is functioning. That’s the whole “automated market making”, in one way, for the reward mechanism.
What are the thoughts of the Panther team on Panther merchandise?
Oliver: Mike and the team have been busy this week. We were just looking at some designs for some hats, shirts, and bags. I want embroidered logos, stuff like that. I think the merchandise should be high quality to reflect the quality of the project and the team.
Mike: Yeah, we’re definitely working on getting some awesome Panther swag out there. I do want to give a shout out to our Head of UI/UX, Chris, who has been working hard on it. He’s the guy who makes our amazing designs, our graphics, logos, and everything. Shout-out to Chris.
Panther’s brand is very strong and visually appealing. How did it come to be?
Oliver: I think the logo and brand have been a collective effort. Even the name, the initial name, back in early 2020 we had a Telegram and Whatsapp group. We did a survey in there on like four or five different options, and Panther just stood out. It’s been an awesome brand.
Will Panther be capable of bringing privacy to NFT transactions? How about issuing Panther NFTs to inaugurate this feature, and using them in governance?
Oliver: Well, I don’t know if it’s already in the technical roadmap, but it’s been on the discussion board since mid last year. Multi-Asset Shielded Pools can support NFTs with some modifications. I’m a big evangelist of it internally, given the growth of NFT transactions and the fact that it’s only the tip of the iceberg for utility. That vision is not far off of one of the possibilities. I feel like maybe Saif or Adam are gonna want to chime in, because I know Adam is super enthusiastic about the whole voting side. And Anish is very, very centered around governance considerations.
First of all, private NFT transactions are necessary, they’re needed, the industry needs them at this point in time, and we’re very well positioned to be that provider. I don’t want to market it until I actually know that it is embedded into the tech roadmap, otherwise we just save it until it’s relevant. We had a conversation about it some months ago, and the development overhead to get there is not massive. I do think it is something that… I’m not gonna speak on behalf of the tech team on when this fits in the roadmap, but if it’s a fairly low-hanging fruit, then I would have hope that is maybe something we see this year.
So that’s number one. Two, private NFTs. If you think about governance and voting and DAOs, I would expect that every DAO requires a private voting mechanism, and NFTs function as a representation of a digital identity, so the whole question of voting, digital identity, private and NFTs, they’re all interconnected. NFTs are a social contract and an organic marketing, viral marketing engine. You can really get a lot of organic engagement by representing some value, like a right to vote, or an economic right, through an art NFT or an avatar NFT. All of those ideas are interrelated.
The question of would the NFT entitle you to some privileged economic upside, would be a question of, in the very long term, is that going to skew the economics? And if the answer is no, then there’s no reason it shouldn’t be. If it does create a privileged subset, then we haven’t built it right.
The balance will be in finding the right way to align incentives so that $ZKP holders don’t become second order citizens to NFT holders. From a purely economic perspective, from a voting perspective, I think there’s a lot of grounds for those who are more active in voting and governance to be better compensated, and that could be reflected through the NFT.
All of that said, I think, if we have the treasury to do it all, we’ll do it all. Right now we are picking and choosing and prioritizing. The Panther NFT project can take any number of formats. Actually, I’m completely overlooking the fact that Adam introduced me to this incredible artist in London, who actually hand-drew a Panther, and took 1000s of frames of it, and we were thinking that might be actually what we use for the representation of the art.
Just to throw an extra thought out there, the idea of having a clandestine community where your membership to the community is not known unless people selectively disclose that they’re part of it is kind of cool. It’s almost like a secret society, or guild. And I think, from where we sit, we’re pretty well positioned to be the first to do that. The question becomes one of scope, time and feasibility and is this directly part of the Panther, is this part of the Panther ecosystem.
Saif: Yeah, I’d say, just to add there, Adam, do you want to speak about it? Because this is a hot topic we have been discussing separately one on one in different forums here internally at Panther as well.
Adam Spiers (Senior Architect): It just so happens that I was talking with Vadim, our Chief Architect, just a few hours ago about the concepts of NFT support within Multi-Asset Shielded Pools, and there’s no question we can do it. The question is just when, really, when it makes sense within the roadmap.
Basically where we are right now, the release of Advanced Staking fixes the design for version one of the shielded pools, in the way that the Merkle trees and the UTXOs are constructed. We basically have to make a decision very soon for finalizing the zero-knowledge circuits and the smart contracts for Advanced Staking, on whether we can squeeze in NFT support at this time, or whether we will do that at a later point, for, like, a version two of the protocol. That’s something we’re looking at right now. And like I said, it’s just a question of when. It’s doable, without question, we know how to do it. It’s just more on the technical details.
Mike: Okay, great. Yeah. I have seen the artwork that Adam’s contact has shown regarding the Panther NFTs and it is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s amazing art, and there are like time lapse videos of them. I think there’s so much that we can do with those, and when you see them you’ll get absolutely super excited because it’s pretty amazing.
Saif: Yeah, Mike, just in regards to the NFT we might be getting a speaking slot in NFT NYC coming up in June. So if you’re hanging around New York or if you’re coming to the town to attend NFT NYC, please connect with myself or other Panther folks who might be there. And we’ll be planning to talk more about NFT privacy and the use cases.
Mike: Awesome. Yeah. And definitely, when those events get confirmed we of course will tell everyone about it and promote it.
Do you need volunteers for testing, marketing campaigns, initiatives, etc? How would one get involved in Panther’s initiatives?
Oliver: On the subject of getting involved, I would like to see our governance forums opened up soon. We’ve put a proposal right alongside someone else’s proposal a couple of weeks ago, around doing a private Panther-focused Visa or MasterCard. That’s because we actually have the partnership in place to do that. There’s like a bunch of work to do, but the point is, we kind of need to put in place a framework soon where the community can start mastering these sub-initiatives. Then our team directly takes on ownership of building them, or maybe we advise, or support them. The point here is, this thing is designed to blossom into a number of sub DAOs and a vibrant ecosystem.
Mike: Alright, that is all we have right now. Thank you, everyone. Thanks to the speakers, Oliver, Adam, Saif. Thank you for the audience out there. Thank you for the great questions. As you have heard, there’s a lot going on, there’s some big things coming up very soon and you will certainly know about those, we will let you know.
Again, we will have these AMAs on various channels every two weeks, but of course, if there are any questions we are always available on Telegram, Twitter, or Discord. Thanks, everyone. Have a great evening, morning, and we’ll talk to you soon. Take care everyone!
Panther is a decentralized protocol that enables interoperable privacy in DeFi using zero-knowledge proofs.
Users can mint fully-collateralized, composable tokens called zAssets, which can be used to execute private, trusted DeFi transactions across multiple blockchains.
Panther helps investors protect their personal financial data and trading strategies, and provides financial institutions with a clear path to compliantly participate in DeFi.