AirSwap launched last week, enabling more than a million dollars in trades on day one. Offering a way for buyers and sellers to find each other and trade directly, AirSwap isn’t like traditional or decentralized exchanges. Find out more about AirSwap in our exclusive interview with co-founder Don Mosites.
The Merkle: Hi Don, thanks for speaking with us. I first reached out to you when I was writing a piece on decentralized exchanges (DEXs), and you told me that AirSwap isn’t a DEX because it’s more of a discovery service for peer-to-peer trading. How would you describe AirSwap?
Don Mosites: Thanks for having me. Yes, we don’t see AirSwap as a DEX. We believe the concept of “exchange” itself is already decentralized on the blockchain between peers. Our system lets those peers find each other and make trades directly. So technically, we’re more of a marketplace, and our platform is powered by search.
The Merkle: Could you give some background on why AirSwap is set up differently from DEXs and traditional order book setups?
Don Mosites: When my friend and co-founder Michael Oved first connected to the Ethereum community, he began to apply his experience in algorithmic trading and electronic markets to figure out decentralized trading designs. His early research revealed some limitations of decentralized order books.
Order books evolved as fast and predictable systems that prioritize and execute orders. Decentralizing this process creates a difficult coordination problem. Last year, 0x created a protocol for “relayers” to decentralize order books, which still faced race conditions, front running, and having to pay for cancels, which is a non-starter for market makers.
Seeing this, we opted to instead focus on peer-to-peer, in the spirit of the original Bitcoin white paper. With AirSwap, all three components of trade are decentralized: custody, execution, and settlement. We simply provide a peer discovery service called an Indexer, which looks and feels like a bulletin board with a search engine.
The Merkle: What are the advantages of this setup?
Don Mosites: First, AirSwap can scale with the growing token economy as market makers come online and trade more and more assets, and because trades are peer-to-peer, there are no fees on those transactions. As for pricing, given that we’re built for market makers, spreads will be tighter and you’ll see pricing comparable to centralized systems as more makers come online.
The Merkle: There are so many DEXs and centralized exchanges available today, where do you see AirSwap in all this? How do you stack up against competitors like 0x OTC and Radar Relay?
Don Mosites: We bring security, efficiency, and better pricing to decentralized trade. Just opening the platform last week, over $1 million of trades were made through the marketplace, and we had an incredibly positive community response. AirSwap offers more efficient trading and does not suffer the limitations of decentralized order books as mentioned before. Users are always in control of their assets and make trades directly, peer to peer. Because trades are direct between peers, there’s less friction, and pricing will be better than alternatives, even comparable to centralized systems.
The Merkle: What are some of the security measures you’ve taken to ensure that AirSwap is reliable for users? Are you doing any outside code auditing or other forms of security measures?
Don Mosites: We had two independent auditors look at our smart contracts available on our GitHub. We’re also confident in our security posture because we don’t handle users’ funds or settle trades. That all happens on-chain, between individuals, using smart contracts.
The Merkle: What’s the number one piece of advice you’d offer to new investors in the space?
Don Mosites: Pick up a hardware wallet, because dealing in keystore files and private keys on your own is dangerous. Decentralization means security is in your hands, so you need to be very careful about how you control your assets.
The Merkle: Where do you see blockchain technology heading in the long term? What do you think will be the effects?
Don Mosites: This is a huge question, but where we can have an impact is in the reduction of expensive and fragile trust systems of exchange, replacing them with new ways for people around the world to safely transact without intermediaries.
The Merkle: What motivates the AirSwap team to create projects in this emerging market?
Don Mosites: So much about what we’re doing is powerful in how it makes us feel. As technologists, it’s incredible to put these tools to work and see a positive impact. There’s a real chance to make the world a safer and more efficient place to trade, and we think the power of that is yet to be seen.