Decentralized Ethereum Token Trading Goes Live With 0x Launch

Decentralized cryptocurrency exchange protocol 0x has gone from white paper to functioning early-stage application in three months – all without leveraging an initial coin offering (ICO) to raise funds (so far).

Revealed today, the early stage over-the-counter (OTC) platform for exchanging ethereum-based tokens is expected to start settling trades soon after the publication of this article.

But what’s going on under the hood of the application, called 0x OTC, is about more than just creating a new way for token owners to trade, according to 0x advisor and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam.

In conversation with CoinDesk, Ehrsam explained how the manual process launched today is just the beginning of a larger plan to automate the trading process, creating a cryptocurrency switchboard that could someday power a network of decentralized applications.

He said:

“If you’re running a truly decentralized application, you ideally do not want to be calling a centralized exchange for what is really just critical infrastructure to run your application. You are ideally going to want to do things that are native to the blockchain.”

What it does

0x OTC is designed to let counterparties exchange tokens built using the ERC20 token standard without the assistance of a centralized exchange. Users can generate and cryptographically sign and share orders using a variety of off-chain communication channels and execute the trades directly on the blockchain.

At launch, users will be able to trade ERC20 ether tokens, MakerDao tokens, Melon tokens, 0x protocol tokens, Augur tokens, Digix DAO tokens and Golem Network tokens.

0x OTC

Initially, the open-source smart contracts powering the free trades will be deployed on the Kovan network co-developed by Digix, Etherscan, Parity, Maker, MelonPort and several others.

The exchange, backed by investors including Polychain Capital, Blockchain Capital and Pantera Capital, is not a real-time public order book, according to a statement provided to CoinDesk. Instead the platform, which will host an ICO later this year, was designed to make it easier for entrepreneurs to build decentralized exchanges that can charge increasingly competitive fees.

0x co-founder Will Warren said:

“We believe the quickest path towards realizing our vision is by developing free tools that massively lower the barrier to entry for new for-profit exchanges and their respective markets.”

The need for interoperability

The release of 0x OTC marks an advance towards a more decentralized infrastructure for building cryptocurrency applications, according to Ehrsam.

Last month, Ehrsam penned an article about why he believes the decentralized application market stalled in 2014, just when he was expecting it would explode.

Unlike in 2014, when decentralized app builders had few tools, he now paints a picture of an increasingly mature developer stack in the form of file storage provided by firms such as IPFS and Storj, for example; external data from oracles including Augur; and a monetization model in the form of token sales.

But each of those tools is powered by a native token, and to interact with each other, they will require a seamless means of exchange, perhaps similar to what 0x launched today.

Ehrsam concluded:

“The real vision in the future is that all of this is being done programmatically in the background as decentralized applications are running and using these pipes that you can use right now in a manual demo.”

Vintage switchboard image via Shutterstock

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