Reserve + Coinbase Ventures

About The Reserve Project

The Mission

We’re building a stablecoin that can’t be shut down, and a network of decentralized fiat on/off ramps.

We believe that everyone’s money should be secure. Billions of people around the world don’t have a safe place to store their money. Banks in some countries can’t be trusted, and some governments inflate their own currency to pay off debts, hurting citizens in the process.

With a few exceptions (money laundering, terrorist financing), we believe anyone in the world should be able to transact with anyone else. This requires low-friction, cross-border transactions, which are surprisingly hard to do in many cases today.

That’s the reason for creating a stable, decentralized currency that can’t be abused by a government, because it is globally distributed outside of anyone’s control, and thus nearly impossible to shut down.

The Challenge

Today, Reserve’s users are primarily normal people and business owners in Venezuela. We help them save in dollars and transact with low friction. They can cash-in and cash-out with PayPal, Zelle, and Venezuelan bank transfers. For example, to cash-in, users initiate a transaction in our app, then are prompted to make a transfer with whatever payment method they have selected. That transfer is received by one of the traders in our network, who responds by sending the user RSV – this can be automated or manual, depending on the payment method. Once the user has RSV, transactions between users are simple. If a user wants to cash-out some funds they have received in RSV, they can use the same process in reverse, and receive a transfer from one of the traders in our network. The traders sell RSV for a little more than they buy it back for, so they make their money on the difference.

This itself is a fully functional product with a growing user-base, but it’s just the start of our product vision. We plan to extend this cash-in and cash-out network to span the entire globe. We also plan to go way beyond just offering users the ability to make basic transactions – think payroll, automated cross-currency transactions, incoming and outgoing card payments, and so on.

Most of what we intend to build has been built before, but there are a lot of places that are cut off from accessing these modern tools freely. It’s hard to explain if you don’t already understand what we mean when we say “cut off,” because it’s for a tangled mess of reasons. But to boil it down:

  1. Some countries limit their own citizens from accessing foreign currencies, and
  2. Some countries are seen as too high risk by global financial institutions, so their citizens are either not allowed to have accounts, or they are but accounts are highly limited and frozen so often that it’s hard to just do normal business.

Crypto dollars (and eventually stable non-USD-denominated cryptoassets) really can be used to run entire economies. And because transactions are peer to peer, they are very different from a regulation perspective than normal digital money. They are both (a) not regulated – i.e. when I transfer some RSV to you, no company or person in the world is responsible for tracking that transaction or knowing our identities, at least from the US legal perspective, and (b) harder to regulate – e.g. governments that control bank rules in order to stop their citizens from buying foreign currencies will have a harder time controlling these P2P transactions.

Crypto-as-money is still young. We have a lot to do. Do you remember Napster? Tether is kinda like Napster – it’s taking off, people love it, it’s a little sketchy, and it’s probably not the design that will last. We don’t want to make the equivalent of Kazaa – another blip in the history that ultimately doesn’t ultimately work out. The challenge is to build a platform that’s as robust as BitTorrent and as great to use as Spotify and Netflix.

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