Kava Labs AMA With Marketing Director Tristan Willis

Kava Labs is the main contributor to the Kava Network and a number of other DeFi protocols.

The General Manager of Altcoin Buzz, Anindya (Ani) Baidya, anchored the Kava Labs AMA session on our Telegram channel with Tristan Willis, the Marketing Director of Kava Labs.

Below is a recap of the AMA session with Tristan Willis to understand what the ecosystem is up to. Also, the AMA is in three segments: introduction, deep dive, and community questions and answers.

Segment 1: Introduction to Kava Labs

Background Information
Q – Tell us about yourself. How did you get involved with Kava?

So, I’ve been involved in the crypto space since late 2015. First as an observer and then as an investor. In around 2017, I started writing on novel applications of blockchain tech and began covering the emergence of the DeFi space.

In my day job during that time, I was working in marketing for both freelancing and agencies. By mid-2019, I decided to go all-in on the space and took a contract with a few DeFi projects doing content writing and strategy for them.

And then in August of last year, Kava Labs reached out to me to join the team. I was obviously aware of the project and jumped at the opportunity to work internally for a well-established team in the space. Particularly because I was very excited with the new direction that they were planning on taking Kava in 2022.

Q – Kava is a big brand now. Can you throw more insights into the company? Who is in the leadership, how many employees are there, and where are you based out of?

So, the CEO of Kava Labs is Scott Stuart. He’s one of the co-founders and comes from a professional poker background before starting a successful mobile ad business. In 2018, he and the other co-founders (Brian and Kevin) recognized the emerging potential of DeFi and decided to leverage their shared entrepreneurial experience and Kevin’s technical expertise to build out a CDP product using the then-new Cosmos SDK.

We’ve come a long way from then, but the core founders are all still very much a part of the company. I think in total we have ~40 people working full time for Kava Labs now.

Several of us (myself included) are based in the Bay Area, but we have people in China, across the U.S., and in Europe. We’re a totally remote organization.

Segment 2: Deep Dive

About the Platform
Q – I will start directly with Kava 9. Today, you are launching Kava 9 which should bring in a whole new chapter in the Kava ecosystem. What can we expect?

There’s a lot to unpack there, so let me start with what’s coming in Kava 9 and what that means in the short term.

So, Kava 9 is the 9th upgrade of the Kava mainnet. The most exciting thing that it’s implementing is v0.44 of the Cosmos and the Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC). Basically, IBC allows for the seamless transfer of assets between IBC-enabled chains (which are all currently part of the Cosmos ecosystem). Those chains include Cosmos itself, Terra, Osmosis, Cronos, Akash, and many more.

In addition to IBC integration, Kava 9 is also implementing some core modules that are needed to build out a native ETH bridge and EVM support, which means that we will be able to activate those without a hard fork.

It’s also implementing the functionality needed for our Kava Launchpad program, which will enable the distribution of any token as incentives on the Kava Platform protocols to boost the liquidity of new projects at launch.

What this all means in the short term is that, following the launch of the mainnet later today/tomorrow at 16:00 UTC on January 19, we will be onboarding a range of IBC assets onto the Kava network and platform, starting with ATOM.

This will make Kava Mint the first proper multi-collateral CDP protocol in the Cosmos Ecosystem and Kava Lend the first money market lending protocol where you can lever up ATOM (and other incoming IBC assets).

Long Term Effect

But, now for the long term:

As you may have guessed with the inclusion of the ETH bridge and EVM modules, Kava 9 is really just the beginning of a major roadmap for Kava in 2022. We began as a single-use DeFi chain and grew from there into a multi-protocol DeFi platform.

In 2022, Kava will be evolving into a fully decentralized, multi-chain Layer-1 that aims to bridge the Binance, Cosmos, and Ethereum ecosystems.

We will be releasing some major updates on that point in the next few weeks, but I can say that we are targeting a full rollout of EVM compatibility and an ETH bridge at the end of Q2, with a fully-populated ecosystem of cross-chain EVM-compatible dApps.

So, Kava 9 and IBC are huge steps that unlock the Cosmos ecosystem for Kava, but it’s also just the beginning.

Q – For a long time, while using Kava, I have felt that there is an entry barrier, only two wallets, Trust and WalletConnect, supported. Also, being on Cosmos and not EVM compatible and only a few tokens as collaterals. With Kava 9, I can see you breaking all of these. So this basically means that I can now use Akash or Atom as collaterals, how will you move ETH guys temporarily, is there a bridge?

Yeah, that’s absolutely what we want to address with our developments through 2022 and beyond. We have been an island and we see other chains being slow to embrace a fully multi-chain future. Our mission is to make Kava the most frictionless, usable chain for DeFi and Web3 by providing a fast, scalable blockchain that bridges all the major ecosystems and assets.

As for bridging ETH, a native ETH bridge and EVM support are the next two top priorities as soon as Kava 9 goes live. We will provide more details on the timeline soon and regular development updates, but we will definitely have ETH and possibly some major ERC-20 tokens on the network by the end of Q2.

Q – Now that you are implementing IBC, what value will these other chains bring into your ecosystem (apart from using their tokens as collaterals)? Are there big partnerships or collaborations?

Yeah, there are a number of different ways that we see these inter-chain connections bringing value:

  1. Obviously, IBC and other bridges allow new assets to move onto Kava and be used on the existing protocols. As I said, for IBC and the Cosmos ecosystem, that means access to leverage with Kava Mint and Lend and new yield farming opportunities with Kava Swap.
  2. It adds new on-ramps and off-ramps for assets to Kava. KAVA, HARD, and SWP holders will be able to put their assets to work on other chains like Osmosis, and Kava users will have access to new and potentially easier ways to move from fiat to Kava-supported assets.
  3. The big one is obviously EVM support and the ETH bridge. With support for the most popular DeFi and Web3 architecture, we will see an explosion in utility for the Kava network. We already have partnerships in place with some GameFi projects and will be announcing more in the DeFi, NFT, and Metaverse spaces.

Ultimately, we don’t think one chain is going to take it all. Assets and users will flow to wherever the best opportunity or experience is for what they need. We want to build a network that makes that movement possible and delivers protocols and experiences that make them want to stay.

Q – What is the kind of adoption Kava has seen so far (TVL, wallets, etc.)? And what is your target by 2022?

So, we’ve seen incredible growth over the past year in terms of TVL. The network started 2021 with ~$100M in TVL and that grew to ~$600M by the end of the year with only the addition of Kava Swap in that time.

But, we are much more aggressive this year. With IBC coming online and EVM support happening mid-year, we are aiming for $10B TVL by the end of 2022.

As for users, in the same time period, we’ve seen daily average users climb from the 100s to the multiple thousands. Monthly average users are up 26% just this month.

Segment 3: Community Questions and Answers

For this segment, the five best questions shared $500 in $SWP. One of these questions is as follows:

Q. Twitter – Kava 9 enhances new earning opportunities for users of the Kava Platform and new utility for the existing native Kava assets. Can you name any new earning opportunities (APYs, etc.) for users of the Kava Platform?

We are working with our IBC partners to heavily incentivize the new collateral assets as they come onto Kava Lend as part of our Surge Program. So, users can take advantage of massive APYs at listing that will reward first movers who supply IBC assets.

The first event is for ATOM. It will go up for proposal on January 20 and the incentives will be activated on January 27 if the vote passes.

There will be APYs in the triple digits until more than $10M in ATOM is supplied, which means a pretty big opportunity to earn some insane rewards. You can learn more about it here.

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