umbria founder barney and oscar chambers

We caught up with the founders of the London-based multi-chain bridging project Umbria Network, led by brothers Oscar and Barney Chambers.

Umbria recently entered the Polygon Accelerator program in a vote of confidence for the its unique liquidity-based bridging solution – its Narni protocol, which you can read more about in the third part of this interview on blockchain interoperability and much more.

This is the second of a three-part series of interviews. below we discuss with the Umbria founders making implementing bridging solutions a single line code solutions, DEXs, centralisation and regulation, the rise of Binance Smart Chain and keeping a close eye on Solana.

You can read more about Binance Coin (BNB) and Binance Smart Chain in our article on the 12 most promising cryptocurrency to invest in 2022.

Winning plaudits from the Polygon community for keeping it simple

Oscar: “We have a referral scheme right now where if you integrate our widget onto your website, any volume that goes through the bridge the entity that integrates the widget get 0.1% of that volume.

“Copy and paste one line of code into their website and the iframe will pop up for their users.”

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Barney: We think the iframe is definitely a very underrepresented as far as integrations are concerned. It seems like the standard way for APIs and integrations is to go to a website, get a referral key and then build and API and interface from scratch.

We think if you can remove all of that – get the developer fluff out of it – just give someone a very simple html iframe, then copy-paste that in and it will work, that is definitely a very powerful technique. It is not really used that much.

So why don’t most projects use this iframe plug in approach – it is so easy.?

“I think there are some technical limitations when integrating an iframe when compared to building your own customisable solution. So for example an iframe is not very brandable.

It would be easier to brand if the developer could just integrate the API in some way that they wanted to do it. So I guess there is a trade-off between how much customisability do you want and how much ease of integration you want.

Oscar: We just want to provide our own user experience that we think is really good and refine it and make it amazing and then give it to other people.

A lot of people in the crypto space, who are deploying NFTs, deploying crypto, they’re actually not that technical.

They are just trying to integrate crypto into a broader picture to solve a specific problem and don’t necessarily want to be bogged down by something that’s super technical. Especially with NFTs.

A lot of people out there who have deployed NFT projects, they are not particularly interested in the technical side of things.

Moving on – you are building a relationship with QuickSwap, which is essentially the UniSwap of the Polygon network

Oscar: We are trying to build a partnership with QuickSwap and to get them to integrate our widget.

Because what we’ve found is that as we have expanded to more and more partners, the ones that are the most beneficial for the community and the most fruitful for everyone involved, seems to be the DEXs and the DeFi.

They are the ones that are moving large amounts of volume between tokens. We are focused now on building partnership with big DEXs and DeFi platforms.

Barney: When we were in the earlier stages of this project and we weren’t very well known, for some of the bigger players we might have seemed a little but risky for them to implement us.

However, now we have expanded – especially on Polygon where we have about 60 different partner – we are definitely starting to feel like some of the larger more well established well funded platforms are looking at us and starting to say, ‘oh this might be interesting for us’.

For information on where to buy Polygon read our beginner’s guide.

DEXs have overtaken CEX in on-chain transactions. What part does Umbria want to play in making is easy for consumers to onboard to DEXs and other Web3 applications?

Barney: The great thing about DEXs and decentralised finance is it’s all public on a blockchain, so there’s no – or there’s not as much – manipulation on the values.

And [centralised] exchange can quote easily wash trades and things like that, to make their volume look incredibly high.

But with exchanges like UniSwap it is much more difficult to lie about your volume, so having that transparency is vert=y important, especially for the crypto space where it is still such a Wild West.

So it is greta to be a part of that side of crypto where we are enabling all of the good guys who aren’t lying about their volumes – or who can’t lie about their volumes because of the nature of how their systems are being built.

Oscar: Decentralised exchanges have much less volume that some of the centralised exchanges I was looking at Binance versus UniSwap a couple of months ago – UniSwap has something like half the volume of Binance.

So I think it depends how you are measuring the volume. CEXs can move USDC from one account to another account to another account and say that is $1 billion of volume. There is a lot of incentive for the centralised exchanges to say ‘I have the most volume, I am the most important exchange, you should come and sign up with me’.

So yes, the DEX space is far more exciting but the technology is a lot more difficult to use because the onus is on the user to completely organise everything. there’s no support channels to guide you through the process, so it is going to take a lot longer for the average person to adopt DEXs.

umbria network

There’s never a bridge too far for Umbria – EVM proof of authority to be a major trend

Umbria currently has bridges on Ethereum, Polygon, Avalanche, BSC, Fantom, Arbitrum and currently in developing for Optimism and Solana- and they should be released in the next few weeks.

Oscar: We also have a few more blockchains in the works as well. As your readers can see, we have exceeded the expectations set out in our roadmap. So it is all going very well.

We have seen a lot of growth on Binance Smart Chain. Tokens, NFTs, DEXs, things like that on BSC. A lot of the reason for that is because of cheap transactions. Kucoin and Huobi are coming out with their own versions of BSC , so we will be looking to implement those and similar as other big exchanges take that approach.

So that style of EVM chain with proof of authority could be a major trend over the next few years.

Binance Smart Chain – centralisation and regulation take on symbiotic roles

Oscar: There is a certain amount of centralisation that is inevitable we think and as regulation comes in the systems that we are using are probably going to become more and more centralised. The pertinent question is: is that ok and can we accept that? If the answer is no we can’t accept that, then the technology is going to move on and get around that.

We’ve seen with technology over the last 30 years with say encryption, as privacy has become reduced because of new legislation, hackers have emerged and created new cryptographic solutions to remain private and to remain anonymous.

And so if the regulation becomes too strong there is going to be a rebound effect where the community goes ‘we don’t like all these regulations; we are going to create new technology that get’s around it.

If the regulation isn’t too strong, then that technology won’t need to happen. So there’s are ways going to be a happy medium there. People are going to have to choose the solutions they think are in a sweet spot and more suitable for them and their needs, be it the privacy , or cheaper fees, or faster transactions, whatever they might want.

I wouldn’t say the regulators coming in with all guns blazing is a huge problem because people can just react that.

Crypto centralisation a political problem more than a technical one

Barney: Yeah I think decentralisation is more of a political problem than it is a technical problem. People say that bitcoin is the most decentralised cryptocurrency, because it has the most hash power and is the most widely used.

But there’s only about four or five mining pools that control about 85% of the mining power of bitcoin and people don’t seem to have too much of an issue with that, probably because of the good branding that bitcoin has.

I think with Binance having control of all the BSC nodes, that’s not something new in the space of cryptocurrency. It is just that maybe people look at Binance under a particular lens and group it in a certain area of the crypto community. But really none of this stuff is truly decentralised and truly impermeable to a centralised attack.

Oscar: There used to be back in the old days, before any crypto regulation had come in, that a crypto that was too centralised, or a crypto that has developers with too much power, well those developers could just rug pull the project.

There was no regulatory frameworks to throw these people in prison for stealing your money.

Now that the regulation and legislation is coming in, you can’t just create a crypto project and run off with everyone’s money because you will go to prison.

Or rather the legislation is such that digital assets are considered real assets, so if you steal them, it’s theft. It never used to be.

So that centralised aspect is no longer as worrying as it used to be. People are becoming more accountable. And the developers have to be accountable from a legal perspective.

For information on how to invest in cryptocurrency check out our guide. Don’t invest what you can’t afford to lose.

Moving onto a chain that doesn’t have regulatory so much as technical issues – Solana. How do you feel about this hot project and the issues it has been having?

Oscar: We have postponed our development of Solana a couple of times, with their teething issues and the big wormhole hack a few months ago, made us put stuff on hold.

We’ve built our bridge in such a way that each blockchain bridge is its own distinct entity in the space.

So if one of the bridges does go down, it doesn’t affect any other the other bridges., which gives us a little bit of a sense of security in that way I suppose. But. yes, there is definitely a lot of risk in developing on any of these new blockchains.

Even the biggest blockchain like Ethereum has been hacked really badly twice in earlier years, and even now people are still finding major vulnerabilities in Ethereum, in Polygon etc.

All the major blockchains every six to 12 months or so. Security is therefore definitely the biggest challenge with all of this stuff. Solana is one of those blockchains we do have to keep a close eye on and make sure that nothin too crazy seems to be lurking in the background.

In the blockchain space the only good metric of secureness of a blockchain is how long it has been since they have been hacked.

Basically every top 20 crypto has been hacked at some point. It really is not a matter of if rather than when.

All we really can do as a blockchain developer is mitigate the hacks and try and reduce the damage as new technologies are emerging.

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