Email to scale: Getting to real-world usage for aeternity

Connecting a social component to aeternity is a good idea.

But social networks are a crowded place (see 95+ Social Networking Sites You Need To Know About in 2020 - Make A Website Hub) and they are - for the most part - platform plays: Centralized, mutually incompatible, not interconnected. In consequence, each of them aims to be an economy of scale of its own. So each has its own network effect, which starts becoming net positive once the first millions of users have been brought on board - and is strongly negatively before that.

So to bring social networks to life from a token perspective, you already need to have the users. That is why Telegram had a viable option with its TON token until they were shut down by regulator and ultimately gave up. Without having the users already the weaknesses in adoption compound each other, resulting in much higher obstacles for growth than either case would fact on its own.

This is compounded by the “yet another social network/messenger” effect. Nobody is waiting for another social network and won’t check more than two, perhaps three of them actively. So people want to bundle them using third party tools. Which adds another level of obstacle: Any new social network must convince these third party vendors to add support for a new social network - one by one.

It’s possible, of course, to succeed with this. But it is also a road much travelled.

But all social networks are dwarved by the economies of scale inherent in email with its 4 billion active users. There is also concentration. Gmail is taking the crown with 1.8 billion users and Microsoft owning much of the on premise business domain. But Office365 is also already at 300 million users, adding between 3.5 and 4 million users each month as companies are increasingly moving to the cloud. But despite this concentration, Email is still decentralised, federated and interoperable: Email from Gmail reaches Office365 or on premise mail servers without problems.

Only Gmail and Office365 combined are at 2.1 billion users. Facebooks 1.69 billion users look positively meager by comparison. Not to mention email is the dominant universal identifier on the internet - social networks included. Email was, is, and in all likelihood will continue to be the most prevalent and universal communication channel available.

Long story short

Email is not only the great unifier across all services, it is also the primary choice for business and professional services, and continues to be the dominant medium of communication for the past decades - with no end in sight.

That is why I believe the first blockchain to really scale on top of email is going to be champion - and the first to see mass adoption.

The approach taken must be supplement, do not replace in order to add value to where people already are. Because no-one likes switch their email provider.

All of the above has gone into the strategic approach and product development at Vereign, a user of aeternity blockchain for over a year. Our approach is to focus on adding value to and on top of these existing platforms.

From December 2020 it is now possible for users of Office365 to seal their messages against the aeternity blockchain. Gmail users will be able to do this in the next weeks, we expect the add-ins to become available January 2021, latest.

What does this mean for aeternity? Simply by visiting the Microsoft AppSource or Google Play Store, 2.1 billion users can start to use aeternity to seal their messages. No extra effort required. We can then build on that, exposing them to more of the benefits and opportunities and add more value - including social network opportunities.

You can help make this happen

There are a couple of things you can do to help make this happen.

Vereign has successfully integrated aeternity into Gmail and Office365, which I believe should make it a major aeternity success story - but most people do not know about it.

Not to mention that the partnership of Vereign with totemo means that companies such as Deutsche Bank, UBS, Swiss International Air Lines, BASF, Swisscom & Co are likely to start using aeternity blockchain from January 2021 onward.

The team at Vereign has done a lot of heavy lifting over the past three years in order to create one of the major aeternity success stories to date. Now it’s up to you.

Please help us spread the word and make this the start of an amazing journey to mass adoption and business usage of aeternity!

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Simply brilliant @greve! Hats off!!

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That’s great. Support
But how does this work? @yani.chain Does the founder need to step up or take the initiative to communicate with the business?

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It’s a good idea god bless you and God bless ae

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A high level explanation is available here: When Email Marries the Blockchain

Anyone wanting to use the service can just install the add-ins and start using it, which is by design. We wanted to keep this extremely simple and low barrier to entry. It is the start of a step by step journey into the world of Self Sovereign Identity, social connectivity, blockchain and tokens.

@yani.chain and myself have been discussing this for some time now. In fact, Yani was among the fist to immediately “get it.” Unlike many others, he understood the potential and idea right away back in 2018 when we started our conversations - to the point that aeternity made a small investment into Vereign at an early stage. We hope to continue this journey together, around email, chat and social.

As to how to promote this: Since it is extremely easy to on-board yourself, anyone can help promote it.

My thanks to everyone who is already doing that! :pray:

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Good news!

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That is good news indeed.

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Hi @greve! A radical step forward, really excited!

What I think would help click this with non-technical users - what I personally would love to see - is a short easy-to-digest and to pass-to-friends video that puts the information in the medium post into simple words - and pictures - and examples of someone interacting with the system!

“Recipients can decode the seal using a web verification app” would be great to see actually be done by an attractive model in a sunny room with an open window with a view of the ocean and with upbeat music in the background, know what I mean? :slight_smile:

Cheers!

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Thank you, @swift! So happy everyone seems to be as excited as we are! :rocket:

Yes, we will definitely make a video to explain this once the Gmail Add-Ins are live.

In the meantime trying it out is often the easiest, in fact much easier than explaining.

Just sent myself a message. Here is the QR code that launches the web verification app. Obviously won’t be useful for anything in the real world, as you don’t have the message it belongs to. But it allows you to take a look at the app:

qrcode

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Hi @greve,hats off,That is a problem worthy of being considered about how to promote it, how to attract users, how to make users willing to use it. @aelex

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Two more thoughts, @greve:

  1. ‘Roughly 306.4 billion emails are sent every day, but it comes with just as many authenticity, security and trust problems’ on www.vereign.com sounds incorrect in English. :slight_smile:
  2. Charging private users ANYTHING (1CHF what?!) to use your start-up business’ product is a really really bad idea. Make it free for non-corporate users - to enable the adoption phase, geeeeeeez! Your goal is not profits, your goal is mass market adoption; profits come in 5 years! Or never if you try to make them too soon.

Again, great idea, good luck!

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Thank you so much for your feedback, @swift! :pray:

That certainly looks like an editing artefact which somehow escaped final review. Thank you for being our proof-reader! :slight_smile:

I fully understand where you’re coming from. It’s basically the silicon valley approach of driving adoption first and foremost, in the hope that someone else will pick up the tab for the costs associated with that growth in a play to “own” and “monetize” the users and their data afterwards. What we’re building with Vereign Seal isn’t really geared up to “owning” our users, though. We’d rather want this to evolve into an open standard, with many compatible providers.

Still, many users are used to getting things “for free” at face value. And I sympathise with the idea. But in this case that’s rather similar to saying “Geeeeeeeez! It is a very very bad idea for blockchains to charge transaction fees from non-corporate users! That can come later!”

None of the successful public blockchains follow that approach, as far as I am aware.

My apologies, but even the short summary of they “why” is longer than I would like:

An average user sends approximately 10 emails per day, so 300 emails per month. Vereign Seal creates a verifiable credential to each of these messages, which translates to a bit of metadata. That metadata for each of these 300 emails per month must be stored for 10+ years in a way that it is available in seconds at scale to any human being anywhere on this planet. That’s millions of simultaneous read operations per second which need to succeed in <1s from anywhere in the world. Each message also triggers at least one write operation to the blockchain, which also carries cost.

(All of this is deliberately ignore the cost of developing, supporting, updating, security auditing and operating the system for all users, which scales with a different kind of dynamic.)

Public blockchains outsource that operational cost to the miners / node operators. Because no blockchain currently supports upward of 1 trillion transactions per day, which is what we would require, that is not a path we can take.

Like a public blockchain, our system is built to work without registration or long winded on-boarding. That is by design, to keep the barrier to usage low and make this available to anyone in the world. For a public blockchain, a private key is a private key. It does not know whether a certain key belongs to a consumer, or a large corporation. The same is true here: By design we do not require users to provide us with the information we need to determine whether their use is private, or professional.

Which is why the idea to have someone else (who?) pay the cost for non-corporate users is similar to saying “it is a very very bad idea for blockchains to charge transaction fees from non-corporate users.”

There are the obvious practical concerns with that idea. But also very fundamental ones, which this rather well known comic summarises well:

facebookpigs

Vereign Seal is built with the strongest security and privacy protection built into its design. There is no way (and frankly, no interest) to monetize users and user data in an indirect way. In this situation, not requiring consumers to pay only would only have the effect of increasing pricing for everyone else. But even if we wanted to do that, how can we do it if we do not know the user and what they are using the system for, specifically?

The only real alternative would have been to go with a transaction based model, similar to what public blockchains do. But that would defeat the purpose of what Vereign Seal enables, which is protection of every single message you send and receive - and the resulting protection against phishing, business email compromise, impersonation and other common threat vectors. And to have a verifiable credential and receipt for every single email you sent, which at the time of sending you don’t always know you’ll need later.

As you can see: Some answers seem simple and obvious, but they do not fit the question. We spent a good amount of time thinking about the different approaches - and we have some other ideas going forward, including potential token based models which might supplement or replace subscription payments.

For the moment, we’ve managed to build this system to deliver all of the above robustly, reliably and at scale at just 1 CHF / 1 USD / 1 EUR per month. Putting that in perspective to what all of us are paying for blockchain transaction fees, in fees to credit cards or fiat on- or offboarding ramps, Netflix or Spotify accounts, or professional GSuite or Office365 accounts that hardly seems prohibitive.

FWIW: Especially the security professionals in our team told us that 1 CHF is far too cheap given that Vereign Seal offers something extremely valuable which no other system or solution can offer today. So they advocated for 10 CHF / month instead.

With all of that said: We will continue to work to enable more value and look for ways to make funding of the system more organic and least invasive to consumers, especially.

Respectfully, @greve, I disagree.

Yes, of course, in FB, the customer is the product. And that is EXACTLY the thing that is conceptually absent in all blockchain-related projects - exactly the thing that keeps them clean and pure - and makes them grow.

A transaction-based model is useless. A pay-per-month model is useless (for private clients). Who said anything about ‘monetizing the user’ by showing them ads? You’re given a free functioning network on which to operate.

There is no advertisement to play CryptoKitties (which saves data on the blockchain and responds pretty fast) - why should there be a special case here? Same with hundreds of other on-chain apps.

“basically the silicon valley approach of driving adoption first and foremost, in the hope that someone else will pick up the tab” - could you give an example of a different approach that has worked in the past 2 decades - in the world of internet? :slight_smile: It’s ‘Silicon Valley’ because that’s the place that made it all work.

“That’s millions of simultaneous read operations per second which need to succeed in <1s from anywhere in the world.” - why millions? Right now nobody is using the app. Simultaneous? Really?

Why <1s? I can wait for a minute to make sure that my e-mail is in fact from my magic person - while I’m reading it. In any case, all those are numbers that I’m sure are not based on much actual calculation/facts. You should really NOT make decisions based on such.

“None of the successful public blockchains follow that approach, as far as I am aware.” - uhmmm… how about Bitcoin or Ethereum? Successful, check. Public, check. Free, check.

“must be stored for 10+ years” - so you guys are doing centralized storage of record? Soo, blockchain is used for what again? This couldn’t be done over basic internet?

“All of this is deliberately ignore the cost of developing, supporting, updating, security auditing and operating the system for all users, which scales with a different kind of dynamic.” - of course. That’s what a start-up’s runway is for - investor’s money is for. You’re trying to make your ‘airplane’ take-off at 15kph, and saying “well security professionals in our team, they want it to take off at 5kph, seee, we’re not THAT dumb!”

In any case - I’m sure you’ve thought a lot about it - and I’m sure that I’m not understanding many of the formative reasons for the endeavor. But having heard a few of the implementation details now, I’m sorry to say I’m a lot less excited for this to be any sort of a broad-use world-changing use-case for AE.

Good luck though! I’ll be glad to find out that I’m wrong.

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Thank you for the input, @swift - now it is really getting interesting.

Again my apologies this got longer than I would have liked. But if I am not completely off you - and everyone else holding aeternity tokens or part of this community - might even be getting paid for using Vereign Seal at 1 CHF / month.

Agreed, both Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two public blockchains that I would also consider successful.

But I struggle to see how they are free of charge, which is probably because I’m missing something. Which means this might be a great opportunity for me to learn. Let me try and summarise how I understood they work and you can let me know where I’m going wrong, OK?

At the heart of all blockchains is basically a time-sorted key value database, stored across multiple nodes. In public blockchains, these nodes do not necessarily know or trust each other. Instead, they identify themselves through private / public key cryptography and must agree on additions by virtue of the consensus protocol. Which for Bitcoin and Ethereum is based on so-called Proof of Work - solving a computationally intensive puzzle on top of cryptographic hashes of old and new data which allows nodes to build an understanding on which nodes are good faith actors.

This means nodes have certain requirements:

  • Hardware, often specialised for this kind of computationally intensive puzzle, as well as infrastructure (racks, cabling, switches);
  • Storage for a copy of the ledger, which ultimately means hard disks;
  • Network connectivity to synchronise new transactions and coordinate with one another, ideally with substantial bandwidth and low latency;
  • Power required to operate the hard- & software, which for the computationally intensive puzzle can be substantial;
  • Cooling to get rid of excess heat generated by the hardware;
  • Physical Security, translating into real estate, rent, fences, guards so no-one just walks in and grabs the hardware and private keys;
  • Digital Security, so firewalls, intrusion detection, procedures, staff to prevent anyone from anywhere in the world walking in on your node and copying the private keys - and all the tokens they provide access to;
  • Maintenance of all of the above, including regular updates, keeping the physical and digital assets up to date, occasionally replacing when something breaks - for hardware typically 10-20% per year.

None of this comes free. Some of it is similar price anywhere in the world. Other points can be cheaper or more expensive depending on your location. But taken together it quickly generates substantial cost, especially if operated at scale.

A blockchain node is no different from any kind of data centre in this regard.

The entities or people operating these blockchain nodes are commonly referred to as miners. These miners find themselves on the receiving end of all the invoices from third parties for all of the above. In order not to go bankrupt, these miners must generate income which exceeds that cost mentioned above.

There are two forms of income for public blockchains:

  • Transaction fees paid by anyone who would like to add their data to the ledger, which is then distributed to the miners. And if this was the only source of income for miners, public blockchains would simply be Software as a Service (SaaS) with transaction based pricing implemented on top of a in-app currency similar to what many online and mobile games do;
  • New tokens (or coins) which are issued for each new block and awarded to the miners. These are a little more interesting, because they increase the number of available tokens, much like printing money is increasing the amount of available fiat currency. Either way it is inflation, but for public blockchains that inflation is algorithmically pre-determined and more transparent than for fiat currency, where it is largely political and unpredictable. But it always translates to the same thing: Socialising cost among everyone who holds that token, coin or currency. Everyone holding a token pays a tiny little bit to the miners for operating the network with each block that gets added.

For miners to operate, the total income in transaction fees and new tokens must exceed the operational costs, above. Which is a function of number of tokens received, as well as the exchange rate for those tokens against whichever currency they need to pay their operational costs in. Which is why miners cannot afford to sit on these tokens forever. They must sell them to cover operational cost and thus make those tokens available to everyone else.

The in-built inflation means that ultimately the token supply increases, so only if the demand for the token rises faster than inflation will the token increase in value.

Otherwise it will decrease in value, which triggers a vicious cycle: The amount of data on ledger and consequently the cost of storage and network increases, while the income for the miners goes down. Once miners are no longer profitable, they will stop participating in this particular blockchain network. Which makes the network more fragile and more susceptible to 51% attacks, reducing its attractiveness to its users, consequently reducing demand further, which drives down price even more.

Bitcoin has the interesting twist built into the network that it halves the number of new tokens issued. So it gradually switches from an inflation funded model - which initially helped boost adoption - to a SaaS model where it will at some point be funded exclusively by transaction fees. Because it pivoted in its story from payment network to store of value as its primary function, the number of people wanting to part with their Bitcoin is largely determined by desire for liquidity today vs expectation of future valuation. Which is why Bitcoin is soaring.

Ethereum also may have realised that the in-built inflation of issuing new tokens is dangerous, as it basically creates an incentive for people to part with their tokens: Inflation always translates into a strong motivation to exchange it against something that is a store of value or investment. Which is why people buy houses, gold, Bitcoin or invest into companies. So Ethereum needed to find a way to incentivise the holding of tokens to protect its own token value against that vicious cycle, above. Which I believe will have played a major role in the switch to Proof of Stake for Ethereum 2.0 - which basically offers rewards for holding tokens.

In my understanding there is no value in holding means of payments, especially if they have in-built inflation. For public blockchains you may know how much money you’re losing over which period of time - whereas in fiat currency you may be positively or (more commonly) negatively surprised about how much money you lost. But nothing changes the fact that as long as you’re holding something that is subject to inflation, you’re losing money.

The only way to not lose money holding a token is to make sure demand for this particular token grows faster than inflation. That is why I am convinced use case adoption is the critical unit of success for any public blockchain.

Same or less usage means inflation, means lower token value, until eventually the last miner turns off the light and the public blockchain ceases to exist, taking with it all investments that anyone ever made, in money, time or knowledge - all of which loses all value, immediately. On the other hand more usage means more demand, means higher prices, drives more attention, attracts more people, brings more use cases, incentivizing more miners. It becomes a virtuous cycle.

But for that dynamic to come true, public blockchains require use cases that drive a perpetual, recurring and ideally organic demand for tokens. So it needs to be a use case that is driven by something people do every day, a lot. Ideally something that is closely connected to business, driving the larger economy.

Nothing fits that bill better than email. Which is why I believe what we do holds enormous potential for aeternity and its entire community of contributors, miners and investors.

Of course it is possible that my understanding of all of the above is completely wrong and I may be missing something essential. And if so I would truly appreciate the opportunity to learn more and improve my understanding.

But based on my current understanding, you’re paying for using the public blockchain for as long as you hold its tokens. Each block that is mined is extracting a small payment from you, independently from whether you do anything at all. Of course that payment may be offset by a larger increase in value because the blockchain is successful and in higher demand. Which makes paying the price worthwhile. But it is still a payment.

But this also means something else:

You might effectively be getting paid for using Vereign Seal.

How much exactly will depend on the investment you made into aeternity in terms of time and competency, as well as the number of tokens you hold. But paying 1 CHF / month to use Vereign Seal and promoting the same to others will drive and help establish an ongoing, recurring and organic demand for aeternity tokens. Which will increase the value of all tokens you hold, as well as increase the returns on time spend and competency built. It seems easy to imagine how that resulting increase in value might very quickly outpace 1 CHF / month.

Which is why I believe there is a real, substantial incentive for everyone in the aeternity community to help us make this succeed. I am convinced we can generate a lot of value, together, for everyone.

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Hi @greve, I’m a bit confused. In the beginning you go into detail at how POW blockchains work - that’s not something that needs to be explored - we HAVE a functioning blockchain on which Vereign (and other projects) are functioning. You don’t have to spend time assuring the blockchain’s perpetuity - let’s assume that as a given - as air and water given. :wink:

Additionally, let’s not equate Vereign users with miners/stake holders - they’re (we’re) just users of a network, a network made work by a wise system layed into it, a system you don’t have to invent or have to participate in - and a system that you DO have to spend a bit of funds (gas!) to participate in.

I don’t want to be paid for using Vereign Seal in a quazi ponzi-scheme (I’m sorry, virtuous cycle) arrangement. I just want it to be a tool I can use on the free world-wide network that this whole crypto arrangement is ALREADY designed to provide to us all. That’s what it’s frickin’ there for, geeeez!!! :slight_smile:

The crypto network system already works. I’ve still not seen a clear answer given as to why I need to pay anything (besides the gas fees, that’s what they’re frickin’ there for!) to use it or anything that’s built on top of it.

Basically you guys are putting a second-layer system on top of an already working one - and are redirecting the profits of that second layer into your own coffers while saying “well it’s for everyone’s good, you see?”

The wheel is already invented. Why are you spending pages re-inventing it? Does it have anything to do with profit? Oh, here’s a question!! Is Vereign an entity that’s making a profit off this whole deal? I theorize it is. And I theorize this is where the meat of this long discussion lies.

Good luck!

Dear @swift - thank you for confirming that my understanding appears to be correct.

I’m not quite sure what warrants the hostility in your response, though. In my experience it does not lend credibility to an argument. Let me try and steer this back to constructive dialogue:

In order to build and operate its Identity solution as well as Seal, Vereign not only holds aeternity tokens, it has also invested quite a few person years into building an application that adds the what is possibly the world’s most valuable use case to aeternity.

And usage is the only place where technologies generate value.

So I would agree: Let’s not equate Vereign with people who only hold tokens, or miners, who primarily provide infrastructure to run a software stack developed by the aeternity community, and who can easily switch that infrastructure to other, more profitable, chains.

The stake and investment of Vereign in aeternity is far more substantial.

Agreed - let’s ignore for the moment that public blockchains are being paid for every minute by anyone holding their tokens whether they currently make use of the chain or not by means of socialised cost in the form of inflation.

Even the transaction fees can be substantial, as Ethereum regularly demonstrates:

In other words: For the price of a single transaction on Ethereum at the moment, Vereign Seal gives you an unlimited number of emails to secure against the blockchain for about 10 months.

That hardly seems prohibitive, or excessive in comparison.

There seems to be some misunderstanding as to what it is we have built. We haven’t built a blockchain network to replace aeternity. We have built a use case on top of it that can scale and bring aeternity to those people who currently do not use it.

There are far more people who have never touched blockchain or token than those who are already part of this ecosystem. Billions of people have yet to start using blockchain for anything meaningful. And maybe that is where the disconnect happened? Like all technologies, blockchains have no intrinsic value or utility. It is the fitness for purpose, in the ability to solve a real world problem to actual users that the value is generated.

That is done by applications on top of the blockchain, which - like the blockchain itself - must generate profits in order to be sustainable. Anything else would be charity, and won’t scale nor survive for longer periods of time.

You’re saying that like it is a bad thing.

Aeternity was funded by investors into its ICO. To my knowledge, these investors did not look to lose or donate their money, but would like to see a profit for it. In return they received aeternity tokens which in many public blockchains (also) fulfil a somewhat similar function to shares in traditional companies.

Those aeternity tokens lose value with any new block added to the chain and gain value with any use case that is built on top of aeternity. The more users in the various use cases, the more value aeternity tokens will have. So holding aeternity tokens is a little bit like a leveraged shareholding in any use case that builds upon it.

Not to mention aeternity Anstalt is a shareholder of Vereign, and thus the aeternity technology base and all of aeternity stands to gain from the success of Vereign.

Vereign Seal adds the world’s largest social and business network (a.k.a. email) to aeternity, making it available and exposing it to billions of people who can now begin to fund aeternity through regular, monthly fiat payments.

Indeed I am hoping for this to be wildly successful and profitable. And I believe so should anyone who has aeternity’s best interests at heart. Because this has the potential to make aeternity the most successful public blockchain on the planet, dwarving even Bitcoin:

Bitcoin currently has 1.2 million active addresses or so.

Gmail and Office365 together have 2.1 billion users to whom Vereign has just given the ability to use aeternity blockchain for the first time.

Now it’s a matter of promotion and encouraging them to use Vereign Seal.

Your help in bringing these 2.1 billion users to aeternity would in any case be much appreciated.

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Hi @greve please don’t mistake my short-hand for hostility. It’s incredulity that’s showing up as curtness, perhaps, but I’m far from hostile. Hence all the smileys. :wink:

We’re getting away from the main point I’m focusing on. And that main point is - why are you guys charging the average-person money? (I’m trying to help YOU and all of us here, by the way)

Don’t you see that nobody wants to a: pay to use a service that is (at the time) not being used by anyone else. b: pay to receive nebulous benefits that they’ve used e-mail without for decades now c: no start-up business that starts off asking for money to enter their undeveloped ecosystem - ever succeeds?

Please think of one online newly-created-market start-up, please, that has made it - when they, right off the bat asked people for money? The way that the internet world has developed - is because all the companies that attempted to do it some other way - they never made it. And you’re about to start marching off in that direction with a smile on your face.

You can say this about any functional (and OMG I hope they come soon) and productive Aeternity software implementation/use. That doesn’t touch on why you guys are asking for supplementary payments. Can this system work without charging all users money?

Here’s a proposal. A question? Could I use your system while paying, what are the AE fractions called, can’t think of it…equivalents of satoshis…so paying 0.000000001AE per e-mail sent? Could you break up your payment schema into two approaches - some users do the pay-per-use payment with AE fractions - as illustrated above, and some (that have a corporate account) sign up for your CHF-income-generating plan?

There’s a concept of activation energy, adoption boundary, or ‘how much of a commitment I have to make to try a something new’ - and giving me a free “just download this and pay a fraction of an AE per e-mail” VS. “sign up to a monthly fee” is a night-and-day difference.

A second proposal - idea - thought - why don’t you give your users a 6-month grace period to use your service for free - and only after a while start charging them? Reduce the adoption boundary pain!

A third idea - nobody knows in advance that the e-mail they’re sending might be an important one - only after it is sent, do people go ‘oh, I wonder?’ - how great would it be to enable that as a ‘after-thought’ action? So, let people send Veregned e-mails for free - but charge them only if they end up wanting to use some fancy feature of the app?

Again, please don’t misunderstand - I’m incredibly excited to see someone who seems to be experienced and collected and committed and far along - developing something on this platform that I personally see tremendous amount of promise in. I just see you guys making a critical incredibly harmful mistake, that’s all. I want you to succeed.

No, I’m saying like it’s a poorly-timed thing and a thing that might be a difference between a run-away success and a ‘well, they tried.’ And the thing is - you WILL make money - you just have to get this to be accepted by the user populace first.

I am pretty certain that if you present your value proposition to anyone sending e-mails right now, they’ll giggle at it. Since those people don’t use AE and the sure don’t want to give their CC# to you - they have to do a whole lot of legwork just to send a ‘verified e-mail’ to their buddy or to that important work interview appointment? Are you seriously expect them to do that? :slight_smile:

Again, I don’t have any ‘horses in the race’ of you failing and I certainly wish you all the luck - in fact I’m trying here to help you out. And I completely see the giant market that you have accessible to you - just am incredibly surprised that you don’t see that it will simply ignore you - if you ask it for $$ to do what they have been doing for free for so many years. And I hope that I am totally mistaken and you’re a runaway success. But I struggle to see that happening if you ask people for money.

To return to a question asked earlier - could you think of an example of a successful business (Internet is 2 decades old, there should’ve been plenty of examples if they were successful) that has made it big in a newly created market starting off asking every user for $ to try to use their system? Just one, please?

Cheers and totally thank you for the thorough responses!

-Swift

P.S. Over and over and over - the key part is - you want people to be able to get this plugin WITHOUT even thinking about money. That is a crucial difference between success and failure. I’m pretty sure I’m right. I hope you heed this warning.

Thank you for the long and thoughtful response, @swift! :pray:

Yes, we’ve considered transaction based pricing - see my previous comment:

And yes, we have considered to add this as another option, as well. But we cannot do everything at the same time, and right now when comparing the group size of “people accustomed to fiat payments that use Gmail or Office365” vs the group size of “aeternity users that use Gmail or Office365” one of them is substantially larger than the other.

That said, I hope we will be able to add transaction based token payments to the service later this year.

Fully agreed. It is why we have gone with the monthly subscription via credit card model.

Just compare these two routes for the “average” user:

  • Download Add-In
  • Send Vereign Seal email immediately & free of charge for first month
  • 1 month later: Add credit card details

vs

  • Download the Add-In
  • Onboard yourself with cryptocurrency exchange
  • Buy some Bitcoin
  • Optional: Discover too late this exchange does not trade Aeternity, so onboard yourself again at an exchange that does
  • Exchange Bitcoin against Aeternity
  • Finally send first (!) mail with Vereign Seal

Which one do you think is easier?

We’re already doing that - although not for half a year.

At the current time the system is entirely free of charge, of course. But we will always keep the initial usage free for a certain period - right now a month. Which is enough to start experiencing the solution and get a feel for it.

Charge people for restore, not for backup? That’s possible, to some extent, but how would this work in this kind of use case? We deliberately built the system for simplicity, and perpetual, infinite ability to use the verifiable credentials that it generates. The ability for each recipient to verify this on each email is in fact a crucial value of the system - and an incentive install the add-in, which does that verification right in your inbox, perpetually free of charge.

Adding complexity purely for attempted monetisation at a later time is always dangerous, in my experience. Simplicity is king.

That depends on whether you consider Fastmail or Netflix successes, I guess. Amazon, AirBnB, Spotify also have higher barriers to starting to use the service - including account creation and means of payment. Of course we could also add advertising to the messages, as many “free” email services do. But I’m really not a big fan of this, as it always ends up privacy invasive.

And if you’re looking at the “email security” market: That market isn’t really new, we just have a solution for this market that’s better in some critical ways than what anyone else has been able to do and more consumer friendly. But there isn’t a single company that has succeeded by offering its services for free.

In fact, one of the reasons experts from this market suggested to substantially increase the pricing was simply the fact that “you get what you pay for.”

In other words: If it doesn’t cost anything, it’s not worth anything.

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Anyway, I started playing with it.
You’ve clearly put a lot of effort into the onboarding, and the user experience of having the email auto-sealed, including the microblock confirmation delay, is quite decent. Not sure exactly what is needed for the Inbox in my app view to become useful, because I don’t see anything in it, even after having sent a couple of emails.

Here’s to hoping that you will soon start pushing the 100 txs/sec limit of the AE network. :wink:
This could happen fairly soon, even with the tiniest fraction of adoption among email users.

Some notes: The white paper still talks about HyperLedger. Perhaps you could update that to Aeternity?

Also, I found the User story a bit more informative than the white paper in terms of answering my most urgent questions:

  • How will the contents and activity patterns of my emails be protected?
  • How much ends up on the blockchain?
  • Why should I trust Vereign with my most sensitive data?

Personally, I have no problem with the 1 CHF/month. Like you, I’m perfectly happy paying for a service that adds value, esp. with something as crucial to me as my email (as a paying customer, I will also have a different kind of leverage). The things I care more about are how you will protect my integrity, and perhaps you can try to sharpen an executive summary version of that as much as you possibly can? Even if the full story is a good one, I will want to find a short and convincing summary of the key points within the first minute or so.

Oh, and from the Privacy Policy:

Given the complexity of this Input Data the resulting Blockchain hash is practicable infeasible to invert

I believe it should be ‘practically’ or ‘in practice’. I’ve been pondering whether some word might be better than ‘infeasible’, even though I believe it to be technically correct in this context; some not too familiar with crypto might read it as “not very easy”, which would be an understatement, assuming you e.g. use the SHA-3 hash functionality in Sophia. “Unworkable”, which essentially means the same thing, or perhaps “undoable” even, might convey the point more convincingly, but I would defer to someone who has English as a native language.

While this may seem like splitting hairs, I believe this point is central to your success, and given the sensitive nature of the service, others are likely to read the policy as carefully as I did. :slight_smile:

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Wonderful! :smiley:

Thank you for that feedback!

Vereign Seal is at the pre-registration stage of the full Vereign Identity product, so you won’t find the messages in your Vereign Identity dashboard. Adding the Vereign Identity to the add-in is going to come next - we first wanted this initial step to be smooth and work out the last kinks, though.

What should work for you is to go into your Outlook / Office365 “Sent” folder and open the add-in there. It should then verify the message right in your inbox, including pulling the blockchain records.

Yup. That is “the plan.” :cowboy_hat_face:

The white paper is meanwhile quite old, and pre-dates our switch to aeternity. Indeed it should and will be updated. Ideally after we’re pushing out a white paper on how we’re using hyper chains to secure email. :wink:

Yes. We’re working on this, as well as on a brief explainer / introduction video.

This solution is really hot out of the development pipeline, and Microsoft publishing the add-in was quite literally a Christmas present to our team. So we figured we seek feedback early, and will try to catch up with all of that now.

So thank you for trying this out and for your feedback! :pray:

You’re right, of course. I’ll forward that to our Head of Legal & Compliance.

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