Ask Me Anything Session with Forward Protocol Founders
The Forward Protocol cofounders, Mitch Mitch and Karnika E. Yashwant ( Mr. KEY), recently held an AMA session on 1st October 2021 hosted by the Decentralized Club. The AMA gave great insight into the story behind Forward Protocol’s accomplishments and goals.
An overview of the founders’ background info
Both founders have extensive business experience. Mitch has a background in international business. He has been the CEO of English Forward Blockchain since 2018. Besides, Mitch has been in business partnerships with investors, mainly in the property sector. He is a partner and investor in the Protea Hotel, Hollywood Circle, and The Circ, among other investments. Mitch is also a contributor to Children in Distress, a community-based NPO.
On the other hand, Mr. KEY has been running the KEY Difference Media for the last 15 years and has worked with Fortune 100 brands like CISCO and AJC. He has also been involved in blockchain marketing, working with Ledger and Verizon Media.
This experience in the marketing world — 8 years in blockchain marketing — and collaboration with investors and PR agencies such as MarketAcross will provide Forward Protocol with adequate marketing power and capital to push it to the top.
Forward Protocol as the “WordPress” for EdTech
Mr. KEY states that Forward Protocol is all about Decentralized Education (DeEd). Forward Protocol has a modular architecture and ready-to-deploy fully customizable smart contracts that will enable any learning platform to adopt blockchain technology.
Therefore, the platform will be a plug-and-play, no-code UI-driven modular application for Edtech entities — a WordPress for EdTech.
The Inspiration behind Forward Protocol
The founders also provided insight into the birth of Forward Protocol. According to Mitch, the Forward Protocol idea came about after experiencing firsthand challenges in homeschooling and online education. He had decided to take time off from business and spend time with his family while also homeschooling his kids.
While it was initially difficult, once he got into grips with online education, his kids excelled — his daughter finished her high schooling at 16 years, two years ahead of her peers.
This experience was an eye-opener, and it led him to take up the challenge of helping 1 billion people have a better learning experience. Solving this challenge would go a long way in achieving the Unesco Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). Unesco aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.
However, Mitch realized that a radical rethink of how the world learns had to be considered to achieve this goal. Besides, he needed the right people to accomplish this goal — this is how he met Mr. KEY, a blockchain expert with a passion for education reform.
Mr. KEY’s journey towards the birth of Forward Protocol came from a childhood passion for reforming how we learn, study, and grow as a community. He didn’t believe in traditional education — he dropped out of 10th grade despite passing with 97.5% and turned down a scholarship to start his own business at the age of 14.
Mr. KEY believes we can achieve better learning and knowledge sharing outcomes with a different system to the current standardized curriculum where children are overloaded. This passion led to the birth of Forward Protocol — a DeEd revolution.
Innovation Solutions Offered by Forward Protocol and its competitors in the DeEd and EdTech Sector
Mitch states that Forward Protocol provides a blockchain solution that connects the EdTech sector.
The protocol is designed to be modular. Therefore, any organization or application in the education space can use whichever module they need to make their platform functional. The rules are defined by the organization deploying it, but Forward Protocol sets the stage for Decentralized Education (DeEd).
Some of the platforms in the EdTech space that can integrate with Forward Protocol include;
- Course marketplaces
- Freelancing marketplaces
- Mobile and web applications
- Tutor marketplaces
- Q&A and forums
- Universities, and information training programs.
When asked about Forward Protocol’s competitors in the EdTech sector, Mr. KEY stated that they see every brand in the DeEd space as a potential collaborator. These brands can use Forward Protocol to launch their blockchain version of the platform.
Mr. KEY added that Forward Protocol has lowered the entry barrier into DeED space, hence encouraging developers to create more tools for the DeEd space. This move will allow other entities to join Forward Protocol in growing the smart contract library and creating more solutions for challenges in education that can be solved faster by a contributing community.
Currently, Forward Protocol’s 5 core smart contracts are;
- Proof of value
- Proof of Value Delivered
- Distributed reward/revenue sharing
- Proof of ownership
- Initial knowledge offering
Mr. KEY also stated that the Proof of Value Delivered smart contract is especially ideal for integrating MOOCs. For instance, English Forward will deploy a version of the contract later this year for their course marketplace.
He added that all smart contracts developed will be audited. Therefore, since parent contracts are audited, all Forward Factory deployed child contracts will be safe and secure.
You can see a lot of video materials on various parts of the Forward Protocol and how it works here: https://www.youtube.com/ForwardProtocol
Areas of Learning Offered by Forward Protocol
Forward Protocol allows parents to explore and evaluate things they want their children to learn. When asked which areas of learning Forward Protocol offers, Mitch stated that the protocol would offer a sponsorship or scholarship model.
In this model, nonprofits and other sponsors can buy the tokens from the market and deposit them into a sponsorship bucket. Parents, teachers, and friends who want to sponsor a student will have to buy the tokens from the market or use the fiat ramp.
Even better, parents can top-up the reward wallet with allowances shared with a student upon preset milestone completion instead of giving the children their allowance directly.
Deficiencies solved by Forward Protocol in our current education system
Mitch was asked to explain how Forward Protocol will address problems in the current system and its benefits to learning. He stated that today, a good education is hugely expensive. Students end up carrying study debt for years after they graduate.
As a result, there are trillions in student debt, low course completion rates, high dropout rates, teaching fatigue, and apathy. Besides, the learning system does not create job market readiness. There is also a problem of overcrowded classrooms and children sharing dogeared textbooks.
Mitch explained how Forward Protocol would come into play. The protocol will allow you to access the best global experts in the subject you want to learn at a fraction of the current costs to learn from them. Even better, teachers can also earn more and not be in poverty at the same time!
That said, he added Forward does not create a new method of learning. It only creates an opportunity to effectively connect all the Edtech space stakeholders with open source blockchain tools that incentivize the qualitative transfer of knowledge.
With on-chain data, Forward Protocol will;
- Increase transparency, trust, and cross-border education
- Reduce high costs, inefficiencies, and massive middleman fees.
Therefore, Forward Protocol will drastically lower costs for learners, increase revenue for teachers, and increase the quality of learning through verifiable growth/results.
What are Forward Protocol’s utilities — $FORWARD and $FUSD?
When asked about the Forward Protocol utilities, Mr. KEY provided a comprehensive answer on the workings of the platform.
He stated that $FORWARD is a functional utility token used for rewards, governance, fees on the platform, and users to gain priority listing/access. The more $FORWARD tokens they hold and the more active/contributing to the community, the more they can help shape the platform.
$FORWARD is also listed on CoinMarketCap.
On the other hand, $FUSD is the platform’s stablecoin. Learners and experts will use $FUSD to sign up for courses. In a smart contract, the token is pegged against other USD-based stablecoins like USDT, BUSD, and USDC. There will be other localized stablecoins in the future as well.
Mr. KEY added that while people can buy courses via $FUSD, the rewards will be in $FORWARD. All smart contracts deployed by anyone using Forward Protocol will always automatically buy a $FORWARD token from the market to give as rewards. This mechanism will help increase the demand for the $FORWARD token all the time.
Even better, the more tokens someone holds and the more they contribute to the community, the more they will be featured and prioritized in the ecosystem.
However, Mr. KEY warns that just holding more tokens does not feature them fully. Their quality contribution to the community also matters. He added that the platform would use algorithms to balance the value of holding tokens and the quality of community contribution. The balance will prevent a scenario where a user with a lot of tokens (rich teacher) with poor quality gets the benefit while an honest and poor teacher cannot get visibility.
That said, this balance will change from every platform that deploys the Forward Protocol, and the criteria could change. Forward Protocol only facilitates the model and types of algorithm. For balance, the model will consider platform loyalty, history, quality contribution, recency of activity, and all factors to dynamically display content prioritization that is fair to everyone.
Forward Protocol’s “Earn as You Learn” model
Mitch was asked to explain Forward Protocol’s reward model. He stated that the protocol’s “earn as you learn” model is an incentive program for learners based on course completion and qualitative outcomes.
It works by rewarding participation and excellence. Hence, the model will motivate learners to acquire new skills or knowledge while earning tokens. Besides, it will incentivize teachers to help students obtain qualitative outcomes for their studies, encouraging them to focus on excellence and delivering a measurable transfer of knowledge.
Mitch added that each of Forward Protocol’s smart contracts looks at the different problems in the Edtech space. What’s more, Forward Protocol has developed a solution for each problem and designed a smart contract to deliver that solution with an “earn as you learn” model.
These smart contracts will deliver solutions for;
- Quality participation and contribution (not spam)
- The transfer of value (like courses) and completion of it,
- Micro-transactions of rewarding people passively over some time,
- A way to protect and monetize educational ownership, and
- A mechanism to enable fundraising for quality course creation and early participation.
Why does Forward Protocol run on the Ethereum Network?
Mr. KEY claimed they decided to use Ethereum as layer 1 for Forward Protocol due to its large, engaged community and decentralization. What’s more, Ethereum enables the deployment of smart contracts and the building of decentralized applications (dapps). Even better, the dapps run without any downtime, fraud, control, or interference from a third party.
Forward Protocol will also use Polygon as its layer 2 for faster transaction speed and lower fees. Besides, Forward Protocol is designed to be deployed in any EVM-compatible blockchain. So any EdTech application, irrespective of their blockchain of choice, can use Forward Protocol.
Forward Protocol’s Initial Knowledge Offering smart contract
As stated earlier, Forward Protocol is building the IKO smart contracts on its blockchain. Mr.Mitch was asked how this will help Forward Protocol and whether anyone with ideas can start IKO on Forward Protocol.
He explained that anyone with an idea for a course could start an IKO. The IKO system resolves the problems associated with market uncertainty and financial risk.
With an IKO, content creators can introduce the course outline and sell their courses before producing them. Besides, the IKO will also protect prospective students’ funds transferred to content creators using smart contracts escrow.
Therefore, IKO will enable high-end and expert content creators to invest time in producing great courses, increasing quality, and attracting unique talents. Hence, helping the entire learning ecosystem and Forward Protocol in its adoption worldwide.
Mitch added that IKO smart contracts would go live later in the year.
How does Forward Protocol plan to attract major project partners
When asked how Forward Protocol plans to expand its user base, Mitch said it uses a B2B model to acquire users. However, the protocol will not attract users one by one. The objective is to onboard various applications, partners, websites, and so on. This B2B model enables Forward Protocol to partner with multiple organizations as it expands its ecosystem.
Is Forward Protocol Fully decentralized, and are there future risks of centralization?
Mr. KEY claimed that Forward Protocol is fully decentralized, with all transactions being on-chain. It will be up to the users of the protocol to replicate the data off-chain or not.
He also added that since Forward Protocol uses Ethereum Layer 1 + Polygon Layer 2, it doesn’t risk centralization in the future. That said, a platform deploying Forward Protocol can semi-centralize it to make it easier for beginners — similar to how bitcoin is used in centralized exchanges and dexs.
Mr. KEY stated that when deploying in English Forward, Forward Protocol will provide both basic and advanced interfaces to make it easier for experts and beginners, so anyone who does not use blockchain can still use it. Besides, Fiat On/Off Ramp will be provided with the applications developed to ensure easier adoption.
He also stated that it’s up to the platform deploying the protocol to decide how they want to use it. However, this only changes the application layer and does not affect the 100% decentralized nature of Forward Protocol.
Creation of demand for Forward Protocol’s token value
Mr. KEY was asked how they will ensure Forward Protocol keeps going in the long term. He stated that the $FORWARD token is used as the reward token in the protocol. Every platform integrating will be giving rewards as $FORWARD tokens. The smart contract will automatically keep buying from the market to fund these rewards. Hence, funds flow in as stablecoin, but rewards go out as $FORWARD.
Mr. KEY added that since they have already partnered with millions of users, millions of transactions are also happening. So there is a robust demand, more than most platforms out there, because this is not confined only to crypto users but also massive real-world users. Therefore, as Forward Protocol expands its partners, the demand will continue to rise.
The other aspect is that $FORWARD functions as a loyalty membership point. Therefore, Forward Protocol will classify users into different loyalty tiers based on the amount of $FORWARD held and the quality of contribution in the ecosystem. The premium membership tiers will allow users to access protocol features and more preferential terms.
Mr. KEY also stated that there is staking and yield farming too. Staking will incentivize token holders to hold long-term for reduced fees. The longer they hold, the less the fee charged to them.
Mr. KEY also addressed Forward Protocol’s primary revenue streams. He claimed that;
- There will be a percentage of fees for all smart contract services. For example, if someone uses an escrow service with the Proof of Value — Delivered model, Forward Protocol will charge a small fee for all transactions. Each of the 5 smart contracts will have a “fee”, which will act as a scalable-revenue model with more integration partners added, each with its own growing user base.
- Every transaction on the Forward Chain (when deployed in 2022) will have a fee, and $FORWARD will be used to pay the transactional fees.
What to expect from Forward Protocol by the end of the 4th Quarter
When asked what major news to look forward to from Forward Protocol in 2021, Mr. KEY stated there would be a Forward Protocol token launch and IDO at the end of Oct 2021. You can follow their updates on Twitter and Telegram pages.
What’s more, the platform is building 3 of its 5 core smart contracts this year — proof of value (PoV), proof of value delivered, and initial knowledge offering(IKO). They’ll also deploy FUSD stablecoin, governance, staking and yield farming, and more.
He added they would also have the first deployment on a major platform, EnglishForward.com. This deployment will avail an open-source Q&A platform for anyone else to use as well. English Forward is the largest learn English community online. EF has served 310+ million users in over 240 countries and has more than a million social following.