Vigor is a Crypto Borrow and Earn Community, powered by the EOS Blockchain. The Vigor Stablecoin is Crypto collateral-backed and being built out as a DAC, a Decentralized Autonomous Community.
Meet The Custodians is a series of interviews with prominent Vigor DAC Custodians, aiming to showcase the talent and personalities behind the Vigor project.
We hope you enjoy Episode 1 with Andrew Bryan.
Firstly congrats on the Vigor Stablecoin DAC it’s been creating quite a buzz within the EOS community of late, where did the idea for this project come from and how long have you been working on it?
To describe where the VIGOR project came from I recommend wandering along with me on a short walk through the cobweb filled mind of an old wall streeter; one who connected the dots from wall street to crypto on a search for real transparency, absolute trustlessness, true finance; one who saw a crack in a chair even. Before crypto this old man had been around the block, shaped by the environment. He’d seen first hand while on the trading floor of the Harvard Endowment the shattering of trust between counterparties of multi-billion dollar notional trades, when credit markets froze in 2008. He’d seen transparency kicked to the curb when the likes of Bernie Madoff made-off with his multi-billions. Lots of failings such as Basel II (self reporting capital requirements), lots of cynicism in the air about the world economy even despite so many innovative financial products, at that I was sure that elephants couldn’t fly. That is at least until public blockchain came on the scene and offered the solution that needed to exist; the new set of rails needed to support the advanced financial innovations that brought the old system to it’s knees; sayonara phone calls and fax machines.
This quantitative finance professional was an early joiner of the DeFi revolution jumping on what now are high profile projects like MakerDAO. But alarmed at the low ratio of quants to pure computer scientists this world beater recognized a missing piece, the critical piece, these projects didn’t have enough emphasis on core financial engineering specification, key innovations in financial markets were left out completely. This quant looked around at stablecoins and said nobody is doing any stress testing, what about regulatory risk based capital requirements and frameworks? There are no derivative models, there are no real structured products, I don’t get it. So VIGOR was born.
The main ideas of the VIGOR stablecoin project were carefully pieced together using mosaic theory. The mosaic theory in finance involves the use of security analyst personnel i.e. Chester Hedron, CFA to gather information about a company or corporation (or smart contract) to evaluate and determine its financial stability. And having much experience with regulators in institutional finance, legal and compliance was not left out of the design. In summary, just like me, everyone’s career experience is like a monte carlo simulation; like throwing thousands of darts at the great dartboard. My experiences in quantitative finance took me from the sexiest of credit derivative trading floors at Credit Suisse in New York City to the exclusive hedge fund that is Harvard Management Company and beyond and gave me a rare view into how finance really works. During the 25 years since undergrad I followed my natural attraction to financial math and acquired the building blocks needed to survive the shark infested waters that is institutional finance.
Being part academic (master degree financial math and reader of the finance journals) and part pragmatic (master degree engineering, make real world stuff) building out a financially engineered stablecoin platform is the most natural thing, a cake walk actually, something I was born to do. Enter the era of open source and the DAC; even in the face of the ICO bubble burst and the crypto winter I knew 100% that open source combined with crypto is the unmatchable force of organizations now and in the future. So I attempted to rally a community together to write the VIGOR white paper, but that failed. So Chester Hedron went into seclusion for 3 months ending September 2018 with a goal to write the VIGOR whitepaper emerging only to rally a community around that single idea and task them to build and deploy; launching a DAC platform for the community to live and thrive. We launched one of the first eosDAC powered DACs on EOS mainnet in May 2019 to continue writing the the VIGOR code base which itself was started in Q3 2018 on the newly birthed EOS blockchain. The VIGOR DAC continues today with an approximately 70 candidates and 21 custodians and many contributing to the open source GitHub repository over time; the DAC giving out VIG tokens to the community.
So as a custodian of the Vigor DAC what is your primary role? What are your main skill sets, and contributions to the DAC?
My primary number one role is to write C++ code with my open source compatriots (if that’s not an oxymoron) and making sure to focus on the White Paper as it is written. I want to join together with the community to make a dApp that is bullet proof and delivers to the public blockchain the VIGOR stablecoin, a stable unit of account, the basic foundation for all of decentralized finance to build on, powered by the VIG token. My skill set is writing C++ prototypes for quantitative finance models. I also like to deliver daily rhetoric to the community, squash the competition, keep the naysayers at bay, tell the story everyday why the VIGOR stablecoin project delivers on the promise of DeFi and the hidden power behind open source community based software efforts, unlocked and enabled by crypto.
When surveying the landscape of possible blockchains upon which to build the Vigor Stablecoin, why did you choose EOS and not Ethereum, Tron, NEO or any other smart contract platform?
EOS is for C++ programmers. 90% of the code in institutional finance (banks, quant hedge funds etc) is written is C++. EOS brings the right language at the right time. C++ is complex but key for efficient mission critical applications like smart contracts. (Little known fact about me that I also spent some of my early years on the topic of mission critical high performance parallel technical computing working on secret government projects.) EOS also brings it with out-of-the box multisig permissioning which is perfect for managing the project as DAC (automated msig permissioning). EOS also has a better user experience with short block times and fees not paid by users. Ethereum is not the future. I don’t think it can patch it’s way out of POW, which is now terribly passe. I won’t comment on x or y.
What were the main takeaways you learnt from working on the Maker DAO project? And how does Vigor differ from Maker in your opinion?
I learned that building decentralized finance is on a blockchain is possible. MakerDAO was a very simple early project in the DeFi space and achieved its goal of existence and simplicity. VIGOR introduces the missing piece, the financial engineering framework that replaces the heuristic / rule-of-thumb mentality of MakerDAO system (and clones like Equilibrium). The result is that VIGOR has more efficient pricing, more ability to scale, more transparency (on-chain risk), more tractable governance. All of that all matters very much as finance is always a race to the bottom with fees and a search for yield. The origin of money is credit and there is an insatiable demand for credit. It won’t be long before competition sets in, and the demand for credit and yield chooses VIGOR. Here’s a short list of where VIGOR leads the pack:
- community built and deployed, run as a DAC
- market price discovery versus overlords dictating prices
- frictionless bailouts, no auctions
- on chain risk management (stress testing), based on solvency ii insurance regulatory capital requirements
- nobody else offers this: lock stablecoin, borrow eos to short sell
- users will run the platform, forced to vote when transacting, to delegate key ownership to 21 msig custodian candidates, who are voted in and out. imagine a financial institution run by its users.
- truly multi collateral. on maker multi collateral means seperate loans each backed by a single collateral. we use portfolio collateral baskets. look up the difference between portfolio margin and regt margin.
- separate insurers from governors. we have 3 distinct parties: borrower, insurer, custodian. not a mixed kludge
- legal framework that can stand the test of time
- the result is efficient, scalable, more transparent, more tractable governance——> Higher leverage limits, cheaper loans per unit risk, enables short sale.
Looking ahead, what are the short term goals for the project (3 to 6 months) and what do you envision Vigor will look like 5 years from now?
We have an MVP testnet version deployed on EOS jungle at dev.vigor.ai and worbli testnet.
VIGOR will soon deploy a second version of the MVP to jungle testnet and/or kylin, (maybe add some Liquidapp features like vRAM). The roadmap targets a deploy to EOS chain by Q1 2020, maybe it will be an alpha version with limited access so we can rework the code if needed. In 5 years VIGOR DAC will likely have follow on projects, all powered by the VIG token, the DAC for example could be a two DAC system one for build, one for deploy/operate.
On a more personal note, I’m interested to know how you became involved in the cryptocurrency space? What was your first impression of crypto and do you remember the moment you realised this technology was the real deal?
I first read about bitcoin in a Goldman Sachs research piece about the future of money. BTC was trading around $200 on my bloomberg terminal with ticker VCCY, no other coins were listed at that time. I was too late to be a miner as large mining pools were already a thing, and there wasn’t much for a person to get involved in really. Shortly thereafter my lawyer brother turned me onto ethereum before the ICO bubble. I recognized immediately that smart contracts are the biggest invention since agriculture.
Here’s how I explain it:
! Read at your own risk !
You have been warned. Below is the basic ‘trifecta’ that hit me like a freight train a couple years ago.
1. Bitcoin: The greatest discovery since agriculture (and agriculture was a pretty big discovery)
Bitcoin has already proven that distributed ledger tech works, no matter what happens going forward. It’s a tech allowing two people to make a deal without a trusted middleman with full transparency.
2. A new era and revolution in open source:
Blockchain has enabled open source projects to have a built-in financing mechanism; a way for participants to extract value, not only create value. This will unleash the pent-up massive building power behind open source which will overtake privateers and corps.
3. Web3 an internet of value transfer:
The legacy internet was limited to the transfer of information. Blockchain will deliver on the true promise of the internet. Value transfer.
Those three things got this stuffed shirt into crypto, shocked and persuaded, never to return.
To wrap it up, if there was one piece of advice you could give to the 18 year old version of yourself what would it be and why?
Don’t spend your time thinking about why you never made it. You’ve already made it. Don’t be a prisoner inside your dreams. -DubFX. Also, I tell myself that there’s something better on the horizon for the world economy and finance, something to replace the old infrastructure, something that can support the innovations: public blockchain. Transparent. Trustless.
Thank you very much for your time Andrew, I think we all learnt a lot!
Whitepaper: (English) https://vig.ai/vigor.pdf
Whitepaper: (Chinese) https://vig.ai/VIGOR_Chinese.pdf
As a matter of disclosure at the time of writing I am a custodian of the Vigor DAC and receiving VIG tokens to help build and promote the project.
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