OmiseGo is one of the more interesting cryptocurrency projects that is trying to become a decentralized bank, exchange, and asset-backed blockchain gateway.
Developed on the Ethereum network, OmiseGo has stated that their goal is to become the “preeminent high-value exchange and settlement platform”. Through this, they hope to give people in Asia a quick and easy way to make international payments in a decentralized way.
These are no doubt ambitious plans but are they realistic?
In this OmiseGO review, we will take an in depth look at the project including the technology, team backing, unique selling point and OMG token prospects.
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Omise & OmiseGO
We can’t talk about OmiseGO without talking also about Omise, which is the parent company that created OmiseGO. Omise was created in 2013 as an online payment gateway similar to Paypal or Stripe. It is based in Thailand and was founded by Jun Hasegawa and Donnie Harinsut.
Because Omise already had a large existing online payments product, the release of OmiseGO came with a lot of media attention and high profile partnerships. Two of the projects advisors are the co-founders of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood. If that’s not enough, OmiseGO has also been endorsed by the Bank of Thailand and the Thai Ministry of Finance.
Omise Company Overview. Source: Omise Website
Omise has already begun using OmiseGO to supplement the existing payment network. Companies like McDonald’s and Alipay use Omise and will also be accepting OmiseGO.
Omise disrupted the financial sector when it was introduced to Asia and the company plans to do the same with OmiseGO. One way they’ve enabled disruption is by making their wallet SDK white label, enabling third-parties to develop and deploy payment solutions.
OmiseGO has promised to lower transaction costs for financial transactions; including the exchange of fiat and crypto currencies, making payments, sending money and much more.
Because of its connection to Omise, OmiseGO is closer to mainstream acceptance and usage by merchants and retailers, and if successful it will be the Paypal of cryptocurrencies.
Background of OmiseGO
I want to emphasize here again that Omise and OmiseGO are two different companies offering two different products. This gets confused sometimes since OmiseGO is supported by Omise and there are many intersections between the two. Because of this, the history will contain information about both.
Omise was created as an online payments solution similar to Paypal and Stripe but focused on markets in Southeast Asia and Japan. It was designed to be able to legally process credit cards as it is fully PCI compliant. Online it can be integrated with all the major e-commerce platforms such as OpenCart, Magento and WooCommerce.
It was also designed to support the SWIFT banking system, which will go a long way in keeping any cryptocurrency transactions in-line with financial regulations. In fact, OmiseGO has stated its intention to eventually replace the SWIFT system to enable currency exchanges between all platforms.
Omise is right on the cutting edge of mobile payments and has its own mobile wallet which is similar to Apple Pay. It has also created a Facebook chatbot that enables payments through Facebook Messenger.
Omise is already accepted by more than 10,000 merchants across the Asian region, with the largest being McDonalds Thailand and Alipay. It is also accepted by Bose, Allianz, Burger King and many, many more.
Some of Omise’s Partners
It’s crucial to distinguish between Omise and OmiseGO here. Just because these merchants accept Omise payments does not mean they accept OMG payments.
OmiseGO is legally a subsidiary of Omise. If you are invested in OMG tokens it does not mean you’re also investing in Omise as a company. But Omise is tied into OmiseGO because it will be using the OmiseGO blockchain and will be supporting the OMG token.
Because OMG has been integrated with the existing and successful Omise platform it has received a lot of media attention and praise. It also doesn’t hurt that OMG has been embraced by Thailand’s government and banking industry.
Overall, the growth of OMG was heavily bootstrapped by its connections to Omise, and this could be one key to OMG becoming the mainstream payments cryptocurrency.
OMG Plasma Network
OMG was one of the first tokens to begin development on the Plasma Network, which is a smart contract network that will run on top of the Ethereum network. Plasma is a development of Vitalik Buterin that can run as a child chain of Ethereum.
Plasma was designed to handle enterprise-level scalability and can theoretically handle up to 1 million transactions per second. That makes it faster than even the Visa network, which processes a maximum of 50,000 transactions per second.
OMG released the Plasma network at the end of 2018 and has used it to create their peer-to-peer payment network, which was launched in September 2019. This network was created to enable super-fast and low-cost peer-to-peer payments, and so far it seems to be successful at doing just that.
Image via the Plasma Whitepaper
With the addition of the P2P payment network running on Plasma, the OmiseGO network has been able to handle 4,000 transactions per second. That compares with the Visa network, which itself handles 1,700 transactions per second (although they can handle up to 50,000 transactions per second).
Low fees are working as well. Thanks to the grouping of transactions on the Plasma child chain the fees on the P2P network are 90% lower than would be paid on the Ethereum network. And the OmiseGO network has also increased security by adding a Proof-of-Authority consensus layer.
And of course, all of this comes with an easy to use interface. One of the goals of OmiseGO is to make the user experience first-class. The team at OmiseGO believes this is one of the keys to the mass adoption of decentralized networks and blockchain technology.
One of the stated goals of most cryptocurrency projects is the disruption of global banking and traditional financial systems, but OmiseGO is actually aligning itself pretty closely with current banking trends.
As you may have noticed from the title of this article, OmiseGO has a goal to “provide banking to the unbanked”. This is similar to what the established online payment providers are doing with fiat currency. OmiseGO wants to provide that service with cryptocurrency.
OmiseGO promises to make commerce cheaper for everyone. They are also working to make the decentralized network and blockchain technology more user-friendly since they feel accessibility is one of the keys to the mainstream adoption of decentralized P2P payment networks.
OMG Token use case overview
Consider how complicated it is currently to process a credit card transaction. While you don’t see it as a consumer, the infrastructure that supports credit card transactions is massive, consisting not only of the merchant and the card issuer, but also the card network and the acquirer. Needless to say, all these levels make processing credit card transactions far more expensive than they need to be.
Ecommerce is growing but is still less than 15% of all retail sales. Mobile payment options are also growing, with roughly 40% of retailers accepting some form of mobile payments. However, only 3% of retailers accept cryptocurrency, and Bitcoin is by far the most commonly accepted.
The World Bank’s data shows some 2 billion people around the world currently unbanked. In the U.S. alone there are 9 million unbanked and 24.5 million underbanked, according to data from the FDIC.
The U.S. economy is certainly much larger than that of Thailand, but Omise and OmiseGO are working to reach all of Southeast Asia, and Japan and China. This is a huge potential market, especially China, where mobile payments are growing much faster than in other developed countries. OmiseGO might be relatively unknown in the West, but it is planning on becoming a household name in Asia.
Overview of the OmiseGo Network. Image via OmiseGo Blog
The real competition though comes from the online payment platforms. This includes Paypal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and others, as well as credit card issuers such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, and even the banks themselves since they back the credit cards. The competition also includes the hundreds of payment processors currently in existence.
Any of these could partner with OmiseGO and use their technology to move into the future, but they could also try to implement their own solutions. Paypal has already filed a blockchain patent, as did Mastercard. Additionally, Apple, Samsung, American Express and Visa all have in-house blockchain development ongoing.
It could be a long road and a hard-fought battle for OmiseGO to win as the top crypto payment processor, but they are well-positioned for the battle.
OmiseGO eWallet Suite
The OmiseGO eWallet Suite is an open-source software toolkit that was developed by OmiseGO and is offered for free to businesses, merchants, and users as a way to easily onboard them to the Omise Network.
Previously called the eWallet SDK, it has evolved to the eWallet Suite since it is comprised not just of three different SDKs (one for Android, one for iOS and one for Ruby), but also of other components that extend its usefulness.
Once the eWallet Suite is connected to Ethereum and the OmiseGO Plasma network users can send, receive, and store ERC-20 and ERC-721 tokens, as well as tokenized fiat currencies and any other digital assets that have been created on the network. Future upgrades expect to expand this capability to include additional currencies, with the ultimate goal of creating a currency agnostic exchange.
The exchange of fiat currency is being supported through plug-ins to the eWallet, but eWallet providers will be held responsible for regulatory compliance in their respective jurisdictions.
OmiseGo Ewallet Suite & Benefits
Ultimately the eWallet is foremost a web application. In order to interact with the web-based eWallet the full Suite also includes the following:
- An API to interface between the eWallet and various software.
- SDKs to allow developers to easily build applications and plugins for the platform, allowing for seamless integration between the applications and the Omise Network.
- An easy to use front-end panel that will allow for the creation of accounts, issuing tokens, activity logs, and many more administrative functions.
- Backend applications at both the server-level and mobile applications.
- Demo applications available to developers to show how the eWallet can be implemented.
With the full range of tools available in the eWallet Suite it is possible for anyone to create and integrate a front end interface that allows them to mint, deposit, transact, track, and withdraw digital assets. Furthermore, developers will be able to customize applications for their specific needs.
One of the most ambitious usages of the eWallet Suite so far has been by Burger King Thailand, which is owned by Minor Group International, one of the largest hospitality, restaurant, and lifestyle companies in Southeast Asia. They launched an eWallet in December 2018 that utilizes the OmiseGO eWallet Suite.
This eWallet provides a backend solution for the Minor Group’s loyalty program. This eWallet then helps incentivize customers to return and spend more money by providing them with loyalty points and other benefits.
With the program users are awarded points whenever they make purchases using the company’s mobile app. These points can later be redeemed for restaurant discounts and other rewards.
This is just one example of how blockchain technology can offer better service for users and improved infrastructure for companies.
It is based in Thailand and was founded by Jun Hasegawa and Donnie Harinsut, who remains the CEO and COO of Omise. While Donnie remains as the COO of OmiseGO, the role of CEO has been taken by Vansa Chatikavanij since April 2019. Vansa was previously the managing director for OmiseGO before stepping into the role of CEO.
Jun Hasegawa (not to be confused with the American-Japanese model of the same name), had over 16 years of experience in e-commerce and mobile payments prior to founding Omise. He remains as the director at both Omise and OmiseGO.
OmiseGo Team Members
Ezra Donnie Harinsut met Jun Hasegawa when they both worked for Japanese advertising services company Alpha-do. In addition to being a founder and the current COO at Omise he also serves as the CEO of Omise Payment since April 2019.
Vansa Chatikavanij joined OmiseGO in 2017 after spending 7 years working at the World Bank. She moved into the CEO position at OmiseGO after two years as the Managing Director. She is also a co-founder of Sky Visual Imaging Venture, which is a firm engaged in conducting initial stage fundraising.
OmiseGO has a huge social media presence. In fact, some of the accounts might be the largest I’ve seen. For example, the OmiseGO Twitter account has 286,000 followers.
The Facebook page also has over 10,000 followers, which is pretty big on Facebook since its users aren’t all that interested in blockchain.
On Reddit, the OmiseGO subreddit has over 40,000 followers. It has numerous posts every day, and dozens of comments on many of those posts. Needless to say, the OmiseGO community on Reddit is extremely active.
One notably missing channel for OmiseGO is Telegram. There is a channel, but only 550 users because it is used for announcements only.
OmiseGO is a bit unique too with its use of YouTube. The channel has over 1,500 subscribers, which is pretty big for a blockchain YouTube channel. The team uses the channel for educational pieces, and also to post footage from conferences.
The OmiseGO blockchain is Proof-of-Stake and the OMG token is an ERC-20 token. That said, staking has not yet been implemented for OMG tokens, and there hasn’t been any indication of when it might be implemented.
As of early November 2019 there’s a total supply and a circulating supply of 140,245,398 OMG. And that’s all there will ever be since OMG is not minable, the supply is capped and there are no plans to create any more in the future.
The price is at $0.947526 and the market cap is just over $132 million, making it ranked #43 in market cap among all cryptocurrencies. That’s a considerable drop for the OMG token, which was once ranked in the top 20 of all cryptocurrencies.
Price Performance of OMG Token. Image via CMC
During the OmiseGO ICO, which raised $25 million, 65% of the supply of OMG tokens were distributed. 20% was retained by Omise for operational expenses, while 10% was given to the developers, and 5% was put aside for an airdrop to ETH holders.
That airdrop occurred in September 2017 for holders of a minimum of 0.1 ETH at block height 3988888 and was the only one. Any others claiming airdrops of OMG were scams.
The price of OMG has declined throughout 2018 along with the broader cryptocurrency market. It’s price peaked on January 8, 2018, at $28.35 and has been heading steadily lower since.
There was a small rebound in April that took price back to $20.48, but with the steady downtrend, it has dropped all the way under $1as of early November 2019. This brings the OMG token full circle back to the ICO price of $1. If early investors are still holding they are likely quite disappointed in the round trip.
Trading & Storing OMG
If you want to buy OMG you need to do so with either BTC, ETH or USDT. It isn’t available for fiat purchases, except for South Korean Won or Thai Baht purchases from exchanges in those respective countries.
Currently, the largest exchange volume for OMG is ZB.com, followed by Bithumb where a good deal of OMG is exchanged for South Korean Won. Huobi Global also remains a top exchange and there are a few dozen other exchanges that offer OMG trading. In general, Asian users will have a far easier time obtaining and using OMG as it isn’t very widely available or accepted in Europe and North America.
For those traders in Western markets who have cryptocurrency already, your best bet to buy the token is probably on the likes of Binance. There are relatively strong order books at this exchange with reasonable bid-ask spreads and a decent daily turnover.
One criticism of OMG is that it remains quite centralized. The top 100 accounts own roughly 65% of all the OMG tokens. If you take the OmiseGO ownership out of the equation, and tokens held by exchanges, there still remains 25% of the total supply held by a small minority of users.
Major OMG partners include SBI Investment, SMDV, SMBC, Golden Gate Ventures, Ascend Capital, East Ventures, Krungsri Finnovate, and Global Brain.
Because OMG is an ERC-20 token you can hold it in any ERC compatible wallet, such as MetaMask and MyEtherWallet. We have actually completed a post on the best OmiseGo wallets if you are interested.
So it seems that there is quite a lot going with the OmiseGo project, but is this progress being translated into real development output?
In order to make this determination, it helps to take a look into the public code repository and observe the commits. This is able to give you a good determination of how much work is being done and the progress the developers are making.
Hence, I decided to jump into the OmiseGo GitHub and monitor their coding activity. In the below, we have the code commits for the three most active repositories over the past 12 months.
Code Commits to chosen Repos over past 12 months
As you can see, there has been quite a bit of development work that has been done with numerous code commits to these repositories. There are also a further 53 other repositories in the GitHub although these do have less commits and activity than the above.
This level of coding activity is more than we generally see for projects at similar stages of their development. If you want to keep up to date with the developments then you can head on over to their official blog.
OmiseGO saw very strong attention during its ICO and shortly after, and while the buzz has died down it remains a very strong coin. It has several benefits that could take it to new heights as it becomes more developed and enters mainstream usage. One of those is its goal of providing banking to the unbanked in Southeast Asia. Another is its aim of entering mobile banking in China. Both could create widespread adoption of OMG.
Let’s not forget that the OmiseGO blockchain supports the already successful Omise digital payment gateway. That alone gives OmiseGO a huge advantage.
If OmiseGO gets the Plasma Network working properly by the end of 2018 it will have arguably the fastest blockchain network on the planet. Finally transaction throughput will be large and fast enough for everyday usage.
And finally the backing for OmiseGO is substantially, with the co-founders of Ethereum acting as advisors, several prominent Asian VC firms providing backing, and OmiseGO has the backing of the Thai central bank and Ministry of Finance.
OmiseGO has many of the pieces in place that would be needed for it to become the everyday digital payment for much of Asia, and from there potentially the world. It’s definitely a project to keep an eye on in the coming months and years.
Featured Image via Shutterstock