On Monday, Sep 13th, Nodle’s CEO/Co-founder, Micha Anthenor Benoliel, conducted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with the popular Japanese telegram channel — Crypto KudasaiJP — thanks to our Nodle Japan team.
Note: The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Neko (Host): Today we are holding a voice chat session in Japanese for beginners.
Micha: Looking forward to meeting all of you, ready when you are, let me know the first question.
Neko: Would you mind introducing yourself, telling us about your background and the team working on Nodle?
Micha: I have been an entrepreneur for almost 20 years in the space of telecommunications and wireless. Since I was a kid coding and later an internet fan, my dream has always been to connect the planet for free. In 2004, I was lucky to be part of the first telco in Europe that opened up communications for Skype, enabling them to sell communications to mobile and landlines. 10 years later, in 2014, after moving to San Francisco to build my next startup, I launched FireChat. FireChat was the first off-the-grid messaging app leveraging mobile mesh technologies.
The Nodle idea came from a simple observation: since most smartphones use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and more than 50% of all IoT devices have a BLE interface, building an incentivized, decentralized wireless IoT network — for the people, and by the people — made a lot of sense.
Our network was thus born to build the networking and blockchain stack that my co-founder Garrett Kinsman and I believe will lead to free connectivity, the reason why we are building this is that connectivity has become such an important part of our daily lives.
So many people, businesses, and organizations rely on it constantly.
Connectivity needs to remain as free as possible from censorship and needs to be accessible by the greatest number of people.
Next generation wireless infrastructure should become much more resilient and self-sustaining. These are all part of the revolution that Web3 is enabling.
Neko: You are a specialist in mobile communication technology, having been involved in Skype and founded FireChat.
Can you tell us about your Nodle project? What problems does Nodle solve that existing competitors haven’t and what is its competitive advantage?
Micha: Absolutely — Nodle is a citizen-powered IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity network built to solve global challenges privately, securely, and at-low cost.
Just a few problems we solve: 1) Data network pricing is cost-prohibitive to smaller players; 2) Energy inefficiency; traditional network technologies consume too much energy; 3) Incumbents are not incentivized to offer reliable security and privacy protections; 4) Patents. Wireless infrastructure is controlled by patents that protect legacy equipment, which stifles innovation and economic opportunity, and 5) Scalability.
Chipset vendors cannot support exponential demand So while there are some estimates of up to 55 billion connected devices by 2025, we believe that with the cost of Bluetooth Low Energy radios and sensors dramatically decreasing, there will be a trillion things capable of being connected to the Internet.
Anyone with a smartphone can download the Nodle Cash app to provide connectivity to nearby IoT devices and sensors, moving tiny bits of ambient or environmental data through their phone and up to the cloud in exchange for Nodle Cash rewards.
Your phone has Bluetooth Low Energy so we basically turn your phone into a secure wireless basestation. There’s no hardware to purchase and we use low energy, so the network is extremely scalable.
In a hyperconnected world, almost every item/thing has a wireless identity whether they are connected all the time or just from time to time.
These can be public and also randomized or encrypted and data can be pushed or pulled in and out from each of these devices.
The Nodle Cash app is kind of like Pokemon Go for crypto; we hope this can become some passive income for people. As a developer or publisher, you can also earn Nodle Cash rewards by inserting the Nodle SDK into your app.
Nobody likes being served annoying ads or paying high app subscription fees, so we think this is a great revenue model as well.
Neko: OK, next question…
Did your team build technologies or protocols that are specific to this project? Or are there any notable technologies the team is applying?
Micha: There are many moving parts in the project.
The team has to innovate on many fronts and develop its own technologies.
The incentivization mechanism “Proof of Connectivity” is a novel work in the space of wireless communications. Nodle’s attention to protect people’s privacy has led us to develop our own security for protecting beacons identity and its own protocol like the whisper tracing protocol to enable the creation of zero-knowledge social networks leveraging proximal wireless technologies.
Among the standards and other technologies that the team is applying, Nodle is leveraging wireless standards like Bluetooth Low Energy and Parity Substrate for our own blockchain.
Some top milestones to date: in 2019, the HTC Exodus Blockchain Phone shipped with Nodle Cash App pre-installed; we received a Web3 grant and migrated from Stellar to Polkadot to build on Parity Technologies Substrate (this came after we saturated Stellar’s mainnet with 1.4 million microstransactions per day).
In 2020, the Nodle Chain mainnet launched, we released our Rendez-vous Protocol, and we developed the Nodle M1 Social Distancing Wearable to help protect workers from COVID-19 exposure.
To date, we’ve built one of the world’s largest wireless networks, with 4–5 million daily active smartphones acting as base stations, connecting to 25 million to 30 million IoT devices and sensors every day, transmitting 40GB to 80GB of data in more than 100 countries and region.
This year, we saw our Nodle Cash app crossed 150K Downloads, our Parachain testnet became composable with Acala, and coming up is the Polkadot Parachain crowdloan, Validator Nodes launch (Blockchain.com Ventures is an example), staking will be enabled, and we’re still projecting a Q4 listing.
We have some very big partnership and customers announcements in the pipeline as well.
Neko: What obstacles has your project encountered so far? How did the team resolve them?
Micha: The beginning of the pandemic was obviously tough and our customers and proofs of concepts stalled because there were stay-at-home orders in the US and Europe.
In response, we switched gears for a bit and developed a few open source tools like the Coalition App, a contract tracing app that protects your privacy, a privacy protocol called Whisper Tracing, that pre-dated the Apple-Google GAEN protocol, and a social distancing wearable called the Nodle M1.
Neko: You are promoting activities that benefit society, even in the midst of a pandemic!
Can you give an overview of your Tokenomics and the utility of $NODL?
Micha: Yes. We built the Nodle Chain on Parity Substrate. Max supply is 2.1 billion in ten years; current total supply is 840M; the effective circulating supply is approximately 100 million, and the effective circulating supply by end of 2021 is 125 million (approximate maximum). See Tokenomics.
Initial market cap will be determined when we list on exchanges. Our token NODL (Nodle Cash) is already live and being mined via the Nodle Cash app.
Neko: Will the smart contracts be open-sourced?
Micha: Most of the code is intended to become open source. Open source is great for improving security and building a community of active app developers who will leverage the network.
Neko: What is your marketing strategy? How do you intend to attract your first users?
Micha: We are at our core a crowd-powered connectivity network. A lot of our initial growth for our global network of smartphones has been through word of mouth, partners, and referrals from our large personal networks.
We’ve been working a lot with influencers, PR and marketing agencies, and have been running a variety of creative and educational campaigns that have gotten great engagement.
Our ambassadors have doubled in number recently and community members are wanting to grow our communities in different languages and regions, we have a Chinese WeChat community, Russian speaking community, and of course Nodle Japan which FT has been managing for many months.
So much creativity coming out of that [Nodle Japan] group! Soon we’ll have communities in Brazilian Portuguese, German, Vietnamese, Dutch, Spanish, Polish and larger communities in Australia, Turkey, and hopefully El Salvador. Hackathons will be a huge part of our marketing in the future as there are at last 100 use cases for building on the Nodle Chain.
Neko: How does the team source revenue to sustain its operations?
Micha: The team will receive payments coming from the activity generated on the network.
Some are coming from the mining and minting of the tokens by the community, and some will be coming from the services that are operated on the Nodle Network and built by app developers.
Neko: Who are your current investors?
Micha: Blockchain.com Ventures, Blockchange Ventures, Blockhead, Bootstrap Labs, Olymp Capital, Marc Pincus (Zynga), Pierre Andurand, Greg Kidd, and many more.
Neko: Have you made any agreements with companies, projects or notable developers?
Micha: Current Partners/Customers/Pilots: Cisco Meraki partners with Nodle to extend its own Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) coverage, and to track the IoT devices that are outside its buildings, a European insurtech company uses Nodle to track stolen vehicles.
We’re working with telecommunications companies on pilots to expand their IoT offerings and further monetize their networks. In addition, smartphone manufacturers are piloting Nodle to expand their offerings and reward users.
Neko: You already have customers and a working product, that’s an advantage!
Neko: Do you have any news/updates about Nodle that you would like to share with us?
Micha: Yes, we plan on raising a crowd loan and are eagerly awaiting the release of the Parachains on Polkadot. We’ll follow that up with our Validator Nodes launch, staking, and we are still on track for our projected Q4 CEX listing, though no official news on it yet.
This week, I can share that our Block Explorer will be live, so users can check their NODL balances in real-time, and later this month the new Nodle Cash app UI Update is coming.
We are very excited as it feels a bit like Pokemon Go. We’re doing a lot of conferences, podcasts and AMAs recently, like this one; part of the team is in NYC next week for Messari’s Mainnet where we’re hosting a side event and sponsoring a panel session at the conference on real-world use cases of building on Polkadot.
I wish I could be there to say hi to Gavin Wood who is speaking, but I’m in Berlin this month with the Europe-based team.
The AMA was then opened up to the Japanese Community and Micha was inundated with questions from the audience:
Neko: What security measures are in place to protect the personal data of people who use the Nodle [Cash] app?
Micha: You can earn Nodle Cash when your phone connects and uses Bluetooth Low Energy to collect data from IoT devices and sensors. The information is then returned to the IoT device owner. Personal data is not shared with the owner.
Neko: Please explain when you participate in Polkadot/Kusama Parachain auctions and your strategy to get each slot as much as possible.
Micha: We were one of the first 2 substrate chains on the mainnet, we have a strong community who is already supporting us and who will support us for the Parachain slot.
Neko: Why did you name it Nodle?
Micha: Nodle stands for Network Operator Of Devices Low Energy
Neko: Why did you choose to build on Substrate (Polkadot ecosystem) instead of Ethereum?
Micha: We believe a lot in the Polkadot vision and we think it is the best way to enable the creation of a multitude of applications on top of our layer 0 networking stack.
Neko: Who do NODL consider to be their competitors and what distinguishes NODL from them?
Micha: Helium, IOTA are in the same space. Our advantage is that we are 100% software, and we have a real utility with real-life use cases.
Neko: What kind of security measures are taken to protect the personal data of the people using the Nodle [Cash] app?
Micha: We do not collect any personal info, we don’t ask for a user’s name, or username, we don’t use any 3rd party auth solution and we randomize the identities of the node running on the user's smartphone constantly.
Neko: I love this project is placing importance on the community aspect. It‘s something that I think is lacking in a lot of projects. How can us early investors really help project grow before it launches? From providing liquidity to general participation, what different roles are there when it goes live?
Micha: The best way you can help the project is to convince as many people as possible to install the app and join the network.
Neko: I hear that not all packets have equal value on your platform. Is there more information somewhere? What exactly is a ‘packet’ and why aren’t they equal? Do some areas have more valuable packets than others? How do we distinguish between areas with more valuable packets and areas with less valuable packets in Nodle ecosystem?
Micha: Currently all packets are treated equal to increase the incentive of the early participation but the goal is to implement the formula described in the white paper.
Neko: I’m mining on the π network, what is the advantage of Nodle?
Micha: You can start generate crypto from your smartphone passively, just by moving around with the app.
Neko: Why did you switch from Stellar to Polkadot? and how does the Polkadot ecosystem help Nodle cash?
Micha: We saturated the Stellar network rapidly, in June last year we reached 1.4 million microtransactions a day and we took down the Stellar network several times. We were representing 40% of their traffic. We had to move to our own chain for that reason and also to be able to customize it to the needs of our IoT industry.
Neko: Is it a technology that can be applied even in the countryside where smartphones are not crowded? Is it possible to deal with such areas by using a carrier network together? Are you considering collaborating with a carrier?
Micha: Very good question. Nodle is a delay tolerant network so someone in a rural area can collect sensors data and then push the data to the cloud later when they are connected to the internet.
Neko: Hi sir👋🏻, what tools will be applied to minimize cost targets on this idle asset? How do you manage to give users the ability to rebalance and get refunds easily?
Micha: We have engaged with many exchanges yet and we plan listing for the end of the year!
Neko: What problem is your project trying to solve to make it easier for crypto users? Please let us know how the roadmap is currently evolving. What will happen this year and in the future?
Micha: Well, we democratize access to crypto for all smartphones users. Today you have 6 billion smartphones and only 70 million crypto wallets. Nodle makes it possible for billions of people to participate and earn crypto for the first time easily.