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Rebuilding Finance, one block at a time

Prof. Omri Ross, eToro Chief Blockchain Scientist: My 2019 in Review

As I look back on our achievements in the year past, I am proud and honoured by the skill and tenacity of my colleagues and friends with whom I share the vision of redefining finance for the decade ahead.

This year, I have been privileged with coordinating and observing multiple projects within the progressively maturing industry. I feel both humbled and privileged in serving a role in which I am encouraged to explore new synergies between commercial trade processing and public and permissionless transparent infrastructure.

For several years, I have maintained the view that real progress emerges not only through key commercial or academic achievements but through the exploration of new synergies challenging inherited preconceptions about what finance is – and for whom.

Last year, I had the fortune of supporting the progressive maturation of key technological advancements across my many personal commitments. I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on a few of my personal highlights in 2019:

Firmo was acquired by the eToro Group

At eToroX Labs, we are managing the core responsibility of shipping blockchain based products and improvements at the group level and integrating these advancements into the groups product offering.

We built and released 17 tokenized assets

Through the course of 2019 we have developed and released new infrastructural components for the issuance of digital assets on Ethereum, followed by the release of 15 currencies accompanied by silver and gold. This development makes eToro the only institutional regulated entity with such a broad offering of tokenized assets.

Immediately following the release of the Libra whitepaper and the Move IR, we released the first open source standard for tokenized assets on Facebook’s Libra, derived from the eToken implementation. Six months later, the post remains on the leader board for the Libra community and was forked 28 times in 2019.

We open-sourced Lira, a formally verified declarative DSL for financial contracts, compiling to the Ethereum blockchain. The release included a sophisticated demo enabling users to become familiar with the language prior to implementing it in their own decentralized applications or workflows. Lira is based on several years of prior development at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen and saw critical acclaim in 2019, leading to presentations at DevCon5 in Osaka and the Ethereal Summit in Tel Aviv.

Alongside these achievements we were blessed with the opportunity of publishing work in leading academic proceedings, covering a variety of pertinent issues such as the governance mechanisms of the Ethereum ecosystem and our ongoing expose of tokenization, Assets under Tokenization.

In the effort of establishing new academic and commercial synergies, we organized a Blockchain and AI Research Seminar, inviting prominent researchers in the field, including Turing prize winner Silvio Micali, Michal Haut, Manuel Chakravarty and several other leading researchers.

We built and open-sourced the backend for the GoodContracts architecture for the GoodDollar project, a non-profit decentralized UBI initiative led by Yoni Assia.

The infrastructure includes building a DAO, forked an inspired by DAOstack with modifications allowing gradual decentralization of the system as the project scales.

For all of these achievements, and many more, I want to thank my incredible team: Johannes Rude Jensen, Peter Emil Jensen, Bassel Manaa, Mads Jørgensen, Nikolas Borrel-Jensen, Truls Asheim and Elia Bottega for their hard work and determination. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Doron Rosenblum for his exceptional leadership and to the entire eToroX team for kicking ass and building an amazing product.

Additionally, I would like to thank eToro’s management team: Yoni, Ronen, Doron, Yonash, Israel, Elad for their visionary leadership and trust in our mission and mandate at eToroX Labs.

At eToro, we are always looking for exceptionally talented colleagues. If you are a superhero and passionate about opening the financial markets, please contact me at [email protected]

We remain committed to establishing thought-leadership within the fintech revolution. To this end, we have a PhD position on decentralised finance, with optional support from MakerDao and the eToro Group.

In extension, I would like to express sincere gratitude to the members of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen including Mads Nielsen, Martin Lillholm, Pernille Bjørn, Jon Sporring, Jakob Grue Simonsen, Fritz Henglein, Martin Elsman, Cosmin Oancea, Marcos AVS, Boris Dudder and my colleagues from other universities including Michel Avital and Roman Beck.

Professor Ross leads eToroX Labs, and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen, and the leader of the University Decentralised Finance Group.

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