UMA is a cryptocurrency offered by Skrill, and is the token of the UMA protocol, a company seeking to change the finance world for the better.
Launched in December 2018, UMA stands for Universal Market Access, and is an optimistic oracle (OO) that can provide and verify arbitrary data on-chain.
Hart Lambur is UMA's co-founder. Skrill caught up with him to gain a special insight into UMA, and find out what’s in store for the future.
When did you first hear about cryptocurrency?
While I was at Goldman Sachs, I became friends with Fred Ehrsam. Fred introduced me to crypto before he went on to cofound Coinbase.
How did you begin with cryptocurrency?
After working at Goldman Sachs for eight years, I left in 2013 to start a fintech business called Openfolio. That business got acquired in 2017, and that provided me some time to think deeply about my next steps.
By that time, I was interested in crypto as a mechanism to program incentive structures. Given my finance background, it was obvious to me that smart contract platforms could and should be used to write global, internet-native contracts, including financial contracts. That’s how my interest in Web3 building began and UMA got its start.
What was the incentive for creating UMA?
Our overall mission at UMA is to make global markets universally fair, accessible, secure and decentralised.
What makes UMA unique?
UMA is an optimistic oracle (OO). Oracles are a key part of blockchain infrastructure. They enable smooth communication between the external world and on-chain environments in a trustless manner. Oracles are vital for many parts of the blockchain industry including decentralized finance (DeFi) applications.
UMA's OO is unique. It secures markets and smart contracts across Web3. The OO tells smart contracts “things about the world” so they can enforce real-world payout conditions. It has been called “a human-powered truth machine.”
The OO provides human-powered data dispute resolution between contracts. Anyone can earn a reward by proposing answers to a request. Proposed data will not require resolution unless it is disputed, and disputes are rare. That's what makes the OO “optimistic.” It also functions more quickly and cheaply than other oracles.
What can UMA be used for?
The OO empowers and secures an ecosystem of diverse Web3 applications, including cross-chain bridges, insurance protocols, prediction markets, and custom derivatives. Across and Polymarket are examples of protocols secured by UMA’s OO.
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In the current bear market, what excites you most in advancements in the developer community?
Anyone who has been paying attention to the TradFi and DeFi markets recently recognizes there is a lot of volatility in prices and tokens. Entire markets have been up and down for plenty of reasons, and could stay that way for the next year or more.
True builders can and do thrive during bear markets. A bear crypto market can be more productive, especially for teams focused on good ideas and creativity. Bull markets tend to be more consumer or trader focused — and noisy.
Bright ideas from developers can rise to the surface during times like these. Meanwhile, the DeFi space is growing more academic, professional, strategic and diverse, providing critical brainpower that is solutions-oriented and innovative.
Are you concerned about the FTX US proposal this year?
Generally speaking, I think the proposal is great. FTX is pushing for much more modern clearing systems and they would be good for tradfi markets.
What do you think about Web3?
We can’t predict where exactly Web3 is headed. Nobody can. At UMA, we’re optimists by nature and we believe that our optimistic oracle has plenty of potential to successfully and creatively integrate and collaborate with builders in the Web3 landscape as it unfolds.
Part of what makes us excited is that the OO has unlimited potential to bring arbitrary data on-chain for a variety of markets — financial and otherwise. We’re confident there will be plenty of bright ideas and solutions that can connect with UMA and our OO.
What’s next for UMA?
We’re hyper focused on expanding our network of integrations and collaborations with builders and developers in the market. We’re finding homes for our OO-empowered and secured products.
UMA is also growing and we’re constantly looking for talented people with positive attitudes and team-oriented personalities to join our remote-first, global team. Your readers can learn more about our available positions here.
What is Covenant?
Covenant is a new protocol built using UMA’s optimistic oracle that enables smart and deterministic payments for trustless KPI-based payouts. This can be used for a variety of purposes including constructing more efficient gauge vote bribes and binary outcome governance decision bribes.
Covenant is based on concepts pioneered by UMA’s KPI options and is secured by UMA's optimistic oracle. Covenant’s mission is to make bribing systems more efficient and also to unlock new bribing use cases by allowing for result-based bribe definition.
Can crypto change the world?
Yes. It already is, and we’re excited to be part of the positive, optimistic and solutions-oriented changes that it will continue to bring to the world.