Counterparty Co-Founder: ‘We Do Not See Overstock’s Medici as a Competitor’

“[Symbiont] is ostensibly geared for larger financial markets.”

-Evan Wagner, Managing Director of Operations, Symbiont

Counterparty, one of the first Bitcoin 2.0 platforms in existence, has come a long way since its flaming entrance into the market in 2014. To create Counterparty on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, 2,100 bitcoins were “burned.” Since then, Counterparty has established itself as a go-to platform for p2p digital asset exchange. In fact, almost two-thirds of Bitcoin 2.0 startup crowdsales have been completed on the Counterparty platform in a never-before-seen, decentralized manner.

Counterparty has now teamed up with MathMoney f(x) to launch, a fintech company looking to build the first issuance and trading platform for "smart securities," or self-executing digital contracts that are stored on a blockchain.

"We're excited about the positive impacts blockchain adoption will have in the systems that power modern finance, and we look forward to seeing this technology put into use in a way that increases transparency, liquidity, and the overall functioning of capital markets,” said Evan Wagner, one of the founders of Counterparty and the Managing Director of Operations at, in the announcement.

Now, Counterparty is inspiring other companies, such as CoinDaddy, to build with the Counterparty protocol. The Counterparty team has also been busy, though co-founder Evan Wagner was able to answer a few questions about its plans, Symbiont, the split from Overstock’s Medici program, their new desktop wallet release, and more.

Counterparty logo

CoinTelegraph: Can you tell us about your recently announced Symbiont project? How will this be similar/different from Medici?

Evan Wagner (Counterparty): We founded Symbiont to address real problems that exist in the structure and operation of traditional financial markets.  Our thesis is blockchain technology in conjunction with the development of smart securities can solve these previously intractable problems.

“What we can say is that we are big supporters of Medici and we do not see them as a competitor.”

Since we left the Medici project we have not had any communication with so we can't comment on what they are building or how they plan to execute on their vision.  What we can say is that we are big supporters of Medici and we do not see them as a competitor.

CT: Are you planning to hold a funding round?

EW: We are in the process of closing our initial round of funding for Symbiont. We have taken a methodical approach to this round to ensure we build an investor base that is diversified and that provides strategic benefits beyond the capital they invest.

This platform is ostensibly geared for larger financial markets.

Symbiont logo

CT: Do you think we will see Wall St. embrace such a platform or perhaps try to implement their own closed-source platforms, blockchains?

EW: It really depends on the use-case. There are some benefits to a public, open-sourced blockchain that are irreplicable in a private, closed-source system.

CT: You have also just released the beta version of your desktop wallet. What can this offer users in addition to the regular Counterwallet and what type of security measures does it use? 

EW: The biggest difference between Counterwallet and the desktop wallet is the fact that to run the latter, you don't need to depend on a remote server to be either reliable or honest. You can use a local copy of the blockchain and work completely trustlessly. You can also use a remote server (for instant installs) and do client-side transaction validity checking.

Counterparty-gui is a user-friendly front-end to the reference implementation library, which has previously only been accessible via a command-line interface. It can generate and store your keys in many different ways, depending on what wallet backend you use (e.g. btcwallet). Its functionality is also extensible via a plugin system.

CT: Back in late 2014, Ethereum’s virtual machine and programming language was ported over to CP. How has this helped the platform in terms of Smart Contract implementation?

EW: The smart contract system is really not much more than that port itself and the integration of that port into the existing Counterparty codebase.

“Ethereum isn't really obsolete, because it still has an innovative blockchain design[.]”

CT: Robby Dermody has stated that “With Counterparty, Bitcoin will be able to do anything that Ethereum ever could.” Does this make Ethereum obsolete since the Bitcoin blockchain obviously has a lot of the first-on-the-scene momentum moving forward?

EW: Ethereum is just two things at its core: a smart contract system and a new blockchain to host it. Ethereum isn't really obsolete, because it still has an innovative blockchain design, but 100% of the functionality of Ethereum is now available on Bitcoin with Counterparty.

CT: Can you give us an idea of what else CP has in the pipeline for 2015?

EW: Mainnet release of the smart contracts system, maturation of the codebase, and improvements to the Desktop wallet.

Note: The following answers were answered by Jeremy Johnson, the founder of CoinDaddy, as Counterparty has no direct involvement with the 2.0 services company.

CT: CP’s crypto 2.0 services company, CoinDaddy, has recently unveiled a free blockchain explorer for its users. How will this tool help users and what are the key features that will be supported?

Jeremy Johnson (CoinDaddy): The blockchain explorer helps in a few different ways.

First, it makes the Counterparty platform a bit easier to understand by using friendly asset icons and presenting the data in a manner that helps users more easily visualize flow of assets between users.

Second, it helps by providing a free set of easy-to-use APIs, which allows anyone to start interacting with the Counterparty platform immediately and begin integrating assets into their projects and applications.

Finally, the site offers some advanced features, like asset and broadcast enhancement, which make it easy for anyone to start tying blockchain data with more standardized information like contact, website, and reputation information.

CoinDaddy logo

CT: What are enhanced assets like the CZAR asset and what are enhanced broadcasts?

JJ: The Counterparty platform allows anyone to create an asset, enter a short description of their asset, and use it however they would like. However, for technical reasons, users are limited in their asset description to just 41 characters, which does not allow for much information.

To solve this problem we allow users to update their asset description to contain a URL, which points to a JSON file, which contains additional information on an asset.

The CounterpartyChain blockchain viewer takes advantage of this ability to associate extended information with an asset or broadcast and for any assets or broadcasts, which have been pointed at a properly formatted JSON file. The extended information is automatically loaded and displayed to the viewer.

Here is an example of a normal asset, which has NOT been enhanced.

Here is an example of an enhanced asset with additional asset information.

Note: You can read the full recent interview with Jeremy Johnson here

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