By Shingo Lavine, Co-Founder
Ethos was founded back in 2016 with the mission of creating a financial ecosystem that is open, safe and fair for everyone. At Ethos, we believed that the future was not just for a select few, but should be for everyone and that crypto was an opportunity to create a more transparent, accessible and ethical world. At the heart of the ecosystem was the Ethos Universal Wallet, a decentralized, self-custody application that allowed anyone, anywhere to store, track, learn, send and receive crypto easily and securely.
This vision became enormously successful and, in a matter of months, rapidly grew to over 100,000 users distributed all around the world. These users were part of a global, distributed Ethos community that shared our vision of using cryptocurrency as a way to disrupt the status quo and create good, positive change in the world.
Ethos and Voyager
In 2019, Voyager acquired certain assets from Ethos including Ethos’s decentralized wallet and back-end developer platform called Bedrock. Bedrock was a sophisticated, decentralized, high-performance, cross-chain blockchain engine that powered all of the Universal Wallet and subsequently Voyager’s crypto systems.
Voyager would not have been possible without Bedrock or the Ethos team. Voyager rapidly scaled from a few thousand users to over 3 million users in just a few years off the back of Ethos’s decentralized technology. Ethos and Bedrock were a silent, but crucial, piece of Voyager’s infrastructure and subsequent success.
In 2019, I joined Voyager as Chief Innovation Officer and sat on the board of directors. I oversaw the integration of Ethos’s team and technology into Voyager and believed in continuing the vision and mission of Ethos through its integration into Voyager.
In February 2021, I resigned from the board of directors and left the company due to ethical concerns and strategic issues with the company’s direction. In 2022, Voyager shut down the Ethos Universal Wallet, forcing users to move their funds out of their decentralized wallets and into other locations, much of it winding up at Voyager.
While at Voyager and after our departure, we advocated for a self-custody option and decentralized payment rails. We believed – and still do – that the best approach is to enable customers to trade from a self-custody system. Had Voyager taken this approach, arguably the meltdown could have been avoided.
Instead, Voyager chose to create a centralized treasury management system. In this approach, customer crypto from millions of customers was co-mingled into a massive “omnibus” wallet. These funds were subsequently lent out to generate yield. Unfortunately, in this approach customers didn’t fully understand what was happening or the risks that were being taken with their funds, and had zero control over their own assets. The enormous risk-taking backfired and customers were left holding the bag.
While Ethos’s technology was designed to power decentralized applications, Voyager instead chose a 100% centralized path and provided lip service to transparency and security while their actions in reality created secrecy and risk.
Rebuilding Trust Through Self-Custody
Crypto was built to solve issues of trust. The irony is that centralized meltdowns like Voyager prove the use case for why crypto was created in the first place. By decentralizing the financial system, crypto was designed to create an alternative to the status quo that let people make their own decisions and take control of their assets. The financial system abused the trust of many in the 2008 financial crisis and this abuse of trust was the spark that motivated Satoshi Nakamoto to create Bitcoin and turn these norms on its head. Decentralization is at the core of why crypto is necessary and, if anything, the bankruptcy of centralized lenders such as Voyager is proof of Nakamoto’s thesis.
Decentralization was a core value of Ethos. We wanted to democratize access to the financial system by putting power directly into the hands of the everyday person. We wanted to create a world where you didn’t have to trust those in power, but where every person could build a better future by trusting themselves. We want to bring users back to the original vision of Ethos and to the core philosophy of crypto. We believe in a decentralized future.
Ethos is Back. And We’re On a Mission.
Ethos is back and our mission is the same as it was in 2017: to build a financial ecosystem that is open, safe and fair for everyone. Our vision is to fulfill the original decentralized vision of crypto to create a future that is for everyone.
In 2017 we wrote the following and we still believe it:
“Ethos is about bringing Ethics into the cryptocurrency world. Ethos is about unlocking the future of finance and empowering the world. Ethos is about building a people-powered cryptocurrency platform – for everyone. Ethos is about investing in our future together.
Whether or not someone, or something, has ethos, however, is in the hands of the community – in you. We believe we have an obligation to make the world better and that it isn’t just good enough to trust that those in power will act ethically. We believe that financial tools aren’t just for the 1%, but for everyone and that cryptocurrencies have the power to unlock these benefits and democratize finance.”
Ethos Cornerstones: Control, Transparency, Community and Ease
Control: Your Keys, Your Crypto, Your Ethos. You are in control. Always.
Transparency: Any exchange can claim to be transparent, but blockchain never lies.
Community: Power belongs to you. Together, we can defy the status quo.
Ease: Don’t choose between security and accessibility. Easy, safe and made for everyone.
Defy secrecy. Defy Centralization. Defy the status quo. Defy with Defi, with Ethos. Together, we are more powerful. Together, we’ll put control back into people’s hands. Together, we’ll go back to crypto’s roots to create the future of finance. Because the future is for everyone.
Co-Founder & Co-CEO Ethos.io