Updated: Jan 31, 2022
Co-founders: Dylan Mooers (Technology) and Eric Cuellar (Product)
Dylan and I first became friends through our University’s blockchain club. We found a mutual passion for the financial markets and social impact – two worlds that often feel in conflict with one another. During our first hackathon together, Dylan built a peer-to-peer savings and lending app on the Ethereum blockchain, inspired by the on-chain savings circle concept put forward by Celo. As a judge in the hackathon, I was blown away by Dylan’s ability to break down the boundaries between highly speculative financial technology and financial inclusion. While I wasn't able to convince him to deploy to Celo for that hackathon, I knew this was just the beginning of our journey together down this rabbit hole.
After working on separate projects, we finally found an opportunity to join forces: the Celo x Gitcoin Make it Mobile Hackathon. This event marked the inception of Centro and our parent company, OpenCelo. After winning 2nd place, we raised a small pre-seed from Flori Ventures, changed our mobile tech-stack (twice), and participated in Celo Camp. Here is our journey!
What we built
Centro is a DeFi wallet that turns everyone into a Celo power user. Our primary value propositions are aggregating and automating features within the Celo ecosystem. We went into Celo Camp with three main objectives: revamp app design, improve UX with more automation, and build a native mobile app.
During Camp we managed to do a complete redesign of our user interface with a focus on compartmentalizing core features such as swaps, yield, and payments, while keeping the UI modular/expandable to accept more advanced features (e.g. leverage). The idea is to not just aggregate features, but combine them into a highly integrated product (less of a dapp browser, more of a decentralized Binance). Our biggest achievement during Camp was building Minima, our on-chain router that automatically finds the best trade path across all decentralized exchanges on Celo. Using a novel implementation of the Bellman-Ford algorithm, Dylan created a tool that allows any on-chain entity (e.g. Centro smart contract wallets, DAOs, etc) to get the best swap price fully on-chain. Minima also allows people to ‘swap’ into lending tokens (i.e. Moola) and liquidity provider tokens (i.e. Mobius), expanding the utility beyond your typical router. Finally, we created an MVP cross-platform native mobile application using React Native, as shown in our demo.
Imagine a world where every user is just one tap away from being a yield farmer. A world where people can text interest-bearing Bitcoin, Dollars, Ethereum, and Euros to each other. A world where the flow of money is open, programmatic, and inclusive. Centro is your portal to this world.
At Centro, our goal is to be ‘the killer application’ that onboards the 6B+ smartphone users to DeFi. How do we do it? A hyperfocus on user experience – specifically aggregation, automation, and security. We all remember onboarding our first friend to Celo yield farming: going back and forth between your browser and wallet 6+ times to approve transactions. By the end, new users have no idea what is going on. With Centro, users will be able to go from holding cUSD to farming a cUSD/USDC pool on Mobius with a single transaction.
Memorable moments during Celo Camp
Our most memorable moment was seeing the first on-chain transaction for Minima, our router. Since most decentralized exchanges on Celo do not maintain their Alfajores deployments, we were forced to test on mainnet. When Dylan sent the first Minima swap txID to me, butterflies filled my stomach–it’s alive! While we have yet to complete performance testing, this will undoubtedly be a keystone in the Centro ecosystem. Another memorable moment was watching one of our other projects, Mobius Money, hit $50M total value locked! Lastly, it was a pleasure connecting with other founders and sharing ideas. FlyWallet, CeloTax, and other teams were not only open to collaboration, but filled with great use cases for Centro.
Important things we learned
One of our Celo Camp mentors, Paul from Edge Wallet, provided an invaluable run-down on security for mobile crypto wallets. As a pioneer in the mobile self-custody space, Paul is well steeped in the topic of security in crypto. From proper encryption techniques and more secure algorithms to common malpractices, Paul tapped into his lifetime of insight to help provide direction for us to build the most secure mobile wallet possible.
Before we can launch a beta version of Centro in the iOS and Android App Stores, we must commission an external audit of our code. This will ensure our protocol was properly built and tested, so that user funds are safe. Moreover, we would like to improve our key management system and potentially innovate within this space. For example, Dylan will be doing his senior project on private key social recovery with the goal of building on cLabs’ existing work. Finally, we need to create educational content to ensure users are empowered from day 1 to make informed decisions on our platform.
Author: Eric Cuellar, Co-founder at Centro