Today we will be interviewing Edison from Suberra, a payments platform built for Web 3.0.
Suberra enables merchants to easily accept stablecoins for commerce, allowing a wide range of payment models, like subscriptions, to take place on Web 3.0.
“Our project started when we were trying to subscribe for products with crypto and could not do so.”
Suberra is the brainchild of Edison Lim (ex-Engineering Lead at Zilliqa) and Zac Ler (ex-Alibaba). They have prior experience with mission-critical banking systems, consumer applications and blockchain.
In Feb 2022, Suberra secured US$1M in pre-seed funding, with investors including Defiance Capital, Delphi Digital, GT Capital and closed out by many angel investors, such as Alex Svanevik from Nansen.
Stablecoin payments: Why do they matter?
Payments are at the core of everything that we use on the Internet – from bills and shopping to subscription models (Netflix/Spotify).
Cryptocurrencies were introduced with the promise of revolutionising payments.
However most cryptocurrencies were not suited to be used as a medium of exchange due to price volatility. With the boom in stablecoin adoption, conversations around crypto payments have been reignited.
One-time payments in Web 3.0 can now be made. However, recurring payments, which businesses rely on, are not so easily done. Why?
In crypto, users hold the cryptographic keys to their own wallets and have full control of their funds on the blockchain. Users will have to approve and sign every transaction with their wallets. This provides security for large transactions but is extremely troublesome for transactions that users have to make frequently, such as paying for subscriptions.
Imagine that you have to scan a payment QR code every month to pay for your Netflix subscriptions. It is not just a pain for users, but also for merchants who will have to spend several man-hours to track and reconcile payments.
Suberra aims to fix these issues.
Suberra’s main vision is to kickstart the growth of Web 3.0 payments and for users and merchants to transact on Web 3.0 in a frictionless manner.
While crypto payments are getting more popular, moving money from consumers to merchants on-chain is still a manual and tedious task.
Suberra aims to tackle these issues and become the underlying payments processing layer for web 3.0. But how?
Suberra’s omnichain future
Firstly, blockchains are currently fragmented and users’ funds are divided across chains.
For example, a user may hold funds on Polygon (ETH L2), and others on Avalanche CChain (L1). Users might require some expertise to bridge funds between various L1s and L2s.
This may be intimidating for merchants that want to accept stablecoin payments. They have to consider questions such as:
- Where are their customers holding their funds?
- Which layers should they adopt?
- Where should they hold their fund receipts?
To tackle this, Suberra provides an easy-to-integrate payments layer and option across EVM-compatible chains via LayerZero. Customers will not have to worry about bridging funds to the right chain for payment as Suberra will abstract these bridging complexities away on a smart contract level.
This comes in the form of seamless integration plugins, easy-to-use APIs, and providing various pricing models from tiered to metered pricing to suit merchant needs.
The unique thing about Suberra is that payments can also be recurring and automated. This makes the solution perfect for things like subscriptions and payroll.
The team will be launching this omni-chain payments experience in the next quarter.
NFT Backed Subscriptions
Once a user makes a monthly subscription to the merchant, a special membership NFT is minted for the user. This NFT is different from the usual NFTs as it has time-expiry characteristics. While the NFT is valid, users will get access to the platform.
The NFT will expire in a month’s time, and will get renewed when Suberra’s automation bots charge the user’s account and move funds behind the scenes.
Merchants and publishers can verify the subscription state on-chain or use Suberra’s APIs and plugins to facilitate user authentication. Tools such as Collab.land can also be used for subscriber-only activities.
What stablecoins will Suberra use?
With the fallout from the UST collapse still being felt across the industry, Suberra has taken the approach to support only stablecoins with mainstream adoption and off-ramp support.
In their opinion, there is no “best” stablecoin as each has its pros and cons.
However, as a means of exchange, price stability and usability are important in their evaluation. Stablecoins that have stood the test of time, have integration with leading exchanges and support bank deposits will be their priority.
At launch, Suberra will support only USDC, given the trust, infrastructure and support they have built over time. Merchants can also withdraw USDC to bank deposits using Suberra’s merchant dashboard for certain selected users.
However, over time they intend to eventually allow merchants to accept any stablecoins they want on the platform.
Opinions for the short term
Crypto adoption will continue to grow, but at a slower pace in the next six months. Macro conditions are not looking healthy and interest rates will eventually have to be raised at a rate much higher than before. This will have severe knock-on effects on high-growth companies and industries.
We already see this with high-growth Internet companies cutting back on hiring and some have even started retrenchment.
Many people have also been affected by the cryptocurrency crashes and it will take at least a few months for narratives to change and for people to regain confidence.
Long-term builders will win
On the bright side, builders are constantly thinking and innovating on new technology despite the doom and gloom. This is the only way to stay ahead.
Personally, the team is excited about social and commerce dApps. It has never been easier to forge communities, align financial incentives, and give people reasons to maintain and grow communities long-term.
“Web 3.0 connects people in ways that current centralised internet companies could not.”
On crypto gaming and Play-2-Earn
Edison thinks that many of the current Play-to-X games will have to change their monetisation model.
This year, there have been more crypto games that are fun-to-play. In the bull market, many games quickly capture eyeballs when it is profitable to play it, but they also quickly enter a death spiral to irrelevance once the economic appeal starts to die down over time.
Many current projects are still built on predatory tokenomics, or have expensive sales of in-game character NFTs and lands. Subscription payments can offer games an alternative way to monetise their products.
Millions of players around the world subscribe to play World of Warcraft. Gamers also purchase in-game avatars and items to enhance their gameplay experience. Integrating payments into games could be the next big thing for game developers and gamers.
Better and sustainable methods for users could be incorporating in-game access pass subscriptions, or enhancing the in-game assets purchase experience.
Currently, the team is speaking with a few gaming projects who are looking to stay ahead and embrace in-game payments and are happy to chat with anyone who is interested.
Suberra’s recommendations for readers
Having been through the bear market of 2019, the team observed that people who “made it” within the last two years were those who maintained their conviction, stayed sharp and were curious about developing technology in this space.
They kept abreast of the latest narratives and cut through the noise to form their core thesis.
It is important to stay up-to-date on changing narratives, new technology or DAOs as they may be doing something that’s exciting.
“Read up more, ask questions, form your community and most importantly, try to develop your own reason for staying in crypto.”
Suberra’s payment platform is an indicator that the space is not just pure hype and there are projects out there that aim to solve an actual problem, rather than relying on predatory tokenomics.
It is a solution that I can see myself usinig in the future – using USDC and other stablecoins to pay for online subscriptions like Delphi Digital, Netflix etc.
A multi-chain payments platform on Web 3.0 that is easy to use for users sounds like genuine real-world adoption that we need. Will they succeed, however?
I think that the stablecoin space is still quite risky and the risk of de-peg, no matter how big or stable the market might be, is always looming. In any case, I still remain optimistic that projects like these are needed to advance the space and promote mass adoption for everyone.
Personally, I will be keeping my fingers crossed – they are definitely a team to keep an eye on.
[Editor’s Note: This article does not represent financial advice. Please do your own research before investing.]