Agate Interview with CEO and Co-Founder Hamed Taghvaei

Hacked writer Joshua Larson delivered a positive review of blockchain based payments platform ‘Agate’ in one of our frequent ‘ICO Analysis’ features just two months ago. Beyond this, the company hasn’t been all that prominent in the news.

At the same time as this lack of coverage: Agate is hosting its public ICO event, in addition to having already released public source code for various aspects of its proprietary blockchain. It’s called ‘Agatechain’.

We decided to reach out to CEO and Co-Founder Hamed Taghvaei to find out more about the company directly, in addition to his thoughts on matters such as mainstream cryptocurrency adoption, Proof of Stake and top tips for future ICO creators.

What is Agate and How did it Start?

Agate is responsible for creating a handful of product solutions for the retail and e-commerce markets, in addition to user-to-user and user-to-merchant payments. In fact, on its website (near the top) the team makes it very apparent that it is proud to bear the label of being the ‘PayPal of Cryptocurrency’.

The company was founded by industry veterans including our subject Hamed Taghvaei who has “spent the past 17 years in the IT industry” where he took “the opportunity to meet [some] great people”.

“These include Hamed Ostad, who is one of the other Co-Founders of Agate. He has an impressive career in banking and payment industry for last 18 years including BPAY which is a very successful payment solution in Australia.

“I also met Ali Dorri who is among the first PhD candidates from UNSW University (Australia) who specifically focuses on blockchain technology.

“Agate advisors who I have met previously include Brenton Smith (former GM and VP of Dell Australia and Symantec respectively) who was working as Country Manager at the time, Dr Nikzad Rizvandi, and Dr Samaneh Movassaghi.”

Dr Movassaghi works for leading IT companies like Google and Philips, whilst Dr Rizvandi is “deeply involved with the Agate AI Engine”.

Agatechain

All of the solutions in Agate’s portfolio share a common foundation upon ‘Agatechain’, the company’s independent, open-source decentralised blockchain.

Agatechain was created as an alternative to pre-existing blockchains with the intention of tackling issues such as “transaction speeds, transaction costs and fees, and volatility” as well as making a solution which is “as simple as possible for mass adoption by merchants and users.

“For example, creating a token can be done in 3 second without any technical knowledge in our GUI wallet or by using Agate open payment gateway API.”.

Taghvaei continues:

“Our main focus with the Agate ecosystem is to resolve these issues.

“By using our iFiat ecosystem, we eliminate volatility that merchants and customers don’t need to worry about crypto currency fiat value at all.

“Running transactions through the agate blockchain with instant settlement with lowest fee will boost confidence of merchants towards accepting cryptocurrency in their physical or online shops.”

Furthermore, he claims to be proud of highlighting “Agate as a comprehensive ecosystem containing Fat Protocols and Fat Application in its different parts. In fact, that’s why we believe it can resolve fundamental obstacles to crypto adoption.”

Key Features

The ‘iFiat ecosystem’ utilises a stable-coin called ‘iFiat’ which operates alongside (and independent to) the team’s utility token, the AGT token. It helps to allow instant cross-token and token-to-fiat payments for business and private users.

Additional products and features as noted on their website and in their whitepaper include a Physical POS Terminal, a GUI wallet and Token Generator Engine (for creating coins and ICOs). Standard integrated functions include smart contracts, scalability and a block explorer.

Hamed Taghvaei in particular highlights the project’s AI engine, which was designed

“to help those who want to spend their crypto in the highest value. When users want to spend their crypto within the ecosystem or transfer it to their debit card, they can use our AI capability.

“Agate’s AI engine uses Andrej Karpathy, Tal Perry and Christopher Olah’s methodology and we have made a version of an RNN called a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM).”

Taghvaei on the Industry

Whilst speaking to Taghvaei, we decided to take the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions that were not directly related to his project. In return, he gave us some observations and advice on the industry.

1. On Regulations

“It’s obvious that for any new technology and innovation there are lot of barriers, including regulations in financial market. There are not as many strong and clear regulations about cryptocurrencies or the idiosyncrasies of trading, exchange, mining, ICO, etc.

“We can see lot of positive initiatives from governments across the globe which will help this industry to shape up and grow.

“In Australia, there are certain rules for trading cryptocurrency and exchanges and the Australian government is working on ICOs specifically as well. I believe this will give more confident to companies, investors and consumers to use this technology.

“It is worth highlighting that putting too much red tape for entrepreneurs will slow down the adoption process, but it is clear that cryptocurrency is here to stay.”

2. Advice for other ICOs

“As an advisor for start-ups for few years I would say while there are many factors to make a business or ICO successful or failure but if I want to highlight top five elements for an ICO.

“I believe them to be as follows:

1. Make sure there is a real use-case for your blockchain project.
2. Investors invest on good teams including advisors, so make sure you gather the best ones available in the market. You must also ensure that they are relevant to your ICO.
3. The best idea without a product won’t sell, so make sure to create your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before pubic pitch.
4. Community is your main asset when it comes to crowdfunding so please build and handle your community with care.
5. Never forget that an ICO is simply a crowdfunding method and that you are starting a long-term venture, so make sure you design a sustainable business for future growth and support.”

Partnerships & Final Words

Hamed Taghvaei ties in parting advice with information regarding the status and nature of one of their key partnerships:

“In order to deliver a successful blockchain project you need more than just a good idea, product and committed team. You should consider it as a business.

“We consider ourselves lucky that we partnered with Engenesis as a venture builder at an early stage of Agate project. This partnership has given Agate an unmatched advantage in the market in terms of solution development capabilities.”

Other notable partnerships include the ACDA (Australian Digital Commerce Association) and FinTech Australia, of which Agate is a member.

Future features as visible on the company’s roadmap include the launch of the Agate Blockchain Main-net in Q1 2019. This is in addition to smart contracts and plugins / apps for WooCommerce (in Q2 2019), Multi-currency and multi-language support (Q3 2019), and the acquisition of a banking license (in Q4 2019).

The public ICO event is now on, with 65% of total supply (490,000,000 AGT) allocated for sale overall. The soft cap of $2,000,000 has already been surpassed, and the team is aiming for a hard cap achievement of $24,206,000.

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