Intermediaries are out. Smart contracts are in.
Or at least that’s the thinking behind Monax, the blockchain-based smart contacts provider. Led by CEO Casey Kuhlman, Monax is working with private beta customers to put their contractual obligations on blockchain. So far it’s looking more organized, faster, and cheaper. Here’s the latest scoop on developments from Kuhlman.
1. Why focus on the smart contracts market. Isn’t it crowded now?
They are a number of advantages that smart contracts offer to the consumer. One of the primary benefits of blockchain technology is that it removes any need for an intermediary. Professionals of any variety can use the technology to manage and secure their own legally binding documents without the need to pay a ‘middle man’. As well, using the decentralised ledger, contracts can be partially converted to computer code, stored and replicated on the system and supervised by the network of computers that run the blockchain.
In the case of Monax, we found a gap in the market and a cost-effective, time-effective solution to solving a large hole in how businesses handle their contractual obligations. If one were to ask most businesses “where are you within the fulfillment of your contracts” business leaders would not be able to answer that question. This is a glaring hole from a business optimisation and risk mitigation point of view. Traditionally the legal functions of businesses have been one of the least digitized parts of any company. In comparison to traditional legal agreements, blockchain-based digitised contracts are faster, more easily authenticated, and significantly easier to track. It hard to deny the real-world use case for these contracts, and I think that’s what makes Monax stand apart from others.
2. What’s behind the name?
When we founded Monax in 2014, it was originally named ‘Eris’, after the goddess of chaos. The world of smart contracts was still very undefined and under-explored, so we thought this was fitting. We changed the name of the company in 2016, mainly because of how the industry was developing. We were seeing more answers to our questions, more actual potential for blockchain technology, and more maturity in the industry. We began to prioritise creating an ecosystem to maintain order for legal products using blockchain technology, and rebranded ourselves to ‘Monax’. Monax is latin for marmot. We chose this name because of the natural way that these creatures create and maintain an ecosystem for many other alpine creatures to thrive.
3. How does your service work?
The Monax Platform is a collaborative workspace for businesses, legal and tech professionals. The platform consists of two elements; the Monax Deal Space – which allows users to coordinate team tasks, automate repetitive tasks, track contractual obligations, and access quality legal products – and the Monax Legal Products Studio – which allows users to create, test and market their work in the Monax community. Users of the new Monax Platform can log into the workspace and select, create and fill out a form, making a legally binding agreement and an auto-enforceable smart contract with just a couple of clicks. Users will be able to track every contract and obligation, with everything permanently recorded on the blockchain. Users can monitor and control the execution of the contract throughout its entire life-cycle.
The Monax Platform is built on an open-source, universal blockchain, The Agreements Network, which was co-founded by Monax in 2018. The Network leverages Business Process Modelling to connect information across organisations without the need for third party providers. By incorporating blockchain technology as a layer of communication between parties, the Monax Platform is a new vehicle for networked commerce.
4. Which templates are most popular?
At this point we have not fully shipped the marketplace function of the Monax Platform so the answers to that question will be emergent over the coming quarters. However, we are working with our early private beta customers to onboard their contractual obligations into the platform. What we have found is that these customers are very interested in tracking corporate governance documents as a mechanism to reduce closing costs during fundraising efforts. In addition, we are seeing a long tail of contracts being uploaded into the Platform which can be summarised as “daily business” contracts. This latter point is exciting to see because getting blockchain-based digitised contracts embedded into the normal scope of business is where the technology can truly shine.
5. Your team has had some success before Monax. Share that.
Our team has been at the forefront of the ‘blockchains for business’ portion of the ecosystem for a long time now. We were the first to market with a permissionable blockchain client that is now part of the Hyperledger portfolio of codebases and is known as Hyperledger Burrow. We were also the first to market with enterprise-grade scalable systems of smart contracts which would be leveraged as accelerators for a broad range of use cases that companies were exploring in the early days of the industry. Both of these efforts have coalesced into the cohesive codebase we use for the Agreements Network.
The members of the Monax team are an amalgam of technologies specialising in distributed systems and business process modelling along with lawyers who have been seeking a new way to service clients. This mixture of talent is the base for the offering that we are taking to market now.