Tuesday, January 5, 2016

KooKoo Hackathon Winner Interview

“With KooKoo APIs, I could transform my idea into a Real App” says Yadunandan Batchu, Winner of 1st KooKoo Mashup Challenge

Yadunandan Batchu, winner of the first KooKoo Mashup Challenge worked on mashing up KooKoo APIs with Bitcoin to bridge the financial divide between the online and offline world. The problem statement in his own words:
"To reduce the huge financial divide between the online and the offline regions of the world, I have tried to fill the gap through the KooKoo IVR system along with bitcoin platform (network probably). Using the app, you can interact with the bitcoin network offline with the Pubkey-Privkey pair stored in the database (which will be encrypted using the authcode). 
I have used: 
1. Toshi API (for bitcoin blockchain data) 
2. NodeJS for development (ExpressJS & JSON-to-XML parsing library from npm
3. Heroku to host the development files (there may be some sleep timings since it is a developer account) 4. GoogleSpreadsheet API with service account (for temporary database) 
5. Direct use of KooKoo REST API through XML responses 

The hack is still a limited prototype. Need a lot of fixes (Currently can send transactions only if there is a unspent_output with value greater than the amount to be sent). Future steps: 1. Encrypting the data base with the User’s authcode (can also use Voice encryption). 2. Leveraging the secure database for off-chain transactions for immediate confirmations and spending. 3. Integration of Outbound_SMS services for each confirmation step. 4. Integration of Inbound_SMS services for registration of bitcoin public keys out of the system through One-Time-IDs. 5. Optimizing the use of unspent_outputs for efficient network fees."
Here is what he says about his experience with KooKoo APIs
  1. Why did you choose this problem?

I am very passionate about the Bitcoin concept and I had this idea for a while but did not know how to approach it and build on it. When I came across the KooKoo Mashup challenge and got access to the Kookoo APIs, it took me couple of days of work to crack the problem. I just wanted to grow the reach of bitcoin to offline users. Most population is not connected on the internet so the idea was to reach out to the offline users. I have given a provision to transfer Bitcoins over phone numbers.
  1. How did you find the KooKoo APIs?

It was very easy to adapt. Initially, I found that there was documentation only for Java and php so I had to use bare xml to interact with KooKoo. It would be very helpful if there would be more documentation and library for all languages. I also suggest that developers be given free outbound SMS service for developer accounts. This could be provided with some limit for developer accounts. This facility would have allowed me to integrate the app with sms. I did not explore it because it was a paid service.
  1. How much impact do you think Bitcoin will have in the payment industry?

It is surely going to become a mandatory payment option very soon and might replace some of the traditional methods like paypal, western union and money bookers. It is also being called as an asset class if not a transaction instrument. It is expected to surpass gold investment and will be considered more reliable investment. Some of the countries like Lithuania, Argentina are pressing it to be a reserve currency by the government.
  1. Will you continue this project to build a Startup?

Yes definitely. But, I need to put in a lot more work to create a business model with a viable revenue model.  In the long run, the centralised model for Bitcoin will not work. It will not work with centralised servers and nodes, it has to be decentralised. But for initial take off, centralised servers are ok. It is a fascinating model and can be implemented in any industry. I am also interested in Shared Immutable Ledger concept, which does allow one to tamper with the data in the database. Microsoft is aggressively working on this with Block chain as a service on Azure.
  1. Any other comments, for young hackers in the country?

Hacking is a great way to solve problems innovatively and find how other people are addressing the same problem in different ways.