Workchain.io has an interesting take on payrolls over blockchain. Their team is working on evolving the payroll system with not only automating it but also enabling instant payout to the workers - the moment they complete the work. We recently had an opportunity to interview its CEO and Co-Founder, Ryan Fyfe. Here's how it went:
Q. How has your experience at Humanity.com been fruitful for building WorkChain?
The actual concept for WorkChain.io owes to my time at Humanity.com. Millions of employees have their hours and shifts tracked through Humanity.com and seeing each of them wait weeks to get paid is what inspired us to create WorkChain.io. It was a clear-as-day insight into the problems caused – for employees and employers – by slow, traditional payroll.
From an operational point of view, the path we’re on with WorkChain.io is similar to the one I took with Humanity.com. I bootstrapped Humanity.com from zero to a team of 150 with VC funding which took us to multimillion-dollar revenue. And after ten years as CEO in Silicon Valley, riding all the bumps, building and managing a team, and working with investors, puts me in a good position to handle what’s ahead with WorkChain.io.
Q. There's a feature where Employer sign up is not required - how are the payments handled in this case?
We want to make instant paychecks on the blockchain as accessible as possible. We don’t want a worker missing out because their employer hasn’t signed up yet. So, to do this, the WorkChain.io platform can advance a worker their earnings, then later recoup them from their employer when payroll is processed. This way, the worker gets instant access to their earnings, and the employer doesn’t have to alter their payroll cycle.
Q. How are work records verified?
Work records are written through integrations with WorkChain.io. This can be an employer or, what we like to call a “validator”, such as a workforce management system. WorkChain.io integrates with their time tracking or attendance systems to obtain proof that someone has worked – information that is encoded into a smart contract that triggers when agreed conditions have been met to release payment.
Each work record is multi-signed by both the validator as well as the organization it relates to. They can’t be altered by an individual user. The records also contain additional security features such as unique user identification and timestamps.
Q. Why did you choose Stablecoin cryptocurrency for payment?
As most of the world knows, cryptocurrency tends to be rather volatile. This is a potential problem when it comes to paychecks. A 10-20% fluctuation in the price of a coin overnight could mean a worker’s paycheck diminishes or, on the other end, that an employer’s payroll increases. Stablecoins help us avoid this volatility. They give both workers and employers certainty while still providing instant, decentralized payments.
Q. Humanity and WorkPuls look a flawless integration. Any challenges that the Workchain has faced in integrating them?
Our integrations with Humanity and WorkPuls are a logical go-to-market strategy. Not only because of our existing relationships with the companies, but because it will onboard one million users – great traction and proof of product. When integrating any new technologies, there can be challenges but we’ve designed it to be as seamless as possible. By plugging into HR systems already in place, it effectively means employers don’t have to alter the way they process payroll at all.
More broadly speaking, we’re taking the integration route with existing workforce management systems to give ourselves a strategy for long-term, sustainable growth. And beyond Humanity and WorkPuls, we’re in discussions with additional integration partners.
Q. Can you tell our readers more about workId - Immutable CV? Why you think workers should use it?
workID is the basis for instant paychecks. It’s the blockchain-based professional identity to which work and payment records are connected on WorkChain.io. Any worker who wants to receive their paycheck instantly will need to setup a workID, which is extremely easy to do with integrations with platforms like LinkedIn. workID is public facing too. It features a user’s experience, education and skills just like a resume does. And it’s immutably stored and shareable on the blockchain.
Q. What role does WorkChain App Token (WATT) play in the system?
WATT tokens are our membership utility tokens. The first thing they do is provide membership access. They’re also a transactional currency, powering all data transactions between the platform and DApps. And by staking tokens, entities earn the right to perform work via the platform, and rewarded for providing services on it. With our platform live, we’ve already proven the utility of WATT tokens. This isn’t always the case with blockchain projects.
Q. Most of the platforms developed on Blockchain conduct ICO, why WorkChain did not conduct one?
Both my cofounder and I come from traditional SAAS startups where the emphasis is on product and product-market-fit first, raising funds second. So, from this experience, we felt it was the right approach to really show WorkChain.io’s real-world use case of blockchain and that we could bring our product to market before raising outside capital.
Going with this strategy meant the founding team bootstrapped the business ourselves to get our first product to market. Now we’ve done that, we’re looking for additional investment capital to scale our development and market opportunities. We want the right kind of investment from investors who understand our product and its long-term value, rather than the short-term expectations that are generally created through ICOs.
Q. Will the payment records of WATT be available on the blockchain publicly? What is the privacy model of workPay?
The first thing to be clear about is, WATT tokens are separate from payments. The tokens are used to access and work on the WorkChain.io network. TrueUSD stablecoin is what’s used for payments.
All payments happen on the public blockchain, but no personally identifiable information will be stored in a way that will be publicly readable without an individual’s private key. Only the parties involved in a specific transaction would know the details of who’s on the other side. On the public blockchain, the smart contracts look like any other, with standard Ethereum addresses on each side.
Q. How has the response been for the WorkChain Bounty Program?
Pretty overwhelming! We’ve had over 40,000 of people sign up. They came in such a rush that it actually crashed the automated bounty system our dev team built. While we obviously would have preferred to avoid the crash, the huge number of supporters shows us there is a real interest and belief in what we’re building.
Q. How has the journey been so far? What is the next step?
It’s been exciting. Just like any startup, it hasn’t always been a straight line. But we set out with product-first focus and we’ve stuck true to this having launched our platform and first product, workID. We never wanted to be a “here’s a whitepaper and vision no give us millions of dollars” company. It was always about proving the product first.
What’s coming up for us? We’re continuing our private sale to fund the development of the platform. Test payments are underway at the moment which is a big milestone, followed by an even bigger one in the first real salaries being paid later this year. We’ll then onboard employees in early 2019 before launching our payroll-linked microlending product workPAY ADVANCE later in 2019.
Thank you Ryan for your time. We really enjoyed interacting with you and wish the workchain.io team good luck with all the future endeavours that you just mentioned.