Sila to bridge finance and blockchain systems

By April 8, 2019 Ethereum
Click here to view original web page at www.enterprisetimes.co.uk
Sila

Coupled with Sila stablecoins and utilising the Ethereum blockchain, Sila aspires to empower developers wishing to bring apps to market in a matter of weeks while complying with the relevant regulatory environment. Sila will deliver simple and secure APIs to accelerate financial innovation – by providing a bridge between the smart contracts functionality of the Ethereum blockchain and existing payment systems such as ACH.

Shamir Karkal, CEO, Sila
Shamir Karkal, CEO, Sila

Sila CEO, Shamir Karkal (previously at Simple which is now part of BBVA after a $117M acquisition) spent two years as Head of Open APIs at BBVA before co-founding Sila: “Existing payment systems — ACH, Visa and SWIFT — are accessible only to a handful of large incumbents, while the money transmission licensing process today is an 12-24 month process, which can kill an application in a rapidly evolving market.

“Blockchain has provided a revolutionary method to transfer value, but the industry still needs to connect to existing banking facilities to move forward – and that’s where Sila comes in. Our REST APIs provide a layer on top of existing payment systems, making them programmable and ultimately making Sila tokens programmable cash. We remove barriers of regulation, compliance, and development cost, so that innovators can bring their apps to market in a matter of weeks.

Sila and APIs

Sila wishes to supply an all-inclusive API platform for the development of FinTech and new economy applications. It has launched its open Beta program. This enables developers (and entrepreneurs) to integrate speedy value transfers into applications in order to bring their applications to market in a matter of weeks (instead of the years that seem normal).

To do this, Sila offers:

  • Ethereum smart contract functionality
  • value transfer via ERC-20 tokens.

This should supply low-cost, rapid and secure movement of value within an application. In effect, developers gain access to a wide range of payment systems which means they can optimise value transfers to suit customers.

To achieve this, the mechanisms are abstracted away and wrapped in an intuitive API toolkit, supported by SDKs in popular programming languages. Sila tokens peg to the US$ via a centralised, 100% reserve held in liquid US Treasury instrument. The intention to:

  • mitigate the volatility commonly seen in cryptocurrencies
  • ensure rapid money transfers within applications.

Sila modules

The modules provided in the Sila Beta cover five areas. Together these remove hurdles when integrating a current financial system into an application:

  • ‘Verify ID’: register a new user with a unique handle, and verify that their identity using standard US financial institution KYC processes
  • ‘Link Bank Account’: a new user’s bank account(s) verifies and links, enabling US$ to debit or credit via ACH
  • ‘Issue’: this debits US$ from a specified account linked to a user’s bank account, and issues the corresponding amount of Sila tokens to the blockchain address tied to the user
  • ‘Redeem’: the inverse of the ‘Issue’ command, this burns the specified amount of Sila tokens at the blockchain address of the handle and credits the linked bank account with the corresponding amount of US$
  • ‘Transfer’: this triggers the movement of Sila tokens from one blockchain address to another; there are no limits on the amount of tokens that can be transferred.

In combination these provide a link between current financial systems and blockchain. The Sila API running over HTTP will facilitate development of applications which need:

  • instant access to a development sandbox
  • sensible pricing that can scales with a developer’s application
  • make it easier for developers to make more and higher-value requests.

For example, users with validated KYC information can then link bank accounts and ask to have SILA tokens issued (with a fixed value of $0.01). A request for 1000 SILA will debit $10.00 from the user’s linked bank account. Upon settlement of the funds (after about 2 days) the user will receive SILA tokens at the user’s blockchain address. As the user subsequently transfers SILA tokens, the interest in the money market fund also transfers.

If the holder of SILA is not an address associated with a known user, the ownership of the interest in the money market fund goes to Sila, the company. On this basis developers can write smart contracts to determine how to distribute SILA tokens.

Sila’s ability to integrate with smart contracts in an intimate way was a game changer for me, as it allowed me to combine the flexibility and speed of the blockchain with the traditional payment and banking systems that users are most comfortable with,” said Justin Thomas, Founder of Friendowment and Sila Alpha customer.

I spent a few months assessing ACH processors in an effort to find a cost effective solution that could support Friendowment’s requirement to hold and manage funds on behalf of customers. While some options exist, none provide the comprehensive set of services, scalable pricing, and developer-first ethos that Sila does. It took just two weeks to integrate Friendowment with Sila and we’re now ready to take it to market.

Enterprise Times: what does this mean

This Sila initiative is both attractive and unattractive (to Enterprise Times). The ‘good’ parts are:

  • the APIs
  • the sandbox for developers
  • the focus on developers
  • the bridge between traditional financial systems and blockchain.

The less ‘attractive’ aspect is the use of tokens and cryptocurrencies, especially in a banking context. In truth, Enterprise Times remains confused as to whether to upsides outweigh the downsides. The lack of technical detail available on the Sila web site does not help.

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