The things best to know are first principles and causes, but these things are perhaps the most difficult for men to grasp, for they are farthest removed from the senses
Quiet reflection and writing are luxuries within the world of crypto. On the one hand, there is unparalleled innovation, from the world-changing Merge, zkEVMs, optimistic rollups, liquid staking derivatives, decentralized finance (DeFi), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). On the other hand, the never-ending news cycle about the earth-shattering developments within money Crypto, involving centralized exchanges and lending businesses. Reflecting on 2022, in this case, more than ever squarely falls into both these sides.
A quote incorrectly attributed to Charles Holland Dual, the United States Commissioner of Patents in 1899, stated, "Everything that can be invented has been invented". I won't make the same mistake of declaring everything about 2022 has been written. I suspect many reviews, reflections and profound reactions have yet to emerge from the last twelve months. As I aim to contribute my thoughts to the ocean of writing to capture 2022, I tend to gravitate towards first principles—my wont as a Product Lead.
It has always been about decentralization. Web3 is a paradigm shift, a technology that established the first principles of digital authority, permissionless innovation, and transparency. Ethereum allows for the networking of humans to coordinate around a shared understanding of data without relying on an intermediary or other means of trusting the network participants. Staying true to its first principles, web3 democratises the creation, storage, and distribution of digital value and ownership, and creates fundamentally more distributed, efficient, transparent, and cost-effective systems. This, in turn, improves economic opportunities for everyone, everywhere. 2022, I believe, can be seen as an assimilation of these first principles.
Within MetaMask Institutional (MMI), our mission is to bridge every organisation on earth into web3. Hence, over the last two years, as permissionless innovation has driven an explosion of decentralised applications, we have focused on building the fundamental institutional infrastructure across three different experiences:
The MMI Extension is the frontier experience that provides unrivaled access to all of web3.
Our portfolio dashboard offers a curated institutional experience—by connecting all custodians, accounts, networks, and assets in one place—seamlessly working with the MMI wallet. It allows institutions to efficiently monitor, control, manage, and report on their digital assets.
Lastly, programmatic access allows organizations to connect to web3 through their own APIs and enable the creation of scripts to complete complex execution strategies on various DeFi protocols.
One focus area for us in Q1 was to provide access to all Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chains. To this end, we launched custodian account multi-chain capabilities. Given that it is the custodians who broadcast the transactions however, the EVM chain access of MMI users is determined by the chains supported by their custodian. We thus launched capabilities to make it easier for our custodian and self-custody partners to roll out access to more EVM chains.
As we expand our list of custodian partners, it has become imperative to also simplify the onboarding of these new custodians. As a result, in January 2022, we launched our V2 JSON-RPC API Integration Architecture, which allows us to compress integration steps and standardise our integration stack. This moved us closer to a “self-service” model that allows for multiple custodians to integrate simultaneously.
To make it easier for our clients to get a holistic overview of their portfolio, we launched the MMI portfolio dashboard. This is a special privileged dapp that recognises MMI wallets and then brings in all a client's accounts (default, hardware wallet and custodial) to provide a consolidated view of their holdings across all EVMs. The dashboard is also a new canvas upon which we can build tailored institutional user experiences. We see it as another bridge into web3 and, eventually, an execution layer on which we intend to introduce features to expand DeFi functionalities.
Over the year, we continued to improve our portfolio dashboard with a series of incremental features upgrades and additions. By the end of the first quarter, we showed pool balances and DeFi holdings across all EVMs with token, lending and borrowing LP, farming, leveraged farming, rewards tokens, governance, staked and yield and other positions. We also provided detailed lending and borrowing positions including annual percentage yields (APYs), annual percentage returns (APRs), health factors and interest earned and owned. Lastly, we rolled out CSV downloading of transaction history. We ended the quarter with a minimum lovable product, one that contains a true consolidated view and offers great user experience and design with minimal latency.
In the second quarter, we worked towards addressing two of the biggest pain points we heard from our users — a fragmented NFT experience for the institutional user, and reporting.
NFTs are a profoundly important sector within web3. Yet, the institutional user experience is completely broken. Organisations are often multi-custodian, have multiple accounts per custodian, hold multiple NFTs per account, and then transact or use multiple different marketplaces. This results in fragmentation at every layer of the stack. To address this challenge, we launched MMI’s NFT tracking view at our Consensys Connect event. The MMI NFT tracking view unifies all the fragmentation institutions face, providing a consolidated view of all their NFT holdings, across custodians, accounts and marketplaces.
To address the reporting requirements for institutional clients, we launched our portfolio snapshot feature. MMI snapshots provides a customer with accurate valuations across all EVMs in token, DeFi positions and NFTs. It automatically creates weekly, monthly and quarterly valuations and transaction history that can be shared in read-only format to third-party service providers. With data also downloadable to CSV, it also lay the foundation of building our web3 attribution capabilities in the upcoming quarter.
MMI aims to address the different custody needs of all organisations seeking to enter the DeFi and web3. Therefore, we work with multiple custodians and self-custody solutions that offer different custody technology stacks. In Q2, we integrated two new custodians, in an effort to cater to the varied key management and jurisdiction requirements of all organisations. We also launched transaction notes, a feature that gives organisations the ability to provide notes and context around their transactions.
The third quarter was all about building on the work we had done in the first half of 2022 to strengthen custodian offerings and improve existing features. We announced our next set of custodian and self-custody partners, which included Cobo, Floating Point Group, Liminal, and Propine. Throughout the quarter, we also shipped a range of updates and essential features within the portfolio dashboard.
We rolled out improved versions of our reporting capabilities, portfolio snapshots, and NFT view. Within an organization's NFT holding, we now provide a variety of historical and real-time valuation data points for an NFT. Lastly, we created a new experience team within MMI focusing on programmatic access and web3 primitives.
We focused the fourth quarter on solving another pain point for our customers: access to MMI via APIs instead of through a standard user interface. This would enable organizations to execute programmatically across multiple different custodians. To provide programmatic access to our clients, we open-sourced a Python version of MMI's SDK in Q4. The MMI SDK is effectively the connector to which all our custodian partners integrate. Clients of MMI and our custodian partners can now quickly build programmatic python scripts and connect to our SDK, allowing for the creation of programmatic transactions. We have many plans for this feature and will build out this library to make crafting different execution strategies as simple as possible. With programmatic access, we extend MMI's access to web3 through an additional interface.
Another priority was to natively embed MetaMask Swaps into the Portfolio Dashboard to ensure a fast and seamless swapping experience. We also built a transaction simulator that allows us to build incredibly valuable products and features, the first of which will go live in Q1 2023. In addition, we deployed a series of improved UX and UI updates within the MMI extension, ensuring we provide a seamless user experience.
In Q4, we continued to expand our custodian offering and integrated three custodian and self-custody partners: FPG, Liminal and Safe. We ended the year with 11 custody and self-custody providers, allowing MMI to offer the most expansive suite of custody and self-custody solutions on the market.
“Learn to sell, learn to build”
Last year saw the MMI brand and presence grow profoundly, becoming a mainstay within the institutional crypto world. We attended Paris Blockchain Week, Crypto Bahamas, Permissionless, ETHDenver, NFT NYC, Consensus 2022, Battlefin NYC, DAS NYC and DAS London, Messari Mainnet, Future Blockchain Summit and Token 2049. We spoke at conferences, webinars and podcasts, and hosted and attended dinners. We had the privilege of meeting with you, our users, in person. We will continue to create and invest in these opportunities to spend time and engage with our community.
2022 was an exceptional year for MMI. Despite the volatility, total value locked or assets deployed in MMI increased by roughly 8% week-over-week for the entire year, while our number of signed organisations increased by 4X. Our product continued to see exceptional engagement and retention with numbers of more than double the industry-average retention metrics.
“You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to not doing your duty.”
It is an old adage that bear markets are times to build. Our focus for the next year is to continue to build the fundamentally best institutional products, features and user experiences—solving the most important user needs, while shipping features as quickly as possible for our users. A first principle we hold is that we map the most important user needs via their transaction flow process: how an organisation steps from research and analysis to governance and compliance, execution, monitoring, reporting and the custody of digital assets. We can’t wait to share with you the range of features across each layer in the transaction flow process that we are building. We will be focusing on access, management, risk control, organisation-level setting and reporting on web3 assets—to name only a few. And we’re just getting started.