By Vasyl Soloshchuk, CEO and Co-Owner at INSART
|Value proposition:||Building sophisticated FinTech products from one API platform|
Empowering a new decentralized global economy, Hydrogen is a pioneer that helps entrepreneurs and established enterprises use the power of innovation to build scalable financial platforms with ease. Having drawn its inspiration from the essential building block for life, Hydrogen’s team took a pledge to breathe some fresh air into the modern FinTech realm by offering innovative solutions to help the industry evolve.
Mike Kane is one of the founders of the company. He is a passionate entrepreneur who leads the company’s blockchain team, Hydro. He believes strongly in the public blockchain and the benefits it can bring to financial services.
Apart from his work at Hydrogen, in 2009 Mike co-created Hedgeable, another FinTech innovator that offered a revolutionary investment platform.
With more than a decade of experience in investing, Mike started his career at Bridgewater Associates, an experience that helped lay the foundation for the serial entrepreneur and startup evangelist he is proud to be today.
Hydrogen’s Competitive edge
Many market players are into custom software because they work on enterprise software builds. They might have some APIs that they use, but in general they get paid to build software. Hydrogen provides the API ecosystem that allows teams to get to market faster, with the whole platform comprising a set of APIs that clients can use to build applications, instead of coming to a custom software provider.
Hydrogen’s target audience includes financial advisors, asset managers, and insurance teams that are lacking pieces of the digital puzzle.
The components that clients already have in-house can be used along with the platform, since the two are not necessarily competitive but might be complementary. Hydrogen does everything end-to-end, including marketing analytics. To begin with, Hydrogen APIs allow clients to build modular and scalable FinTech products and connect to third parties. Beyond that, there is robust authentication, algorithms, funding, KYC (know your client), client support, and more than 700 endpoints. Hydrogen integrates with all the tools the customer might require, from analytics, email support, and chat to CRM and e-signature, etc.
For example, if a client wants to create some kind of goal-planning or investing and onboarding capability, there is a separate REST API exclusively for that. These REST APIs all interact with the other APIs, so they can either be standalone or connect if the client is building other applications on top of the Hydrogen platform using the same client data. Once the clients are in the APIs, they can automate sending alerts, pulling marketing information, creating dashboards, and admin functionality. This offering aims to enable more intelligent communication with the client.
How each client uses Hydrogen is up to them, whether they have a specific use case in mind and need a certain module of Hydrogen or want to use the whole platform at once—e.g. if they’re a larger enterprise. The majority of clients fall into main categories, since they’re creating wealth or investing or savings platforms, etc. Many are offering wellness applications or life insurance, too.
To ease the process for clients, Hydrogen’s core documentation is public. However, there are some exclusive components, like a UI/UX library, that are not part of the standard offering but rather are proposed to clients on a larger scale.
Distributed ledger technology at the core
“The blockchain part is built on Ethereum, so Hydrogen is basically using a lot of the Ethereum infrastructure and condensing it.”
Hydrogen’s very first product was a two-factor authentication security layer called Raindrop, and a mobile app will be out soon. Clients will be able to download or integrate the services into the mobile app, and then use Hydrogen for two-factor authentication.
There is an obvious benefit to this: clients can more seamlessly secure their log-ins and payment or transaction portals by using Raindrop, which is built on top of Ethereum. The team is carrying out some truly innovative work to provide more security and transparency and are using some newer technologies from which clients can benefit.
Since Hydrogen uses public blockchain and its contracts are open-source, clients can take these connectors from GitHub and actually connect them to their apps outside of Hydrogen. They can then set those to any other APIs they want. Hydrogen is aiming to build a very clean API set focused on the product, and not seeing a lot of heavy backend infrastructure. Hydrogen has an auto-issue-learning API. Similar products require a lot of data science people on the team, but it doesn’t really have to be that way. This is why Hydrogen is creating more auto machine learning.
For instance, if a client wants to make his or her application more intelligent, such as a risk profiling or alert system, he or she needs a data science team to understand what kind of data is needed and what algorithms should be used. Hydrogen’s library will automate this process. It’s very similar to the work going on the blockchain side.
“We’re just trying to make the AI more usable, so if you’re building the actual applications, you can now use blockchain with just an API call, and you could use machine learning with an API call.”
Most of the blockchain is in the hands of the developers, and there are very few products that use blockchain because to make the most of it one needs to have a very broad, fundamental understanding of this technology to be able to program on top of it. The same is true for machine learning: there are probably 100,000 real data scientists in the US, so it makes it very hard to use a lot of these functions and products. Hydrogen brings innovative technology to the masses, allowing non-blockchain developers to use the technology.
“We’re trying to be a little bit ahead of the market by assuming that product and business people are going to use our APIs.”
You need a very small data science to go forward with the Hydrogen Ion API.
Formal partnership program
At this point, Hydrogen has relationships with several consulting firms. The solution focuses on customization and control for the clients unlike many of the more white-label approaches on the market. Hydrogen has carried out work with clients in India, Chile, and Canada. To enable clients to get to know the product better, Hydrogen conducts workshops, product requirement gatherings, and training on the APIs. Once a client is ready to start building and implementing, Hydrogen provides some support. If more in-depth implementations are required, one of the consulting firms is brought in.
The market needs someone who wants to build something faster, lighter, and cheaper. Hydrogen has all the necessary resources to transform the way companies use cloud-connected APIs to scale their business.
Interviewed by Vasyl Soloshchuk, CEO and co-owner at INSART, FinTech & Java engineering company. Vasyl is also the author of WealthTech Club, which conducts research into Fortune and Startup Robo-advisor and Wealth Management companies in terms of the technology ecosystem.