SIMBA Chain Bridges The Web2, Web3 Worlds, Launches NFT Marketplace That Accepts Fiat Payments

Zinger Key Points
  • We spoke with SIMBA Chain CEO Bryan Ritchie to learn more about the newly launched marketplace.
  • We want to empower companies to move forward and take advantage of blockchain," he tells Benzinga.

The enterprise/government protocol has launched its native NFT marketplace, which offers NFTs for fiat purchase for those taking baby steps toward Web3. 

Since 2020, there has been no small number of new NFT marketplaces opening their doors and trying to participate in the frenzy of NFT purchasing. 

SIMBA Chain is perhaps the only one we have spoken to that quite so consciously courts Web2 participation. 

One thing that the crypto space does well is raising money, so it's natural to want to court the larger mainstream audience outside of blockchain, but with a few exceptions like CosmicChamps, an upcoming P2E multi-player game that does not require a crypto wallet, most Web3 projects are as exclusionary as they are innovative.

The new SIMBA Market is offering NFTs for purchase without the need for a wallet — at least not until the NFT has to be stored. 

SIMBA Chain launched SIMBA Market about a week ago, promising the opportunity for "curated brands… to showcase their NFTs in their own digital space." 

SIMBA Market is signifying its launch with NFT two drops, including the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the FIH Women's World Cup. Both collections offer certain benefits for buyers, such as physical merch, exclusive event access and product discounts.

SIMBA Market is built on Polygon MATIC/USD to control minting and transaction fees with the Polygon-Ethereum ETH/USD bridge.

We spoke with SIMBA Chain CEO Bryan Ritchie to learn more about the newly launched marketplace, its work with the U.S. government and a greater plan to bring Web2 enterprises into the world of Web3. 

BZ: So how would you describe what SIMBA provides for investors and customers?

Ritchie: "It's a platform you can use to develop applications for any blockchain. It's a development environment that allows programmers to build whatever they want, whether DeFi, NFT marketplaces, supply chain, inventory management, asset management and title management. Those and many other kinds of applications are built on the SIMBA platform."

Is it meant to help traditional coders work in the blockchain space, or is this a low-code tool?

"Both. People who know how to make the standard calls in a Web2 environment would be very comfortable inside of SIMBA. There is a set of APIs that handles the complexities of the blockchain so that you can build those applications very quickly and easily. And we do have a low code interface, a graphical user interface that allows this to be simple, easy, and quick to do. But you can also get as complicated as you want, but in a way that you don't have to know the Solidity code, you don't have to know the back end. You don't have to program for any specific blockchain."

Tell me about SIMBA Chain's connection with the U.S. government regarding funding and the work you've done.

"SIMBA was started with grants from the U.S. government and has done work for the government, including supply chain inventory management, health care, data management and asset tracking and management, but also for large enterprises. We've done work for large aerospace companies that have been tracking their parts across hundreds of suppliers. We've also done food safety and food supply, including sustainability. We've worked with a large restaurant chain that is tracking the coffee from the farmer to the cup. 

We are also finishing a project with one U.S. state's Department of Motor Vehicles. We're going to track all of the motor vehicles as NFTs which will allow them to digitally assign ownership at the point of purchase. That will allow owners to sell and create permanence in that record so that there won't be any question of who owns the asset." 

What about privacy in storing sensitive personal information on blockchain?

"That is a much bigger problem than just blockchain. I don't know that the permanence of the blockchain changes that per se. In fact, blockchain may actually allow us to get very purposeful about what we do and where we keep it, and how we keep it encrypted. Rather than having your name and information in multiple databases, you can put it all in one spot where you can manage it."

Is SIMBA Chain aiming to be an easy on-ramp for Web3 development?

"We're trying to create a bridge between Web2 and Web3 environments. Most companies will not scrap everything they've done over the last 20 years and move 100% to Web3. What they're going to do is implement components of the technology that makes sense." 

What is SIMBA Chain looking to accomplish this year? 

"We want to empower companies to move forward and take advantage of blockchain. I want projects to be known for implementations that solve real problems. If we look back on how these technological transformations have happened in the past, they've been incremental until suddenly they're exponential. And I think that's what's going to happen here, too." 

How does the launch of SIMBA Market NFT marketplace tie in with your overall goals?

"We created a marketplace as an example of an implementation built on our platform. So in many ways, it was a proof of concept. But as we built it, one thing we realized did not exist was a curated marketplace of marketplaces. Opensea is kind of a Wild West. We vet collections and we help build the collections so that what we can say to the final customer all of this is real. 

It's a different approach to an NFT marketplace that adds validity to NFTs and what they can do. So for example, Kemper, a very iconic snowboard brand is putting out NFTs (on SIMBA Market) that include experiences like snowboard wakeboarding with Shaun White or having dinner with a collective of writers that you admire, as well as a snowboard that's distinctly yours that's branded yours with an RFID chip that you can track." 

Who is the marketplace meant to appeal to? Is this for Web2 companies looking to test Web3 and NFTs?

"I think we're looking for the CTOs of large companies that want to create a brand presence inside this Web3 world but don't want to build out all the capacity to handle that inside their organization. We have a lot of customers that are medium to large companies that want to extend their brand presences with NFTs and want a curated, secure, managed marketplace."

Who among partner companies is handling the Web3 transition well?

"You're going to laugh when I tell you this, but I think the fastest adopter right now for real-world business solutions is the U.S. government. I've never said that in any business I've ever been a part of, but these guys are really thinking outside the box. They're tokenizing monetary flows. They're tokenizing supply chains. They're tokenizing healthcare data and information. They're tokenizing secure communications. It's amazing and it's forcing the tier-one suppliers to get on board, which is pushing their tier-two and tier-three suppliers to do the same.

Most of the work that we see today is through the Department of Defense (DoD) and we do a lot of work for the U.S. Navy and Air Force. But now the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are getting engaged. 

One project we're doing with the Air Force is tracking their monetary flows and making every dollar associated with a budget. There are huge amounts of money that the federal government cannot track back to the budget from which it was initially allocated. It's going to be a game-changer."

What is your advice for those in the crypto space who have a negative reaction to the idea of the government being involved in anything?

"I'm ambivalent at best on that issue, maybe even indifferent. I'm a Ph.D., political economist, so I see a lot of this DAO conversation around the structure, the governance structure of new organizations as mirroring what we did politically in the 18th and 19th centuries of enlightenment with John Locke. It used to be quite centralized around monarchies. Then we said, let's do representative democracy. In some ways, it's that transformation now for corporations.

Blockchain technology has much broader applications than cryptocurrencies. Crypto may still push for new forms of governance and decentralization. I don't know why we think democratically governed organizations will be any more efficient than the governments we have today. I believe that is naive, to be honest." 

Are you just working off the available technology with other protocols and scaling solutions, or are you doing direct partnerships with these organizations?

"A little bit of both. We have direct partnerships with Polygon and Avalanche. But we support 25 different chains, and frankly, right now, the way our product is architected, it takes us about a week to write the new API to use in any chain that comes out. Once you build an app on our platform, if you want to change your chain, the application can support that and search data across all those chains. So there's no disadvantage to changing a chain if you want it to."

What advice do you have for companies that want to dip their toes in the Web3 space?

"My advice is twofold. One is that change is coming to us. And we're at the front of having the same transformation that happened with the internet in 2000. And the companies that don't pay attention to this will get left behind in the same way. So, it's time to start exploring what the possibilities are with this technology and where you can establish a competitive advantage. And if you do that, you're going to be successful."

Summary

Too often, blockchain projects give lip service to reaching a mainstream audience without removing the barriers that tend to keep people from trying the Web3 space. SIMBA Market is launching at a sub-optimal time in the NFT cycle, but it's a worthwhile use case for the network itself. 

Media agencies like VaynerNFT have carved out a strong niche by helping mainstream brands enter the NFT space, and NFT marketplaces including Flipkick, OneOf and CurioNFT work directly with celebrities and artists to develop drops with star power. SIMBA Market is taking an approach that seems to combine both ideas, helping known brands develop their drops and curating the experience on their own platform. 

It seems likely that real, sweeping changes in user behavior may be driven by large enterprises stirred by government oversight. If the really big players are going to lead the path to innovation in blockchain, perhaps SIMBA will be there to help them make the transition. 

Posted In: Bryan RitchieSimbaWeb2FintechExclusivesTechInterview

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