Request is a decentralized network that allows users to request a payment (a Request Invoice), in which the recipient can pay in a secure way with all the information kept in a decentralized ledger. This results in simpler, cheaper and more secure payments, allowing a wide range of automation possibilities on top.
Request aims to create a new financial system starting with the settlement layer. Supplying this infrastructure, developers can build innovative solutions in areas such as finance and accounting directly on the network. A payment-request application can be thought of as a simple “block” in the financial foundation the economy is built on. Alone it solves nothing that other projects haven’t already done, yet Request is more than that. It is a platform in which other blocks can be stacked on to create a new and streamlined system. Combined, it is network of decentralized applications (Dapps) that fixes the current fractured payment system the world uses. There are three main layers that create this platform for new applications.
Core Layer – At the bottom, the core layer hosts the Request digital ledger and the smart contracts that the network relies on. The payment requests and transfer of value are done here including other basic payment services options you would expect such as basic addition and subtraction.
Invoices are done on the Ethereum blockchain using the ERC-20 protocol. There are other options available but it requires additional programs to understand them. This can be seen as a positive or negative depending how you view the Ethereum network. Scalability in a secure blockchain environment is a pressing topic. There are multiple proposed and under development scalability solutions being spearheaded by the Ethereum Foundation (i.e. Casper Proof of Stake). Many of these solutions are planned for fruition sometime in 2018. Once these developments are implemented, Request should be unhinged.
Extensions Layer – As you would expect, the next layer up handles more complex payments than a simple peer-to-peer invoice. An example could be if a business requests an invoice that requires unique calculations like advance payments, adding in late fees, or even escrow options. Structuring a subscription payment model would also be possible on this layer with a continues billing solution.
All fees on this layer are paid in REQ (the native network currency). As more complex calculations are needed, the higher the cost. Developers are able to create extensions and charge for use of them enabling an incentive for innovation.
Applications Layer – This is the layer where external applications can leverage Request as an intermediary for any financial service that is needed. These applications are outside of the blockchain. Traditional applications can be enabled on Request using already existing developer interfaces opening the doors to endless financial solutions. A great example could be connecting Intuit QuickBooks (or another accounting software) directly with Request to simply the fractured environment new business have to track.
A reputation system is implemented in this layer to reduce phishing attacks and fraud. The entities reputation takes a hit every time an invoice isn’t paid or even paid late, for instance.
Another analogy to the building blocks of the Request network are their partnerships. Leveraging multiple projects, Request shines at being a platform for which these blocks can be stacked.
To create a cross currency settlement system, the 0x protocol and Kyber Network are utilized. 0x is a permission-less protocol allowing for ERC20 tokens to be traded on the Ethereum blockchain, similarly Kyber is a system which allows exchange and conversion of digital assets Combined, this allows users to pay a request invoice with different currencies then that are requested.
Another block could be Aragon, a blockchain governance protocol. Request Network aims to simplify these organizational structures by providing the transparency and accounting.
When looking big picture with institutions and governments, compliance and know-your-customer regulation is required. Civic, is a third block that focuses on blockchain secured identities. Request Network can use these identities to plug directly into their financial network.
When opting for an open platform versus a simple payment services application, Request opened themselves to an untapped marketplace when it comes to decentralization. Competition is to be expected when it comes to more traditional financial service sectors. Coinbase is even now entering the game with their new commerce service which allows crypto to fiat for merchants, yet this only proves the market need. The space for competition is immense with the amount of applications that Request allows. Request may not be the leader in a singular use case but the fact all the tools are interconnected leads to an overall competitive project.