Customer Interview with Luke Fan, Co-Founder of Crust Network

OnFinality, a blockchain infrastructure platform provides reliable API endpoints and nodes to help Crust Network support over 150 DeFi projects like Uniswap, Aave and more.

Customer Interview with Luke Fan, Co-Founder of Crust Network

Find out from Luke Fan, Co-Founder and Core Developer of Crust Network, why the team chose OnFinality as their core infrastructure provider.

We took the chance to get Luke’s insight on data security and privacy on web3 in the wake of the recent crypto blow up by FTX.

Luke also answers the difficult questions on the realities of illegal content being rampantly hosted on the decentralised web, something the US and UK government are keeping tabs on.

We learnt a lot about decentralised storage and look forward to the day we can take full ownership of our data, and “plug and play” our content wherever we want, whenever we want.

Read the full transcript below ⬇️

🙈 TLDR? Catch the interview in its full uncensored glory here:

(Disclaimer: The below transcript has been automatically transcribed hence there may be minor discrepancies with what was mentioned in the actual interview.)

[00:00:00] Rob: Welcome to OnFinality’s Customer Interview Series where we learn more from the leaders in the blockchain space on how OnFinality’s infrastructure helps them build the decentralised future faster my name is Rob I’m Head of Growth at OnFinality and today it is our distinct pleasure to have Luke from Crust Network to join us for a chat

[00:00:19] Rob: hey Luke on how OnFinality’s expertise empowering their mission critical blockchain infrastructure hey buddy great to have you here can you tell us the viewers more about Crust Network what it does and how you’re going to dominate

[00:00:34] Luke: okay so I always like I’m not calling you we are like a dominate the whole like decentralised storage so basically you know yeah yeah yeah so the Crust Network is that uh where we’re basically uh aiming on the decentralised storage area so uh we are targeting on building uh the free like storage Marketplace which like Uber or like the Airbnb allows the user who have the storage needs and matches those needs to the storage providers in our Network so that’s the basic you know idea of Crust Network and the way uh we are also like being one of the recommendation decentralised storage protocol by the Ethereum Foundation uh and also being recommended by uh several you know Layer one uh ecosystem including the Polygon Shiden and also uh a Solana so uh yeah so basically uh course of of course or also we were based on the Polkadot ecosystem so we are we are like the being the dominated uh in the Polkadot of the decentralised storage ecosystem right so uh we’re just calling yeah we’re just calling us as like the the biggest player in the whole Polkadot ecosystem especially on the uh I mean on the decentralised storage area so that’s basically what we did so Crust actually we launched our mainnet last year September and uh uh we we are right now achieve uh almost like 2000 storage providers in the whole network around the world yeah uh by the way we are like the open protocol and we allows anybody who you know you can just join with your personal computer so that’s the first part and we’re also gain over 800,000 terabytes uh in in the whole Network volume yeah and we we uh so for right now we have over uh 150 projects who have already like stored the data on us including you know the big names like uh Uniswap like Aave and also like uh NFT Go NFT Scan several different cases but we can just talk later yeah and uh that’s basically what it is because those like answer won’t be so long yeah

[00:003:08] Rob: yeah that’s uh that’s a lot right and so from a like from the average person’s point of view um I mean there’s a lot of things you guys do but effectively you’re you’re like a storage Marketplace or someone could think of them like that and and from a from a monetary angle as I understand it you know people can effectively rent out their storage to people within your network and get paid right

[00:003:34] Luke: yes exactly

[00:03:37] Rob: and yeah I mean there’s so many uh I guess in the in the traditional world there’s so many centralised storage providers how like how are they reacting to this so where do you think this is kind of going to go like if I’m a Google or these guys right now are they going to come into this space or like what’s going to happen there you think

[00:03:58] Luke: yeah you know it’s uh for we we are always targeting us as one of the player in the decentralised storage so uh so comparing with the centralised like solutions you just mentioned Rob like AWS S3 or Google Cloud or like Azure uh like bucket services so those centralised ones do not or they never have the benefits of the decentralisation you know you can just own your own data you can like store anything like anti censorship and everything’s who you can get in the whole decentralised world so that’s the first one and also you know with with the blockchain because Crust is also like the layer one protocol so with the blockchain the like the incentive is which is our token so our storage price could be like super low which is almost like one like 10 times cheaper than the AWS S3 for example if you want to store one gigabyte data on the Crust Network you only like cost uh 0.000 one dollars per gigabyte data per year by which you may need to cost a couple dollars with like I mean with maybe iCloud with AWS S3 whatever centralised like uh storage providers who can’t you know lower their storage prices as much as possible because they need to earn the money and they need to pay the operation phase in different you know Data Center and Cloud machines so that’s the two biggest benefits we like uh like comparing with the centralised storage solutions yeah

[00:05:50] Rob: interesting um I have to yeah end up in a past life I was actually in the media sector like TV and film and I was wondering yeah like how does this like we’re sort of thing about decentralised storage for like my content but what are the implications for like decentralised storage for like illegal content or if I’m doing something yeah like how do you address that or is that just um by by the very nature of us sort of being in this you know decentralised kind of vision and so on that you kind of like take your lumps with that or how that happens

[00:06:28] Luke: yeah there is like a tons about illegal website you know hosted on our platform to be honest Rob we just receive like tons of email from you know some like us US government or like UK some government should warn us but you know this whole thing we we only build the protocol like directly and we we do not own the protocol the protocol is operated by the by the storage providers who can like freely join and exist and the users um just as the same way you know so we cannot filter the content directly in in our site but you know you can like build tons of like you can you can actually build the applications on the top of us like I mentioned there is already like 150 projects already built up on us and those applications who should you know take the responsibilities of the legal side stuff they can just filter the content with their UI but you know those like illegal content or like yeah illegal content still like exists exist in the network but if the users cannot like you know browse it it just you know sticking into the deep deep of of our like Network so that’s how I feel about how to handle this legal or illegal content because in the in the technical side you know for the protocol layer because Crust is also built up about IPFS so we are like 100% compatible with IPFS in this IPFS technical side user we cannot delete anything like we are like anti like I I don’t say like anti-GDPR but we cannot like you know match the the rules of the GDPR the data ownership or something but the users can’t own their data but for the illegal content of course especially for the public ones the the application should like choose to filter filter out those like illegal content yeah

[00:08:36] Rob: no sure makes sense um kind of switching gears but related I guess like massive massive weekend crypto at the moment around like the issues of security uh you know terrible terrible stuff going on

I was wondering what is that your uh supplying or you know partnered with you know the leader leading people in DeFi you know Aave Uniswap can you share more about what you’re doing there and why that’s so important given the things that are happening right now

[00:09:07] Luke: oh my God that’s really an interesting topic because Rob because you know some like really terrible news just happened like a week ago I think FTX or like some like really terrible news for the in the whole like yeah I know yeah I was just like yeah I will mention that like that part but for you know our customer like Uni and Aave they actually chose to like hosting their website or like the decentralised all of their stuffs including the smart contract the trending you know behavior the whole thing uh the whole thing including the user’s behavior all happens on-chain and they choose to host their front end website also in the decentralised way you know on the IPFS and on the Crust so that’s that really makes the whole DeFi especially like the Uni and Aave still be dominate the whole DeFi like ecosystem because they just chose decentralised everything so how they do like how they decentralise the hosting their website is like a uh it’s like actually super easy like for uh you only need to do like three steps is one is like to IPFS write your content or your website is like upload your website into the IPFS directly you can actually upload your your website in your local IPFS node right and the second step is like use us as like standard transaction and notified our storage providers to store the Uni or Aave website for them so in that case actually they’re ever in in each version of the Uni or Aave website they got 100 replicas 100 storage nodes around the world store their website for them it’s up for them for the whole community right and they don’t need to like uh worry about their website like front end website being being hacked or being like DNS hijack on their website because each user of the Uni or Aave they can just you know download some IPFS clients or some Crust Network wallet to load that content using exactly the same IPFS CID which is the content identification issued by the by the Uni and Aave team so in that way their website is like 100% secure and they are actually like the end-to-end secure from the smart contract side to the front end side you know so for their users they they just feel like I just own everything you know I don’t need to interact with some like centralised like CEX like like centralised exchange or especially like the UI I don’t know where the centralised you know Exchange Server hosted and I can figure out by my own it’s super clear that’s all the benefits of like decentralised the hosting

[00:12:23] Rob: yeah awesome and that’s that’s pretty cool right so if I’m if I’m like a member of of the Crust Community by virtue of doing that I’m more I’m also supporting uh you know helping support like the whole DeFi ecosystem with Aave and Uniswap that’s pretty neat just in itself

[00:12:40] Luke: yeah exactly they’re just feeling like super proud about it yeah yeah

[00:12:47] Rob: nice nice and so with like obviously there’s there’s all this stuff going on at the moment with you know FTX and guys like that but also just a way to like macro environment right now like you know there’s obviously uh a lot of things happening with risk assets or all assets and what are you seeing in terms of like uh just Builders within the ecosystem like OnFinality you know we we get to see because we’re supplying or you know services across on the teams we we see some guys slowing down other people like they’re exactly the same also new people coming in so really interesting times and I think uh in general you know the people we talk to like in the industry are still super bullish right maybe a little bit shaken by the last week yeah I’m just sitting like what what are you I mean what do you see when you’re also at this kind of interesting um like infrastructure level you know you would have a lot of insights into like what’s happening

[00:13:47] Luke: yeah you know uh for uh especially for like going through the last crazy week you just mentioned Rob it’s like uh every single Web3 developer or like you know uh like player or even token trader especially for the token traders they’re just lack of confidence about the future right now but for me you know especially like and I mean in some kind of some kind of cases OnFinality is like super similar to the Crust we are all building the infrastructure of the whole web3 you know and the way always chose OnFinality as our node operator or being one of our like the most important like endpoint of our blockchain is because like OnFinality you always like providing a super stable services for our developers especially like the Uni and Aave also like use the endpoint of of the OnFinality you know you provided to to connect their our blockchain services and access the blockchain resources which is super important to make them sending the transactions and I think I think as an infrastructure uh I always care about you know the usabilities and the decentralisations especially as one of the player in the web3 world you know like we’re providing the services for uh for uh for over 150 uh like projects right now and most of those like projects building some who who actually created some values in the whole web3 world like I mentioned it’s like despite for the like big names we also got like the you know the Socbay which is a decentralised YouTube they’re just allow the creators to upload their videos into our platform and we really really care about the SocialFi cases which you know um which also like way though in those like SocialFi use cases they allow really high valuable or high scalable like services from the Crust so we chose OnFinality and we chose Substrate which the entire Polkadot ecosystem is because we see the high TPS and high like the stabilities of of the different like providers or like protocol layers infrastructure so we can support different you know use cases because you know Rob like decentralised storage is like the very very fundamental layer of the whole web3 it’s like every single like applications needs the the storage right so they need to choose where they store their data so that’s what we can do in the whole you know bear market time or like very hard time yeah

[00:16:43] Rob: yeah awesome uh really really cool stuff and you mentioned you touch then like you know OnFinality started in the Polkadot ecosystem you know we’re providing a lot of support for you know all of the teams in Polkadot uh but recently you know we also started venturing out into other L1s like you know Avalanche Cosmos and so on and I noticed on your site that you also so um of support for like Solana near the L2s of eth like Polygon uh Flow even I think um what are you seeing now like in in those ecosystems because everyone’s sort of like at different stages of both and and so on and you see all these uh you know studies right that come out from all these different research people every week about which ecosystem has grown and how many developers a lot of them it’s uh you know uh there’s a certain um uh it’s angled in a certain way shall we say based on who’s doing it I’m interested again like you’ve seen um any particular ecosystems at the moment that are uh you know stronger or that you know you you guys are excited about

[00:17:54] Luke: okay so uh you you know we started from the whole Polkadot ecosystem and right now we still believe in the whole Polkadot ecosystem right and uh after we actually launched our mainnet on on the one hand we still like like you know try our best to follow the newest like the latest tech update on the XCMP which is a cross chain storage protocol on the whole you know parachain relay chain stuff on the Polkadot side and the we did a lot of work with you know Moonbeam with Astar with Acala and we try to build our cross chain storage palette on the Polkadot ecosystem which allows other parachains to store data through our like crosschain storage palette um via the XCMP so that’s uh that’s really like the uh the biggest work after we launched our mainnet and we keep updating on our site right now but on the other other hand Rob you just mentioned we we actually developed some like a different ecosystem like crosschain storage solution that is also true um uh that’s actually started from the Ethereum you know because we got tons of like requests or needs from our users or developers they just ask us hey if you uh if you can just provide some like smart contract based on the EVM compatible ecosystem that would be like super easier for us to like you know develop or like use Crust the storage features so based on that we cooperate with Polygon directly so and with Chainlink you know we provided the off-chain storage like the the off-chain storage like Oracle which on the Chainlink Oracle protocol and we also like developed the storage like crosschain storage smart contract on Polygon directly and also we deployed it in the same way into the Ethereum so you know that’s actually how our started in in other you know ecosystem but right now if you ask me which which ecosystem we are uh is the best or like from my personal point of view like is the will be like the strongest ecosystem it’s really hard to say but uh we still will focus on two different you know ways Polkadot and other um uh ecosystem blockchains and we also like you know um uh integrate with the Aptos being one of the storage like functions on Aptos recently so we keep following the you know the the new Layer 1 super powerful layer was but we it’s hard if you say like which one will be the strongest but uh but we but we started from the Polkadot so we we definitely will put like most of our energies and times into the Polkadot ecosystem

[00:20:51] Rob: yeah sure sure yeah if you know the strongest ecosystem in five years just let me know [Laughter]

[00:20:58] Rob: really impressive right that you know you’re not like I mean one of the criticisms for you know a lot of people who aren’t familiar with crypto is like you know what are what are all these different projects like you guys you’re not vaporware you’ve got like a real working solution solving real world problems you know people can understand wow like how this works or the potential implications because of you know they might use it in their personal life or they can see that a lot easier than many other things that people are you know developing out there so it’s really cool and you know as you you won a Polkadot parachain auction so a lot a lot going on which is pretty cool how but you know things aren’t always that easy right so people see like your success and this great stuff you’ve done but can you share like any of the challenges that you know that got you to this point and how you overcame them

[00:21:59] Luke: okay so uh uh like for me like um uh for me like I mean for the whole decentralised storage you know um okay let’s go back to uh let’s go back to the web2 like for the web2 your storage you know it divided into like two big categories the first one is like the file storage it’s like you can put uh like iCloud you can put your pictures videos into your iCloud that’s actually like an object storage but for the for for the for the second one is which is really important and which is really big to support the whole like social relationship or other like ERP system which is the relationship storage which is the database you know but for the IPFS side it only supports the first category the object storage so it’s really hard for the IPFS protocol to extend it their protocol into the relationship data storage you know but we really want to support that way so we focus really tight on different you know uh relationship data storage protocols including someone like some some kind some some projects built top of my IPFS but um the the the thing is that they are super slow because for you know like if you visit the Google Cloud and visit like query your account information um you cannot stand like you wait five seconds more to load your all your informations on your page right but for the current relationship like the decentralised relationship data storage the average just costs you 30 seconds so which is acceptable to building the applications built up around those like relationship data storage but this part is super important for you know if if some guy or some like team can solve this problem I see the values I really see the values like especially like on the SocialFi everybody just uh uh I mean my personally really trust the SocialFi could be the next wave of uh of the whole web3 but uh uh if you if you cannot solve those like a relationship data storage the users cannot own their data you know

[00:24:13] Rob: and this is I I saw you in another um uh presentation where you talked a bit about this and I guess maybe to explain that a little bit from the way I understand it it’s just saying that effectively and this is I guess one of the big tenets of web3 and why it’s exciting is that you know people can actually own their data more than these centralised providers and so that might be that you could own that that audience or that community of builds and you could effectively just take it and leave one provider and then plug it into another one right so I could I could leave Facebook with all my data with all my things and and then just plug it into another one

[00:24:52] Luke: yeah exactly you know that’s actually not not we are talking about this in this place Rob it’s like Alex talking about this in the very first beginning when the a16z founded you know so it’s it’s actually a word it’s called Network accumulation it’s like the whole web3 is dismissed the whole network accumulation like like you said Rob if you want to export all the data from Twitter and plug in link to the Facebook you can’t do it in the in the current web2 world but in web3 you are very easy to do it right so that’s the thing yeah

[00:25:27] Rob: yeah it’s uh yeah super exciting but of course early days but yeah awesome that you’re you’re looking to solve these problems and kind of I guess you know one of the reasons we’re talking is that you know OnFinality has got a long history of supporting you know teams within the Polkadot ecosystem especially with like you know API and node services can you can you tell us more about like how you found OnFinality and how our services like benefit Crust or people building within Crust

[00:25:55] Luke: okay so for the first question is like how how I found it uh to be honest I think I I was like introduced by my friend Marvin from Phala team but how he found it I I was like I don’t know yeah but you know Marvin just told me oh hey there is a super exciting services which can you know stabilise your node like uh endpoint which can provide you like different locations endpoint that he just described a very brief information then I talk with James you know and then we just you know start using your the OnFinality services and we found it it’s good and you guys always you know I won’t say like the customer service but you you know you always give us the super detail data to show what data we use like for the last last month and we can say like the Google analytics but in a different way you know like web3 way and we can learn more about our users and user behavior and then we can get it get it from there so this service is actually beyond the node services it’s like we can also enjoy an analysis some data from the node services especially you you guys capture some like behaviors of of the node at the endpoint usage so which is awesome yeah I think

[00:27:17] Rob: yeah it’s great feedback and I think I guess we owe Marvin a beer for it yeah

[00:27:29] Rob: anyway yeah um yeah uh yeah absolutely I mean one we’re looking to or we are going to be building even more and more uh you know insights on top of those services so um I think it’s obviously really important that we can supply you know that that greater value to all of our partners and there’s so much more that can happen there and just becomes like a better and better product and service for everyone so yeah great um I guess kind of coming back to some of the things we’ve talked about like you’ve got so many potential applications for what you’re doing I can’t imagine being your business development guys because it must be a nightmare like where where do you where do you start right because you you have all these like really cool things you can do you’ve got all these different ecosystems like if what what’s the what’s the biggest opportunity for you like is it like if you you dominate more of those uh say DeFi guys or is it you know going down that like media and content space or like the personalised storage thing I know you’re doing stuff in NFTs as well it’s like like so many like massive massive like things you can go after like where do you start

[00:28:44] Luke: okay so uh I think uh I think we’re started from GitHub you know it’s like uh uh like like our business guy Business Development guy which is not the current one which we don’t have that one yet when we started the whole like recommendation to other projects about our product our Network so we start talking with uh Uni and Aave developers on GitHub so we uh we open the issue in their repo and we kindly you know make a proposal in their GitHub which we uh you know which which I wrote like a 1000 words proposal to clarify or like describe how big benefits you could get when you like hosting your website into uh into Crust so uh they actually accepted that proposal and we just started from there then we just take the Uni and Aave case to talk to other DeFi project to persuade them to use Crust that’s for the DeFi you know but for the NFT you know we persuade uh we actually directly talk with RMRK the R-M-R-K uh uh and and also we uh yeah yeah we talk with them because we are we are like the same ecosystem we are all in the Polkadot ecosystem so it’s super easy to open a conversation you know so uh and and they they actually um knew us very long ago like like you Rob like they have already invested us yet so that’s actually a big benefit when we are in the same ecosystem everybody in the same ecosystem will notice us will aware us so uh it’s super easy for the RMRK case and then we just use RMRK case to resell the RMRK case to other like NFT projects yeah we always just like you know we just said RMRK is the biggest NFT Marketplace in in the in the Kusama and Polkadot ecosystem which is true right and I will just use this but you know I I was starting from charge of the technical side but right now I was like half Business Development guy right now I was like a standing man or something yeah but uh uh but that’s how it started yeah that’s to be honest like the all the process when we just started building our cases

[00:31:02] Rob: awesome and kind of going back to how it started I I did a little bit of digging on you Luke and I noticed I noticed you’ve got uh in your past you you worked for Microsoft so yeah how did you or do you have any advice for people who like are in web2 now looking to get into web3 or people who are just starting out like how they should get into crypto like yeah do you have any advice

[00:31:31] Luke: yeah you know I was uh work in the Asia’s blockchain team when I was in Microsoft so um to to my job you know requirements I actually access or know the blockchain uh in a very like early age like uh like 20 2017 I think yeah but that’s that’s actually the last round of the of of the of the bear you know of the bear marketing time 2017 time and when I just you know when I read the the white paper of the IPFS and Filecoin I was super excited when they just bring the concept of you know like the Unstoppable Internet I think I think it’s really cool but for uh for the job in Asia’s blockchain team um I I almost doing something like a private chain or like you know um serve some like like like the 2B customers and which I think the public blockchain like Ethereum and also Filecoin and in that way it’s also a a a a like tons of like different like blockchain in that time so I learned from the public chain I and I see the value of the public chain in which I really love the public chain in like comparing with with the alias chain or like the private chain so I just turned decide to turn my job into the public chain like in whole but for the for the advice I think the current web3 world is totally different when I was in the 2017. so uh there is like tons of centralised services which is allowed to exist like Open Sea like uh some like centralised exchanges which also like providing the job opportunities for the uh which you you don’t need to like change your job your you know content or like your daily job like you also like is writing the same way but the whole like the web3 world you you you still need to I cannot give like too much advices but you still need to figure out you know your own and if you you think you like it I think you can try to started from some like centralised company like Open Sea yeah

[00:33:44] Rob: great yeah good yeah good tips uh I think yeah well thanks for joining us today Luke been a pleasure learning about decentralised storage and how you support it really exciting stuff if you want to learn more about Crust you can go to their website and if you’re a web3 builder and you want to get stuck into Crust you’re at the right place OnFinality blockchain infrastructure made smarter you check out our website at sign up for a private key and access 500 000 daily responses absolutely free once you’re there you can check out the the monitoring tools that Luke mentioned and loves and you can understand your users a whole lot more uh so it’s so easy guys your mum can do it check out the website follow us on Twitter thanks again Luke been a pleasure

[00:34:32] Luke: thank you so much Rob thank you so much for having me

[00:34:35] Rob: no worries okay thank you

About OnFinality

OnFinality is a blockchain infrastructure platform that saves web3 builders time and makes their lives easier. OnFinality delivers scalable API endpoints for the biggest blockchain networks and empowers developers to automatically test, deploy, scale and monitor their own blockchain nodes in minutes. To date, OnFinality has served over 277 billion RPC requests across 60 networks including Polkadot, Kusama, Moonbeam, Astar, Avalanche and Cosmos, and is continuously expanding these mission-critical services so developers can build the decentralised future, faster!

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