Escrow services for new PoW cryptoassets

One of the ideas I keep returning to is an automated cryptoasset escrow service. When new PoW coins are launched they usually go through a period where the miners are accumulating them while the devs work out the wallets and other functionality. There’s a period before the coins are listed on an exchange where the only way to trade them is ‘over the counter’ (OTC). This usually happens in Discord or via some sort of chat, between the miners and whoever wants to get in on the action. About 18 months ago I was one of the ‘approved’ escrow IDs for this project I was helping out on, and saw a little bit about how lucrative it could be. Escrow agents can make a couple percent on the trade. 

Usually escrow between two assets involves the escrow agent holding one of the party’s assets, then delivering to the second party after the first has confirmed delivery of the trade asset. There’s too much room for fraud in this scenario for my taste, so the way I functioned was to receive assets from both parties, so that I can cut out any BS and eliminate the likelihood that anybody gets ripped off. Especially me. The other benefit to this protocol is that I can split the fee between assets. 

 The whole process is rather cumbersome, initiating and confirming details with both parties, generating fresh addresses — and sometimes wallets — for each trade, then monitoring and disbursing funds. Not to mention calculating fees…. it’s all a mess. I kept to tracking things in a spreadsheet, but even then I still wound up with around a dozen columns and formulas. 

I started building out helper functions in a python notebook to help me generate the wallet and transaction management commands, and started working on ways to initiate and complete the whole process automatically via Discord. I even engaged some professional software development firms to quote out a spec, but we didn’t have the tens of thousands of dollars — nor time — to finish up such a project. 

After a few weeks the token was listed on an exchange and the whole idea was moot. However here I am again involved with another freshly-minted token project and have been revisiting the code. I spent most of today trying to get the json_rpc calls to work so that I can start building the wrapper functions that will generate unique addresses, monitor transactions, and send funds. I’ve learned so much over the past 18 months that I think I may be able to throw a proof of concept together that can generate escrow details in a web form. There will still be a lot of manual steps needed, but it still beats copy and pasting addresses and commands between cli and spreadsheet windows.