Editing has been done to the text to improve the reading flow. The original chat history can be viewed here: https://t.me/twcinvestments/96617

Dr_GemHunter: I am Dr. GemHunter and I am running the AMA with @KauriHero today. Today it’s all about borderless internet access. I am ready. Are you ready too, Kauri?

KauriHero: I was born into web3, ready for anything!

Dr_GemHunter: Haha great answer :D. Then let’s go! My first question is:

Dr_GemHunter: Can you briefly introduce yourself and please explain what MASQ is about? What is the story behind MASQ?

KauriHero: sure thing! I go by KauriHero and I’m the Project Lead and co-founder of MASQ Network. I started my crypto journey back in 2015 when I started reading and learning about Ethereum. This then connected me into bitcoin and my real crypto journey began. It has been amazing watching the space develop and evolve in the last 6 years, where I have been involved in many projects as an admin, contributor, builder and community member. I’ve done a lot of technical work in my background, and hold a Master’s degree in Industrial & Systems engineering.

At the project core, MASQ Network is tackling the real world issue of online censorship and reduction of modern privacy — providing the world with borderless internet freedom! More and more people these days are turning to VPNs to access fundamental information like news, social platforms and freedom based tools like open content and global media (including things like Netflix of course!). That is great, but the watchdogs of the world (govts, regulators and oppressive regimes) want to block users from accessing the entire internet landscape, and have built more advanced technology to hurt VPN services, track and punish users and block freedom tools like Tor and other technologies.

>>Our goal at MASQ is to put an end to that entirely by combining all the advantages of these existing services and putting it together with the best user experience we can build for the public.<<

MASQ started as an idea back in 2019, from amazing concepts that were unfinished from other projects. In Oct 2019 we officially founded our project with the help of the Senior Tech Adviser Dan Wiebe who has decades of programming experience. 2 years later we are on the cusp of delivering a beta product that works to give users

MASQ is a dVPN/Browser/dAppStore/Protocol/Token and Earning ecosystem that makes living in Web3 completely anonymous and private.

When it launches this year, MASQ will be the ideal privacy platform for interacting with exchanges, crypto platforms, websites, dApps and more.

Here are the main features:

  1. borderless access through our web3 internet browser
  2. Ability to earn crypto by sharing your internet*
  3. Private & encrypted 3-hop routing
  4. Country jump mode
  5. Ad & Tracker blockin

And a lot lot more

Dr_GemHunter: Love this story! Let’s move to the next question.

Dr_GemHunter: What have you achieved so far?

KauriHero: Surprisingly our project has still remained hidden in the crypto-space with all the achievements we have made over the last 2+ years.

We know that will change very soon with some key people working in our team, plus our upcoming testing phases going public on Mumbai!

To summarize briefly:

  1. We have built the MASQ Network community from a small group of supporters to thousands of members in our channels — we had no ICO or private funding from VC
  2. We have over $2M TVL in $MASQ liquidity across major DEXs on ETH and Polygon chains to support the utility token and scale users on our upcoming beta release phases. We also have a major CEX listing with Probit to offer those options
  3. We have proven our software works with numerous tests and demos showing the users have VPN level privacy, with none of the tracking and logging concerns from a VPN provider. We also have 3 hop routing just like Tor, but with mechanisms to protect exit node runners and an incentive model so any users sharing bandwidth can earn $MASQ for routing traffic.
  4. Our software is built and released for the 3 major Operating systems — Windows, Mac and Linux. More importantly it will run from almost any cloud server which will make it easy for technical users wanting to run virtual nodes from services like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Digital Ocean — to just name a few.
  5. We have developed a best in class User Interface (which we have called GEMINI as its the second major progression from where we started) which is in final Phase 1 testing works now. Phase 2 testing is very very close (matter of weeks at current progress) where the first group of our open community will be able to get their hands on our MASQ software and try it out on testnet Polygon Mumbai
  6. We have integrated Polygon network into our software so every single user won’t have to worry about gas fees ruining their experience, and bridged our token for fast transaction speeds and <2 cents fees using the software
  7. We have enhanced the core software (called MASQ Node) to be able to deliver speeds that are comparable to VPN and Tor (varying naturally depending on your physical location in the world)
  8. Created important partnerships to deliver value to users and the software network itself (with more in the works) — I WILL SHARE ONE WITH YOU TODAY ;-)

Dr_GemHunter: You have achieved so much and with such a small mcap. Thats unbelievable. I can honestly say that you are absolutely running under the radar. Let’s dive a little deeper into your software

Dr_GemHunter: How does MASQ work?

KauriHero: Yes yes the software hahah!

MASQ gives users a borderless Internet experience where they can access any content in the world from where they live. This is done through peers on the network in a private, encrypted and secure way with no central party that tracks things, or controls the network itself.

>>It’s by netizens and for netizens!<<

Users will simply download the software when its public (hang tight its COMING) and goes through the new user onboarding process — this let’s then choose their options to join the network, create or reuse a wallet, check if they have $MASQ tokens and importantly, if they want to share their bandwidth on the network.

Once this is done in around 15 clicks the user is presented with a beautiful dashboard showing their connection status, where in the world they are connected routing through (which changes dynamically to hide any traffic patterns) and tabs for our very own builtin browser with Metamask.

This is visiting a DEX exchange through our inbuilt browser — privately and securely

The dApp store is also live in its own tab and many of the crypto-family favorites are listed there — our team will be working to curate more community voted projects to be included shortly and some other features to enhance this experience for users.

And we have light mode for all the Skywalkers out there meditating to the FORCE. As you might tell, our software has evolved to provide much much more than just a dVPN experience, but at its core that’s our foundation for the ecosystem, so I’ll spend a bit of time to explain here how it works.

I’ll make this super simple for all readers I’ll use some examples:

What MASQ does is it takes any data request from the user and encrypts it along a network route of 3 hops. The final hop is called the exit node and this node gets the content you want from anywhere in the world and this node is in an area where the request isn’t blocked — even though you as the user might be blocked from where you live from accessing the content.

Think about the current example in the crazy world right now, of Russia blocking Twitter.

MASQ helps a Russian user hop over 2 other nodes to a 3rd node living in Germany where Twitter isn’t blocked, and sends this back to you. You just see the normal twitter page without any problems! We posted a live video of a team member we have living in Russia using our testnet to visit Twitter live

— -VIDEO — -

So a simple example to explain how MASQ works — I made mental notes on this today while going for a walk:

Imagine you want to leave your home and enter a building but you are banned from entering. They won’t allow you through the front door, as they know your face and ID. Let’s say you got banned last week for being too loud in there with your friends lol

You know you can book an Uber to get through, as their car is allowed to drive in the back entrance with a Passcard as a taxi service (they aren’t blocked from entry) — but you are also worried about being spied on during this journey! (haha a bit like some James Bond stuff right?!)

You cleverly book 3 Uber cars, each one will stop part way on the journey to a different stop and you will switch cars while unseen into the next Uber that looks exactly the same as before, but with a different driver. Anyone watching the Uber cars won’t know if you are the same passenger in the car from the last stop! On the 3rd Uber, your Uber car drives right into the back entrance of the building with their Pass and you can enter the building just like anyone else!

So really MASQ is providing you data route protection, as your content makes its journey back to your computer, and anyone watching the data can only see that it is peer to peer traffic — all encrypted, private and secure.

The hops don’t know where the data route starts and ends.

That’s what MASQ does under the hood.

Dr_GemHunter: But I ask myself, what do you differently or better than Tor and VPN services? Because thats the standard at the moment

KauriHero: Its an important question really — as you say thats our real competitor for the user audiences now. Which is fair — but those techs are solid, but now very much mainstream. Which also means the overlords have more and more ways to break them and track them

We definitely have unique features of our software design that is different to VPNs and Tor. So to keep it brief I’ll just outline a few of the major aspects that are most important to readers of all levels of tech understanding ;-)

When using most VPNs, you are only sending your traffic to one server, through an encrypted tunnel. That traffic is still visible in many ways to the VPN server so of course they can log your behavior, sites you visit and other personal information such as your IP address.

In MASQ you send through 3 hops minimum — meaning your traffic hops to 3 peers before going to the server you are wanting content from. That means there is no central point of failure or place that can log all your traffic, and each hop ONLY KNOWS about the next hop, not the final destination of the data!

In regards to Tor, our main difference is we have incentivized the network for users sharing their bandwidth. Tor is amazing and without their tech and non-profit work in the space wouldn’t be able to achieve what we have at MASQ or in the network privacy world at all to some degree.

But let’s be honest that human nature always has an element of WIIFM — “what’s in it for me?” Loads of amazing Tor runners run exit nodes for freedom and at their own cost — they don’t get paid by users or by Tor. At MASQ we have incorporated a trustless peer to peer incentive model so users sharing bandwidth earn $MASQ utility tokens that fuel the network. Users that don’t pay get banned and users that do pay remain on stable connections to the other peers they are close to! We love Tor and honestly can’t thank them enough for their community paving the way, and pushing onion routing to the masses. Furthermore, the MASQ user providing network services are not listed by their IP online in a public node list like Tor does. While this isn’t exactly ‘unsafe’ for Tor runners, it gives an easy way for Governments and Internet Service Providers to scan these IPs and simply block them, or monitor traffic in and out to build behavioural patterns to enforce other things.

On a basic scan level the traffic on MASQ just looks like normal HTTPS traffic across TCP connections.

Dr_GemHunter: You see the problems, we currently have with TOR and VPN, and you’re bundling the benefits from both of it in MASQ. Thats awesome

KauriHero: exactly

Dr_GemHunter: But privacy is always a big questions to all of us and private doesn’t always mean private.

Dr_GemHunter: So how private is actually the meaning of “private” for MASQ?

KauriHero: This is a very very important question, and one of the real reasons we are passionate about how unique our solution is.I know I’ve answered some of it above with some comments about VPN and Tor.

>>In summary, at MASQ ‘private’ means 3 things — encrypted, untraceable and clandestine<<

At the moment our current beta software covers the first 2 aspects on many levels (with more enhancements in the works too this year to further those features). So without getting very technical on a network layer perspective…

MASQ software operates at levels superior to VPNs and Tor — data is fully encrypted amongst every peer in the network, and your IP address is not revealed to the whole network.

The end server where you want your content encrypts the data just for your machine (so the exit node or any other peer routing to you cannot inspect the data or where it is going by IP location).

Lastly, the exit nodes have some protection while doing their job of retrieving the data, as on a technical level the request is made using encryption handshake from your machine, and not the exit node themselves who are just fetching the content.

Our ULTIMATE goal is being clandestine — which means even if data was intercepted and inspected, it will look just like normal data with little to no trace that MASQ or a privacy tool was used.

There will be a very significant set of requirements to build, but we have the components planned for this as we keep building.

NOTE: Clandestine privacy is not part of our upcoming release this year

Dr_GemHunter: I see, so it really means private for you guys

KauriHero: Haha yes, PRIVATE³

Dr_GemHunter: So let’s assume, I provide my bandwidth to the MASQ network to earn $MASQ or to contribute to a borderless internet access. Now illegal activities are being conducted over my provided bandwidth. Can this be risky for me in any way? What mechanisms come into play here?

KauriHero: Of course, that’s a critical aspect to provide confidence in users wanting to share their bandwidth with the MASQ Network! Without the sharing users we cannot grow or scale the network for thousands of users!

important to note: This already exists as a user concern for other decentralized VPN-type platforms and Tor users as well.

There are three aspects we can consider with MASQ to provide users both choices and defenses:

1.Our software provides users a choice to choose their DNS servers that MASQ will use — these are global name services like Cloudflare and OpenDNS that direct content requests to the right place on the internet. If a user only wants to serve family friendly content for example, they can chose to only have that DNS service on for their sharing of bandwidth and most illegal sites will not be accessible to other peers who route through you.

This screen is actually where a user would choose this filter. We have baked in as many user choices as we can — we believe thats fundamental to the user experience and to deliver what the users want.

To compare — on Tor you really don’t get to choose the content your Tor node is serving unless you setup sophisticated firewall or IP blockers

2. Our software does not access or integrate at all with any dark web activities — this is important, as that’s where the majority of illegal activities are conducted now ‘out of sight’ of most security and regulatory safety mechanisms that are used across the normal internet for users today.

3. There is a lot of confidence that our software will follow a similar view in the legal space as Tor. Simply, since the data is encrypted and by sharing your bandwidth you are just passing on traffic requests between peers and servers, you are not the one performing the illegal activity or directly accessing anything that is illegal content on your machine.

Dr_GemHunter: That works for me. I’ll provide my bandwidth with your network.

KauriHero: Awesome! — glad I’ve converted you.

Dr_GemHunter: Let’s talk about competition, as it is good for business. There are some competitors in the field of data privacy, like “Deeper Network: $DPR” or “Hopr: $HOPR”. The Swiss startup “Nym Technologies” is a very young hot newcomer. You have to stand out from the competitors.

Dr_GemHunter: Therefore, what is your unique selling proposition?

KauriHero: Love this question — as you are right — competition fuels innovation. Those projects you mention have uniqueness and merits of their own.

Overall we feel the market is large enough for us to gain a market share without having to directly compete with them, but of course we also know we have many unique benefits that are very attractive to common customers.

But here is the main selling point I feel MASQ has a Project Lead -

All the other projects out there just don’t seem to have a rich user experience from end to end

>>A user can download MASQ software, have a tutorial user setup process that takes 15 clicks or less and then find themselves in a full immersive web3 experience with a browser, interactive dapps store and metamask wallet they are used to. All in one download!<<

If anyone knows of a project that offers that I’d be super interested to know and maybe we can collab with them! But it is important to note also, that every one of these projects you mention also had significant ICOs and private venture capital, and accepted millions in funding from their community — this means they have a lot more pressure to deliver a product that ‘simply works’ so it’s possible that’s why they haven’t quite got their user experience well polished in different ways. Fun fact — Nym actually was founded in 2017 even though they are now getting some hype around the place, and as of 2022 (with a 3rd seed funding round by a16z) has received over $20M in funding total! WOW!

Dr_GemHunter: As we already talked about your easy to use and fresh looking software: User adoption is a fundamental factor in getting users excited about new software. Because as long as individuals have not recognized which problems a software solves for them and which relief it brings for their tasks, they will be skeptical. Therefore, how do you achieve high user adoption? What is your strategy?

KauriHero: This is the key — we have kept a core focus on user adoption because we know without it, we cannot succeed and grow a market space in the $30B VPN industry over the next 5 years.

So for us the strategy has become simplified:

>>Give the users what they want, with the privacy that users deserve!<<

The user audiences out there are some very different groups: you have journalists, privacy power users and crypto lovers. But you also have users who just simply want to watch Netflix from their country! Maybe even Grandma wants her grandson to set up MASQ so she can watch her fav USA TV series!

So we started with the core privacy feature of MASQ and built utility around it.

Now the users with MASQ software will not only get superior VPN/Tor privacy and borderless internet anywhere in the world, they also get an in-built browser, a dapp store, metamask integration and very soon in-built swap feature that can offer multichain swaps at the best market rates — this is through a new partnership.

But the other key is we have to make this super EASY for users to even adopt using MASQ over their normal services.

So that’s why it has been a long path of developing the software with the new User Interface because it’s being crafted to be a simple as possible — we have avoided the stumbling blocks of technical settings, hard to find options and lack of visual appeal, and worked hard to polish the experience to make it beautiful and easy to use while the software underneath takes care of the heavy lifting of connection to the MASQ Network.

Dr_GemHunter: Yeah, I see. You put a lot of brainpower into user adoption! Most projects just don’t, thats a reason why some projects fail

KauriHero: You are so right. we literally spent a whole year of work from the UI devs into the visual part of the software for the enjoyment of our users

Dr_GemHunter: It’s great to hear, where you put your energy into. As we are speaking of failing: Most crypto projects fail at some point because they run out of money.

Dr_GemHunter: What is your current financial cushion and how will you generate income in the future?

KauriHero: We have done very well as a project, considering we had no capital injection from public sales or VC, and at the start of 2022 I drafted up an operating budget for 18 months assuming $MASQ utility token was only worth 13 cents. Since the start of the year we have been running just under budget which is great and has also accommodated our extension of the Quickswap community rewards we put up for the month of March.

Overall I am extremely confident that as the market appreciates our project, we will have at least several years of cushion to support our development, marketing and growth strategies.

In terms of generating income in the future, this is a very core component we are working on internally.

We are forming further plans to have MASQ move into a more DAO-like structure for the network itself, so the community and core team can govern the decentralized network and monetization dynamics democratically in the future. With this, there will be an opportunity for the community to vote on implementing a network fee from MASQ services that can be redirected to develop the project further and also incentivize the project to hire more talented builders. That’s one major area that can provide income streams for the project and fuel development and marketing.

The other income pathway is promoting our dapps store in the software, where we are confident as our user base grows, many web3 projects will want to have their project front and centre there for users to visit during their daily use of MASQ! We envision projects could bid to be included and also compete to be featured on the dapp store, which further provides an income stream for building more features!

Current dapps basic layout

Dr_GemHunter: Yeah, thats a great way to generate income. It depends on the software and we’ve already learned, it’s easy to use, looks great and has so many advantages compared to the standard services. So I believe, you’ll do great! As we’re running out of time, I’ve one last question:

Dr_GemHunter: What is in the pipeline, and what can we expect from MASQ in the future? Also how do you see your position in the coming months and years?

KauriHero: Man there is literally dozens things I could mention but I’ve only planned on sharing one big item. Some of our community may already be clever enough

Dr_GemHunter: Never underestimate your community 😎

KauriHero: haha yeah they surprise me all the time! We are about to announce a formal partnership with Rubic.

Dr_GemHunter: Wow, thats awesome!

KauriHero: Yes they are up and coming now, and gaining great attention.

So here is why its a big deal for MASQ:

Whenever a new software launches with a utility token, the token itself has to be as frictionless as possible for users to acquire and load into the user experience. If there are friction points then the growth and scaling of the software user base has challenges. We see this all the time with new projects, trying to navigate gas fees, bridges and all sorts of wallet loading antics

MASQ was first deployed and scaled on Ethereum, and since then our team has scaled the utility token by integrating into the Polygon ecosystem to enjoy near gasless experience for the incentive model of the users in MASQ. Rubic is a game changer for MASQ users:

Not only do they have fiat onramps and 9 chains supported, the Rubic partnership allows a DIRECT SWAP from most common chains into the $MASQ utility token so any user can start using our software.

No more bridging, doing 3–4 transactions and long wait times!

>>We are calling this the TOKEN ADOPTION part of our user experience.<<

Dr_GemHunter: Thats real token adoption! 🤯

KauriHero: Hopefully @suiux our UI Lead won’t mind a leak rn haha

This will be part of every new user when they first run MASQ

Dr_GemHunter: Looks great! Already accessible?

KauriHero: Ooh, well I have more news for you 😉

You are hearing it here first, that we have launched this partnership with RUBIC and MASQ and will add some really great integrations with Rubic into our software stack.

You can find a special swap page too, where you can try it out right away — JOIN US in BORDERLESS INTERNET and get your $MASQ to prepare for our launch this year! https://masq.ai/swap

But there loads of things in the works, as we continue to push development of everything: A major thing right around the corner is we also finished translating our software into Russian — we are hosting a special testing phase for Russian and Ukrainian users so they can circumvent the censorship they are facing in their region. We will be providing those users free access to MASQ testnet.

Dr_GemHunter: Thanks for that! It’s really needed

KauriHero: And we are moving as fast as possible to get into our Phase 2 test round. That will give 60 of our earliest supporters a chance to use MASQ beta software. Coming soon too is we also have a few ways for a few more excited members to get one of those special NFTs that will unlock that PHASE 2 testing spot

Dr_GemHunter: Thats cool. Any eta for that?

KauriHero: A matter of weeks if everything goes well! But I’m getting too excited so I better not get to leaky haha. Might have more during our AMA after party

Dr_GemHunter: I’m super excited! I was already expecting a lot from this AMA. But you have exceeded my expectations!

KauriHero: Thanks for hosting my friend @Dr_GemHunter. This went really smooth and you have a great group here

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Investor, Entrepreneur, Influencer, Advisor, Ph.D. in Engineering, but in Love with #Crypto.

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Dr. GemHunter

Dr. GemHunter

Investor, Entrepreneur, Influencer, Advisor, Ph.D. in Engineering, but in Love with #Crypto.

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