Why we chose Celo to deploy WheelCoin

Boyd Cohen, Ph.D. CEO IoMob
8 min readFeb 8, 2023

We at Iomob have envisioned leveraging crypto rails to address the coordination and fragmentation problems found in transportation since 2017 when Josep Sanjuas (CTO of Iomob) and I (CEO) first met. In 2018, we incorporated Iomob — the Internet of Mobility — with our 3rd founder Victor Lopez.

Unfortunately we were 5 years or so too early for a decentralized Internet of Mobility network so we built it as a Web 2 centralized stack and started commercializing it last year.

While we are surviving the second bear market we embraced the meme that bear markets are for builders and launched a new product, WheelCoin. WheelCoin is a Move2Earn and Impact2Earn app that rewards users (and employees) for moving greener. WheelCoin, live in both app stores, rewards users with WheelCoin (WHL) every time they choose to move greener than taking a normal private car for that journey. As of today we accurately detect and reward walking, biking and scooters, trains and buses and also detect but do not reward cars and planes. This year we intend to launch a detection function for EV vehicles though.

Current version of WheelCoin in the iOS App Store

WheelCoin is much more than an app. Iomob is leveraging our 5 years in the mobility industry to secure commercial partnerships with dozens of green mobility suppliers willing to offer discounts for users burning WHL. It is important that there is a real IRL (in real life) impact of WheelCoin as our goal is to accelerate the adoption of green, low carbon mobility worldwide. We refer to this type of ReFi game as “Impact2Earn”.

Furthermore, we have launched a product called WheelCoin for Business. This enables companies who are regulated to or voluntary choose to report their carbon emissions, the ability to obtain anonymized data about the aggregate emissions from their employee commuting. This is a big part of what is called Scope 3 emissions and before WheelCoin has been a black box with companies and their consultancies relying only on annual employee surveys to obtain some kind of weak estimate.

Our first WheelCoin for Business customers have already signed up and will be launching this quarter. What is cool is that their employees use the same app available to everyone in the app store. This allows them to be part of the WheelCoin community and to benefit from the gamification and rewards being offered to all users.

WheelCoin in the Eye of the Mobility Storm

While the app is live and we have thousands of users who have earned more than 30,000 WHL since we launched the app in October 2022, we have not yet put any assets on chain. That is soon about to change.

The criteria we leveraged to choose a home for WheelCoin

As we have been working on our product road map and deploying off-chain functionality, we have simultaneously been on a mission to find the right home for WheelCoin. In order to not offend anyone or any people we have met along this journey I will just say that we have primarily explored five different chains to deploy WheelCoin. Below I will summarize some of our experience on the journey and the factors that led us to choose Celo.

  1. Carbon Neutral or Negative Blockchains

WheelCoin leverages gamification tools to accelerate the adoption of green, low carbon mobility around the globe. As a company, project and community committed to being part of the climate solution, it would be hypocritical to even consider a blockchain that was not trying to do its part to be carbon neutral. Thankfully, with the Merge behind us and Proof of Stake the dominant consensus mechanism in crypto outside of Bitcoin, most blockchains are already quite low in their carbon emissions. So it is not much extra effort for base layer blockchains to measure their emissions and at least get to net zero, meaning we had plenty of blockchains which fit our first screening criteria.

Celo was the first protocol to automatically offset its carbon footprint.

2. Vibrant ReFi Community

Anyone who has followed my writings in Medium, Coinmonk and CoinDesk will know that I am enthusiastic about the emergence of ReFi as a movement to leverage crypto rails to accelerate climate and sustainability solutions. While the first criteria was carbon neutrality for the protocol itself, a major factor in our final decision was also how diverse and active the ReFi community is. While many PoS blockchains are fairly easily able to achieve their own carbon neutrality, it takes a real commitment to sustainability to enable the growth of an ecosystem and culture that embraces ReFi across the crypto stack.

My own recent efforts to map the ReFi ecosystem across the crypto stack

All the chains and protocols listed at the bottom of the ReFi Climate Stack have active efforts to prioritize the recruitment and support of ReFi projects.

Yet, from my immersion in recent weeks into the Celo ReFi ecosystem, I have become convinced that they are clearly one of the top 2 leaders at the base layer of the crypto stack.

Let’s start with their own direct participation and leadership in ReFi.

  • Their mission, even from day one, has been deeply aligned with the ReFi movement and today is defined as:

Our mission is to build a regenerative digital economy that creates conditions of prosperity for all.

Not surprisingly, Iomob is not alone in deciding to partner with or deploy a ReFi project on Celo. Some of the emerging success stories from ReFi projects deploying on and/or partnering with Celo include: (Summary descriptions can be found here): Flowcarbon, Kolektivo, Loam, Moss, Open Earth, Senken, SimpleDNA, Spirals, Thallo, Toucan, ValuesCo, Wren

3. Support for Ethereum (EVM)

There is so much to like about the new post Merge Ethereum ecosystem with the most robust amount of developer tools, the pace of innovation for EVM wallets, NFT marketplaces, DEXs and more. We definitely considered other blockchains, especially Cosmos where we already have a Testnet for the future decentralization and tokenization of the Iomob mobility platform when we feel the market is ready for it.

Yet, when reflecting on the types of on-chain tooling we need for WheelCoin, to support NFTs, our reward token $WHL as well as our governace token $WFT, we determined it was best to focus on an EVM-compatible chain.

In November 2022, Celo announced a partnership with ConsenSys to support bridging between Ethereum and Celo. Also, if you have not read it yet, the 2023 Celo 2.0 Roadmap doubles down on their commitment to Ethereum such as supporting both ERC 20 and wrapped ETH (WETH) making it easier for the Ethereum user community to engage with Celo apps like WheelCoin.

4. Scalable, Low cost Transactions and Mobile Support

Because WheelCoin is a mobile-based gamification app that is global from day one, it is important that we can deploy the on-chain components of WheelCoin (e.g. two tokens, NFTs and other digital collectibles) in a way that is easy for users anywhere in the world to buy and sell digital assets in a fast and affordable way.

WheelCoin is Global from Day One

Celo are true pioneers in becoming a scalable (they are on track to be the fastest EVM L1), highly affordable (i.e. very low gas fees) and mobile-first blockchain. Celo has strong early adoption in the mobile-centric app space around the globe including the global south. As WheelCoin is already a born global ReFi app with our highest user bases in India, Japan, the US, Spain, Indonesia, the UK, Bangladesh, Korea and beyond, the scalable, affordable, mobile-first approach to Celo also resonated with us.

5. Support for Deployment and Growth

All the blockchains we reviewed have programs designed to attract and support the growth of new projects on their protocol. While one of the five projects offered us much more in grant funding, we chose not to use total grant funding as the primary criteria because the aforementioned criteria are much more important to our long-term success.

Yet other types of support are important and, as a tip for other project founders, I would highly recommend you evaluate how accessible the leadership of the blockchain protocols are and look for signs of commitment to help you grow in their community.

For example, conversations with one of the other top blockchains originally in our list of five started off fantastic as we were excited to be introduced directly to one of their founders, who is both humble and accomplished as their blockchain is “on fire”. But after being connected with one of their ecosystem heads, the team stopped responding to our emails.

Meanwhile with Celo, the first conversation I had was with Rene Reinsberg, one of the cofounders of Celo. Within a few days, that led to a call with two other executives focused on strategy and partnerships. Not only was the Celo leadership enthusiastic about us deploying the on-chain components of WheelCoin on Celo, but they immediately started initial outreach to their ecosystem to validate commercial opportunities for our WheelCoin for Business solution.

Conclusion

There are a lot of factors that go into an important decision on which blockchain to deploy a crypto project from technical and developer tooling, user experience for onboarding, transaction times and costs, vibrancy of the community and values alignment. In our case, we are convinced we found a great home for WheelCoin on Celo as they ticked all of our boxes.

In a recent Bankless podcast, Ryan and David expressed their views that over time, the best protocols, especially EVM, will end up embracing the best tech and what will set the protocols apart for developers will be the culture and values of the community. I tend to agree which makes our decision to deploy WheelCoin on Celo an obvious choice. While smaller than most of the other protocols we reviewed in terms of FDV and volume of transactions, Celo makes up for it in their own deep commitment to ReFi values and in the exploding ReFi community they are nurturing.

WheelCoin is home on Celo.

--

--

Boyd Cohen, Ph.D. CEO IoMob

Boyd is a researcher and entrepreneur in smart, sustainable & entrepreneurial cities, He´s authored 3 books & is CEO of IoMob. boydcohen.impress.ly