Ren Protocol ETHDenver Interview

As liquidity continues to play an evolving role in the underlying success of DeFi, it’s crucial for tools to evolve which can expand the economic bandwidth beyond Ethereum.

One project – Ren Protocol – is doing exactly that.

Ren leverages a native virtual machine – RenVM – to unlock cross-chain DeFi interoperability for trustless asset exchange.

In this article, we sat down with Michael Burgess – Head of Operations – to discuss Ren’s fit in the greater DeFi ecosystem.

Let’s dive right in!

What does RenVM do?

RenVM brings interoperability to DeFi.

What are the use-cases for RenVM?

We bring assets like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, ZCash to DeFi – effectively expanding liquidity through an intuitive cross-chain user-experience.

With Ren, anyone can send real Bitcoin to an Ethereum-based contract. We abstract the technical details to allow users and dApps to interact with ERC20 tokens that they’re used to.

As far as use-cases are concerned, RenVM could be leveraged to build a trustless, permissionless, and decentralized Forex exchange. We can imagine China’s  DCEP or a Libra based global forex market in which Ether can be used to purchase any asset in the world.

Using RenVM and something like Curve Finance, users could create these mini forex markets directly on Ethereum.

Best of all, trading is 1:1 – without any staking or wrapping, meaning all asset interactions are completely native to the user.

What is RenVM and how is it used?

RenVM is our virtual machine which allows any platform to quickly integrate interoperable liquidity into their protocol.

We are targeting 3rd parties integrations, and as you can imagine, the first immediate use case is DEX liquidity aggregation, while we’re also focused on lending and leveraging.

Further, we can bring more nuanced cross-chain experiences to DeFi. Using RenVM, teams can stream Bitcoin to any existing application on Ethereum, with everything functioning as an ERC20 token (in the background).

Getting even more granular, RenVM offers a number of services like Confirmation-as-a-Service (CaaS) and Gas-as-a-Service (GaaS) which allows for interoperable transactions to happen instantly, without a need for confirmation or to hold ETH to transact between BTC and ZEC using RenVM.

How is the project being received by the wider ecosystem?

So far it’s going great. This past July we started working on the Ren Alliance – a consortium of DeFi projects who are helping secure, develop, and utilize RenVM. Areas of involvement include:

  • Utility – Integrating RenVM or adding renTokens (ERC20s)
  • Security – Increasing RenVM security via Darknodes
  • Development – Helping develop ancillary services for RenVM

We’ve got some really great names on board and are always looking for new partners. If you’re interested in joining, be sure to fill out this form – we’d love to have you!

When we go live with Mainnet SubZero, select alliance members will help secure the network during its bootstrapping phase via a subset of Greycore nodes by powering consensus and execution environments with RenVM.

What’s the timeline for your launch?

Right now, the code is finished and undergoing a rigorous audit. We’re working with a company called Chain Security specifically because they have a research group that focuses on secure multiparty computation (our speciality).

I expect us to be live sometime between the end of Q1 to early Q2.

Why would someone run a Darknode on Ren?

Our reward system is pretty unique. When you run a Darknode, you get rewarded in the native currency being traded. RenVM takes a small fee and distributes the assets evenly to Darknode operators.

This means if someone trades from BTC to DAI and back again, node operators will get rewards in both BTC and DAI.

We have a set threshold of 100k REN per node. Similar to how staking with work with ETH2.0, there are not extra rewards to be earned from staking more REN. Instead, each 100k REN can be used to spin up a new Darknode.

Let’s talk about the Chaosnet Design – What influenced this?

Chaosnet is just an unaudited version of RenVM Mainnet. We really wanted to display the power  of RenVM, so we created ChaosDEX (a Uniswap fork with cross-chain assets). We intentionally extracted the complexities to make it very intuitive – almost like Uniswap.

What’s important to note is that RenVM can be molded in a wide variety of ways. We wanted to use ChaosDEX to display the capabilities of what we have to offer in an easily digestible form, but RenVM can do so much more than empowering DEX’s with cross-chain assets.

How would you classify Ren Protocol?

We’re very unique in the sense that we’re an infrastructure play, essentially a decentralized custodian that’s composable. While many like to classify us as a DEX, I see us as being much bigger due to the extensive nature of what RenVM can be used to accomplish. We are a tool that empowers greater utility within all of DeFi.

How has your time with Ren been so far to date?

So far it’s been amazing. Our developers are extremely talented and very open to constructive feedback. We’ve had a great community since day one that’s been quite helpful in painting a vision for greater utility within DeFi.

Myself and the team see RenVM as a piece of the puzzle in a wider charge to bring all assets into the DeFi ecosystem and we are looking forward to sharing what we’ve been working on.


I was lucky enough to take this interview during ETHDenver – all in between the Ren team hacking on using Bitcoin as collateral in Maker Vaults.

In short, it’s quite evident these guys were built to ship and I personally couldn’t be more excited to watch the Ren Alliance continue to grow in the coming months.

For those interested in learning more about Ren and how to get involved, we recommend getting in contact with Michael directly on Telegram @MichaelBurgess.

In the meantime, be sure to keep up on all things Ren Protocol via their official blog or via their Twitter.

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