Atomic Loans is a protocol for the creation of cross-chain and peer-to-peer debt agreements that are open, borderless, censorship-resistant, and neutral in nature. Using atomic swap technology, we use the functionality of native blockchains, namely Bitcoin and Ethereum in our first iteration, to enable lending without requiring customers to delegate trust to centralized custodians.

Today, we’re proud to share with you our first testnet alpha on the Bitcoin and Ethereum Kovan testnets, codenamed Agassiz (pronounced AG-ah-see)! Agassiz is a small community of 6000 located in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia, Canada, the home province of the Atomic Loans founding team. It is also known for being home to the Hemlock Ski Resort!

Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada. Source: ExperienceEducation.ca

Agassiz will mark the first time someone can engage in decentralized finance using bitcoin on the native Bitcoin chain. With this testnet release, our goal is to provide our users an early working product showcasing the feasibility and ease of collateralizing native bitcoin on a decentralized lending protocol, as well as to receive feedback about the loan process and experience.

Since Agassiz is a closed alpha, please first sign up on https://atomicloans.io to be whitelisted!

What can I do with Agassiz?

With Agassiz, you’ll be able to collateralize a small amount of Testnet Bitcoin using a Ledger hardware wallet, and receive a loan of up to one Kovan Testnet Dai. The Testnet Bitcoin you put forth as collateral will be locked in a pair of P2SH’s (pay to script hash) on the Bitcoin Testnet chain. The collateral can then be retrieved following repayment of the loan.

For those familiar with Ethereum, a P2SH can be thought of as a rudimentary Bitcoin smart contract that is capable of storing funds. These locked funds can only be unlocked upon presentation of some suitable redeem script.

As a borrower, there are 5 primary steps in the loan process that are currently accessible:

  1. Requesting a loan from a Loan Fund and selecting your desired loan terms. A Loan Fund is a pool of funds that have been deployed by a lender, available to be borrowed from by one or more borrowers.

2. Locking the required Testnet Bitcoin collateral using a Ledger hardware wallet and its Bitcoin Test app. Here, you will be required to confirm a transaction on your Ledger to send the Testnet Bitcoin to a P2SH.

3. Withdrawing the Testnet Dai loan principal to your Metamask wallet.

4. Repaying the Testnet Dai loan principal + interest from your Metamask wallet. Note that due to the difficulty of getting Dai on Kovan Testnet, we’ve included an extra transaction that sends the necessary Kovan Dai to your wallet to pay for interest.

5. Unlocking the Testnet Bitcoin collateral after repayment.

What do I need to start using Agassiz?

There are a couple of things you’ll need to start using Agassiz. If there are any questions about any of the below requirements, please reach out to the founding team on Telegram or using the Crisp chatbox on the bottom right of the Agassiz interface.

a. A Ledger Nano S with the Bitcoin Test app installed

Currently, a Ledger Nano S hardware wallet is required to interact with the Atomic Loans protocol trustlessly on the Bitcoin side, due to the absence of a Bitcoin wallet with Metamask-like signing capabilities.

To install the Bitcoin Test app on your Ledger device, first, make sure you have the latest version of Ledger Live installed. Then, after setting up Ledger Live with your Ledger device,

  1. Click on the Settings cog on the top right.
  2. Under the “Experimental features” tab, enable “Developer mode”.
  3. Follow the instructions here to complete the installation, making sure to search for the “Bitcoin Test” application in the App Catalog.

Before using your Ledger with Agassiz, we also advise that you turn on the setting for auto approving the export of your Bitcoin Testnet public key. This setting, while optional, would simplify the process of connecting your Ledger to the Agassiz interface by sharing the Bitcoin Testnet public key automatically.

To do this,

  1. Open the Bitcoin Test app on your Ledger.
  2. Within the Bitcoin Test app, navigate to “Settings” using the two buttons on the Ledger.
  3. Select “Public keys export approval”.
  4. Scroll down and select “Auto approval”.

Note that all of the above instructions can also be accessed via a modal that can be opened as in the screenshot below.

b. Testnet Bitcoin on your Ledger

To receive Testnet Bitcoin to use as your collateral, you can request some from the following faucet. The important thing to keep in mind is that the address you use to receive the Testnet Bitcoin from the faucet should be your non-Segwit Bitcoin address (explained here). You can obtain this address by pressing the “Get Bitcoin Address” button on the modal in the picture above.

This part of the setup process is tricky, so if you have any trouble with the facuet at all, feel free to reach out to us on Crisp / Telegram and we can send some Testnet Bitcoin your way.

c. A Metamask wallet switched to “Kovan Test Network”

You’ll need Metamask to interact with the protocol on the Ethereum side. Metamask will be used to initially request the loan, withdraw the Testnet Dai loan principal, and repay the loan at the end.

d. Kovan Testnet Ethereum for gas on your Metamask

To receive Kovan Testnet Ethereum to use as gas for the Ethereum transactions, you can request some from the following faucet on Gitter.

What am I not (yet) able to do on Agassiz?

In the spirit of lean product development, we aspire to release early and often. The worst thing we could do would be spending a whole lot of time developing something that nobody wants. As a result, we clearly defined what we wanted to achieve with an early alpha version of our protocol — to demonstrate to users the feasibility and ease of collateralizing native bitcoin using a decentralized lending protocol. We also want to receive feedback about our users’ experience to aid our future development. With these two goals in mind, we set out to define Agassiz’s feature set and build it!

As a byproduct of this approach, Agassiz is not yet a complete working testnet representation of what we aspire Atomic Loans to be in the long run. We hope you bear with us as we continue to move towards building a complete end-to-end borrowing and lending experience. Here are some of the things that we are planning to implement in the future:

  1. An interface for lending

The Loan Funds that are available to borrow from on Agassiz are Loan Funds that were deployed by us. Although the lending functionality is already possible on the protocol side, we have yet to implement the interface for lending. As such, you can’t yet act as a lender in this peer-to-peer marketplace using the Agassiz interface. We do anticipate the upcoming alpha release to include a lending interface, which would allow you to lend other ERC20 stablecoins as well (e.g. GUSD, TUSD, USDC). Stay tuned!

2.  An interface for defaults and the ensuing process for collateral liquidation

In the event where a borrower does not repay the required principal plus interest by the agreed-upon date, or where the value of the collateral falls beneath the agreed upon minimum collateralization ratio, the Bitcoin collateral is liquidated. Similar to the lending interface, while the logic for defaults and liquidations is already implemented on the protocol side, we have yet to create the corresponding interface in advance of this Agassiz release. In Agassiz, the only thing you can do as a borrower is to repay the loan in full and on time. We're working on building out the default flow as soon as possible.

3.  An interface to track ongoing loans borrowers are involved in

Currently on Agassiz, after withdrawing the Dai associated with a loan, we ask that borrowers keep track of the smart contract address corresponding to that atomic loan agreement. The reason being that, if the borrower closes their browser tab or window containing the Agassiz interface, the only way they can track the loan they took out is by searching for it using the corresponding smart contract address in the search bar on the top right. We realize this is certainly an inconvenience and an interface to allow users to track the ongoing loans they are involved in is one of our top priorities for our upcoming releases.

How can I report issues, bugs or things I generally just don’t like?

Since the code is extremely early stage and experimental at the moment, we'd be lying if we told you there won't be any bugs or things that don't quite work. But the greatest benefit about releasing early and often is that we can catch these issues with your help, and address it before it becomes a greater problem down the road!

So if you experience any issues and feel like being awesome, please message us using the Crisp chatbox on the bottom right of the Agassiz interface. We’re also active on Telegram and are on standby for any questions and comments you may have!

Additionally, the Atomic Loans founding team will be hosting a live AMA/office hours on Zoom the week of May 20th. More details, as well as the exact date and time are still TBA. That being said, everyone is welcome to attend and we’d love to answer and address any and all questions, comments, and feedback you may have during that time! If you’re curious about what’s next on our roadmap or have specific questions around a certain Ledger error that you’re running into on Agassiz, we’re here to help.

If the live AMA/office hours is something you might be interested in, fill out this form to indicate your interest and help us figure the best date/time to host it on!

Here are a list of known issues that have been identified to us so far:

  1. Ledger device: Internal error, please report (0x6f01) when locking collateral

Solution: Please ensure your Ledger device is updated to the latest firmware version. For information about updating your Ledger’s firmware, check out this page from Ledger. Agassiz was developed and tested with the following Ledger firmware versions:

Ledger Live Desktop: 1.8.0
Secure element: 1.5.5
MCU: 1.7
Bitcoin Test application: 1.3.8

Come help us build the future!

For those of you interested in keeping up with the latest news about product development and releases from Atomic Loans, join the discussion on our Telegram channel!

More importantly, for access to Agassiz, sign up on https://atomicloans.io and you’ll receive an email shortly with access instructions!