GRTiQ Podcast: 159 Baki Er

Today I’m speaking with Baki Er, Co-founder of Clave, an innovative new wallet garnering attention for its novel approach to enhancing the user experience with crypto wallets. As you’re about to discover, Clave aims to streamline wallet usage through features like account abstraction and biometric authentication.

During our conversation, Baki shares insights into his educational background in Turkey and his journey from being merely curious about web3 to becoming a prominent figure in his local community with the launch of DeFi Library. We then talk about the inception of Clave (at an online hackathon) and explore its vision for revolutionizing the future of wallets. Additionally, we discuss topics ranging from the evolving landscape of crypto in Turkey to entrepreneurship and Baki’s forward-looking perspective on the future of web3.

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We use software and some light editing to transcribe podcast episodes.  Any errors, typos, or other mistakes in the show transcripts are the responsibility of GRTiQ Podcast and not our guest(s). We review and update show notes regularly, and we appreciate suggested edits – email: iQ at GRTiQ dot COM. The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e.,[episode]).

The following podcast is for informational purposes only. The contents of this podcast do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice. Take responsibility for your own decisions, consult with the proper professionals, and do your own research.

Baki Er (00:20):

I really think that crypto or web3 is one of the most rewarding ecosystem for proactive personal efforts. The space is, as I said, still early and we need definitely more and more and more talent and quality.

Nick (01:03):

Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today, I’m speaking with Baki Er, co-founder at Clave, an interesting new wallet that’s getting some attention for how it’s working to innovate the user experience. I’m interested in the future of wallets, and so I wanted to speak with someone at Clave to learn more about what they’re working on and to learn more about this segment of the industry. As you’re about to hear, Clave is simplifying wallet adoption and use through account abstraction, biometric authentication, and more.


During this interview, Baki talks about his education in Turkey, moving from web3 curious to a thought leader in his local community, with the launch of DeFi Library and the origin story of Clave. We also talk about the future of wallets, the crypto community in Turkey, entrepreneurship, and Baki’s vision for the future of web3. As usual, we start the conversation talking about Baki’s educational background.

Baki Er (01:58):

Hey, Nick. Thanks for the invite. It’s really great to record this podcast with you. My educational background is actually I have studied electrical and electronics engineering about 10 years ago. I have graduated from one of the best technical universities in Turkey, called Middle East Technical University. Throughout my bachelor, I was always interested in robotics and I have joined the robotic club of the university, attended lots of competition with small robots, like line following, [inaudible 00:02:29] sumo robots, et cetera. This actually shaped my career.


After graduation, I have started to pursue a master degree in robotics at the same university. I was lucky enough to discover deep learning and machine learning throughout my master degree. I was taking courses related, again, machine learning, AI, path planning, motion planning. I decided to work on the deep learning. My master thesis was about predicting human intention in a smart environment by observing user’s trajectory and interaction with the environment. It was super exciting work, and it was super fun for me.


After completing my master’s, even though I had no intention to do that at the first place, I started my PhD. I just wanted to work more on these topics, and I start doing PhD in computer science. But meanwhile, I was working in full-time, especially in my master’s and PhD. I had to drop out the PhD because of the heavy workload on my professional life.

Nick (03:36):

That’s a lot of brilliant stuff there, Baki. We’re doing electrical engineering, we’re doing AI, we’re doing robotics, computer science. This is incredible. Let’s unpack a little bit of your background here. If you go back in time, do you remember what your initial interest in electric engineering was? Why did you were drawn to that field?

Baki Er (03:54):

Yeah, to be perfectly honest, before university exams, my mind was not clear about which path I should choose. I just took the exams, and luckily my exam results were outstanding. I remember thinking of studying medicine or electrical engineering, and I know that it’s like apples and oranges, so I need to decide which path should I take. I choose electrical engineering because even if I didn’t have a solid plan at that time, but I realized that I can shape my career while I studied engineering, because in electrical engineering, you can learn more about hardware design, you can learn more about circuits, you can be more theoretical persons and dive into mathematics, or you can just start coding and can shape your career in computer science.


When I realized that, I actually said that, yes, this is something that I want to do because I want to explore while I’m studying, and that’s why I choose the electrical engineering. To be honest, electrical engineering was one of the top program in Turkey, so it was very trending. That’s also affect my decision.

Nick (05:16):

Well, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a lot of people working in web3 and this background in engineering does not surprise me, and that type of brain is certainly interested and drawn to the types of things in web3. If we then evaluate the decision here, you fell into electrical engineering, as you described there, but you were far more deliberate in what you decided to study for your master’s degree, choosing robotics and AI. Help us understand that. What drew you to those fields?

Baki Er (05:42):

As I mentioned, throughout my bachelor, I actually joined the robotic labs of the university. We were basically working on small robots, doing some programming on embedded site, and also designing some circuits. It was super fun because in the courses, we are learning so many stuff but everything is theoretical. To be honest, it’s boring at some point. When you physically working on something and when it works, it’s really different kind of dopamine, I guess. It was making me happy to work on the robotics and actually applying what I learned from the courses.


Since it’s actually shaped the courses that I take during the bachelor. After the graduation, I decided to work on that a little bit more, and I chose robotic program in my university. Again, it was super fun to learn about robotics, and eventually it actually directed to me to learn more about AI and machine learning, more about the software side. That AI is currently something super cool and it’s super fun to deal with, actually. It’s super fun to create something with machine learning and robotics. Actually, all of the interests, all of the hobbies come together and push me to further my education in robotics.

Nick (07:11):

Well, as you know, Baki, there’s a lot of interest in AI right now, not only throughout the world as you mentioned, but certainly in crypto. I think it’d be fun for listeners to know, I mean, do you use some of the things you learned or some of the ways that you study or prepare in engineering, robotics or AI, in the work you’re doing in web3 now?

Baki Er (07:29):

If we are going to be more specific about AI and robotics, in our current job, we are actually building a vault. Basically, we are not directly applying AI or robotics principles to the job, but since it’s all has a common ground called engineering, yes, all the time, I’m applying all the principles that I learned. Because engineering is actually based on same principles regardless of the domain of the work, which understanding the framework, defining requirements, conceptualizing the solution, testing and improvement until the product ready to release are the actual principles that I have learned during my both professional career and during my education.


I believe that this mindset is very effective and beneficial to everyone, especially in web3, because I think we can say that web3 ecosystem is quite agile and teams are generally so young. Bringing these principles, bringing some maturity and thematic to the ecosystem actually increases the quality of the work we are doing.

Nick (08:38):

Well, as you mentioned there, you’re working now on a wallet called Clave, and that’s why we’re speaking today. We’re going to talk a lot more about Clave and how it sets itself apart within the wallet segment of the industry. But before we get there, let’s talk a little bit about what you did after university. You mentioned there you got your master’s degree in robotics and AI, then you went on to get a PhD in computer science, but you didn’t finish that PhD. You were busy working. What did you do after university?

Baki Er (09:04):

Yeah. After graduating from bachelor’s and in engineering, I have started to work as a hardware testing engineer in defense industry. As I said, meanwhile, I have also started to pursue my master degree. I was super lucky because my company was super flexible about continuing to graduate education and provided lots of support to actually do my thesis, attend to lessons, et cetera. I have worked in that position for four years. It was basically we were designing circuits, we are coding for embedded software sites for FPGS, et cetera. That’s where I actually learned how to design products in a systematic way, importance of documentation, collaborating with other teams, like quality assurance, production, design team, et cetera.


After achieving kind of top of the learning curve for that position, I have transitioned into the system engineering, which you can think of like technical product management in the same company. The reason for this transition was actually I want to be involved in the project at a higher level, starting from the system architecture, requirements, customer relationship management, and of course, leading to product development at a higher level. For another five years, I worked as a technical product manager and technical project lead. This actually helped me a lot about how to manage cross-functional teams, how to deal with the budget and timeline, and some business relationships, and more.


Actually, around the third year of the position, my interest in decentralized finance started, but actually I have worked nine years in the same company and I always wanted a change and maybe a little bit challenge also. I start to work on an electric and autonomous vehicle project called TOGG as an ADAS engineer, which actually stands for Advanced Driver Assistance System. That was actually the outcome of that I have studied AI and machine learning, and I was also working as a product manager. ADAS engineering was a combination of them. This job was super exciting because the position, as I said, was a combination of everything I have done in the past, both in education and the corporate life.


But after making this change, I guess I understand that getting out of my comfort zone wasn’t that scary. I said that, yeah, I did change my company and I can do more, because I got the courage of this change and I came a point where I just wanted to do something in web3 and jump into another adventure. I have founded Lytera, which was actually a research and [inaudible 00:12:11] company, like [inaudible 00:12:12], but we were initially aiming the Turkish community, because there was really a target point because the corporates started to interest in crypto, but there was not a consultation company that can direct them. We just wanted to fill that gap.


But it was the start of the bear market, and as a new entrepreneur, we have made lots of mistakes with my co-founders, and about the point where we understand Lytera may not have a long life ahead of it. We actually used what we have learned so far and merged with another company called Ethylene. Thanks to having amazing team members, to be honest, now, after this merge, we are working on Clave together. Actually, we have used our failure in Lytera and we have used our experience in web3 and combined everything in Clave. Yeah, I can say that it really feels great, even if things were not great at the beginning, it all adds up to the point where everything we have done has come together. That’s my current position. I’m the co-founder of the Clave and happy to discuss more about it.

Nick (13:28):

Yeah, incredible. That’s a great overview of what you did after university and how you arrived at Clave. I want to go through some of that story there and highlight some interesting things. First thing I’m going to ask you, and it’s a very common question I ask, is if we go back in time to the first time you became aware of crypto, you mentioned you became somewhat interested in DeFi early on, but do you remember when you first became aware of crypto and what your original thoughts or impressions were?

Baki Er (13:54):

Yeah. I actually heard about Bitcoin around 2017 from my brother I guess, but to be honest, you just mentioned there’s something called Bitcoin. Everyone is talking about it online, but to be honest, I didn’t look into much about Bitcoin because I was not a finance person. It didn’t attract me at the first place. We had the big bull market that end of that year, and I really realized my mistake. I started to dig into more about what Bitcoin is, what Ethereum is, and to be honest, I immediately am amazed by Ethereum and its vision to build worldwide decentralized competitors at that time. It was super catchy aim to actually follow. Instead of jumping to investment, because luckily, I was, I guess, a little bit clever enough to understand that it was a crazy bull run, so I shouldn’t invest these products, but I need to learn more as an engineer.


I learned about Ethereum mining and I started to mine Ethereum with graphic cards at that time. Currently, we have [inaudible 00:15:14] as you know. But however, I lose my interests after a year or so because there was lots of promises about the Altcoin at that time, about the ICO, how they are going to change the way we interact with the blockchain. All actually kind of failed after a year. I was mining Ethereum but didn’t really following the trends in blockchain. But again, luckily, around at the end of the 2019, I accidentally came across the decentralized finance, thanks to one of my friends in Turkey. At that time, it was basically just Uniswap, Maker, and Compound maybe.


I was super hyped about it, because I thought that, yeah, it’s really becoming a thing and decentralized finance is very cool thing to imagine, very cool thing to build product. I immediately started to learn more about how an AMM works, how Dai works, and it was super interesting for me. That’s the moment I actually started my blockchain journey. And decentralized finance, making it transparent and accessible to anyone was an amazing idea to pursue. That was my, I guess, entry point.

Nick (17:52):

As you mentioned there around 2020, you became interested in DeFi. While you’re living in Turkey, you launched something called DeFi Library. And what’s amazing about your story, Baki, is that you go from somebody learning about it in 2017, you’ve got strong educational background. It seems like you’re on a pretty strong professional track. There’s no reason for you to disrupt your profession or career, but you become interested and you rise to a thought leader in Turkey with the launch of DeFi Library. For listeners that aren’t familiar who haven’t heard of DeFi Library, tell us about what that was.

Baki Er (18:26):

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for the all good words. As you know, Turkey has a quite crypto adoption due to different socioeconomic reasons. The headcount in crypto was, and still is super high, but at that time, when I was researching about DeFi, I realized something that there is no source in Turkish. Everything is in English. I know that it was just starting of a trend, but still we were very crowded in the space, but we were not actively participating in the real interesting things going on in the crypto space. Yeah, DeFi was super interesting. I was looking for every newsletter, looking for every article mentioning how it works, what are the new products, et cetera. Since also I realized there is no content in Turkish, so I thought that it would be a good opportunity to both learn and share this knowledge.


Actually, I guess sharing what you have learned with others is the best way to learn something, because if they understand what you’re saying, then it means that you are really good at what you learned about. That’s why I started DeFi Library as a high quality research newsletter, specifically focused on DeFi. I wrote some stories about how dYdX works, how Uniswap works, what is governance, et cetera. It was a very slow start at the beginning, because no one knows about DeFi, they’re just hearing about it, but it’s really become a thing in DeFi Summer.


Then I guess we can say that the beginning of the DeFi Summer where Compound actually started farming. Everyone was saying that, “What is this? What’s Compound? How lending works? How am I getting these tokens? What is farming?” Et cetera. So everyone just found DeFi Library at that time and start to follow my both Twitter account and Substack newsletter, getting lots of subscribers every day. To be honest, I’m super proud of the fact DeFi Library was super helpful to the community. I am still meeting people, they are saying that DeFi Library was the first point they learned about DeFi, they learned about zero knowledge, they learned about layer tools, they learned about the bigger vision of the DeFi and Ethereum. I’m also proud that it’s really shaped my blockchain career as well.

Nick (21:14):

The timing’s incredible. You mentioned there that you started this around DeFi Summer, so there’s appetite for this type of information, and then you were sort of a first mover in your local community in Turkey. They’re providing resources and information to people that wanted to learn more. It’s amazing to me because you went from somebody who had interest to somebody that became a thought leader in their local community. What was that experience like for you? I mean, were you surprised? Were you motivated? Did it build confidence that you were on the right track in terms of the things you were pursuing with your life?

Baki Er (21:44):

Yeah, actually it’s really feels good to be in that position. I’m super aware that the timing was everything at that time. Yeah, I’m so proud that DeFi Library actually become an example for our university blockchain clubs, our local community, because they actually saw that if you work on something consistently, you share information with others, and you just participate without expecting anything, eventually, especially in crypto, especially in web3, you are getting rewarded because even if we think that we come a very long way since the beginning of Bitcoin, Ethereum, I really believe that we are still early. We need more talent, we need more quality in the space.


It was really good that people are creating newsletter, and I really enjoyed that time. Some people created NFT newsletter called NFT Library, because they were just looking DeFi Library as an example. Yeah, it was good. It was a good example, and for me, it was a very good learning opportunity as well. You are doing something voluntarily and eventually it all adds up to something and your career change, your life change, and you are actually becoming a very beneficial person for your local community. Everything was actually super good about that.

Nick (23:21):

Yeah, it’s an amazing story and I loved hearing about it when we first met. I do want to ask you then, how has the crypto community in Turkey changed? I know you don’t presently live there, but if you think back to those early days when you were getting started with DeFi Library and you think about where it’s at today, how would you describe the changes there and what it’s like in Turkey?

Baki Er (23:44):

Yeah, as I said, the people in Turkey are quite open to new technologies, which includes, of course, crypto. There are lots of different reasons for them, like inflation hedging, seeing crypto as an investment and a lifetime opportunity, et cetera. To provide some facts about Turkish community, we know that currently there are 8 million users and it’s 10% of the population of the Turkey. It’s really a good number for us. But I can say that we are very strong of the consumer side of the technology. Basically, most of these people are just using centralized exchanges, maybe a very small fraction of them using, I don’t know, self-custodial wallets and DeFi farming, some airdrops, et cetera. At least they’re interacting blockchain, but most of them were on the consumer side.


Luckily, I guess in the last two years especially, Turkish community and Turkish builders are actually start to contribute the building side of the web3 ecosystem. There are outstanding startups, like Clave, Chainway, and there are lots of others building SocialFi DeFi projects all around the world. We have currently more than 50 university blockchain clubs in Turkey, which is awesome. They’re attending every hackathons, they are organizing meetups in their own state, and they’re actually producing content story about how everyone can learn coding in blockchain or researching in blockchain. We are actually producing more quality personnels in crypto. That’s why I’m super bullish on young builders in Turkey. And also, as I mentioned, for the user base, people are interested in crypto, mostly investment and inflation hedging purposes.


Also, buying USD from the banks is restricted due to the government’s efforts to prevent the dollarization in the country. Also, that’s another reason why people use crypto. They want access to stable coins, especially USDT, USDC, and we have lots of OTC shops in Turkey. People generally buying token from them. They are using USDT, they’re using TRON. Interestingly, it’s quite popular among the people. However, we have no regulation around this crypto. We have only one [inaudible 00:26:31] rule which says that you can’t use crypto in payment in Turkey. This actually applies in foreign currency, by the way, but it’s actually [inaudible 00:26:42] lots of good stuff to happen in Turkey by banning crypto for payments.


Also as a last thing, we know that there’s a regulation being worked on currently, and it’ll be, I guess, mainly related about those centralized exchanges and how the government going to regulate them and how they need to get some license. We are hoping that there won’t be any restriction around usage of self-custodial wallets, usage of DeFi, et cetera, on the blockchain site. They will be mostly interested in the centralized exchange site.

Nick (27:19):

One of the great things about having a podcast like this is I get to speak with people from all across the world, and I hear about these communities, whether at the country level or the city level or something even smaller that are being activated by web3. I appreciate the fact that you shared all that great information about the community in Turkey, and I’m excited to see what happens there. I’ve been talking about DeFi Library a little bit in the past tense, but what is the status of it? I mean, is it persisted on, is it still available today?

Baki Er (27:47):

Yeah. Actually, I have, I guess, kept writing on DeFi Library newsletter on Substack for more than three years. However, it’s been quite a time since my last article or last newsletter. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you convert your hobby into your job. Actually, while I was working in my professional career, DeFi Library was an escape point for us. It was something that I really enjoyed doing at night, during the weekend, because I was catching up with news, with new technologies, new protocols, and it was super entertaining for me to learn all about this and write all about this.


But after I transitioned in the blockchain space, now all of these are actually my job. It’s not that appealing anymore, unfortunately. But still, I have planned to continue DeFi library. I am just waiting to settle down things about the Clave launch, maybe after in a month or so. I just want to write again because it’s really keep me alive in the space just to look for more stuff to write, more stuff to learn.

Nick (29:06):

That’s amazing. There’s a lot of listeners of this podcast who want to get into the industry, and maybe they’re thinking about starting a side hustle, which clearly DeFi Library was for you. Or maybe they’re presently working on one. They got a full-time job and they’re working on something on nights and weekends. What would be your advice then to listeners who are in that position? You’ve been through it, you succeeded, and now you’re full-time in web3. What’s your advice for anybody working on a side hustle trying to get into the industry?

Baki Er (29:34):

Yeah, yeah. Awesome question. I’m getting this a lot from our community and from the people I met. I really think that crypto or web3 is one of the most rewarding ecosystem for proactive personal efforts. The space is, as I said, still early and we need definitely more and more and more talent and quality. When someone asks this question to me, I’m saying that if you can’t do anything, I don’t know, maybe you don’t know how to code, you don’t know what blockchain is, I’m just telling them to just go read some basic stuff.


If you can write about it, open a Twitter account, open a, I don’t know, newsletter or blog. Even if nobody reads it, just start writing something so that you are going to learn it better. And eventually being active and hungry for the knowledge and discuss this with people, always getting recognized by the ecosystem participants, because everyone is looking for good information because information is super critical when everything is moving super fast.


I guess crypto is a space where you can super easily contact with projects, with founders, with, I don’t know, VCs, and you can easily discuss with them, ask questions, learn more about their projects. Just write something and send DM to people to review it. Some of them probably won’t turn back your DM, but eventually, there will be someone. It will be very interactive learning environment in crypto. I’m saying that just do it, just start contributing to something, but be consistent and be present in the space.

Nick (31:32):

Well, Baki, that’s incredibly good advice, and I hope any listeners that have these ambitions will pay attention and heed that advice, because it’s totally true. web3 is an open door for anybody who’s got the hustle and the time and passion and puts in the work. You’re another great example here on the GRTiQ Podcast of what’s possible.


Let’s now turn our attention then to Clave. You mentioned it a little bit earlier in March of 2023, you launched another entrepreneurial venture called Clave. What can you tell us about the origin story about Clave, and what started it?

Baki Er (32:08):

Yeah, it’s a great, great story, and I like to tell it about the people. Clave’s journey actually started in the ETHGlobal scaling Ethereum hackathons about a year ago almost. In light, we were basically working on account abstraction, try to understand because it was a team just before all of these hackathon stuff, and we were writing reports about it to publish to the community. As I said, there was another team which members consist of ITU blockchain, which is a blockchain club in Istanbul Technical University and a company called Ethylene. All of these actually combined together, and there was an idea that what if we can use Secure Enclave to create the account and we can provide account abstraction on top of it.


With this idea, actually our team showcased Opclave in the OP Stack category and became one of the hackathon finalists. We were calling it Opclave at that time because we were using, as I said, OP Stack. What we have done is you were actually introduced the compile to enable anyone to use Secure Enclave, which enables people to create account with their biometric authentication, which actually gets rid of the seed phrases and use the hardware level security of the everyday devices. After we won the hackathon, our researcher, Don, wrote a threat on Twitter, which is called X right now, and I will be perfectly honest, it was really beyond our expectation. Everyone was asking about what is Opclave, how we did it, what it means to use Secure Enclave, et cetera.


I guess The Block wrote an article about us. It was a super proud moment. Everyone was just reaching us if we are going to turn into a product, if we are looking for a raise. Some of them just want to understand the technology behind it and how we can improve that together. At that point, we just realized that this is something worth to convert into a product. It was just a POC at the hackathon, but we just decided to work on that, make a real product, like providing an account infrastructure for these standards and also provide the user-facing mobile application to onboard anyone in the world just using their biometric authentication.


Yeah, after deciding that, as I said, we have started a very early [inaudible 00:35:02] and we have started to work with amazing people from Matter Labs, zkSync. Eventually, they became our lead investor among with Safe, Mirana, and LambdaClass. We actually just announced this, I guess, 10 days ago maybe, and we have started with zkSync because they are also supporting the native account abstraction. It was super suitable for us to implement everything we have conceptualized around Opclave, and we have rebranded and we said let’s drop Op and continue with the Clave.

Nick (35:39):

It’s an incredible story because it started off in a hackathon, and I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of entrepreneurs building in web3 who found each other or started working on their idea at a hackathon. If you had advice for listeners that wanted to either compete in a hackathon or they had an idea and they thought, well, maybe I’ll go to one, and yours was online. The barrier to entry is relatively low, as long as you have an internet connection and a good idea, you can get started, but what’s your advice to listeners that have that ambition?

Baki Er (36:07):

Yeah, it’s the same as the general advice. People just should attend these kind of stuff, because hackathons are super beneficial for different reasons. Even if they are physical or online, as you said, online is more easy because you are just clicking some buttons to attend the hackathon and you can find a team consists of your friends from your university, from your neighborhood, from your company, et cetera. You can just try any idea, because there are lots of teams in the hackathons. You can just find the category and you don’t need to build the whole product. You just need to show that if this POC is something to work on.


The good part is that, first of all, it provides networking opportunities, especially people from the local communities, like for us, because it’s always not easy to just go meet with lots of founders, lots of PCs, lots of builders in this space and show yourself. Actually, this event is very good opportunity, very low effort opportunity for that because you are doing something and if it’s good enough, they are seeing it, they are commenting on it, they are giving feedbacks, and also there is a win. If your idea is good enough, they can provide you some grant, even if it’s not that much, it’s just for encouragement to build more. You can just understand that if your idea is valid enough to keep building on the product.


Yeah, as I said, it’s really important to get feedbacks of people. When you attend the hackathon, as I said, there are mentors, there are teams sponsoring the hackathon. They just want everyone to use their infra, their products, so they are giving anyone attending to direct feedbacks. This is something very valuable. There are lots of things to learn in a hackathon, and it’s actually just forcing people to actively learn while they are competing. I don’t think that everyone participating in the hackathon should write a code. You can just be a team member preparing the presentation. You can just be a team member doing some technical research, doing some analysis, maybe some data stuff, et cetera. At least, you will be part of the moment. Maybe after one hackathon, two hackathon, you can start coding, because in that environment, everyone is actually encouraging each other to learn more, participate more.

Nick (38:57):

You’ve done a good job describing the backstory of Clave, and you’ve given a good description of how it works. I want to ask you just to go back a little bit and describe to listeners what makes Clave different. I’m asking this because there are a lot of wallets out there and it seems like there are more and more that are sort of coming into the forefront. I think, for a long time, it was probably just MetaMask that most people knew about, but now there’s these exciting projects like Clave coming along. What can you tell us about what makes Clave different?

Baki Er (39:26):

Yeah, thanks for this question. I think we can define Clave as a mobile first, passkey-based account abstraction wallet. I know this sentence includes lots of weird terms for Normies, or if they don’t know what is passkey, what is account abstraction. Let me explain all of these terms in details. First of all, Clave is a mobile application. We are providing a mobile app for anyone to use blockchain for payments, for DeFi activities, for storing their cryptos, et cetera. One of the most important thing about Clave is we are onboarding user with passkeys, which means that we are using the hardware level security of everyday devices, which includes both iOS devices or Android devices, so that any user can create an account with just one click and scanning their face ID or maybe their fingerprint.


The private key of the account actually kept safely by the hardware module. User don’t see any seed phrase, even if they want, they can’t extract from the hardware module. That’s actually by design, even Apple or, I don’t know, Google can’t extract that as well. Basically, we are getting rid of the seed phrase and anyone just create an account with biometric authentication. This is actually creates a differentiation between other projects, because it’s super, super easy to onboard Clave while maintaining 100% self custody.


Another point is we are account abstraction wallet, which means that, in a very basic term, our accounts are programmable. When you create an account in any other wallet, any other UA wallets, you actually have a seed phrase and you can keep balance of your account, you can send money, receive money, and you can do stuff by connecting other dapps. Other than all of these, you cannot just customize your account. But with Clave, you can add trusted accounts or you can define spending daily limits so that, let’s say, your account hacked, the hacker only withdraws, I don’t know, maybe $100 a day because you have limited it in the contract level.


Also, as I said, passkey-based solution is attached to your device. Let’s say in a worst case scenario, you lose your device, you lose your iCloud access, you lose everything. We are providing social recovery on top of that. You can add any other Clave user, you can add any other your account, your ENS, your MetaMask account and other blockchain account as a guardian to your account. If you lose everything, these guardians can help you recover your account in a newly devices. It’s kind of adding another decentralized layer, decentralized social layer to key management. Usage of passkey is thanks to the account abstraction as well. Because it uses different schema for signatures, so account abstraction actually enables this.


Also, there are lots of benefits of the account abstraction. You can use Stablecoins as a gas fee token, thanks to paymasters. Or Clave just can sponsor your transaction, pay the gas fee on behalf of the users, so users can enjoy the [inaudible 00:43:20] journey in their crypto life. There are lots of potential, there are lots of different use case of the programmable accounts. When we combine it with the passkey to one currently we are kind of in a unique position in the wallet spaces combination of these two things. That’s what’s Clave and how it differentiate from other wallets.

Nick (43:44):

What I love about the Clave story, and this is the thing that first sort of turned me on to wanting to meet you and have this interview was the fact that you’re lowering the barriers for Normies to enter in the space and to interact with it. In other words, a lot of wallets are super complicated, and it’s hard to figure out how to use them on your phone and people get nervous about the security of it all, and Clave is solving a lot of these issues. I guess I want to ask you, is this part of the vision of Clave or is this part of the strategy is to unlock the masses and get them to be more comfortable using a wallet like this?

Baki Er (44:21):

Yes, Nick, definitely. Definitely. That’s one of the most important thing that we are aiming about the future of Clave or the vision of the Clave. Currently, I am in Denver, by the way, attending ETHDenver, and Clave is the official wallet of the ETHDenver event. There will be some payment activation during the main event. The requirement is for everyone to just download Clave and we are going to give some dummy tokens for when they complete some quest, but eventually, they will use those tokens to buy something from the merch store, like Pudgy Penguin, [inaudible 00:45:02], et cetera. This is actually organized effort by zkSync, IYK, [inaudible 00:45:08] Clave.


But I told this story because in the last three days, we are onboarding very, very different user base to Clave, and everyone is super excited to see that there’s a one-click solution that everyone can just seamlessly onboard. Because sometimes, actually, when a crypto power user comes, they just press to create new account on Clave and app just scans their face, create account, and that’s it. They’re saying that, “Okay. What’s next? Where’s my seed phrases?”


But Normies, when they come to our boot and setting up their Clave accounts, they’re just looking Clave as just another FinTech application, because we are not mentioning anything blockchain-related, like seed phrases, private key, et cetera. They’re just sync to create account and their face are scanned, and now they are in the Clave application. They’re not asking anything else because it’s a behavior they are used to in the FinTech application, at least for the basics one, not the banking side of things. It’s really good to see that because everyone is enjoying Clave by the [inaudible 00:46:23] way, and there is no friction to onboard these people.

Nick (46:27):

When you think about the future of the industry, do you envision wallets being used differently than they are today? I mean, is there more utility, more use cases than maybe meets the eye when you think about the future of wallets?

Baki Er (46:41):

Yeah. I actually think that the wallets and what they’re offering or how they’re offering will subject to change in years. Currently, still, we are, I guess, all crypto power users. We are using extensions to connect apps, and I, by myself, are now okay to store some seed phrases because I’m used to it. But if we are going to the next billion, first of all, we need to be mobile first since the world is going in this direction. When we look at all of the trends in gaming, when we look at the trends in e-commerce, people are using mobile application in a higher rate than to websites. I believe that all these extension connecting to app should change and maybe wallet should present experience just like, I don’t know, in Revolut.


You are just signing up to a chain, you don’t know maybe what that chain is, and you can always store your crypto in your wallet, you can send, receive, but there’s also options from the DeFi space, but they’re all embedded in the UI. That’s how I envision the wallet space. Because I know that, eventually after maybe five years, every chain will provide the same things. Every chain will provide DeFi, every chain will provide some staking options, some AMMs, et cetera. For the everyday users, there is no need to just visit every chain and use different products. They will be just underlying infrastructure and wallets will be the UI they are interacting with the blockchain without knowing it.

Nick (48:43):

Baki, for anybody that wasn’t fortunate enough to meet you or the team Clave at ETHDenver, but they’re interested in learning more about the wallet and getting started, what’s the best thing for them to do?

Baki Er (48:53):

If they want to learn more about Clave, they can always visit our Twitter account, because that in web3, Twitter, I mean, X is everything. We are sharing all the updates throughout our X account, and also everyone can join our wait list in our website, which is called We are encouraging people to join our Discord so that since we are in a very early stage, we actually distributing the app to our early community users to collect feedback from them before the public launch. That will be the three ways to learn more about Clave and actually start using it.

Nick (49:41):

Well, Baki, congratulations to you and the team on creating a wallet that seems to eliminate a lot of the barriers to people not working, or as you said, power users within crypto, to get more involved and to begin activating themselves within the industry. We’ve reached a point now where I’m going to ask you the GRTiQ 10. Baki, these are 10 questions I ask each guest of the podcast every week. It just allows us to get to know you a little bit better, but I also think it permits listeners to learn something new, try something different, or achieve more in their own life. Baki, are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?

Baki Er (50:15):

Yeah, I’m ready.

Nick (50:26):

What book or article has had the most impact on your life?

Baki Er (50:31):

Yeah, I can answer this question with a very recent book that I have read. It’s called Cook. It basically explains how should products interact with the users so that user will get most out of it and products are becoming something that is providing valuable services to users. It was really eyeopening for me because while working on Clave, there are lots of things we need to think about how users behave. It’s actually a very good book that I recommend to anyone building a DeFi product, any customer facing product basically in blockchain or not. You should definitely read that. It actually changed how you think about the product and what you are building.

Nick (51:21):

Is there a movie or a TV show that you would recommend everybody should watch?

Baki Er (51:25):

For this question, I really want to recommend an inspirational movie to everyone, but I’ll be perfectly honest about this question. Every time, whenever I’m bored or just want to clear my head, I just watch Lord to the Rings trilogy, or Friends, starting all over again. To be honest, both are really amazing, very enjoying. I really enjoy watching these two, so I can definitely recommend this, but I know that most of the people probably have watched that.

Nick (51:59):

If you can only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

Baki Er (52:04):

I’m not actually a music person, so I don’t have as strong preferences about music albums, but I really enjoy listening to Turkish folk music. If I had to choose an album, it’d probably be the, I don’t know, a compilation album around Turkish folk music and best of it maybe.

Nick (52:26):

What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?

Baki Er (52:29):

While I was working as a product manager, my supervisor or my manager was constantly say that perfection is the enemy of the good. I, later stage, learned that this was not his saying, this was a common thing that everyone knows, but I really enjoyed to think about this even if building a product or making a life-changing decision. It really clears my mind and reduces the stress around the decision.

Nick (53:05):

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think most other people have learned or know yet?

Baki Er (53:11):

I think most people really underestimate the being persistent on some topic or some work and show up for it every day, because as we talk throughout this podcast, it’s really rewarding. I really see that so many people just talking at the beginning of something, but they should just do it every day. Just show up, just present themselves, and eventually everything turn out to be good.

Nick (53:44):

What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself, Baki?

Baki Er (53:47):

This is actually not special to me, but building or committing to do something in a public, I guess, is the best way to push yourself if you have a problem to do or problem to force yourself to learn something, or if it’s something challenging. Being public and publicly committing that thing is very, very productive hack for me.

Nick (54:14):

Based on your own life experience and observations, what’s the one habit or characteristic that you think would best explain how people find success in life?

Baki Er (54:25):

Yeah, excellent question. I think believing in what you are working on and always aim the ideal case about, again, what you’re working for is the key point that these successful people shares. I mean, if you are, let’s say, building a wallet like us, we should always believe that this product eventually will be used by billions of people. We should really live this idea in our mind every day, every moment of our life or every moment of decisions. Because even if the case is really challenging, even if there are lots of barrier to do that, if we are not believing it, this idea, if you are not forcing enough everyone to believe what we believe, it’s not going to happen.

Nick (55:20):

Baki, the final three questions are complete the sentence type questions. The first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is…

Baki Er (55:29):

Currently zero knowledge.

Nick (55:31):

How about this one? If you’re on X, formerly known as Twitter, then you should be following…

Baki Er (55:37):

Vitalik, because that guy has amazing blog rights.

Nick (55:42):

The last question, I’m happiest when…

Baki Er (55:47):

I’m beneficial to other people.

Nick (55:58):

Baki, thank you so much for coming on the GRTiQ Podcast, and sharing the story of your journey into web3, but also the origins of Clave and all the great work you and the team are doing there. I know that I will be watching, and I’m super interested to see how wallets evolve. I’m certain that Clave will be part of that story. If listeners want to stay in touch with you and follow the things that you’re working on, what’s the best way for them to stay in touch?

Baki Er (56:22):

I guess it’s, again, the best to connect with Twitter. They can find me by searching DeFi Library or Baki, or they can just find our official accounts for Clave. Just hit up a DM. We are very responsive, and I’m also very responsive on my DMs. People can just connect me via Twitter. Nick, this was a really, really amazing opportunity for me to tell about my story, tell about Clave, and I really appreciate for the invite. Thank you so much.


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