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Phaver: Empowering users to monetize their personal data

The first impression of Jesse Khanh Tran is that of an energetic Vietnamese entrepreneur in his 30s, with a bright smile.
6 min read
Published Dec 28 2023
Updated Mar 20 2024
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He is a member of Forbes Vietnam's Under 30 2020 in the entrepreneur-startup category and a former international student, nominated by the Finnish Ministry of Economy and Employment as the "2019 Immigrant Entrepreneur."

A year ago, Khanh Tran transitioned from the e-commerce market to the Web3 world as Phaver's Head of Strategy. Phaver is a decentralized social networking application supported by Lens Protocol and CyberConnect, aiming to reshape the relationship users have with their personal data.


- As the founder of the Rens brand of shoes made from coffee grounds, honored by Forbes Vietnam’s Under 30, what made you enter the crypto market?

Jesse Khanh Tran: Actually, I got into crypto largely thanks to the Rens shoe company. Three years ago, Apple introduced an App Tracking Transparency policy, making running ads on social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram more challenging. This shift rendered e-commerce less profitable.

To navigate this, I explored crypto and collaborated with industry brands like The Sandbox and received support from Axie Infinity. Rens launched the Multiverse Fashion campaign, offering NFTs to users purchasing items made from coffee grounds. These NFTs found utility in game metaverses like The Sandbox and Decentraland.

Additionally, my friendship with the founder of Phaver, coupled with the project's active Web3 community, led me to join as a consultant and Head of Strategy.

- Coming from an e-commerce background, what do you see as Web3's similarities with the e-commerce market?

Jesse Khanh Tran: I often compare the e-commerce market to Web2, as I was born around the time Web1 emerged. Web3 seems akin to the early days of Web2, comparable to Vietnam and Europe 20-30 years ago. It presents significant opportunities.

Currently, I don't see any Web3 company or platform consolidating technology and excitement effectively in one place. And Phaver aims to do that.

- In the SocialFi market, what is currently the most challenging problem to solve for Phaver?

Jesse Khanh Tran: The most challenging problem, in my opinion, is changing user habits. Convincing users to shift from established platforms like Facebook and Instagram to a new application, whether Web2 or Web3, is a significant hurdle.

Phaver sees these platforms as its main competitors, given the competition for users' screen time. To address this, Phaver empowers users by allowing them to control their data and move seamlessly between platforms without starting afresh.

Users are even rewarded for sharing data, fostering a positive and secure community. Phaver is also unique as the only SocialFi platform currently going multi-chain, providing accessibility to a broader audience.

This strategic approach stems from the understanding that, particularly in the early stages when the product's influence is still growing, it is crucial to assess the competition from a top-down perspective.

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In the early stages when the product's influence is still growing, it is crucial to assess the competition from a top-down perspective.
Jesse Khanh Tran, Phaver's Head of Strategy

- Specifically, how is Phaver solving this problem?

Jesse Khanh Tran: Phaver is currently regarded as the largest social network in Web3, but when compared to major social networks in Web2, it is still relatively small.

My experience in e-commerce on Web3 has shown that even with significant success or maximum traffic, it's challenging to surpass the peaks achieved through advertising campaigns on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Google.

However, Phaver seems to have the right timing. Currently, Western customers are highly concerned about data violations by big technology companies that centralize users' data and exploit it, leaving users with no control. Even with policies like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, large tech companies find ways to circumvent the law.

Phaver offers a solution to this problem. Instead of being a "one-way street" where users share data with X and Meta, and are exploited, Phaver empowers users.

Instead of being a "one-way street" where users share data with X and Meta, and are exploited, Phaver empowers users.
Jesse Khanh Tran, Phaver's Head of Strategy

Users regain control of their data and can transition from one platform to another without having to rebuild their social connections or write posts from scratch. Moreover, users are rewarded for sharing data with others, creating a positive and secure community. Additionally, Phaver is currently the only SocialFi platform going multi-chain.

It's worth noting that other SocialFi platforms can be quite complicated; users typically need a crypto wallet and must navigate several steps. Furthermore, those platforms are inaccessible on mobile phones.

In contrast, users unfamiliar with Web3 can still use Phaver without needing a wallet, Lens Protocol, or CyberConnect profiles. Currently, Phaver stands as the only mobile-native platform.


- Where will Phaver get revenue from to reward users and help the project operate sustainably?

Jesse Khanh Tran: I believe the SocialFi market is in its early stages, much like the early days of Facebook. In Web3, Phaver is currently the largest social networking platform but only has over 200,000 users per month. Therefore, I think it's premature to monetize at this point.

However, Phaver's monetization direction seems clearer than X. In the future, for brands to reach users on Phaver or other SocialFi platforms, they must incentivize users to share their data rather than paying Phaver directly. This way, users receive benefits, and Phaver shares a portion of the rewards.

- Speaking of marketing, users join a SocialFi project for various reasons. How does Phaver measure the effectiveness of its marketing strategy?

Jesse Khanh Tran: I have practical experience in this; I used Phaver to market Rens and sold out everything in less than 24 hours. I think in Web3, setting a limit on the number of products sold can expedite sales.

However, long-term user behavior tracking is crucial. Merely selling out isn't sufficient; we must calculate customer lifetime value and gauge customers' engagement with the brand over time. As the platform matures, more data will become available, and as users interact with more brands on Phaver, tools will be developed to track these metrics more easily.

Phaver will never track users' personal data. Hopefully, other SocialFi platforms in Web3 will follow suit and prioritize user privacy over financial gains.
Jesse Khanh Tran, Phaver's Head of Strategy

Importantly, tracking here involves only public data, and Phaver will never track users' personal data. Hopefully, other SocialFi platforms in Web3 will follow suit and prioritize user privacy over financial gains.

- Can you provide a specific example of the effectiveness of marketing on Phaver?

Jesse Khanh Tran: During my time at Rens, we launched the Multiverse Fashion collection on three chains: Ethereum, Polygon, and Avalanche. Despite substantial support from the Avalanche community, the number of NFTs sold on Avalanche still did not match that on Phaver.

This observation suggests that, in Web3, the most effective marketing will come from SocialFi platforms, with Phaver being the largest one today.

- Does Phaver have plans to launch tokens in the future?

Jesse Khanh Tran: This matter is beyond my control. However, aligning with other Web3 projects, Phaver's focus remains on community ownership. Phaver aims to incentivize its users to contribute to the project's growth, given its status as a decentralized social network platform.

- When Lens Protocol completes its airdrop, what will Lens or Phaver do to retain users? Do you see the airdrop as a double-edged sword?

Jesse Khanh Tran: Users will undoubtedly have a financial incentive to use Phaver and other Lens applications, hoping for airdrops from Lens. Nevertheless, the key lies in why users choose to use an application. Phaver's goal is to offer a seamless and convenient experience that users find hard to leave. Lens is just the project's starting point.

Regarding the airdrop issue, I believe this is simply another method of distributing tokens to the community. In 2017, we witnessed the prevalence of ICOs, followed by IDOs in 2020, and the distribution of tokens through both centralized (CEX) and decentralized (DEX) exchanges. Now, airdrops are gaining prominence.

Naturally, this approach comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. We can anticipate instances where token distribution may not be highly effective, resulting in a significant number of tokens being dumped, as observed in the cases of Arbitrum and Optimism.

- What are your thoughts on the crypto community in Vietnam?

Jesse Khanh Tran: Despite originating from Finland, Phaver regards Vietnam as one of the most crucial markets due to its high crypto adoption index globally. Additionally, it's noteworthy that Vietnam has a substantial number of crypto users, and unlike other crypto-friendly nations such as Venezuela and Pakistan, it enjoys relative stability.