Rishi Singh is the founder and CEO of Tiingo, a platform built on providing clean, reliable financial data. As part of Chainlink’s leading oracle network, Tiingo empowers developers with a wide variety of financial datasets used to trigger smart contract execution. A contributor to Chainlink Today, Rishi is a passionate voice for democratizing access to financial data and analytics.
Rishi will join over 200 panelists representing top projects in revolutionary industries like DeFi, decentralized insurance and NFT gaming at Chainlink’s SmartCon #1, August 5-7, 2021. On Saturday, August 7th, he’ll take the stage with a panel of data experts to analyze why high-quality data is critical to high-functioning smart contracts.
Chainlink Today caught up with Rishi for a short Q&A about what it’s like to be a part of the Chainlink network and why clean data about current events is so important – not just for those of us living today, but for our descendants in the future.
CT: You’ve written beautifully about how fragile financial data has been throughout human history. How are blockchains and oracle networks like Chainlink allowing us to immutably record our financial history?
RS: Blockchains provide the technical infrastructure that allows us to run smart contracts in a decentralized and distributed way with no single point of failure. However, on-chain smart contracts by themselves cannot pull data from third-party APIs or run calculations. Chainlink provides an elegant solution that allows data to be pulled from off-chain third parties, aggregated, and written on-chain for consumption by smart contracts.
This solution allows us to compose data on-chain in a way that is predictable, easily consumed, duplicated, resilient to disruptions, and distributable. With all of these features, the probability of the data disappearing is significantly reduced while valuation accuracy improves.
CT: Why is this so important for future generations?
RS: History is the backbone of human innovation. The ability to build from the lessons learned by previous generations is what allows humanity to progress.
However, oral history often proves unreliable and, until very recently, written history has been easily susceptible to destruction. Even history scanned into digital formats can be destroyed or lost, as that digital medium often sits on a single physical medium (a hard drive, for example). Blockchain allows us to have consistent distributed copies of data that remain accessible to anyone.
Financial data is a subset of our history. Financial data is a quantitative measure that allows us to see the outcome of business, societal, and policy decisions. Anyone who has dealt with financial data knows that finding accurate data from as recently as 2005 – let alone data from the 1990s and 1980s – can be inordinately difficult.
Just as we invest a lot of resources trying to analyze ancient civilizations through artifacts, future generations will need to learn from us. When future generations look back and wonder if decisions we made led to economic prosperity, equality, or other values society deems important, blockchain will provide accurate, comprehensive data from which they can draw the most informed conclusions.
CT: How would you describe Tiingo’s commitment to clean data?
RS: We are relentless. For us, clean data is not just a business; it is our way of helping to advance society.
Because of this philosophy, everything on our backend remains tracked: data error rates, vendor error rates, hardware failure rates, response support times, update frequencies and delays, etc. Additionally, each datapoint on our backend is quantitatively tracked and has meta fields that let us know whether any automated statistical error checks passed/failed, as well as the reason for a failure and a timestamped log of all previous values for that datapoint. This allows us to see a full audit trail of the datapoint.
If we decide there was an actual error in our data, overriding the erroneous datapoint requires an individual at Tiingo to manually override the point and provide written documentation for why the datapoint was adjusted by a staff member. These metrics give us a complete picture of where our current strengths and weaknesses lie. From there, we take measures to address any weaknesses. This data-driven approach lets us ensure that we continuously make progress toward cleaner data each quarter, and that we have a feedback loop to make our progress measurable.
CT: How is Tiingo democratizing access to financial analytics and data?
RS: Clean data is a big industry on the asset management side, and often a big foundation of alpha for investment management funds. Large funds will spend significant resources cleaning data, and they’re able to use this data internally to gain a competitive advantage in markets.
At Tiingo, we take this clean data and significantly reduce costs by scaling it out to multiple institutions as well as small businesses and individuals. We spend significant resources ensuring that our marginal cost to deliver this data to individuals remains low. As a result, we can offer white-glove experiences to enterprise clients, while also offering data to individuals at an affordable rate.
Chainlink allows us to lower our cost of distribution and scale operations. By writing the data on-chain, we spend gas once to memorialize the data and make it accessible to millions of people instantly, without an additional load on our servers.
CT: As Tiingo’s Founder and CEO, how does it feel to be a part of Chainlink’s leading oracle network?
RS: It’s absolutely incredible. Being a part of Chainlink’s oracle network means putting technology and data first. When there is a problem that needs to be solved, everybody in the ecosystem rolls up their sleeves to solve it. Everyone is incentivized to rapidly innovate and create new features and solutions.
In the past fifteen years, I have not seen this level of coordinated collaboration amongst different companies anywhere else. It truly is what makes the Chainlink community so incredible and special.
CT: What can SmartCon attendees expect to learn from your panel discussion? What key points are you hoping to communicate?
RS: My goal is to communicate two things. First is the process that goes into digesting, cleaning, and normalizing data. It’s important to communicate how data is made and presented so that blockchain developers can ensure their smart contracts remain resilient to real outlier events.
The second thing I hope to communicate is my experiences with institutional finance, TradFi, and DeFi over the past decade, as well as my perspective on various challenges when it comes to data from a conceptual standpoint. My hope is to share lessons learned from the TradFi space that can be applicable to blockchain founders, developers, and advocates in order to help advance smart contracts, DeFi, and datasets in blockchain.
CT: What are you personally most excited to see at this year’s SmartCon?
RS: I’m looking forward to hearing experts in their fields talk about topics I’m less familiar with. The amount of innovation happening in blockchain can be faster than the pace at which I can individually consume information. Hearing from hundreds of experts across diverse industries in a three-day window is a great way to quickly catch up on developments across the entire blockchain ecosystem and keep myself current. It’s extraordinary to have such talent in one (virtual) location, and my goal is to capture as many insights as I can.
To learn more about SmartCon #1 and stay up-to-date on the latest announcements, visit the Smart Contract Summit website, follow Chainlink Labs and Chainlink Today on Twitter and check back for Chainlink Today’s in-depth coverage leading up to and during the event.