Grant Proposal | Cheq Protocol - An extensible liquid escrow protocol for web3 payments


  • We believe that the traditional financial system is exclusionary, exploitative, and inefficient but it provides something that crypto cannot: native user protections. By building Cheq we believe we can harness the best of both worlds with a web3 aligned protocol. Cheq Protocol is designed to be as permissionless and extensible as possible so that our cheq primitive can be utilized for any use case.


  • The original vision of crypto as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system has not been realized. The public perception of crypto is that it’s rife with fraud, difficult to use, and only useful for speculation- which to different extents are all true. While crypto-natives have become accustomed to the often unforgiving nature of decentralization, the average consumer is not willing to take many of those risks without trusted intermediaries they can turn to for help.


  • As far back as Satoshi’s whitepaper it has been understood that while sellers greatly benefit from crypto’s lack of reversibility, buyers would still need some sort of “routine escrow mechanism” to protect them while goods/services were delivered off-chain. Although this addresses the lack of buyer and seller trust, it introduces a number of tradeoffs (trust assumptions, illiquidity, fragmentation, etc) that Cheq has been designed to handle.
  • Our protocol generalizes the escrow model by allowing users to send NFT “cheqs” that can function as either escrows or invoices. By leveraging the widely supported ERC721 standard, cheqs can be collected, traded, aggregated, collateralized, and more. Cheqs can also symbolize a proof of funds (when promising to pay a freelancer for example), proof of past payments (such as successfully freelancing for a well-known DAO), a request for payment, among other things. Each cheq can also contain predefined, customizable payment terms that may incorporate milestones agreements, oracles, time-locks, admins, etc.


  • A modular EVM smart contract with a simple, easy to use frontend through which users can permissionlessly select their broker module, wrap and then send their tokens as NFT cheqs. Higher order products built on top of the Cheq protocol are also part of the roadmap such as: tailor-made brokers for specific use cases, merchant tooling, tax reporting, AMMs, and possible other based on feedback.


  • Current payment methods are inadequate. We have begun conducting a number of customer interviews with freelancers (likely dire user) and have found some common themes among them:
    • TradFi based systems can be unreliable or even unavailable depending on location and require bank accounts.
    • Fees are often prohibitively high (transaction fees, conversion fees, escrow fees, etc).
    • P2p methods (PayPal, Zelle, crypto, etc) are preferred but lack user protections, leading to delayed or no payment.
  • Initial DAO conversations have been well received. We are in discussion with Opolis, a freelancer DAO, to release Cheq on their freelancer app store that is set to launch Q1 2023.
  • Reversibility is in the zeitgeist. Seemingly sparked by this twitter thread from a Stanford researcher who co-authored a reversible token standard research paper, the issue is now being discussed more widely by the crypto community and mainstream media (Bloomberg, Cointelegraph, Coindesk, and others)


  • Initial smart contract deployed on Polygon Mumbai, basic front-end and local subgraph deployment, freelancer/DAO/investor outreach, as well as a protocol whitepaper, multi-year business roadmap, and CapEx table have all been created.


  • Cheq is the only crypto escrow platform with DeFi integrations and an openly modular design. Request Network, Smart Invoice, CryptoTask, and Smartlink all use smart contracts to various degrees but our implementation is the only one with an ERC721 compatible escrow solution enabling tradability and instant settlement. BTC Asia, and other legacy crypto escrow solutions, are much more centralized and require complete trust that the third party will act faithfully.
  • Another key differentiator is the decentralized nature of Cheq’s broker modules. By allowing developers to explore the design space of cheq brokers, modules will attract users across many different use cases using various fee models and feature sets.


  • Mohamedali Basrai- Veteran engineer with a total of 5 YOE at Facebook and Coinbase. At Coinbase, worked with the Payments Risk team on fraud reduction. Significant experience working with traditional payments systems and a deep understanding of crypto and DeFi.
  • Rafi Rashid- Former full-stack engineer at Flexport and WeWork with 4 YOE and Consensys certified Ethereum developer. Worked on the Compliance team at Flexport, gaining insight into supply chain dispute & resolution. Former crypto co-founder and contractor with product, sales and design experience.
  • Alejandro Almaraz- Former data scientist at the University of Florida with 2 YEO and full-stack web3 developer also 2 YOE. Co-authored public research papers for traffic safety analysis, gaining experience with big data pipelines, data modeling, and machine learning applications.

Grant Request $

  • $10,000 in stablecoin (preferably USDC)


  • Bootstrapped all expenses from the team’s personal savings


  • We are a full-time team and funding would greatly support our team. We began working on Cheq Protocol in June, full-time starting in August.
  • This funding would also help us grow our community to help more freelancers and others in need of Cheq
  • It would additionally help us fund paid user interviews, user outreach and research to make Cheq even better

Additional Resources

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