Edit: TL;DR added in the comments submitted by
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide
which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part. Technology and some more: Introduction
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website
is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains
where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG
, collective signing CoSi
The technical white paper
was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla
(functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply
is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13%
currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding
. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right? Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s
equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs
at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism
and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock
, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article
, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.
For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi
: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.”
Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999
- one of the authors even won a Turing award
for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here
. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article
where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3
and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization. Decentralisation
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020
. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes
is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3
). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion. Smart contracts
to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this
article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here
. The faucet can be found here
. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal
If you are more into listening and watching: check this
recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy
: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml
: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters,
is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language. Scilla
is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award
award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes
. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia
to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant
— a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do. Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here
. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state
. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication
and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
There is no strict defined roadmap but here
are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website
there is also more information on the projects they are working on. Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly
. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be
due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act)
. Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives
in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations
that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant
to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange
on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital
. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts
to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder
in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD
. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text
that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap
(dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo
which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX
. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications
from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country
. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic
(part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito
. Their sister company Aqilliz
(Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads
with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading
and futures trading
with really good volume
. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space. Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’
by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities
also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com
). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot
and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign
after their initial pilot
program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa
in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking
, Binance Margin
, entering the Indian market
, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this
as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa
and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow
. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
| || | submitted by maciej_wan to wanchain [link] [comments]
Original article here: https://medium.com/wanchain-foundation/ama-with-wanchain-vp-lini-58ada078b4fe
“What is unique about us is that we have actually put theory into practice.” https://preview.redd.it/n6lo2xcmtn621.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=281acce4b45eed8acf0c52b201d01cb6f0d13507 https://preview.redd.it/10aj3ointn621.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=6a187e8a6eb5ac0445ddc73d5b0f9077f12bce39
Wanchain’s Vice President of Business Development, Lini, sat down with blockchain media organization Neutrino for an AMA covering a wide range of topics concerning Wanchain’s development.
The following is an English translation of the original Chinese AMA
which was held on December 13th, 2018: Neutrino:
Could you please first share with us a little basic background, what are the basic concepts behind cross chain technology? What are the core problems which are solved with cross-chain? In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge of implementing cross chain to achieve value transfer between different chains? Lini:
Actually, this question is quite big. Let me break it down into three smaller parts:
- First, what is the meaning of “cross-chain”?
In China, we like to use the word “cross-chain”, the term “interoperability” is used more frequently in foreign countries. Interoperability is also one of the important technologies identified by Vitalik for the development of a future blockchain ecosystem mentioned in the Ethereum white paper. So cross-chain is basically the concept of interoperability between chains.
- The core problem solved by cross chain is that of “multi-ledger” synchronous accounting
In essence, blockchain is a distributed bookkeeping technique, also known as distributed ledger technology. Tokens are the core units of account on each chain, there currently exist many different chains, each with their own token. Of especial importance is the way in which each ledger uses tokens to interact with each other for the purpose of clearing settlements.
- The core purpose of the cross-chain technology is as one of the key infrastructures of the future economy based on digital currencies.
Cross chain technology is one of the foundational technological infrastructures that is necessary for the large scale application of blockchain technology. Neutrino:
As we all know, there are many different kinds of cross-chain technologies. Please give us a brief introduction to several popular cross-chain technologies on the market, and the characteristics of each of these technologies。 Lini:
Before answering this question, it is very important to share two important concepts with our friends: heterogeneity and homogeneity, and centralization and decentralization. https://preview.redd.it/n6wbs77wtn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=83fcadd09afb214d2aa5a2a6deb6c24d0d4da671
These two points are especially important for understanding various cross-chain technologies, because there are many different technologies and terminologies, and these are some of the foundational concepts needed for understanding them.
There are also two core challenges which must be overcome to implement cross-chain: https://preview.redd.it/84wqd28ytn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=dafe1cd2993f853547b532421404e6ab86e185f1
Combining the above two points, we look at the exploration of some solutions in the industry and the design concepts of other cross-chain projects.
First I’d like to discuss the Relay solution. https://preview.redd.it/qgcqiwlztn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=0925d4221c9e92e365e150638c645bef8c609b3f
However the Relay solution must consume a relatively large amount of gas to read the BTC header. Another downside is that, as we all know, Bitcoin’s blocks are relatively slow, so the time to wait for verification will be long, it usually takes about 10 minutes to wait for one block to confirm, and the best practice is to wait for 6 blocks.
The next concept is the idea of Sidechains. https://preview.redd.it/9cg79bl1un621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=1260e14213b1757eadc4b6141a365ed3b0e20316
This solution is good, but not all chains contain SPV, a simple verification method. Therefore, there are certain drawbacks. Of course, this two way peg way solves challenge beta very well, that is, the atomicity of the transaction.
These two technical concepts have already been incorporated into a number of existing cross chain projects. Let’s take a look at two of the most influential of these.
The first is Polkadot. https://preview.redd.it/1o3xwz93un621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=249909a33b5420050a6010b961a944285fc94926
This is just a summary based on Polkadot’s whitepaper and most recent developments. The theoretical design is very good and can solve challenges alpha and beta. Last week, Neutrino organized a meetup with Polkadot, which we attended. In his talk, Gavin’s focus was on governance, he didn’t get into too much technical detail, but Gavin shared some very interesting ideas about chain governance mechanisms! The specific technical details of Polkadot may have to wait until after their main net is online before it can be analyzed.
Next is Cosmos. https://preview.redd.it/5gtjf6x4un621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=94d6408ff65dc7041316f0130867888e108848b2
Cosmos is a star project who’s basic concept is similar to Polkadot. Cosmos’s approach is based on using a central hub. Both projects both take into account the issue of heterogeneous cross-chain transactions, and both have also taken into account how to solve challenges alpha and beta.
To sum up, each research and project team has done a lot of exploration on the best methods for implementing cross-chain technology, but many are still in the theoretical design stage. Unfortunately, since the main net has not launched yet, it is not possible to have a more detailed understanding of each project’s implementation. A blockchain’s development can be divided into two parts: theoretical design, and engineering implementation. Therefore, we can only wait until after the launch of each project’s main network, and then analyze it in more detail. Neutrino:
As mentioned in the white paper, Wanchain is a general ledger based on Ethereum, with the goal of building a distributed digital asset financial infrastructure. There are a few questions related to this. How do you solve Ethereum’s scaling problem? How does it compare with Ripple, which is aiming to be the standard trading protocol that is common to all major banks around the world? As a basic potential fundamental financial infrastructure, what makes Wanchain stand out? Lini:
This question is actually composed of two small questions. Let me answer the first one first.
- Considerations about TPS.
First of all, Wanchain is not developed on Ethereum. Instead, it draws on some of Ethereum’s code and excellent smart contracts and virtual machine EVM and other mature technical solutions to build the mainnet of Wanchain.
The TPS of Ethereum is not high at this stage, which is limited by various factors such as the POW consensus mechanism. However, this point also in part is due to the characteristics of Ethereum’s very distributed and decentralized features. Therefore, in order to improve TPS, Wanchain stated in its whitepaper that it will launch its own POS consensus, thus partially solving the performance issues related to TPS. Wanchain’s POS is completely different from the POS mechanism of Ethereum 2.0 Casper.
Of course, at the same time, we are also paying close attention to many good proposals from the Ethereum community, such as sharding, state channels, side chains, and the Raiden network. Since blockchain exists in the world of open source, we can of course learn from other technological breakthroughs and use our own POS to further improve TPS. If we have some time at the end, I’d love to share some points about Wanchain’s POS mechanism.
- Concerning, Ripple, it is completely different from what Wanchain hopes to do.
Ripple is focused on exchanges between different fiat pairs, the sharing of data between banks and financial institutions, as a clearing and settlement system, and also for the application of DLT, for example the Notary agent mechanism.
Wanchain is focused on different use cases, it is to act as a bridge between different tokens and tokens, and between assets and tokens. For various cross-chain applications it is necessary to consume WAN as a gas fee to pay out to nodes.
So it seems that the purpose Ripple and Wanchain serve are quite different. Of course, there are notary witnesses in the cross-chain mechanism, that is, everyone must trust the middleman. Ripple mainly serves financial clients, banks, so essentially everyone’s trust is already there. Neutrino:
We see that Wanchain uses a multi-party computing and threshold key sharing scheme for joint anchoring, and achieves “minimum cost” for integration through cross-chain communication protocols without changing the original chain mechanism. What are the technical characteristics of multi-party computing and threshold key sharing? How do other chains access Wanchain, what is the cross-chain communication protocol here? What is the cost of “minimum cost?
Lini: The answer to this question is more technical, involving a lot of cryptography, I will try to explain it in a simple way.
- About sMPC -
It stands for secure multi-party computation. I will explain it using an example proposed by the scholar Andrew Yao, the only Turing Award winner in China. The scenario called Yao’s Millionaire Problem. How can two millionaires know who is wealthier without revealing the details of their wealth to each other or a trusted third party? I’m not going to explain the answer in detail here, but those who are interested can do a web search to learn more.
In sMPC multiple parties each holding their own piece of private data jointly perform a calculation (for example, calculating a maximum value) and obtain a calculation result. However, in the process, each party involved does not leak any of their respective data. Essentially sMPC calculation can allow for designing a protocol without relying on any trusted third parties, since no individual ever has access to the complete private information.
Secure multiparty computing can be abstractly understood as two parties who each have their own private data, and can calculate the results of a public function without leaking their private data. When the entire calculation is completed, only the calculation results are revealed to both parties, and neither of them knows the data of the other party and the intermediate data of the calculation process. The protocol used for secure multiparty computing is homomorphic encryption + secret sharing + OT (+ commitment scheme + zero knowledge proofs, etc.)
Wanchain’s 21 cross chain Storeman nodes use sMPC to participate in the verification of a transaction without obtaining of a user’s complete private key. Simply put, the user’s private key will have 21 pieces given to 21 anonymous people who each can only get 1/21 part, and can’t complete the whole key.
- Shamir’s secret sharing
There are often plots in a movie where a top secret document needs to be handed over to, let’s say five secret agents. In order to protect against the chance of an agent from being arrested or betraying the rest, the five agents each hold only part of a secret key which will reveal the contents of the documents. But there is also a hidden danger: if one the agents are really caught, how can the rest of the agents access the information in the documents? At this point, you may wonder if there is any way for the agents to still recover the original text with only a portion of the keys? In other words, is there any method that allows a majority of the five people to be present to unlock the top secret documents? In this case, the enemy must be able to manipulate more than half of the agents to know the information in the secret documents.
Wanchain uses the threshold M<=N; N=21; M=16. That is to say, at least 16 Storeman nodes must participate in multi-party calculation to confirm a transaction. Not all 21 Storeman nodes are required to participate. This is a solution to the security problem of managing private keys.
Cross-chain communication protocols refers to the different communication methods used by different chains. This is because heterogeneous cross-chain methods can’t change the mechanism of the original chains. Nakamoto and Vitalik will not modify their main chains because they need BTC and ETH interoperability. Therefore, project teams that can only do cross-chain agreements to create different protocols for each chain to “talk”, or communicate. So the essence of a cross-chain protocol is not a single standard, but a multiple sets of standards. But there is still a shared sMPC and threshold design with the Storeman nodes.
The minimum cost is quite low, as can be shown with Wanchain 3.0’s cross chain implementation. In fact it requires just two smart contracts, one each on Ethereum and Wanchain to connect the two chains. To connect with Bitcoin all that is needed is to write a Bitcoin script. Our implementation guarantees both security and decentralization, while at the same time remaining simple and consuming less computation. The specific Ethereum contract and Bitcoin scripts online can be checked out by anyone interested in learning more. Neutrino:
What kind of consensus mechanism is currently used by Wanchain? In addition, what is the consensus and incentive mechanism for cross-chain transactions, and what is the purpose of doing so? And Wanchain will support cross-chain transactions (such as BTC, ETH) on mainstream public chains, asset cross-chain transactions between the alliance chains, and cross-chain transactions between the public and alliance chains, how can you achieve asset cross-chain security and privacy? Lini:
It is now PPOW (Permissioned Proof of Work), in order to ensure the reliability of the nodes before the cross-chain protocol design is completed, and to prepare to switch to POS (as according to the Whitepaper roadmap). The cross-chain consensus has been mentioned above, with the participation of a small consensus (at least 16 nodes) in a set of 21 Storeman nodes through sMPC and threshold secret sharing.
In addition, the incentive is achieved through two aspects: 1) 100% of the cross chain transaction fee is used to reward the Storeman node; 2) Wanchain has set aside a portion of their total token reserve as an incentive mechanism for encouraging Storeman nodes in case of small cross-chain transaction volume in the beginning.
It can be revealed that Storeman participation is opening gradually and will become completely distributed and decentralized in batches. The first phase of the Storeman node participation and rewards program is to be launched at the end of 2018. It is expected that the selection of participants will be completed within one quarter. Please pay attention to our official announcements this month.
In addition, for public chains, consortium chains, and private chains, asset transfer will also follow the cross-chain mechanism mentioned above, and generally follow the sMPC and threshold integration technology to ensure cross-chain security.
When it comes to privacy, this topic will be bigger. Going back to the Wanchain Whitepaper, we have provided privacy protection on Wanchain mainnet. Simply put, the principle is using ring signatures. The basic idea is that it mixes the original address with many other addresses to ensure privacy. We also use one-time address. In this mechanism a stamp system is used that generates a one-time address from a common address. This has been implemented since our 2.0 release.
But now only the privacy protection of native WAN transactions can be provided. The protection of cross-chain privacy and user experience will also be one of the important tasks for us in 2019. Neutrino:
At present, Wanchain uses Storeman as a cross-chain trading node. Can you introduce the Storeman mechanism and how to protect these nodes? Lini:
Let me one problem from two aspects.
- As I introduced before in my explanation of sMPC, the Storeman node never holds the user’s private key, but only calculates the transaction in an anonymous and secure state, and the technology prevents the Storeman nodes from colluding.
- Even after technical guarantees, we also designed a “double protection” against the risk from an economic point of view, that is, each node participating as a Storeman needs to pledge WAN in the contract as a “stake”. The pledge of WAN will be greater than the amount of any single transaction as a guarantee against loss of funds.
If the node is malicious (even if it is a probability of one in a billion), the community will be compensated for the loss caused by the malicious node by confiscation of the staked WAN. This is like the POS mechanism used by ETH, using staking to prevent bad behavior is a common principle. Neutrino:
On December 12th, the mainnet of Wanchain 3.0 was launched. Wanchain 3.0 opened cross-chain transactions between Bitcoin, Ethereum and ERC20 (such as MakerDao’s stable currency DAI and MKR). What does this version mean for you and the industry? This upgrade of cross-chain with Bitcoin is the biggest bright spot. So, if now you are able to use Wanchain to make transactions between what is the difference between tokens, then what is the difference between a cross chain platform like Wanchain and cryptocurrency exchanges? Lini:
The release of 3.0 is the industry’s first major network which has crossed ETH and BTC, and it has been very stable so far. As mentioned above, many cross-chain, password-protected theoretical designs are very distinctive, but for engineering implementation, the whether or not it can can be achieved is a big question mark. Therefore, this time Wanchain is the first network launched in the world to achieve this. Users are welcome to test and attack. This also means that Wanchain has connected the two most difficult and most challenging public networks. We are confident we will soon be connecting other well-known public chains.
At the same time of the release of 3.0, we also introduced cross chain integration with other ERC20 tokens in the 2.X version, such as MakerDao’s DAI, MKR, LRC, etc., which also means that more tokens of excellent projects on Ethereum will also gradually be integrated with Wanchain.
Some people will be curious, since Wanchain has crossed so many well-known public chains/projects; how is it different with crypto exchanges? In fact, it is very simple, one centralized; one distributed. Back to the white paper of Nakamoto, is not decentralization the original intention of blockchain? So what Wanchain has to do is essentially to solve the bottom layer of the blockchain, one of the core technical difficulties.
Anyone trying to create a DEX (decentralized exchange); digital lending and other application scenarios can base their application on Wanchain. There is a Wanchain based DEX prototype made by our community members Jeremiah and Harry, which quite amazing. Take a look at this video below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=codcqb66G6Q Neutrino:
What are the specific application use cases after the launch of Wanchain 3.0? Most are still exploring small-scale projects. According to your experience, what are the killer blockchain applications of the future? What problems need to be solved during this period? How many years does it take? Lini:
Neutrino community member Block Venture Capital Spring:
- Wanchain is just a technology platform rather than positioning itself as an application provider; that is, Wanchain will continue to support the community, and the projects which use cross-chain technology to promote a wide range of use cases for Wanchain.
- Cross-chain applications that we anticipate include things like: decentralized exchanges, digital lending, cross chain games, social networking dAPPs, gambling, etc. We also expect to see applications using non fungible tokens, for example exchange of real assets, STOs, etc.
- We recently proposed the WanDAPP solution. Simply speaking, a game developer for example has been developing on Ethereum, and ERC20 tokens have been issued, but they hope to expand the player base of their games to attract more people. To participate and make full use of their DAPP, you can consider using the WanDAPP solution to deploy the game DAPP on other common platforms, such as EOS, TRON, etc., but you don’t have to issue new tokens on these chains or use the previous ERC20 tokens. In this way the potential user population of the game can be increased greatly without issuing more tokens on a new chain, improving the real value of the original token. This is accomplished completely using the cross-chain mechanism of Wanchain.
- For large-scale applications, the infrastructure of the blockchain is not yet complete, there are issues which must first be dealt with such as TPS, sharding, sidechains, state channels, etc. These all must be solved for the large-scale application of blockchain applications. I don’t dare to guess when it will be completed, it depends on the progress of various different technical projects. In short, industry practitioners and enthusiasts need a little faith and patience.
Will Wanchain be developing any more cross chain products aimed at general users? For example will the wallet be developed to make automatic cross chain transfers with other public chains? Another issue the community is concerned about is the currency issuance. Currently there are more than 100 million WAN circulating, what about the rest, when will it be released? Lini:
As a cross-chain public chain, we are not biased towards professional developers or ordinary developers, and they are all the same. As mentioned above, we provide a platform as infrastructure, and everyone is free to develop applications on us.
For example, if it is a decentralized exchange, it must be for ordinary users to trade on; if it is some kind of financial derivatives product, it is more likely to be used by finance professionals. As for cross-chain wallets which automatically exchange, I’m not sure if you are talking about distributed exchanges, the wallet will not be “automatic” at first, but you can “automatically” redeem other tokens.
Finally, the remaining WAN tokens are strictly in accordance with the plan laid out in the whitepaper. For example, the POS node reward mentioned above will give 10% of the total amount for reward. At the same time, for the community, there are also rewards for the bounty program. The prototype of the DEX that I just saw is a masterpiece of the overseas community developers, and also received tokens from our incentive program. Neutrino community member’s question:
There are many projects in the market to solve cross-chain problems, such as: Cosmos, Polkadot, what are Wanchain’s advantages and innovations relative to these projects? Lini
: As I mentioned earlier, Cosmos and pPolkadot all proposed very good solutions in theory. Compared with Wanchain, I don’t think that we have created anything particularly unique in our theory. The theoretical basis for our work is cryptography, which is derived from the academic foundation of scholars such as Yao Zhizhi and Silvio Micali. Our main strong point is that we have taken theory and put it into practice..
Actually, the reason why people often question whether a blockchain project can be realized or not is because the whitepapers are often too ambitious. Then when they actually start developing there are constant delays and setbacks. So for us, we focus on completing our very solid and realizable engineering goals. As for other projects, we hope to continue to learn from each other in this space. Neutrino community member Amos from Huobi Research Institute question:
How did you come to decide on 21 storeman nodes? Lini
: As for the nodes we won’t make choices based on quantity alone. The S in the POS actually also includes the time the tokens are staked, so that even if a user is staking less tokens, the amount of time they stake them for will also be used to calculate the award, so that is more fair. We designed the ULS (Unique Leader Selection) algorithm in order to reduce the reliance on the assumption of corruption delay (Cardano’s POS theory). which is used for ensuring fairness to ensure that all participants in the system can have a share of the reward, not only few large token holders. Wu Di, a member of the Neutrino community:
Many big exchanges have already begun to deploy decentralized exchanges. For example, Binance, and it seems that the progress is very fast. Will we be working with these influential exchanges in the future? We we have the opportunity to cooperate with them and broaden our own influence? Lini
: I also have seen some other exchange’s DEX. Going back the original point, distributed cross-chain nodes and centralized ones are completely different. I’m guessing that most exchanges use a centralized cross-chain solution, so it may not be the same as the 21 member Storeman group of Wanchain, but I think that most exchanges will likely be using their own token and exchange system. This is my personal understanding. But then, if you are developing cross chain technology, you will cooperate with many exchanges that want to do a DEX. Not only Binance, but also Huobi, Bithumb, Coinbase… And if there is anyone else who would like to cooperate we welcome them! Neutrino community member AnneJiang from Maker:
Dai as the first stable chain of Wanchain will open a direct trading channel between Dai and BTC. In relation to the Dai integration, has any new progress has been made on Wanchain so far? Lini:
DAI’s stable currency has already been integrated on Wanchain. I just saw it yesterday, let me give you a picture. It’s on the current 3.0 browser, https://www.wanscan.org/,
you can take a look at it yourself.
This means that users with DAI are now free to trade for BTC, or ETH or some erc20 tokens. There is also a link to the Chainlink, and LRC is Loopring, so basically there are quite a few excellent project tokens. You may use the Wanchain to trade yourself, but since the DEX is not currently open, currently you can only trade with friends you know. https://preview.redd.it/jme5s99bun621.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=7ba3d430ba3e7ddcab4dbcdedc05d596d832f5a7
About Neutrino Neutrino is a distributed, innovative collaborative community of blockchains. At present, we have established physical collaboration spaces in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and other places, and have plans to expand into important blockchain innovation cities such as Seoul, Thailand, New York and London. Through global community resources and partnerships, Neutrino organizes a wide range of online an offline events, seminars, etc. around the world to help developers in different regions better communicate and share their experiences and knowledge.
Wanchain is a blockchain platform that enables decentralized transfer of value between blockchains. The Wanchain infrastructure enables the creation of distributed financial applications for individuals and organizations. Wanchain currently enables cross-chain transactions with Ethereum, and today’s product launch will enable the same functionalities with Bitcoin. Going forward, we will continue to bridge blockchains and bring cross-chain finance functionality to companies in the industry. Wanchain has employees globally with offices in Beijing (China), Austin (USA), and London (UK).
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