When it comes to the subject of blockchain technological limitations, scalability always comes up. Scalability, that sweet word synonymous with many problems. Who has never waited feverishly for their transaction to be validated? Who has never heard of plans to promise transaction speeds that would make Visa or Mastercard green with envy? For many scalability is the issue of tomorrow, but what is it really?
Among the conference panels Binance from 3 years “Off the Charts”, one was dedicated to this issue. Her name : “Race to Success: Scalability in Blockchain Development”.
Lucas Nuzzi, Network Data Product Manager at CoinMetrics, animated the debate. Beniamin Mincu CEO ofElrond, Nick white CEO of Harmony, Mo Dong Co-founder of Celer Network and Terry wang Co-founder ofIOST came to present their visions to us.
Hello everyone, can you quickly present your projects to us?
Nick white : First of all thanks to Binance to welcome us. This is not the first time since we had made a IEO in May 2019 on the platform. Harmony is a protocol Layer 1 using consensus Effective Proof-of-Stake (EPoS). Thanks to this protocol as well as to sharding we can offer fast and low cost transactions. Our mainnet has been in effect since june 2019.
I think the problem of scalability is an even more central topic than before, especially with the emergence of Challenge. Ethereum is currently suffering from a slowdown and an increase in the price of gas.
Mo Dong: Thanks also to Binance which also helped us in 2019 with its launchpad. Celer Network is a Layer 2 platform, that is to say that it is designed on an already existing blockchain like Ethereum (Layer 1). We have the privilege of being the pioneers in the field of Layer 2, we have thus delivered in 2019 worldwide, the first Testnet network of “Generalized state channel” as well as the first mobile application, CelerX allowing access to decentralized applications (dApps) Layer 2. Celer aims to allow users uninitiated to the blockchain to easily use it in real time. We are the bridge between the two worlds. After doing a major update to our mainnet in May, we are now looking to mass adoption and we are the first app on theAppstore globally allowing the use of cryptocurrencies as a method of payment in the sport, without users being aware of how the underlying blockchain works. We also focus on the use of other technologies like Hyperledger One.
Beniamin Mincu: Elrond is THE platform that will change everything. Today we are around 50 millions evolve frequently in the blockchain ecosystem. Why stop at this insignificant number when you can aim Billions users? With fast transactions and low bank fees, as well as a user interface designed for mass adoption; Elrond is the solution that will enable this scaling up.
Terry Wang: IOST is a blockchain 3.0, designed for the use of dApps. According to the various dApps ranking sites, we are in the top 4 of the best platforms worldwide. With nearly 80 dApps already in place, we cover a wide range of sectors, whether it is Challenge, education or gaming. We are currently focused on developing platforms for use by businesses and governments. We are proud to have contributed to the establishment of GUILD VOTING a solution for voting in Japan.
We also recently announced a collaboration with the National Archives Administration (NAA) from the Chinese government.
Scalability is not a new issue. In 2014 Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, formulated the blockchain trilemma. Do you think it’s still relevant?
Beniamin Mincu: This trilemma, namely that we cannot at the same time have a blockchain that is scalable AND decentralized AND secure does not date from today. I think, however, that this applies mostly to Ethereum and blockchains of older generations. The new architectures allow this to be solved in an elegant way specific to each team. In a recent interview M.Buterin explained that while designing Ethereum he was aware of future scalability concerns. He didn’t know how to deal with them at the time and that’s why it was always about updatingEthereum.
I think the blockchain world will be strongly impacted in 2020 for 2 reasons:
- We have increasingly scalable blockchains. Elrond shows that we can do until 10,000 transactions per second with a only 5 seconds latency. The transfer fees are 100 times weaker than a transaction Bitcoin or Ethereum.
- Improved user interfaces. Many people want to enter the blockchain universe but run into this problem and give up.
Mo Dong: The trilemma of M.Buterin was defined at a time when we assumed that network nodes had to compute transactions and store them. If we remain in such a vision it seems indeed impossible to resolve the 3 presuppositions at the same time. Things are different today, thanks to sharding, the storage of data and the execution of smart contracts are not carried out at the same time but are parallelized. With this new paradigm, this trilemma becomes obsolete.
Nick White: Before answering this question I would just like to give my vision of scalability. In my opinion too many people consider scalability problems to be reduced to a speed problem. It’s true but it’s incomplete, it is also a transaction cost issue.
The PoS is a very effective solution to solve these two problems and it is for this reason that Harmony use it. With this architecture, we can create a new block every 8 seconds and decrease the cost to maintain a blockchain. The sharding indeed solves this trilemma, but it will also create new problems. Blockchains like mobile networks will never stop improving to solve new problems. It will surely be a never-ending quest, but I look forward to seeing the solutions that will be created over the next few years.
Much of the community is not aware of your respective solutions and even once they do, some may not follow you. Do you see it as a challenge having to solve scalability while having to build a community?
Beniamin Mincu: Yes, and it is in the order of things. You cannot create a new system and directly have a community for it.
The irony is that this reasoning applies to the history of blockchain. Bitcoin was rejected by bankers, financiers and even people in the computer world. They could not overcome their prejudices and leave the community to which they belonged. The first adopters of Bitcoin were the community cypherpunks and people who do not have a limited understanding of the term “money”.
Ethereum, fell victim to the same problem. Although presenting a technology apparently better than Bitcoin, he was unable to recover the community of it on his own. The pioneers of Bitcoin have become maximalists and repeated the pattern that made them discover Bitcoin. Ethereum has found its following among developers and today many of them are and will remain loyal to Ethereum. If a project similar to Ethereum shows up today, he will not succeed because we already have a Ethereum with a well-established community. This process that I am describing is valid for all blockchain projects and it will be interesting to see how we will anticipate this vision. What our respective communities will look like, time will tell.
Scalability is a word with many designs, but the projects agree that we are on the cusp of a new architectural era. An era where presuppositions such as the resolution of the blockchain trilemma, yet considered as a basis, become obsolete. Will this paradigm shift be the trigger for the mass adoption we all expect? Here too, only time will tell …
Engineering student, Community and Bounty Manager, I have been sailing the turbulent oceans of blockchain since 2017.
Aware that blockchain will change our future, I too want to participate in the revolution. Find me on Bitcointalk and on LinkedIn