As individual blockchain platforms gain popularity, the number of user transactions often overwhelms their systems. Zilliqa, a platform based on a study by researchers at the National University of Singapore, has a solution to this problem, the company’s head researcher Amrit Kumar tells Southeast Asia Globe
Tell me a bit about Zilliqa.
Zilliqa is a blockchain platform…. The difference between what we are doing and other existing platforms… is around scalability…. If you have a lot – say, 1,000 users – trying to transact at the same time, existing blockchain platforms are not capable to handle that. What we’re trying to do is to solve that problem, which is called the scalability problem… so that you can actually support more [transactions]…. The recent result that we obtained was around 3,000 transactions per second.
What are concerns about scalability in blockchains?
[There is this] application called CryptoKitties. It’s a very simple application that became very, very popular to the extent that people were actually willing to buy a digital cat and were willing to pay $100,000 for that cat. So it shows how popular it is.… Now the problem is, if you have a lot of people actually buying those kind of tokens, then you have a lot of people transacting and interacting with that blockchain, and if the blockchain is not scalable and cannot process that many [transactions], what you’ve got to do is reject [some transactions].… [It’s] an application that has become so popular that [the] underlying framework is not able to support it.… You have to solve this problem before you create a real-world application.
How do you do that?
If you look at how general blockchain architectures work, what happens is that if you are a user and, say, you want to pay to some other user, what you would do is you would create a transaction and… every single member of the network processes [whether]… you have enough funds to spend that much money.… Imagine a network like Bitcoin where you have around 30,000 nodes. Every member in the 30,000 network will process it. It’s very secure but it’s very wasteful in that sense…. We say that, okay, why don’t we divide this process into a smaller group of people.… This is the idea of ‘sharding’. You take an initial network and then you divide them into shards – smaller networks – and they process transactions in parallel [to avoid network overload]. This is what we are doing in Zilliqa.
This article was published in the July 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.