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Overview of Zilliqa

Despite the hype surrounding bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies in general, one of the barriers hindering mass adoption is the functionality of this new tech. Yes, blockchains are transparent, decentralized, and secured, there are still some hurdles to cross if they are expected to significantly or completely unseat traditional systems.

Taking the financial payments industry as an example, Visa is capable of processing up to 200,000 transactions per second (tps) in peak seasons. But here’s the irony, Bitcoin and Ethereum with all the hype they have received can only handle approximately 10 and 30 tps, respectively. This points to the fact that scaling is a major issue which needs to be solved, if blockchain is to move towards widespread adoption.

Several blockchain projects have entered the crypto space in a bid to solve blockchain’s scalability problem. Zilliqa is one of them, and this article explores the problems, as well as the solutions this blockchain project is trying to bring.

The Problem

As already stated, scaling is a major hurdle for blockchains. Scaling can be broken down into two primary approaches; on-chain and off-chain.

For on-chain scaling, blockchains need to alleviate bottlenecks. Off-chain scaling solutions focuses on a framework whereby parties can interact off the blockchain and only use the blockchain periodically to log final net transactions.

Zilliqa is working towards solving on-chain scaling by implementing sharding and unique consensus protocols.

The Solution

Zilliqa has proposed sharding as one of the solutions they will implement in solving blockchain’s scalability issue. Sharding is the process of dividing files into smaller bits, otherwise known as shards. By sharding large transactions, several nodes in a network can simultaneously upload or confirm smaller parts of transactions, making the network faster.

The project’s sharding solution has already yielded some positive results. Zilliqa reported a peak of 2,488 tps during their testnet. While this is a step in the right direction, when compared to the figure we gave above for Visa, it becomes quite apparent that Zilliqa and other blockchain projects have a long way to go.

Other noteworthy features of Zilliqa includes:

  • Implementing a hybrid consensus model comprising of Proof of Work (PoW) and Co-signing (CoSi). Using PoW, a committee is set up to spearhead the sharding process. Once data has been sharded, each shard is then co-signed via decentralized witness, in order to reach consensus.
  • Zilliqa will implement a smart contract layer with a gas mechanic like that of Ethereum. However, Zilliqa’s version is quite unique because users can spend more or less gas in order to lower or increase the security of the contract by controlling the number of nodes needed to reach consensus.
  • As more miners join the network, the capacity of the network increases.

Conclusion

The fact that Zilliqa already has a minimum viable product, makes it a project to look out for. The results from the testnet confirms that there is the potential to scale. However, I have a few reservations with some aspects of the project.

For a start, the state of sharding is not planned and their roadmap is rather aggressive which presents high executional risks. Nonetheless, let’s sit back and see what the team can come up with.

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