Groundbreaking! It was the first time I felt that an ‘electronic currency’ could materialise in the real world. Quite literally, and then be fungible enough to use in a cafe!
Could you share the genesis story of Zilliqa and how it was born at the National University of Singapore?
Zilliqa was born as a response to the low transaction processing speeds that the Bitcoin blockchain and Ethereum were demonstrating. It was felt that sharding would be one approach to solving this apparent architectural blockage. A group of academics wrote a white paper on this, and an innovative incubator helped fund the build out (and eventual launch) of the company behind the World’s very first sharded public blockchain.
What brought you to Zilliqa personally?
I was lucky enough to receive a call from a headhunter who asked if I might be interested in the role of Head of Marketing at Zilliqa. I had actually attended one of the company’s launch events in November 2017, so was familiar with the blockchain itself, but believed the opportunity to grow it globally was massive, so I jumped at the chance to join.
Zilliqa’s core product is a public blockchain that uses sharding. Could you briefly explain what sharding is and why it is so important?
The basic premise relies on the simple theory of ‘divide and conquer’, in short, splitting transactions, even those with complex smart contracts, into multiple shards that can share the load much more efficiently than the early blockchains – where nodes have to effectively sign off on block transactions one after another, thereby forming a long queue! Excitingly enough, the testnet for Zilliqa processed 2882 TPS at peak, and this compared favorably with Ethereum’s 15 transactions per second benchmark. This is super important for high volume services, such as payment processing, which need speed, scalability and finality.
Could you share some details regarding the blockchain investment company Zilliqa Capital and its relationship with Ziliqa?
Yes, Zilliqa Capital is one of the most exciting developments I have seen in the past year at Zilliqa. Essentially, it is a two phase approach to building a dynamic fund that will reinvest into the Zilliqa ecosystem, in addition to finding other relevant startups to support. The leadership and the Board itself represents a ‘who’s who’ of crypto investment success – and the platform will definitely form an exciting new model for venture capital in the industry.
In 2019, Zilliqa teamed up with Fundnel to create a centralised, private security token exchange in Singapore that applies blockchain technology to the trading of traditional asset classes. Could you tell us more about this project and its status in 2021?
Sure. The project is essentially a pioneering effort to bring together the best of traditional investment in Asset-backed Securities (ABS) and the flexibility (known as fractionalisation) that has been afforded by the tokenisation logic that smart contracts allow. Being part of the Monetary Authority of Singapore sandbox, it has regulatory oversight and the freedom to tokenise a range of securities. Their first project was a Premium Whisky Cask offering, which was very well received by the accredited investor base, to which the member companies, namely Fundnel, Prime Partners and Philip Capital, have access. On opening, it generated roughly one million dollars in trading terms. At this moment, the HGX project is looking at the next few areas to tokenise which includes pre-IPO shares, Real Estate and possibly even Classic Cars, among others.
It’s certainly a wide vista to consider. Working on the premise that literally everything can be tokenised in some form, the power that this approach has to ‘unlock’ capital is quite breathtaking. Recently, private equity bonds from a subsidiary of state-backed Temasek were tokenised in Singapore, and that will lead a push into freeing up more traditional financial investments. These bonds that can be broken down into much smaller chunks than previously imagined, for example taking $100k tranches down to bite-sized pieces of $20k for investors who buy the tokens. Ultimately, any paper representation of something with legitimate and provable value can be tokenised, so all ‘stocks and shares’ are ripe for conversion to blockchain based registers and cross-linked trading exchanges.
You are a speaker at the upcoming Security Token Summit, what will you be discussing?
The session will (I think) focus on (what is becoming a major theme for the blockchain industry) namely, interoperability. How can tokens be traded with less friction and more fungibility for greater liquidity and acceptance globally. It’s really interesting because it echoes the supportive cross-chain culture which seems to be taking hold as distinct technologies agree standards which enable seamless trading across different blockchains, exchanges – and even distinct token formats. This will uplift the entire securities market and drive widespread adoption among the investment community.
Is there anything else that you would like to share regarding Zilliqa?
At present, Zilliqa is working on several projects that involve the creative use of NFTs, and using NFTs as collateral, it is proving a compelling line of opportunity. One of our partners, Mintable, has recently worked on a tokenisation of a physical piece of modern Art, by a well-known artist, that is nearly 100 years old! The NFT is basically a ‘certificate of authenticity’ for the work. And it can be legitimately traded by the auction winner in future should that ever be required.
Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit Zilliqa.
If readers wish to hear Colin JG Miles speak to discuss they should attend the Security Token Summit.
The Security Token summit will stream live on Securities.io: