The issue of scalability has been a great challenge for blockchain developers for many years, with few companies achieving recognizable development in addressing this issue, unlike Matic Network which will soon provide the long-awaited scalability solution. Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Chandresh Aharwar, VP of Marketing and Strategy at Matic Network, where the team is working hard to build a decentralized platform using an adapted version of the Plasma framework that allows for faster and extremely low-cost transactions with finality on the main chain. Chandresh talked about addressing the scalability issue, KYC protocol in the blockchain space, his views on the blockchain space, and what’s next for the decentralized finance movement.
Asia Blockchain Review: First of all, can you tell us about Matic Network and the work that you do?
Chandresh Aharwar: Firstly, thank you for having us on Asia Blockchain Review. Matic Network shares a similar mission as Asia Blockchain Review in that we are also jumpstarting blockchain communities, not only in Southeast Asia, but around the world. At Matic Network, we try to do things a little differently from the typical platform protocol. As a Layer-2 scalability solution on top of the Ethereum network, we’re providing key resources to an existing cohort of very skilled blockchain developers. Our Plasma-based sidechain solution will enable countless DApps around the world to process TPS rates as high as 65,000 per second. This will revolutionize the way a broad range of applications are created, from decentralized finance to gaming, and, therefore, shape the user experience of end-users around the world.
As VP of Marketing and Strategy, my modus operandi is to launch global community engagement initiatives, further the conversation revolving around blockchain and Matic Network, establish collaborations with key counterparties, institutions, and projects, as well as set forth a vision for product marketing to attract developers from around the world.
ABR: During your time at Vodafone Idea Limited, you engaged with e-KYC business. Can you share with us how you came to join Matic Network?
CA: So, After completing my MBA from NITIE, Mumbai in 2016, I started my corporate journey in the telecom sector during the disruption of e-KYC in India.
e-KYC is basically verifying the identity of a subscriber digitally by using biometrics through the central KYC database maintained by the Indian Government called Aadhaar. This brought great synergy in turnaround times and customer acquisition cost for telecom companies.
At the same time, out of my own interest, I was exploring blockchain technology and soon realized that this is the future. Then, I started interacting with active contributors in the blockchain space, attending events and writing blogs on how this space is going to bring a revolution in the way we see and use money today.
To my surprise, I started getting a lot of attention. That was the time I realized that my contribution is important and decided to join this space full-time.
During all this, I was in constant touch with Sandeep, our co-founder, helping him with my insights of the blockchain and crypto market in the initial days of Matic Network. So, when I decided to pursue this as a career, Matic Network was the obvious choice, as I knew them as a group of hard-working, talented individuals moving towards clear goals.
ABR: The recent Devcon report stated that it will be another two years before the long-promised Eth 2.0. What do you think of the challenges in the delay of this development? How is Matic Network planning to overcome the scalability issue?
CA: Yes, the Ethereum team is working solidly on Eth 2.0, and we are hugely supportive and excited about new Ethereum developments. However, Eth 2.0 is a huge initiative, and I think that in terms of timelines, 2 years is very short. The challenges mainly stem from the fact that Ethereum is a running network with many moving parts — to use a metaphor, it’s infinitely more difficult to upgrade a machine while it is already running than it would be if you could switch it off for maintenance. As a running blockchain, Ethereum cannot be ‘switched off’. Also, there are currently nine teams working on different aspects of Eth 2.0, and Ethereum Foundation developer Jamie Pitts has recently expressed concerns regarding the cohesion of these teams. From a broader perspective, the level of increased scaling required to bring the Ethereum network to mass adoption levels is huge.
Currently, Ethereum’s current TPS rate of 15 greatly inhibits the platform from reaching mainstream adoption. If we look at the world of finance, Visa and other major global payments technology corporations can process thousands of transactions per second. In order to kickstart consumer adoption of decentralized finance (DeFi), the user experience must be vastly better than current payments systems. At a more fundamental level, DeFi applications must be able to facilitate TPS rates equal to or greater than what existing global payments systems can provide. In the blockchain space, where every interaction is technically defined as a “transaction,” applications across different industries and use cases require a robust foundational framework in which they can facilitate thousands if not tens of thousands of interactions with their app per second. Matic Network’s Plasma-based scalability framework addresses this issue. In one of our first internal testnet DApps, Matic Network tested at a 10,000 TPS rate.
ABR: There are some second layer solutions in the markets, such as Lightning Network, Raiden and others, that are still unable to reach the number of transactions Visa can process per second — 1,700 per second, 150 million transactions per day. Can you share with us the throughput and development of your second layer solution derived from Plasma?
CA: As mentioned previously, one of our first testnet DApps achieved a rate of 10,000 TPS. Currently, some of the biggest names in gaming and DeFi are building on top of Matic. A single Matic sidechain is theoretically capable of processing 65,000 TPS, and we have the capability to add multiple sidechains without much effort — drastically surpassing the 150 million transactions per day attained by Visa. Due to this, we have many prominent projects building on Matic Network. For example, Decentraland, a top-100 project, is building its entire virtual universe via our Layer 2 solution. By doing so, we’ll be facilitating countless player-to-player interactions and NFT exchanges, among other in-game engagements and currency exchanges.
Additionally, we’re currently only one of two Plasma-based projects to have been backed by Coinbase Ventures, and the only one in the complete space to be backed by both Coinbase Ventures and Binance.
ABR: A total of 25 DApps projects are already partnering and building on your platform, such as Biconomy and Tradelink. How is the development proceeding while the Matic platform is in beta? Are there any prominent projects in your pipeline that you aim to partner with?
CA: As a Layer-2 scalability solution, our aim is to provide key resources to as many Ethereum developers as possible. Our primary aim, as of now, is to facilitate rapid growth on the Ethereum mainnet. In terms of development, we’ve been able to meet all of our publicly-stated deadlines since we released our roadmap earlier this year. Our alpha-mainnet was launched in early July, and we just recently launched our beta-mainnet at the end of September. Our list of partners, integrations, and migrations grows every single day. This gives us nothing but encouragement when witnessing all of the talented people pouring in time and resources to build applications across different industries.
On another note, not only do we aim to provide key resources to the development process, but we also have put in significant time and effort into fostering the developer community. While our development team is building away, many of our other executives and VPs are laser-focused on engaging with thought leaders and executives from other projects to support panel discussions, hackathons, and developer engagement initiatives. Most recently, we spoke at Devcon 5 in Osaka and hosted the first-ever Game Oasis Hackathon Bengaluru alongside leaders like Binance.
ABR: What are your opinions on the current blockchain landscape in India in terms of regulation, talent pool, and sentiment towards blockchain/crypto?
CA: In terms of talent pool, there’s no shortage of talented blockchain developers. The number of new blockchain developers grows every day. Specifically, blockchain in India is thriving (as demonstrated by the frequency of blockchain hackathons, meetups, and conferences), though entry to the space still poses challenges to Indian developers and projects.
The real challenges to blockchain adoption in India are barriers to entry in terms of education in blockchain development and challenges in gaining recognition in the fledgling space. Many blockchains place a strong emphasis on user experience, but lack a focus on the experience of those who will actually be building out their ecosystem — the developers. This often leaves developers without proper guidance or tools to be able to build innovative blockchain-based solutions. With few opportunities for fundraising and difficulties in sourcing developer talent, India-based blockchain startups are currently facing multiple challenging hurdles.
We believe that spreading knowledge and providing education about the opportunities that blockchain development can provide is one of the core components in pushing our space forward and opening up new opportunities for India’s massive developer community, thus increasing blockchain adoption. Alongside hosting and attending regular hackathons (we’ve hosted upwards of 20 in the last year), conferences, and events and conducting active outreach to India’s educational institutions, we have recently launched our Developer Support Program designed to assist developers to spread their wings in the blockchain space by providing technical, financial, and talent-sourcing related support.
As the most adopted Layer 2 platform, with the vast majority of India-based projects building on Matic Network, we are proud to be spearheading India’s decentralized movement.
ABR: Besides scalability, the gas fee is another issue for Ethereum blockchain. Does Matic Network provide a solution for gas?
CA: It is true that gas fees are a great inhibitor for mainstream adoption of Ethereum-based DApps. In order to combat this, we have designed our network so that transaction fees on Matic Network are roughly 1/100th of the fees on the Ethereum mainnet.
Currently, Matic’s development team derivative of the open-protocol WalletConnect framework will connect web-based distributed applications to mobile crypto assets. What does this mean for gas fees? By establishing the groundwork for ether-less accounts, this will result in ether-less transactions, thus incurring a higher volume of transactions across the board. More transaction throughput means more breathing room for end-users to interact with more DApps.
In addition, we have recently welcomed Biconomy into the Matic ecosystem. Biconomy aims to recreate the Dapp experience by enabling meta transactions (negating the need for transaction fees to be paid on the user’s side) for seamless onboarding. Their solution will enable end-users to use DApps without the need for downloading any external wallets or buying any cryptocurrencies from an exchange — eliminating traditional obstacles to blockchain adoption for the mainstream. Together, we will work towards ushering in the next wave of blockchain adoption.
ABR: DeFi is one of the hottest topics in the blockchain space right now. MakerDAO, one of your partners, recently announced the launch of collateral which will be happening soon. Can you share your opinions on DeFi with us? Do you think that DeFi will disrupt the existing financial system? What is Matic’s approach towards the DeFi sector?
DeFi is a huge focus for Matic Network and is one area of the decentralized movement which we’re particularly excited about. Through a decentralized framework, a broad range of financial services and censorship-resistant applications can be made available to a far greater number of people than those who currently participate in the existing financial ecosystem. The fast settlement times, elimination of intermediaries, increased options for collateralization, and interoperability will enable a slew of custom-tailored financial products to be developed for a countless number of financial use cases, many of which are yet to be invented.
Our infrastructure makes Matic Network an ideal platform for DeFi DApps and we are thrilled to already be witnessing DeFi adoption on Matic. Matic sidechains are based on an account based EVM (inspired by Plasma MoreVP) and support ERC721 in addition to ERC20 tokens, along with asset swaps right out of the box. This makes Matic Network the go-to platform for deploying Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications in particular, including payment DApps, DEX’s, marketplaces, lending protocols etc.
Earlier this year, we played a prominent role in ETHIndia 2019, Asia’s biggest Ethereum hackathon, which included providing a DevLounge where attendees could experience DeFi adoption first-hand through a Dapp building on top of Matic Network. Attendees were able to use the Incento app to purchase food with MakerDAO’s DAI stablecoin and redeem beers using a custom token called Matic Beer token. We were thrilled to witness DeFi adoption in action on Matic Network.
You can see a video of that here.
ABR: Matic joined Devcon Osaka 2019. For you, what was the key takeaway from this event?
CA: There so many takeaways from the event, it’s hard to pinpoint a single moment. The Matic team took part in many events during the three-day period. Our CEO, JD Kanani, delivered a speech to the attendees on the Devcon main stage on the topic of ‘Scaling Ethereum with Security and Usability In Mind’, several of our Blockchain Engineers hosted workshops, we co-hosted a networking event with Binance X, and then even threw a spectacular afterparty with Torus Labs, Portis and Authereum.
Key takeaway was definitely encouragement — it was amazing to see so many influential figures in the blockchain space engage in sharing ideas.
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