Sailing into 2020 — Reflecting and Looking Ahead

2019 was the year for us to deliver on our promises, which were two-fold. The first was to deliver the first blockchain to leverage sharding that can process a high volume of transactions...

Sailing into 2020 — Reflecting and Looking Ahead

Season’s greetings to all,

A small team, a big dream, and a whole lot of belief and determination — that’s how Zilliqa started in the summer of 2017. Although our ideas had been brewing for a while, admittedly, even I couldn’t have anticipated where riding this mercurial ‘blockchain’ wave would land us. Thankfully, for me, tenacity runs deep in my entire team’s veins. Now, at what seems like the blink of an eye, 2020 is here and it holds much more promise than we could have imagined.

2019 was the year for us to deliver on our promises, which were two-fold. The first was to deliver the first blockchain to leverage sharding that can process a high volume of transactions, and the second was to provide a safer smart contract language to help developers write their contracts easily. We had to solve challenging engineering and research problems on a daily basis and the tight and daunting (albeit self-imposed) timeline wasn’t really helpful. But, what we achieved in a year and a half is truly commendable. The team has given their best to this project, and I am proud to be working with them.

After our successful mainnet launch in January 2019, we deployed smart contract functionalities on our network in June, bringing our secure-by-design programming language Scilla to life. Et voilà — we were open for business! Soon after the launch, we saw the first dApps going live. Blockchain-based domain registry Unstoppable Domains is a noteworthy one, as it played a role in placing Zilliqa ahead of several other platforms in terms of daily transaction volume. It was also a great stress test for a nascent network. The Zilliqa network faced some initial hiccups, but the team solved this quickly, pushing upgrades to effectively address the identified issues.

We then turned our attention to setting up resources, frameworks and tools that would make it easier for traditional “fintech” application developers to build on Zilliqa. With this in mind, we forged key partnerships which would help us strengthen the security and compliance of our platform with experts such as ChainSecurity and Elliptic. We believe that the security of smart contracts is particularly vital for fintech applications which commonly handle and process hundreds of million worth of crypto assets. ChainSecurity, who previously audited our Scilla contracts and have a good understanding of our platform, stepped in to share their expertise with us once again, this time to build tools to analyse smart contract vulnerabilities. We also brought on Elliptic as a key partner to ensure that we adhere to all regulatory and AML compliance measures, and shield any tokens built on the Zilliqa network from illicit activities.

These collaborations culminated with our work with Xfers to power XSGD — a stablecoin pegged to the Singapore dollar, aiming to drive and contribute to financial openness across Southeast Asia. And as 2019 draws to a close, we’re also elated to share that as of two days ago, we hit 2 million transactions on our blockchain, doubling what we achieved in a record two months.

This past summer, Aqilliz also announced that Zilliqa would be their exclusive technology infrastructure provider, which officially launched in July this year with a goal of taking-to-market blockchain-backed solutions across the digital marketing sector. Aqilliz shares our goal of greater enterprise adoption, and we’re thrilled to have an industry-savvy partner using Zilliqa.

Furthermore, every penny spent so far from our USD 5 million ZILHive Grants programme was well worth it. These programmes have played a crucial role in building an ecosystem around Zilliqa. We have over 60 project teams from over 20 countries building on and around Zilliqa. This includes wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks and dApps.

Through our many growth and education initiatives, the Zilliqa team will continue to support projects that dare to envision, create, and innovate. By laying the foundation of their ideas on our technology — these teams are instrumental to increasing the awareness, legitimacy, and adoption of blockchains — which still invites confusion and skepticism from the majority of those outside of the industry. To remedy this, we have ramped up our education initiatives — revisiting King’s College London last month, as well as expanding our ZILHive Education workshops (formerly known as Blockchain A-Z) to the University of Oxford.

We celebrated numerous successes over the year, and with the many curve balls that come with rapid growth, we also had much to learn from. We’ve absorbed feedback from our community, our partners, and our team members, and we will address some issues we have faced in the past head-on, so that they are not repeated. As we work through adapting our organisational structure (a rather tricky feat when you’re scaling as quickly as we are), improving our project management techniques, and identifying new avenues of growth and opportunity towards enterprise and developer adoption, I am confident that Zilliqa and its wider ecosystem will emerge stronger, better and faster in 2020.

The Zilliqa team expansion

As we evolve, we will be making structural changes that suit the needs of the project and the team. This includes bringing on board the right leadership, talent and combination of skill-sets. During the latter half of 2019, we aggressively built a six-member marketing and communications team. We simultaneously developed a five-member growth and strategy team with the goal of expanding our ecosystem, dapp development, strategic collaborations, developer relations and education initiatives.

In September, we had mentioned that we would be building a dedicated team to develop toolchains, testing frameworks, easy-to-access documentation, developer tutorials and other resources. Well, I am happy to share that we now have a four-member team ready to take on this challenge. Stay tuned for more on this in the coming weeks!

Looking ahead

Today, our vision for Zilliqa has become more defined, and the pixels of the bigger picture have started to take shape.

We remain committed to building a future where decentralised technologies will no longer stand at the fringes of the wider tech ecosystem, as we create accessible and equitable solutions within the ‘token economy’ for many rather than for a privileged few. We hope that our blockchain can play an instrumental role in driving open finance across the world — especially in emerging markets across Southeast Asia where user demand is growing. Meanwhile, our Language and Platform teams are refining our protocol layer to enable even far more sophisticated industrial-grade use cases on the network. We promise to provide more developer tools and resources to better equip the brightest developers, and provide more educational tools to train beginners.

As we stand at this juncture, I dedicate this thank you note to everyone who helped build Zilliqa — our team, our investors, our partners, and our friends. Our community, of course, deserves a special shout-out, and they have been at the heart of this entire operation, cheering us on. Your dedication to what we stand for has touched us all, and we think about your contributions as we constantly strive to improve our platform and increase the benchmarks of excellence for this industry.

Yes, it’s been a stellar year. We’ve fulfilled all the promises we made as a team in 2017, and then some. But together, we have a lot more work to do in our journey to building a more open and decentralised future. Let’s get to it together, shall we?

Happy New Year!