What We Need To Scale Blockchain Technology Into the Future
The blockchain trilemma is premised on the idea that we can only achieve two of the following three aims: decentralization, security, and/or scalability
Immersion Imagery/Shutterstock.com modified by Blockworks
Scalability is a major roadblock on the path toward bringing blockchains to mainstream audiences. The ultimate goal of providing low-cost access to blockchain-based applications while guaranteeingsecurity and decentralization is based on the blockchain trilemma.
The blockchain trilemma is premised on the idea that we can only achieve two of the following three aims: decentralization, security, and/or scalability. This has led to countless blockchains sacrificing decentralization or security to achieve scalability, an undesirable tradeoff to say the least.
Despite this challenge, the blockchain industry has seen remarkable growth in its first decade, with a $1 trillion valuation and over 420 million users. The next few years could bring even greater milestones, with the number of crypto users on track to breach the one billion mark within six years.
The industry’s future undoubtedly lies in building high-performance scalable blockchains, and the need for such solutions has never been as pressing as now. This piece dives deeper into crypto’s scaling problem and how it affects users and developers.
Crypto’s scaling problem
The cryptocurrency ecosystem faces severe limitations and bottlenecks impeding adoption. The most largely-used blockchains routinely suffer from high transaction fees, congestion, and downtimes during peak periods. And of course, these limitations remain even for projects that sacrifice a degree of decentralization to prioritize speed and low network fees.
Crypto’s scaling problem is further evident in the fragmentation of developers and users on different blockchains. DefiLlama shows there are 170 chains with thousands of additional decentralized applications (dApps) for multiple use cases. The current multi-chain approach results in fragmented liquidity and increased security risks as users bridge assets across chains. It poses an even greater challenge for developers who must jump through hoops to build dApps on different chains.
Developers must adopt a common standard for blockchain technology to truly go mainstream. The current approach to development is widely fragmented with vastly different approaches being adopted. Most unfortunately, this fragmented approach trickles down to the end user and results in widely different onboarding and adoption processes.
Building a scalable Web3 with Ethereum as a backbone
Ethereum’s position as the leading public blockchain in terms of development makes it the ideal foundation for building scalable networks. This article will map out a future where Ethereum is the backbone of Web3 and will provide the necessary tooling for developers to onboard the first billion users to the blockchain industry.
It is easy to envision such a future given the wide adoption of Solidity, Ethereum’s native programming language. Solidity is the preferred language for blockchain developers because it is easy to learn and unlocks access to the largest community of Web3 users.
Solidity complements the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and provides excellent tooling for building truly decentralized applications with reduced development time and increased interoperability. The number of Ethereum developers has risen by over 400% in the past year to 5,000, which is more than two times higher than competing smart contract blockchains. Ethereum also boasts the industry’s largest DeFi ecosystem, with a significant portion of non-ETH-based TVL still attributed to EVM-compatible networks.
Rather than competing with it, leveraging Ethereum’s powerful network effects is the ultimate solution to a scalable Web3 environment. A recent study by Dartmouth Blockchain, an independent blockchain research team based out of Dartmouth College, served as a third-party benchmark for developers to evaluate transaction speed and finality on eight leading blockchains including SKALE, Ethereum, Solana, Avalanche, Polygon, Fantom Network, Flow, and Near.
The study revealed that the Ethereum-native SKALE Network is the fastest blockchain based on transactions per second and finality. SKALE posted a TPS value of 397.7 transactions per second, with 1.4 seconds finality, overtaking Solana and Fantom Network.
How SKALE truly scales Web3 for mainstream adoption
Launched in 2020, SKALE provides a compelling answer to Web3 scalability through its modular blockchain design native to Ethereum. On SKALE, developers deploy applications on interoperable app-specific chains called SKALE Chains or on shared hubs called SKALE Hubs. Hubs are dedicated chains for games, NFTs, and DeFi protocols and are best thought of as “service stations” for a collection of dApp chains by providing them liquidity as well as swapping and marketplace services. The Hubs are a key tool to ensure proper token mapping and standarization within the SKALE ecosystem and they’re a huge unlock for developers who now only need to concentrate on integrating with a few chains rather than all the other SKALE Chains.
Each SKALE Chain, both Hubs and dApp chains, are able to scale infinitely since they are dedicated to different categories of blockchain applications. Games, after all, are much different from NFTs or DeFi. That’s why SKALE’s model enables each chain to scale much more easily and economically than on the Ethereum mainnet, where everything lives on the same network and is often clogged during peak periods.
SKALE taps Ethereum for security by hosting its core smart contracts called the SKALE Manager on the Ethereum network. These contracts control functionalities such as validator nodes, staking delegation, and SKALE chain deployment. Instead of competing with Ethereum, SKALE further builds on the legacy network’s success by allowing developers to build with Solidity and full EVM-compatibility.
SKALE’s novel approach to Web3 scalability brings unprecedented benefits. For example, it introduces increased interoperability and standardization of blockchain applications. Different SKALE chains implement the same fundamental features and developer standards, ensuring that users can, among other things, seamlessly transfer assets between chains.
Another benefit is that developers can offer zero gas fees to users through a unique subscription fee model developed by SKALE. The applications hosted on each SKALE chain pay the gas fee in advance to validators, enabling end users to enjoy a seamless gasless experience currently unavailable on other blockchain networks. SKALE has saved users over $700 million in gas fees across more than 55 million transactions processed since launch. The gas fees that users avoid is another example of SKALE’s overarching commitment to help create invisible Web3 experiences. Put simply, they believe if we want to see the next wave of mass adoption into Web3, the user experience should feel more like Web2.
And this commitment is proven by the blockchain projects that are already building mainstream-ready applications on the SKALE Network. For instance, Ruby is a SKALE-based decentralized exchange protocol that incentivizes users with high yield and lower swap fees for holding NFTs. Another project, NFTrade, supports the trading of SKALE-based NFTs through integration with SKALE’s NFT community hub chain, Calypso. Yet another project named Exorde has taken on the formidable task of helping identify and limit the spread of misinformation through blockchain technology. Exorde must process massive amounts of data to provide a result that is reliable, useful, and unbiased, and it’s no surprise they’ve leaned on SKALE’s infrastructure to make it happen.
The SKALE developer ecosystem is not resting on its laurels and is continually exploring newer ways to bring even greater scalability to Web3 applications. SKALE recently launched its Zero-Knowledge (ZK) Proofs initiative. ZK technology enables users to verify ownership of certain assets or information without disclosing their identity or further details about the owned items. An adaptation of the technology for blockchains will significantly improve user privacy and increase scalability as it compresses data requirements on applications.
ZK technology is still in its infancy and faces limitations such as centralization and high implementation costs. Yet, developers are optimistic that further development of ZK technology will prove instrumental to further adoption by mainstream audiences.
In a real-world example, DeFi users can interact with protocols with improved security and privacy. ZK technology primarily benefits end users and will likely garner interest as the latest generation of crypto-native ZK products launches in the coming months and years.
The future of blockchain scaling
The smart players in the cryptocurrency industry are building the infrastructure to onboard the next billion users. A key way they’re doing this is by standardizing blockchain applications and cutting-edge scalability solutions. SKALE’s mainstream-ready infrastructure underpinned by Ethereum delivers these solutions and is already gaining traction within the EVM-developer community.
SKALE envisions a highly interoperable multichain future where developers adopt the same standards and tooling to build apps on specific chains and for diverse use cases. This model is vastly superior to the current state of blockchains, where the developer and user growth is fragmented.
The upcoming release of SKALE ZK adds to SKALE’s other innovations, including full-EVM compatibility, multi-chain technology, developer-friendly SDKs, and zero gas fees. These solutions combine to position SKALE as an innovator that’s helping Web3 applications enjoy unprecedented scalability.
This content is sponsored by SKALE.
Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.