Interview with Sandeep Nailwal, COO of Matic Network
Hey Sandeep. Thanks for joining me today. Can you tell me more about yourself and your time in the crypto industry? How did you get started?
Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure to speak with you! As COO of Matic Network, I am based out of India with our tech teams. Personally, I have been involved with many tech businesses since my very early days. I joke that scalability is my only passion, be it in scaling businesses or blockchains, but I am an all-round software and business buff.
My previous startup, Scopeweaver (a B2B services marketplace — think Alibaba for services) was doing well, but given the focus on services, it was not scaling as it needed to. I began to look into emerging tech on the side, particularly AI, machine learning, and blockchain. Needless to say, blockchain — especially Bitcoin — caught my attention, and I’ve been fully down the rabbit hole ever since. I’ve noticed the “oh wow, this is big” moment I had is pretty common across people who study Bitcoin, and it has been exciting to be among those building in the space!
I found my calling in the blockchain space in the scalability arena, and I co-founded Matic Network alongside several other team members and that’s what I’m working on to this day!
How did the concept of Matic originate?
The Matic team have been active in the blockchain space long before our public surfacing as Matic Network – we’ve actually been making valuable contributions to the Ethereum ecosystem alongside Ethereum’s best developers for a long time. This includes working on implementations of Plasma MVP, the WalletConnect protocol (which allows users to access Dapps in a secure and user friendly way), and the widely-used Dagger event notification engine.
We could see the inherent challenges of scaling in the current blockchain environment and envisioned a method of Layer 2 scaling, using an adapted version of the Plasma framework, that could effectively overcome blockchain’s scalability limitations and provide the infrastructure to facilitate widespread mainstream adoption of decentralized applications. That vision was Matic Network, and we’ve been on our journey to scale the Ethereum ecosystem and beyond ever since.
What is Matic Network’s overall mission? And why begin your journey by scaling Ethereum specifically?
Great question. Matic is a team passionate about decentralization and better blockchain-based products. The current decentralized ecosystem lacks usability and convenience – decentralized transactions are slow, expensive and complex. The blockchain environment as it stands today is therefore unable to facilitate mainstream-level Dapps. Solving this problem is our mission.
We aim to change this by leveraging a combination of blockchain scaling, developer platform and tools, and a keen focus on user experience. Matic aspires to see a world where blockchain gains mainstream adoption, and our goal is to facilitate the decentralized future by providing the necessary infrastructure for Dapps to take flight. We believe the answer to enabling widespread adoption of blockchain technology lies with second-layer solutions focused on scalability. In this way, Matic Network provides massive scaling capabilities whilst leveraging the security and decentralization of the Ethereum mainchain.
Matic therefore aims to be the de-facto platform on which developers deploy and run decentralized applications. With close connections to and active participation in the Ethereum ecosystem, Ethereum is the first Layer 1 which Matic Network is working to scale, however our infrastructure is blockchain agnostic- meaning Matic can scale any Layer 1 blockchain which comes to prove itself as a key player in the decentralized movement.
Harmony is one such Layer 1 which we have entered into a collaborative partnership with in order to scale their platform. You can read more about our partnership with Harmony, here.
The scaling arena is quite competitive. What’s the added value of the Matic in comparison with its competitors?
As the most pertinent problem facing blockchain today, it’s no surprise that a plethora of scaling solutions tackle the scalability conundrum each in their own way.
However, current scaling endeavours offer only a partial solution due to limited functionality, poor user experience or their sacrificing of decentralization for the sake of performance. Unlike other scaling solutions, Matic Network is committed to achieving massive scale alongside decentralization by utilizing checkpoints for 1-second block times and fraud proofs for security on its enhanced version of the Plasma framework.
Matic chains 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 the go-to platform for deploying Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications in particular. As a general purpose platform, however, our blockchain agnostic infrastructure is capable of housing a limitless array of dApp types, and we are keenly focused on gaming as well as welcoming of all dApps which stand to further the decentralized movement.
For a comparison of scaling solutions, we have written a comprehensive article on the topic, which includes a detailed infographic comparing Matic to some L2 solutions alongside a couple of L1 blockchains. You can check it out here:
Where are you now in your roadmap?
We’ve already made huge progress on our journey so far. In terms of development, we previously launched our Testnet which demonstrated impressive performance capabilities of 6-10K TPS – with a single sidechain theoretically capable of achieving 65K TPS – and we are thrilled to have previously launched our Alpha-Mainnet and recently launched our Beta-Mainnet! The next development milestone is the launch of our fully-fledged final mainnet, due for release in Q4 2019/ Q1 2020.
Our flagship product, the Matic Wallet, has been migrated onto our Alpha-Mainnet and is gaining traction daily due to the lightening-fast transactional capabilities and superb UX/UI – which has been a main focus of ours. You can see the Wallet in action at the ETHIndia DevLounge here:
We are consistently onboarding Dapps to our network due to our ability to provide high throughput, low transaction fees and tools to make blockchain development as seamless as possible. Many projects are already building on top of Matic, including Decentraland, Marble.cards, Incento, Chainbreakers, Springrole, Cryptocontrol, and Betprotocol. These encompass all Dapp types including gaming, DeFi, gambling and beyond. More Dapps are onboarding every week.
What do you see as the main roadblocks to mass adoption of blockchain, and how is Matic attempting to overcome them?
When it comes to facilitating adoption, we believe the core components are twofold: providing the infrastructure for the building of mass-adoption level dApps, and providing up-and-coming blockchain innovators with the means to see their ideas come to fruition.
Matic believes the technical answer to enabling widespread adoption of blockchain technology lies with second-layer solutions focused on scalability. To this end, Matic Network provides massive scaling capabilities whilst leveraging the security and decentralization of the mainchain. With this infrastructure in place, blockchain innovators will be empowered with the tools to create high performance mainstream-level dApps without considerations of forfeiting any of the core components of decentralization.
Aside from the technical challenges, the real roadblocks to blockchain adoption lie with the barriers to entry in terms of education regarding 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, blockchain startups are currently facing multiple challenging hurdles.
We believe in 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 the wider developer community, thus increasing 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.
What are your thoughts on Ethereum 2.0? How will this affect Matic?
The Ethereum team is working solidly on Eth 2.0, and we are hugely supportive and excited about the new Ethereum developments. However, the series of network upgrades being carried out to the Ethereum network to increase scalability will take at least 2 years to be completed, probably longer given the scope of the changes and the challenges involved. As a Plasma-based Layer 2 scaling solution, Matic Network is unaffected by Ethereum’s infrastructural limitations, and we are providing a solution to scale Ethereum Dapps right now. We are already making huge progress on this front, with 25+ Dapps already building on Matic.
Once Eth 2.0 is eventually complete, Matic Network will continue to provide further scaling capabilities for Ethereum, enhancing the scalability of the network even further than the base blockchain is able to, with added benefits for Dapps building on Matic’s second layer including transactions with negligible fees, blockchain interoperability etc. As the Ethereum network achieves greater levels of adoption, their need for increased scalability will also increase. We are therefore assisting Ethereum to achieve this scalability required for mass adoption, and will continue to compliment Ethereum with even greater scalability throughout their development journey.
Your upcoming staking has been generating some excitement in the space. Can you elaborate on the MATIC staking program?
Staking is very exciting indeed, we’ve seen a lot of buzz in the community around our staking plans!
As a Layer-2 solution utilizing a network of Proof-of-Stake validators for asset security, staking is an integral part of the Matic ecosystem. Matic uses account based variant of More Viable Plasma to guarantee the security of assets on the main-chain and it ensures the security of generic transactions by using a decentralized network of Proof-of-Stake validators. Essentially, Validators will stake their MATIC tokens as collateral to become part of the network’s PoS consensus mechanism.
Our planned staking endeavours will encompass 3-stage tactical roll-out, the first of which being a Pre-Staking initiative (with lock functionality) through leading Korean exchange Coinone, and more exchanges which will follow. Our staking mechanisms will grow to incorporate our entire supporter base in the coming months, alongside platform development. We are thrilled to begin opening the doors to our community to participate in the maintenance of the network through pre-staking, but that’s only the beginning.
In terms of our fully-fledged staking mechanism, it took us a long time to settle on the correct staking mechanism and economics, getting it right is extremely important. There will be a limited number of validators, initially ~100. Matic will be allocating 12% of its total supply of 10 billion tokens to fund the staking rewards. This is to ensure that the network is seeded well enough until transaction fees gain traction.
We have also recently announced the upcoming launch of ‘Counter Stake’ – Matic’s incentivized public validator network for testing the staking process. You can find out more details about our staking initiative and how to register for Counter Stake, here.
What will the final mainnet look like in terms of technical advancements, and how significant will this be for Matic Network?
The final mainnet launch will essentially signal the implementation of the final broad version of our infrastructure, with all capabilities enabled. These will include Plasma Fast Exit services on mainnet, transaction relay pool (perform transactions without ETH) and generic smart contract support (with Plasma guarantees).
By that point, Matic Network will be equipped to offer full functionality to the Dapps on our network with a full range of features. Thus, we can expect the exponential Dapp adoption of Matic to increase as we approach and surpass the launch of the full Mainnet. We are seeing more and more interest in Dapp adoption of our platform as we get closer to our final mainnet, and we expect this to continue to increase as the network becomes more stable and feature-rich.
Our goal is to serve as more than simply a scaling solution, but as an entire global collaborative ecosystem of Dapps running on Matic Network which will become stronger together as the ecosystem expands. A big step in this journey will be the launch of our final mainnet, and we couldn’t be more excited to see our development progress so strongly on-track!
We thank you for your time Sandeep!
You can follow Sandeeep on twitter, here!