JOERI: We’re here at the Asian Blockchain summit in Taipei. It’s the second day, we just came out of the Roubini-Hayes debate… very much an active debate! People got grilled there! My name is Joeri Van Geelen, I’m the founder and CEO of Build Blocks Group, I’m here together with Torsten who was working for Komodo and, just before we started, I understood that Komodo is not as much a privacy coin as I thought it was. Can you share a little bit more about what Komodo is currently building?
TORSTEN: Sure, you’re not the only one associating Komodo with privacy and that’s not wrong: Komodo did indeed start as a privacy coin back in 2016. Komodo is originally a fork of Zcash and we had privacy features and they were quite prominent but bits and pieces of Komodo technology have been in development since 2014 actually and it’s so much more than privacy. We started building multi-chain architectures back in 2014, we started working on atomic swaps back in the days (we were one of the first), we reached a point over the years where privacy is really just a tiny part of what Komodo is doing. It’s not just a privacy coin and it’s not really what we focus on at the moment.
JOERI: So you’ve been around for a long time, are you saying that you’ve been refitting your products as to where the markets need you to be? Or have you been just internally learning and you decided to take a different route?
TORSTEN: It was more of an internal learning, we were working on different bits and pieces of technology and it just all came together, at a point we realized we have something much bigger than just the privacy solution.
JOERI: I see and what is that you’re doing right now? What problem is Komodo really solving today?
TORSTEN: The shortest pitch I could give you (and this must sound a mouthful, so let me explain a little bit later)… so what we’re building is an interoperable multi-chain ecosystem, or a platform, that other projects or companies can build applications on… and that’s very confusing! No one ever understood this pitch because it’s… complicated!
So let me give you an example! Let me start with our vision, I think Komodo has a very strong vision: we believe in a world where you have hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of blockchains working in unison, performing very complex business tasks.
Let me give you an example: imagine three blockchains, one blockchain be your health data (something like a medical blockchain, maybe it’s a government blockchain), you have another blockchain for your insurance company with your premium… different use cases… and maybe you have a third one… you’re a sporty guy so there’s one with your activity tracker that tracks your movements or your exercises and so on… if these three chains can work together, if your Fitbit can inform your insurance company about how healthy you are, your heart rate and if your insurance company can work with the data from your medical records… suddenly you have something very complex… but you need a platform where these chains can truly work together because, if they live in silos, you’re missing out on half of the fun and 90% of the use cases.
JOERI: I’m gonna challenge you a little bit because, for my knowledge, the space is quite crowded and Ethereum is trying to build this… so how are you differentiating from Ethereum and the other interoperability platforms out there?
TORSTEN: That’s an excellent question and the platform space is indeed crowded. I think we have three big differentiators: one is that with Ethereum, Tezos and all these big platforms you have one chain, you are sharing the same chain with different projects and that can be good but that comes with a lot of limitations: scability, speed, computational power. So we give projects their own blockchains, every project building on Komodo has its own blockchain. We call them ‘smartchains’, by the way, and we’ll talk about it…
So if you build on Ethereum you don’t control the underlying layer and that’s a problem. ‘Blockchain sovereignty’ is not something that you hear often but I think this concept of ‘blockchain sovereignty’ is going to be a BIG deal in the coming years.
The second one is smart contracts, Ethereum obviously pioneered smart contracts and they’re pretty good, the problem is they’re not very smart (and there are a number of reasons for that) but the main one is the Gas model. It’s very difficult to build complex business applications on Ethereum because you will hit that Gas problem very quickly. We also have a smart contract solution: we call them Antara modules and these modules run directly on the nodes themselves so you don’t hit a performance limit and you don’t need to pay Gas. The third one, which I think is equally important, Ethereum is a single chain architecture. If you want to do interoperability with… maybe something like Bitcoin or Proof-of-Work chains you have to go through a central player, probably an exchange. We have the atomic swap technology, you can swap your fit-Bitcoins to Bitcoin natively without going through any centralized entity.
JOERI: And Polkadot, Icon, Aion… they’re working on these solutions as well…
TORSTEN: They’re working on very similar solutions, I think all of these technologies are very interesting… I think there is one crucial part where I believe ours is better and Polkadot is a good example: so Polkadot is fantastic technology, it truly is, but I believe the business model is not that great: you have to rent a chain. Think about it: are we really going to trade one gatekeeper for another gatekeeper? If you build on Komodo you don’t need permission, you don’t need to pay rent for a chain, you don’t even need to connect, you can start developing… we don’t even know about it and we believe that’s right!
JOERI: You make your point. What we always do at iBlockTV is also ask what is your tip for the crypto investor right now, at this current day and age, here at the Asian Blockchain Summit in Taipei?
TORSTEN: Buy Bitcoin obviously but, I think… buy platform coins as well! If our vision is right, then there is going to be space for two, three, maybe four big platforms in this space, over the next few years and I hope Komodo will be one of them. Well that sounds like a good investment, also this is decidedly not investment advice!
JOERI: And what about entrepreneurs… I’m asking this question to everybody today: if you would start a crypto or blockchain business today, which is vastly different from 2017, what will you recommend these entrepreneurs over here?
TORSTEN: Find your niche, find your vertical, I think maybe it doesn’t make that much sense to build the 20th medium of exchange coin… find something that has a true real-world use case and you will not have any problems with finding funding because blockchain has plenty of use cases. Blockchain is not a silver bullet, it’s not good for anything but there are a few things it’s just perfect for and I think there’s a lot of room to grow.
JOERI: Thank you so much Torsten and have a great day!