Cross-Rollup dApps and the Future of Blockchain Interoperability with INTMAXby@ishanpandey
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Cross-Rollup dApps and the Future of Blockchain Interoperability with INTMAX

by Ishan PandeyFebruary 15th, 2024
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Leona Hioki explains how INTMAX's innovative stateless architecture facilitates blockchain interoperability and the creation of cross-Rollup dApps.
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In this exclusive installment of our "Behind the Startup" series, Hioki unveils the origins and driving forces behind INTMAX, a pioneering solution poised to revolutionize the blockchain landscape. With a rich background as a Plasma Researcher and an unwavering commitment to enhancing blockchain's efficiency, Hioki's story is a testament to the relentless pursuit of breakthroughs in a world where technology meets tenacity. Join us as we explore the inception of INTMAX, a venture born out of the quest for a scalable, secure, and more inclusive digital future, and discover how Hioki's vision is shaping new horizons for blockchain technology and beyond.

Scaling the Blockchain Frontier: The INTMAX Revolution

Ishan Pandey: Hi Leona, great to have you here for our "Behind the Startup" series. Please tell us about your background and the motivation behind founding INTMAX?

Leona Hioki: Ethereum was the most fascinating blockchain for me as a programmer. Although various ideas were being experimented with, the scalability of the chain was overwhelmingly insufficient for it to be used and shared by people around the world. At that time, blockchains were also criticized as being the most inefficient databases.

Subsequently, concepts like Plasma and Raiden were proposed, and almost all my interest and time were devoted to addressing scalability issues. After Plasma Cash, the Ethereum community started to welcome outsiders, and I began to post my ideas. In the research community I was part of at the time, I couldn't produce any notable results and once gave up on Plasma. Later, when I posted a proposal about zkRollups that significantly reduces the gas cost for ZKP verification, I received replies and citations as papers from many renowned researchers, and I became obsessed once again with the dream of achieving the highest scalability.

When it comes to politics, my belief was that property rights are the most crucial foundation of society, which led me to want to create a Layer 2 that specializes in the scale of property rights. I think this has become a fundamental direction for INTMAX.

Ishan Pandey: Can you explain how your background as a Plasma Researcher has influenced the development of INTMAX?

Leona Hioki: The latest version of Plasma Cash and its variant, Plasma Prime, introduced a really cool idea that allowed for non-interactive and trustless withdrawals from Layer 2 by proving that a coin had not been moved since a certain point. This concept was largely ignored in zkRollup implementations. However, integrating this idea into zkRollup revealed that it significantly reduces the need to post data to Layer 1 or Data Availability (DA) layers. Users could store their own data to protect their assets and independently prove that no double-spending occurred.

While some people insisted that the absence of a DA layer posed a risk due to a lack of understanding, those who understood the concept described it as a hybrid between Plasma and Rollups, combining the strengths of both to enhance security and scalability.

Ishan Pandey: Scalability is often cited as a major bottleneck for blockchain adoption. How does INTMAX address scalability issues?

Leona Hioki: Our proposed solutions are two: Intmax2 and its simpler version, Plasma Next. In Intmax2, there is a slight cost associated with Data Availability (DA), while Plasma Next scales with a constant cost, O(1). Roughly speaking, both can achieve the scalability that Plasma aimed for, with the same security assumptions as zkRollup. Generally, these solutions are referred to as "Stateless," meaning that instead of nodes or validators holding the data, users manage their own data. While the idea of users managing their own data may sound complicated, most of it would likely be automated along with encrypted backups.

Plasma Next serves as a pseudo-solution to the impossibility of statelessness, essentially making the impossible possible. Intmax2 achieves similar scalability while also offering complete privacy and extremely simple block creation.

Ishan Pandey: Could you elaborate on how INTMAX's stateless architecture contributes to increased interoperability with other Layer 2 solutions and blockchain platforms?

Leona Hioki: A stateless Layer 2 essentially acts like a fog surrounding all other Layer 2 solutions. Because security-related computations and data storage occur off-chain or on the user side, it becomes easier to conduct transactions across different stateful Rollups. This would offer a different kind of composability than the Based Rollup proposed by Justin Drake.

Specifically, in Plasma Next, it's possible to make deposits across all Rollups and establish Payment Channels. This would be extremely useful both for many asset transfer use cases and when creating cross-Rollup dApps.

Leona Hioki: Ah, this is a very interesting story. Our product is quite different from the usual blockchain solutions. In fact, it might even be closer to something like the Lightning Network. Therefore, we anticipated difficulties with wallet adoption. As a precaution, we decided to create our own interface. However, after developing it, and incorporating the latest cryptography technologies like FHE (Fully Homomorphic Encryption), we found it to be very secure and user-friendly. So, we decided to release it as a standalone product.

Ishan Pandey: With the growing interest in decentralized finance (DeFi), how does INTMAX contribute to the DeFi ecosystem?

Leona Hioki: Our platform will likely give rise to stateless DeFi applications. These will boast relatively high privacy across different blockchains and feature transaction fees that are not only very stable but also low. The significantly low volatility of these fees will be a major structural advantage. What we aim for developers to create on our platform is something akin to a decentralized version of Binance.

Stateless applications are somewhat challenging, making this a largely unexplored area. However, it possesses unique characteristics that traditional DeFi cannot replicate. Compared to solid, Data Availability (DA)-rooted DeFi, what emerges here may feel lighter and more ethereal, akin to DeFi floating in mid-air.

Ishan Pandey: How does the INTMAX team incorporate elements such as Japanese roots and cyberpunk culture into the company culture and product development?

Leona Hioki: It's a bit like the Epimenides' paradox, but I get that Japanese folks can be a bit too "Japan, Japan" about things. I guess you asked me that because of that, I appreciate your consideration. Generally, the globally appreciated stuff coming out of Japan—like anime, games, and machines—tends to emerge from people who aren't all that hung up on national identity. It's more about a natural culture that's a bit nervous about the details.

With help from folks in various countries, our team has become a truly international and resilient group. I'm grateful for the crypto culture's lack of prejudice, especially considering how we're often treated like kids by our lookings, no matter where we go. For me, Ethereum feels like a second home.

Ishan Pandey: Considering the notable achievements, including Vitalik mentioning INTMAX and successful fundraising rounds, what milestones and developments can we expect from INTMAX in the near future?

Leona Hioki: It's super exciting for the core devs of INTMAX that thoughtful folks like Drake and Vitalik are finding our project interesting. It's one of those moments that makes you glad to be part of the Ethereum community. Vitalik also said INTMAX is "crazy" and nobody knows it. So, I'm not sure if it was a compliment or not, LOL. I'm really grateful to the investors who helped us out during our toughest time in 2022. Our roadmap includes expanding the network with the simpler version, Plasma Next, starting from Q1 of 2024, and then everything coming together with Intmax2 in 2025.

Leona Hioki: If you had to boil down the purpose of the blockchain industry to one thing, it's about shifting from a society built on laws and politics to one based on cryptography. We're not going to switch everything over, but if we can get even half of the world's contract enforcement and property rights to be crypto-based, that's the start of a new civilization. Let's circle back to Bitcoin for a sec. Money went from being rocks and shells to precious metals, then to paper and ledgers. Now, it's cryptography.

Ever stop to think about how wild and fascinating it is that money is made from cryptography? Then there's Ethereum, where you've got a legal entity which is called smart contract made with cryptography. That's seriously interesting. A blockchain that maximizes property rights is like a weapon for the average person now. So far, I haven't found anything more intriguing than Ethereum in the blockchain layer1 space, but who knows?

Maybe chains built with intelligent cryptography like witness encryption or quantum information could be even more fascinating. At the end of the day, blockchains that protect property rights with cryptography are like affordable weapons for people, heralding a different kind of civilization from what we've known before.

Ishan Pandey: How do you foresee the long-term implications of the introduction of a Bitcoin ETF on the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem?

Leona Hioki: I don’t care about it so much. Maybe the prices go up, I don’t know. But, regulated crypto-related assets like Bitcoin-ETFs, stablecoins, and RWAs will change or help the lives of ordinary people a lot. It’s really cool to help people.

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